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Raising Backyard Chickens
If you are a believer in urban farming, you may have considered raising backyard chickens. You may already have considered buying a bird bath or a bird feeder. If you already have a bird bath or bird feeder, you already know about the many benefits they provide to both humans and birds. Backyard bird feeders, bird baths and bird houses can provide many hours of enjoyment for humans, as well as offering much needed food, water and refuge to your avian visitors. So why not consider raising backyard chickens?
The Benefits Of Raising Backyard Chickens
If you love all kinds of birds, you don`t need to stop at blue jays, cardinals, sparrows and other songbirds. You may be wondering what it`s like to keep chickens in your backyard. Keeping chickens in an urban backyard environment is not as uncommon or as difficult as you may think. There are many obvious benefits of having chickens, not the least of which is access to fresh eggs on a daily basis. In fact, on average a hen will give one fresh egg daily. Over time, the savings can really add up, if you factor in the time and gas needed to get to the store to buy eggs, not to mention the environmental impact to driving to the store whenever you need eggs.
As a matter of fact, keeping backyard chickens is becoming so popular among urban farmers, that there are some cities in the US that will actually pay you do it! For example, the city of Austin, Texas offers classes on keeping backyard chickens. If you take the classes and build a chicken coop, you are eligible for a $75 rebate! If you live in Austin and would like to sign up for chicken keeping classes, you can sign up at the City of Austin’s website.
Urban Farming Of Backyard Chickens Saves Money And Time
The money that you will spend on feeding your chickens will be recouped in the money you will save by not having to buy eggs. The fresher the egg, the more nutritious the egg will be. You may already know that eggs are full of nutrients essential to maintaining optimal health. Vitamins A, B, D and E, as well as calcium, phosphorous iron and potassium are all found in eggs. In addition to the health benefits for your and your family, keeping chickens will naturally improve the ecosystem around your home. Backyard chickens feed on earwigs, grubs, beetles and worms, and addition to cutting down on the lawn and yard maintenance of your home.
What To Consider When Raising Backyard Chickens
Before you start your backyard chicken flock, you should do some research into city and town ordinances, especially if you live in an urban or suburban area. You may find that your municipality does not allow roosters because of the noise they make, or that there is a limit on the number of backyard chickens you`re allowed to keep. You will then have to decide on the breed of baby chicks you`ll get. Choose your backyard chickens according to where you live and why you`re keeping chickens. For example: Some breeds do well in hotter weather, while others thrive in the cold. And some chickens are better egg layers than others.
Where To Buy Backyard Chickens
Next, go out and buy your baby chicks. You can get your chicks online from a hatchery or from a local farm. Baby chicks are not expensive. You can usually buy them for about $2-$3 each, so you can buy baby chicks much cheaper than hens that are already laying. But remember, these babies will grow, so make sure you will have enough room for them when they become full-grown adult chickens. Unless you don`t mind winding up with a rooster, make sure you buy hens that have been sexed from birth.
Handle your baby chicks gently and be good to them! Some chicken breeds are know to become attached to humans.
Housing Your Backyard Chickens
Unless you are planning to be farmer or start a commercial egg business, all you need to consider is how to house a few chickens. For that, you will need a chicken coop. A chicken coop is a structure where your backyard chickens and nest and lay eggs, with an outside portion that allows the chickens walk around during the day. This outside portion is called the run and it is usually enclosed in chicken wire. At night, chicken coops also serve to protect the chickens from predators, such as raccoons, coyotes and foxes. This is why the coop should always be locked at night. There are plenty of chicken coops for sale on Amazon, if you would like to buy one. However, if you would like to save some money and build a chicken coop according to your own specs, there are free plans available online.
Chicken Coop Plans For Backyard Chickens
Of course, the chicken coop you choose should fit the size of your yard and should be built with the size of your backyard chicken flock in mind. It should also be built of the best materials you can possibly buy in order to protect your backyard chickens from predators. Make sure you build your chicken coop deeply enough into the ground to prevent digging predators from killing your chickens. And finally, your should make sure your chicken coop has a good, strong door to make it even harder for intruders to get at your flock. If all of this sounds difficult, it doesn’t
According to Building A Chicken Coop, you should allow at least 2-3 square feet per chicken to run move around, and have a run of about 3-4 feet long. You should also build a ramp going up from the chicken run to the enclosed space. You should also have a place for rain water to collect so the chickens have water to drink. Make sure to build your backyard chicken coop out of non-toxic wood and other materials to keep chickens healthy. Window placement is another important aspect of chicken coop construction.
Windows provide the chickens with sunlight during the day, but they are also the primary source of ventilation. It is very important to get window placement right when building your chicken coop. This why we recommended getting proper chicken coop plans before you begin building your own chicken coop. For more information on building or buying the perfect chicken coop, read our article on chicken coops.
Different Types Of Chicken Coops For Backyard Chickens
You may wish to consider building a non-traditional chicken coop. For example, most people decide to buy or build a stationary chicken coop. However, a mobile chicken coop may be a better choice. If you build a mobile chicken coop, the chickens won’t eat all the grass as quickly. It is also cleaner because mobile chicken coops have no floor. That means you don’t have to clean up all the chicken droppings! If you move your chicken coop around, you will ensure your entire yard is fertilized and that your chickens have more room to roam around.
If building or buying a chicken coop sounds difficult, it doesn`t need to be. We recommend Building A Chicken Coop for expert guidance on how to build your own chicken coop from scratch and without spending a lot of money! Download your free chicken coop plans here!