Backyard chickens


#1

I have been debating for a few years whether or not to keep backyard chickens, mostly leaning towards not to do it for now. Here are some pros cons that I heard so far. Anyone has real life experience that they can share?

Pros:

  • Fresh eggs
  • Companionship
  • Can educate family on the cycle of food raising.

Cons:

  • Time consuming
  • Costly
  • Not very clean
  • Willingness to keep the ladies long after they are done producing.
  • Male chicks as warmth generator from some bad companies selling chicks.

(erica) #2

Do read this funny but informative article: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/09/28/the-it-bird

There are many blogs by chicken-keepers. I once toyed with, but gave up on, the idea after reading about the effort and expense. Fortunately, I live close enough to a poultry farm to splurge on pastured eggs now and then.


#3

I was seriously considering raising chickens 7 years ago. It really isn’t that cost effective if eggs are your main objective.
Plus there are issues of keeping them safe from predators. Hawks are a big problem if the chickens range out of a protected area. Coyotes, raccoon ,fox, weasels, snakes, rats…all are pretty clever about finding ways into a coop.

They are good at eating bugs though! Although I hear guinea hens are better. A friend had several tick infested acres. Since she got guinea hens they rarely find ticks.


#4

My neighbor finally after many years of thinking about it got chickens. She has tons of room and a barn which was helpful but boy did she spend tons setting it all up. It can be done cheaper. I joke with her that she has $1000 eggs (probably more). I would not do it for the eggs. To me the whole thing makes more sense is you are open to eating them. She does get a kick out of having them run around. They are characters. Dogs run free around here so she lost two out of four to dogs. One was her favorite. Yes they have their different personalities. She also likes the addition they make to her compost. She did say a few weeks ago that she thinks she might be over it. I think you have a good notion of the pros and cons. her chickens are clean and she says that is no big deal. One did require a visit to the vet. You will want to have someone who will be happy to help out when you want to go out of town. I am happy that she got them because now I do not think about getting them anymore. I like being a chicken auntie.


#5

Realistically after a couple of years of the hens running around and laying eggs, I got a feeling that most people look at them as pets vs food. I have heard people dumping older non-laying hens at the shelters. Sad.


#6

Yep! As my Mom tells it she got a chick every year at Easter to play with. Once it got big and ugly (her words not mine) they ate it. She rolls her eyes when she hears about people not eating them. I have helped kill chickens just once. It was not really that bad but long story short the wrong chicken was killed. It was my friends favorite. She cried as she fried it up for dinner. Most awkward dinner ever.


#7

I found out that unless the chickens are out with the other livestock pecking through their poop, eating bugs, they’re not really “pastured.” Here’s a terrific article:

https://www.greatbasinfood.coop/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/GBFCO-newsletter-2-2013-Eggspose.pdf


#8

yup. it is required understanding to understand what actually takes place under the guise of government regulations.

“free range” means there is an open door. for breeds of chickens that in the last ten thousand generations have never dared to set foot outside a chicken house, those chickens don’t actually know what to do about an “open door.”

and, sigh, given the actual acclimation to “free range” - and the risks where chickens are wandering around eating anything in the “pasture” that comes to beak, the opportunity for such “free” chickens to become “infected” is thousands of times greater than that of cooped up birds.

science applies; tree hugging is just wishful thinking.


#9

That’s what unfortunately happened with their hens. A ‘critter’ got in, infected them, and they lost their entire flock. They’re doing just a few eggs these days.


#10

OMG, that is just so wrong. Cooped birds - especially battery chickens - are much less healthy than free range birds.

Free range doesn’t mean wandering around loose, either. Pastured chickens are usually done with moveable coops. I did mine with a series of gates and fencing around my (large) garden when I was living rurally.

You’re right about the abuse of the term by so-called “organic” corporate growers. But keeping them 3 to a cage with their beaks cut off where they can’t even move isn’t better.

I didn’t spend any significant amount of money on shelter for my birds, either. I built my own chicken coop out of scrap lumber and PT posts. Didn’t cost that much. 20 years later - it still wouldn’t cost anywhere near $1000 to properly house a few chickens. The coop I built back then was for 2 dozen birds - fewer chickens would do fine in a smaller coop (hence cheaper to build) with some fencing for the yard.

With so few birds, I would most likely go with a moveable coop and moveable fencing so I could move them around the yard more easily. Not having 28 acres anymore, I wouldn’t want to set that much space aside permanently for chickens.

As for what to do with “spent” hens - if you don’t feel like putting up lights and keeping the egg production going over winter, or even if you do, along about the 2nd year they’re pretty much done anyway - find an Amish in the area to slaughter and clean them for you. Some will do it fairly inexpensively, or even on a barter basis - they keep half and you keep half, especially when you’re talking about only 6 birds to start with, which is the max most backyard chicken laws will allow you usually (often fewer).

If nothing else, GIVE them to someone who will process them for themselves. Not to a pet shelter!


#11

Agreed re pastured. In the article Iinked to it showed the nutritional components for different types of eggs. Here’s a link that shows, among other things, moveable coops. And, yes, the chickens are moved into at night.


#12

Hello, I’m a new member, just signed up. We live on a small farm in Central Texas, and we have a small flock of hens.
I would encourage anyone who has the space to keep three or four hens (or more if you really want to be entertained!). The eggs are so much better than store eggs–creamier yolks, firmer whites and taste like eggs should.
The hens have two large indoor coops and a large outdoor coop that is completely contained with footing, chicken wire, and top wire. There are two large hatch doors so I can toss in grass clippings. There are regular doors to access the indoor coops, which get cleaned daily–a task that takes about 10 minutes. My compost pile is so very happy!
If you don’t want to start with chicks, you can get “teen-age” hens, which are more expensive but easier for a novice chicken keeper.
We have geriatric hens who are eight years old now, laying eggs, but not as frequently as in the past. I don’t care. As a previous poster said they are pets. Chickens are incredibly silly, entertaining, and happy birds, and can lift your spirits in a moment.