Keeping chickens is the dream of many people up and down the country. Some people are lucky enough to have them already! It is a little dream of mine too, I have to admit. Being able to walk outside and pluck some fresh eggs from the coop and whip them up for brekkie. What could be better?!
But before you go out and purchase yourself some chicks and/or hens, you need to ask yourself "Can I and should I keep chickens?".
Should You Keep Chickens?
Chickens are wonderful animals to start raising. They are easy to care for, relatively cheap to maintain and incredibly rewarding. But you must make sure you are ready before you dive in and order your chicks. Are you ready to be a Mother Hen? Do you have the time to rear chicks by hand, giving them attention on an hourly basis? Do you have enough space in your town or city? Indeed, is it legal for you to raise and keep chickens where you live? This is all vital information you must know the answers too before you start.
Select Your Method
If you have enough garden space, will you let your chickens roam free? Or will you keep them confined to a coop? This obviously depends on how much space you have on your property but if you do live in a town or city with little space, you may still want to look into building a run so that your chickens can still get adequate light and air. Chickens love to eat and scratch around in shrubs and flowers so you will need to be careful with your garden plants if you let them roam free! It is possible to set up a perimeter fence and move this around every few weeks.
How To Build/Buy A Coop
Coops can be an attractive addition to a garden. You can make your own from old wood and crates or you can purchase a ready made one. Just be sure that there is enough space, that there is protection from predators, roosting poles, nest boxes and enough ventilation.
Choose The Best Breeds
There is an amazing variety of chickens out there to choose from, over 400! When you choose a breed, consider the climate that you live in, the personality of the breed, the egg production levels and whether you want to eat your chickens as well as use their eggs. You can combine many breeds together, but if you want to produce your own pure chicks, then one breed is best.
Do You Need A Rooster
You don't have to have a rooster. You can get eggs without one but if you want to produce your own chicks then you will need one.
Caring for chicks in the early phases is very time consuming but very fun and very cute! You'll need a heat lamp, food and water on hand and you will also need to monitor the indoors and outdoors temperature, gradually adjusting the indoors temperature under the heat lamp to match that of outside so that you can then safely put the chicks in the outdoors coop.
Keeping chickens is like keeping any animal. They care, attention, food, water and cleaning. If you don't want this responsibility, then don't take on any animal. But if you are ready for it, they can be an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable animal to keep.