I love all animals, but I understand how some people can find more orthodox pets a little boring. Cats and dogs make great companions, true. However, some people prefer to own animals that are a little outside the box, and a challenge to care for. Keeping back-garden chickens is fairly popular these days, especially in the wake of the global recession. Here are some important tips for keeping your own.
First of all, make sure you sort out a coop long before you have your birds. I know that this may seem obvious, but you do hear about people neglecting to do it. This can lead to a lot of comical (but frustrating) running around your garden! Some people like to build their own coops in order to save money, but the easiest option is to buy your own. You should be able to find these online or at a local garden centre. You can even get mobile designs if you’d want to move your chickens frequently. Here are some mobile chicken coop ideas .
Secondly, find some chicken farmers or neighbours that keep chickens. They’ll have all kinds of valuable insight to offer you. I know that this is why you landed on this post, but it’s best to ask someone local. You may live in an area with a particularly hot climate, or a high fox population. Most people will be happy to show you their set-up, and tell you about mistakes they made in the past. You could read all the blogs on keeping chickens in the world. However, nothing beats seeing how it’s done.
Another tip is to keep your kids and chickens separate. In fact, if you have kids, I advise against getting chickens as a pet altogether. No, they’re not a particularly dangerous animal. However, you are going to come into the garden to find some pretty gory scenes on some mornings. Weasels, coyotes and foxes all love attacking chickens. Although you can get coops designed to stave off predators, some of them can be devious. Of course, the chickens are your animals, and you can interact with them however you like to. Just be prepared for the possibility of cleaning up chicken remains.
My final tip is to consider all of your duties before deciding on the amount of chickens you’ll get. Farm life may not be the image you have in mind. A lot of people mistakenly think that chickens are low-maintenance, and buy several for their garden. Make sure you do some research into caring for chickens, and factor this in when you buy them. While straw and diatomaceous earth can help with the smell, chickens produce a surprising amount of waste. They also have to be fed at regular intervals, and have their eggs collected. Unless you’ve had experience before, I recommend starting with only two chickens.
Owning chickens is not only fun, but very rewarding when you eat those home-raised eggs! Take these tips on board, and you’ll have a much better experience when you first bring them home.