Whether you have a few acres of land, a large farm, or live in the suburbs, you may have thought of raising chickens. Raising chickens can be an enjoyable way to have fresh meat and eggs, and there’s no doubt that chickens are intelligent birds and fun to watch. However, like anything else, there are some issues that you need to be aware of before you make your decision.
Pros of raising chickens:
- Fresh eggs and meat – Hens will typically lay eggs for 3 or 4 years, with egg production falling off after that. But depending on the breed, some hens are able to be used for both eggs and then meat. You won’t need a rooster to get eggs unless you want to raise chicks. And fresh natural eggs are so much more nutritious than store-bought.
- Natural pest control – Having chickens running around your yard means having fewer bugs and weeds. Even having your chickens in a portable pen that you can move around your yard means they can eat all the pests that bother you and infiltrate your garden.
- Manure equals compost – Chickens can be fed table scraps along with their feed and the bugs they’ll catch on their own. What they can’t digest leaves their bodies as manure, which can then be turned in wonderful compost for your vegetables and flowers.
- Simple enjoyment – Chickens are highly intelligent birds and can be very entertaining to watch and enjoyable to keep as pets or as a hobby. They have affectionate natures and all have distinct personalities.
Cons of raising chickens:
- Preparation and expense – There is some time and money involved in setting up housekeeping for your chickens. They require shelter in the form of a coop which can be made or purchased, as well as chicken feed and some sort of watering system.
- Ordinances – Depending on where you live, there may be ordinances that you have to follow regarding keeping livestock in your yard. However, if the chickens are kept as pets (that just happen to produce eggs) the rules may be different. You’ll need to check with your town or city officials to make sure you can keep chickens in your yard.
- Neighbors – You’ll need to let your neighbors know about your new venture, especially if they’re very close by. They may not appreciate the noise – hens are quiet, but roosters can be loud and aggressive. And if you don’t keep things quite clean, there may be some unwanted odor as well. So make sure to be on good terms with your neighbors (or maybe offer them some fresh eggs).
- Time and commitment – Chickens are living, breathing creatures and require daily care. You’ll need to feed and water them every day. They need to be brought safely into their coop at night and then let out in the morning again to get exercise and fresh air. The coop will need to be cleaned regularly to keep them healthy and reduce odors.
If you’re ready for the commitment and initial expense, raising chickens in your backyard can be an enjoyable and rewarding way to save money and gain a new sense of connection with your food.