Raising backyard chickens has been a growing phenomenon for several years. Many cities have passed laws legalizing backyard chickens, encouraging many to raise chickens as a rewarding hobby.
One of the biggest benefits to raising backyard chickens is that their eggs are fresher and often tastier than store-bought varieties. Hens can lay one egg per day. Multiply that egg per hen, and breakfast is always available.
Another benefit to chickens is they produce a natural fertilizer that can be used in gardens. “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” says chicken manure can be composted, aged and eventually added to the garden. In about six months, a person will accumulate about one cubic foot of manure per chicken. Egg shells and other compostable material can be added to create an even richer formula.
Chickens also can help control bugs around the yard, offers the experts at Tractor Supply Company.
Before investing in backyard chickens, people should determine if chickens will fit with their lifestyle. Costs and care are a big consideration.
Each chick will cost anywhere between $3 to $5 a bird. Then there’s feed to consider. The most expensive item will likely be the coop. The experts at The Happy Chicken Coop, a resource for raising chickens and starting coops, says handy men and women can build homemade coops, but ready-made ones will cost a few hundred dollars. The coop will need to offer around four square feet of space per chicken (or what’s recommended for the breed). Despite being seemingly independent birds, chickens need people to be active caregivers. They require feed and water daily. The chickens will need a caregiver while you vacation. People who are frequently away from home should reconsider chickens.
Chickens also are prone to worms, parasites and lice. They need to have rear feathers trimmed to stay clean and sanitary, and they will require an area where they can “dust” and self-groom. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises not to cuddle and kiss chickens like pets because they can carry salmonella. Not every coop is completely varmint-proof, and some chickens may succumb to predators. Squeamish or sentimental folks may find chickens aren’t the right fit.
Chickens require commitment and care that many people can provide. It is essential to do one’s homework to ensure that backyard chickens are a sound investment.