Raising chickens in the backyard is beginning to become a craze. Compared to other livestock, chickens, by far, are the easiest to raise. They are small, relatively quiet, and most of all, are willing to eat just about anything.
Coops are now becoming common in the backyards of urban and suburban dwellers. Indeed, the backyard chicken movement is growing – and the growth has been attributed to the increasing interest in local and organic foods.
Before joining in the movement and start raising your own chickens, you need to realize early on that these are live animals you need to attend to every day. In other words – you can expect to do constant work and clean up!
Understand Your City’s Ordinances
Get to know your municipal regulations as well as the rules in your homeowner association. There are a number of areas that ban roosters and set a limit on the number of animals that are allowed in a household. You may be required to sign agreements from permits, neighbors, or appear before the zoning board. Some areas may have ordinances that restrict the placement and size of outbuildings while such restrictions may not be present in others.
Identify The Breed
The most important part in starting your urban chicken farm is to know the breed of chicken that you can get. Many breeds come in two general sizes: the standard (large breed) and the bantam which is usually one-quarter the size of the standard type. While both can do fine in most backyards, standard chickens lay much larger eggs and tend to be less flighty.
It’s also important to select a chicken breed that can withstand the regional elements of your area. If you live where winter temps drop below freezing, you’ll need to choose winter hardy birds that tolerate those elements. You can also opt for docile birds if there are kids in the house.
Building A Chicken Coop
Chickens need a dry as well as draft-free shelter. It also needs to be well ventilated. Coops can range from being DIY projects, expensive commercial products, great finds at Craigslist, or something that has been cobbled together on the fly. You can be as creative as you wish in building a chicken coop. Even an old dog house can be converted into a serviceable coop. However you want the coop to be, choose one that you’ll be willing to keep clean.
It’s also important to make sure that your chicken coop is predator proof. Predators can come in various shapes and sizes which can include rodents, coyotes, hawks, and raccoons.
Chickens love bugs and would be satisfied with mealworms. You can also toss compost and scraps to your chickens. Other food scraps that can be good for your chickens include meat (including organs), bones, greens, veggies, yogurt, weeds, and grass clippings (chemical free). For a full listing, we found a great resource here.
It’s also important to provide plenty of water particularly for a laying chicken. Ensure that your chickens have constant access to fresh water.