Should you start your own chicken coop?
If you and your family are eager to learn more about raising chickens because you are interested in the animals, love fresh eggs, and are looking for natural fertilizer, the idea may be worth exploring.
In recent years, chickens have made their way from farmyards to backyards, and sometimes even into swank New York City apartments. It seems that the trend towards sustainability only grows stronger and more mainstream as time goes on. So why would a seemingly normal family want to tend to chickens, and how does a family know if they are prepared for a backyard full of feathered friends?
Embracing the chicken life
For many chicken owners, raising chickens is a way of life that is fun, environmentally conscious, and sometimes profitable. Texas urban homesteader Debra Knox, who frequently takes home top prizes in chicken and egg shows from local and state fairs, knows a thing or two about chickens. She turned her entire backyard into a chicken sanctuary and has invested in several unique chicken breeds for her growing brood. "We love watching how the chickens interact with each other and us," Debra says. "They all have very different personalities and they're also a great stress reliever. And of course, the eggs are wonderful." Other chicken owners attest to how much their children enjoy the chickens as part of a familial push towards green living, and they add that raising chickens can also help the environment and reap rewards for backyard gardens.
Know before you go
Because raising chickens is not for everyone, experts offer a few words of caution before you leap into purchasing a coop and chicks. First of all, check your local laws to make sure that owning chickens is legal in your residential area. If your neighborhood allows you to own chickens, ask yourself a few important questions before moving forward with your backyard plans:
- Am I willing to regularly clean a chicken coop, which will absolutely smell like a barn, at least once a month?
- Is my family on board with the plan? Will my children have responsibility for the chicken care?
- Do I have enough time to put the chickens in the shelter at night and release them in the morning?
- Do I have the time to ensure they have enough food, water, and grit every day?
- Am I able to provide my chickens with enough shelter from predators?
- Am I okay with the possibility of coyotes, hawks, and snakes visiting my lawn to check out my chickens?
- Will my neighbors hate me if they hear chickens squawking all day? Do I care?
- Do I have the money to spend on supplies, a chicken coop, and veterinary needs?
- Since chickens often carry bacteria, am I comfortable with taking the risk of my family getting sick if I happen to own an infected chicken?
Many chicken owners feel that these drawbacks and risks associated with owning the birds are absolutely worth the joy they obtain from the animals. If you have weighed the pros and cons of owning chickens and feel that it is an endeavor you're willing to pursue, start saving up for a chicken coop and read about the supplies you'll need when you bring your first chicks home in early spring.