Welcome to raising backyard chickens! Chicken keeping is definitely a growing trend and we're not surprised. Chickens truly have a lot to offer. Let's take a few minutes to explore the basics of raising backyard chickens together.
We really enjoy our chickens here at our hobby farm, and if you’re experienced at raising chickens, it’s our guess that you probably feel the same way.
Or perhaps, in your quest for a more sustainable lifestyle, you’ve decided to give chicken keeping a try and you may be wondering where to start...
And if you’re new to these delightful feathered friends, you may be wondering what the benefits are and why raising backyard chickens is a trend that is growing in popularity.
While chickens have long been an icon of country life, don't be surprised if you happen to catch a glimpse of fluffy hens wandering around suburban backyards as well. The ‘city chicks’ are moving in!
In many major metropolitan areas across the United States (search for your city here), in Canada, and in other countries as well, raising urban chickens is now permitted and has become rather trendy. And there are a surprising number of celebrities who enjoy raising backyard chickens. This growth of a more locavore lifestyle makes a lot of sense.
It’s no wonder, because chickens are easy keepers, fun to raise, with a lot to give. All they require is a little food, fresh water and safe shelter, and you are well paid in return! You'll reap the blessings of delicious, nutritious eggs, the fun and entertainment they provide, pest control, fertilizer for your garden, and more.
If you’re an urban dweller, it’s really important to find out beforehand the regulations and bylaws of your particular municipality regarding chickens. If raising backyard chickens is allowed, find out if there is a limit to how many chickens you can keep and if having a rooster is permitted.
Researching all the details before getting started will save you time, money and heartache if you happen to live in an urban area that is not sympathetic to keeping chickens.
There's a real joy and satisfaction that can be derived from raising your own chickens and the benefits are manifold. Clearly, we can gain from the nourishment that they provide. But these delightful, social creatures can be quite enjoyable to watch and interact with. We get to know their individual personalities and winsome ways. And gathering their eggs can be like a treasure hunt...
In a nutshell, or perhaps I should say 'in an egg shell', they are nutritious egg layers, kitchen scrap recyclers, insect and weed eaters, fertilizer producers, self-sustainability enablers, responsibility teachers, money savers...
And besides that, they're beautiful, entertaining, therapeutic, educational, inexpensive, easy-keepers. They make great pets! You may be surprised at how quickly, with their unique and delightful personalities, they may wrap themselves around your heart.
Not only are chickens lovable, but they are also quite intelligent and trainable. A British study shows they can be smarter than human toddlers!
And truth be told, as I’m working here, I have a little 3 ½ week old chick on my lap receiving some 'training'. He kept picking on some of his brood mates. The on-going squabbles earned this little cockerel a tender time-out.
So, here he sits Mom's lap as she does her website work, writing this page about... chickens! He sat there like a good boy, calmed down nicely, and was able to return peacefully to the rest of his friends.
My enjoyment of raising chickens includes moments like these.
Once you're all set up with comfortable, predator-safe accommodations for your chickens, you're off to a good start. Their needs are basic: food, water, shelter, and a small amount of daily care and attention.
So, what do daily chicken chores entail? There is really not much required.
You'll need to feed the chickens. You can place a large hanging feeder in your hen house, adding more chicken feed as needed.
If you plan to allow them to free range, this will reduce the amount of layer feed that you'll need to buy for them.
They also need a constant supply of fresh water. It's important that their water is clean because they can become dehydrated, choosing not to drink soiled water. Keep an eye on their water container for shavings, straw, poop, etc. that may have gotten in it.
If you have laying hens, you'll also collect their eggs each day. The frequent gathering of eggs daily ensures that the eggs are as clean as possible, fresh, and not cracked or broken.
And have a quick count of your chickens at the end of each day as they go back into the coop, just to make sure that they are all there and safe.
Other chores will need to be done occasionally, but this is the main focus of daily chicken chores.
If the water container becomes dirty or slimy, clean it out with dish soap, rinsing it out well afterwards. Now and then throughout the week you'll need to check to make sure that their shavings are not too soiled in their coop, replacing fresh shavings when needed.
every now and then, have a look around their coop and chicken run to make sure
predators cannot get in.
It's important to get to know your chickens. Observe them. Spend some time with them. If your chickens are active, alert, fluffy-bottomed, smooth-feathered, and bright-eyed, these are signs that they are doing well. Daily attention to your chickens will help keep your hens happy, healthy, and safe.
Chickens make great pets and responsibility teachers, for children because they are such easy keepers. Raising backyard chickens is a great way to introduce simple kid chores.
Not only do chickens make great first pets, but they offer great educational value as well. Children learn about the value of caring for living creatures.
While it's important to be consistent in overseeing their safety and well-being, caring for your chickens is more fun than a chore.
They'll enjoy bonding with their chickens and watching the antics of their friendly hens as they feed them and gather their eggs. This gives kids a great sense of ownership and accomplishment.
If you start your chickens from hatchlings, they'll be able to socialize and interact with the chicks from day to day. As the kids gently pick them up and stroke them, the chicks will learn that humans not a threat but a friend. This will encourage strong bonds between the children and their chickens.
Children enjoy naming their chickens. They can be pretty creative, giving them names like Feather, Bulldozer, or Skittles. The bond created through naming the chicken will add to their sense of ownership and responsibility. You may even catch them doing their chores without being reminded.
Before running out and getting a little flock of your own, we'd like to offer you a few questions that would be important for you to consider first. We’re hoping they can provide a bit of direction as well...
What is your main purpose for getting chickens? Is it for the wonderful eggs they produce? Perhaps you thinking about raising chickens for meat? You may even be considering dual-purpose chickens that support self-sustainability in several ways.
Perhaps you’d love to see a beautiful assortment of fancy-feathered ladies gracing your backyard? Or maybe you’re looking for a few unique, entertaining, therapeutic pets with the added benefit of their wonderful eggs?
The answers to these questions will help you determine which breed would be best for you as you venture into raising backyard chickens. "Pick a Chicken!" is a very handy breed selector tool to use. Give it a try to see which breed is best for you.
Raising backyard chickens is a fun and functional way to support a self-sustaining homestead or hobby farm life-style. What could be better than stepping out your back door and gathering up your breakfast? Perhaps they supply some of your meat. And if you have a rooster in your flock, they'll replenish the flock with new little chicks now and then.
Raising backyard chickens is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint as you work toward or maintain a self-sufficient, sustainable, organic and ethical lifestyle. And it's really great to know that we're not contributing to the commercial factory-farm way of dealing with chickens. Not only are you able to enjoy cruelty-free eggs that are actually more delicious and nutritious, but you gain their organic manure and compost for your gardens, and benefit from the chickens being natural pest and parasite control as well.
Chickens are just about the easiest livestock to keep. These easy-keepers can, in turn, help to earn
their keep. You are likely to end up with more eggs than you family needs. The eggs that your friends and neighbors may buy from you will help pay for the chicken's feed.
Another benefit of raising backyard chickens is that it allows you to enjoy the entertainment they provide through their fun personalities and antics.
The blessings of chicken keeping certainly go beyond just the tangible things they provide. Their whimsical ways, individual mannerisms, and different personalities as well can be quite entertaining, bringing smiles to the face and joy to the heart.
Chickens can be great pets, especially if they're handled
and raised from little chicks.
Chickens have been a real boon for therapeutic purposes as well! Keeping chickens has proven to be therapeutically beneficial for children on the autism spectrum. By getting involved in feeding and caring for the chickens, the children gain through interaction with the chickens and exercise independent living skills.
Patients who suffer from other psychiatric disorders have also benefited from the presence of chickens in their lives. Because chickens are always moving around, pecking and socializing, they’re seen as calming.
Research and the implementation of pet therapy has also proven that these animals can improve general health and well-being of individuals, including elderly folks.
Chickens, among other types of animals, are being used to assist with social and creative activities in senior care facilities in several countries around the world.
Each of these facilities have their own chickens for the seniors to care for. This brings a lot of joy and gives them a sense of purpose as they love and care for the chickens. Programs like ‘HenPower’ have made a significant difference and have brought beautiful changes in the lives of the residents.
In this is a Youtube video show the benefits of the 'HenPower' program.
We apologize for the ads that may appear at 0:10 min., stretching over the video's content.
If you click on the 'x' in it's top right corner, the rest of the video should be fine.
Pet chickens have enlivened up the lives of people dealing with loneliness, depression, dementia and more.
If you aren't able to keep chickens of your own, there are a few ways you can still enjoy them. Perhaps you have a friend who raises their own backyard chickens. Or you might be able to visit a local hobby farm and offer to help with the chicken chores. This will give you some hands-on experience with interacting with chickens. If you'd like to enjoy fresh farm eggs, a Farmer's Market would be a great place to find fresh eggs for sale. And there are a lot of different types of videos on YouTube, like the one below, that are enjoyable to watch.
Here's a cute video that shows how children and chickens can enjoy one another's company...
We hope that you like chickens as much as we do! If so, you probably have your own favorite chicken stories and photos to share. We've provided a form below where you can post your stories and photos. We'd love to hear from you!
So, whether you're an urban chicken keeper, a self-reliant homesteader, or a country loving hobby farmer, you know the blessings of raising backyard chickens.
You may be young or old, rich or living from pay check to pay check, perhaps dealing with emotional or psychological challenges that life can present, or a just a fun-loving want-to-be chicken lady... I'm sure you can see why raising backyard chickens are at the top of the list. As someone once said, "Chickens are, after all, the most 'chic' pet you could possibly have!"
And one last word from this up-and-coming little rooster-to-be, "Don't squabble with the other chicks or you may end up in time-out with Mom as she writes about chickens... She just might include your picture, ...and that could be embarrassing!"
An update on this little guy... He is growing up to be a dandy young rooster, sporting the fancy French name, Monsieur LeRoux - in English, he's simply Mr. LeRoo.
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