Saturday, 30 August 2014

Things to consider before getting chickens

Thinking about getting chickens? Chickens provide you with healthy eggs and are cute little pets, but there are some things that you may want to consider before getting chickens.
Costs:  You need to consider the weekly cost of keeping chickens.  The initial set ups costs can be quite high if everything is bought new. You will need to buy chickens, a coop, predator proof fencing and feeding equipment. The reoccurring costs consist mainly of feed, worming supplies and possibly some supplements. If money is tight, you may have to consider the weekly price of keeping chickens versus buying eggs from the grocery shops. We have added this up and think it is well worth the weekly price (not much) to have healthy free range eggs and 4 pet chickens too! Here is a link to downloadable checklists to track weekly or monthly egg laying.

Local laws: Check your local council rules and regulations to make sure you can keep chickens legally. Find out whether there is a limit on the number of chickens, a permit required for a coop, roosters allowed or any other restrictions. Often chicken runs must be set back at least one metre from a dividing fence. You will need to make sure your poultry shed will not cause a nuisance to your neighbours. Roosters are often not allowed in residential areas. 
Coop: Make sure the coop and run are predator proof. Here is a link to how we built our chicken coop. You will get mice, foxes, dogs, cats and native animals trying to get in when you are not looking. If you allow the chickens to free-range, then they must be locked in the coop at night to keep predators out. Also make the coop and run easy to clean. Install dropping drawers that are removed easily and also doors that are high enough for adults to walk through. Install removable roosts to be able to clean underneath them. Using sand for litter inside the coop makes cleaning it much easier. You have to keep conditions of the coop clean to prevent odour and fly breeding. Here is link to how we planned and built our chicken area.
Other pets: If you have other pets such as dogs and cats, than introducing chickens is often a huge problem. Because many dogs and cats will immediately give chase and attempt to kill the birds. Our dog has killed a few native birds that have gotten too close, so she will be trained. Here is a video of what happened when Bella met the chickens.

Noise: Chickens are relatively quiet throughout the day except when they are laying an egg.  Roosters will wake even the deepest sleeper and may bother neighbours. Research the different breeds as some do better in the heat, some do better in the cold, some lay more eggs than others, some are more or less friendly than others.

Destroying your garden & vegie patch: If you garden, then you may have to keep your chickens locked up during certain parts of the season. Chickens will eat seeds, tender greens, ripe produce and young plants. They will also dig holes in your dirt or mulch areas. These holes serve as dust baths and help the chickens control mites. Chickens will also dirty a lawn with feathers, droppings. This can be a real problem if you like a well-manicured lawn or use your lawn often. However, we just rinse the droppings into the lawn and it has never been greener. If the yard that the hens are allowed to range in is too small, they will very possibly reduce all living plants to nothing.
Eggs: When buying chickens, if you want eggs straight away purchase point of lay birds. Please realise that hens do not always lay an egg every day. There are many factors that play a role in egg-production. For example the daily amount of sunlight will affect how many eggs you get. You can also get different coloured eggs. Click here for more information.
Lady Creativity

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