About a year ago we started researching the foods that we eat. We learned that many of the foods that we were eating had pesticides in them, steroids and antibiotics stuffed into them or contained petroleum. We started trying to think about ways we could control the food that goes on our plate, making sure that it is as healthy as possible. At that time we were eating a lot of eggs and my husband (smart man that he is) suggested raising our own chickens. He had friends that did it and explained it wouldn’t be that difficult. We had plenty of room and I eventually warmed up to the idea. Don’t do like my husband did though and go buy the chickens and come home with them and say, well we need to build a coop before dark. He and his brother went to Lowe’s and bought all the required materials to build a coop for our new birds. We used a large chain link dog kennel to put the coop in. It worked out really great and we have now expanded the kennel and even added another coop for our ever expanding flock. Here is my advice if you are thinking of starting your own backyard chicken flock.
|The coops that husband built.|
1. Check the laws in your city to determine if you are allowed to keep them and what the laws are concerning chickens.
2. Determine if you have enough space to keep them.
3. Learn all you can about chickens, BEFORE you get them. How to care for them, what to feed them, etc.
4. Make sure that it is not more than you can handle and be sure that the whole family is on board with taking care of them. Kids love chickens and it is important for them to be a part of taking care of them.
5. Determine how many chickens you would like to have. It would depend on how many eggs you would like to have. Newly laying hens will lay about 1 egg a day, depending on the weather. So if your family eats 6 eggs a week, you would be fine with one bird, 10-12 eggs a week you would need two and so forth.
6. Have your coop built and ready for them to live in before you purchase them. You can build one from scratch with your own ideas, but there are lots of websites with plans to guide you through. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate or fancy. Shelter, nesting boxes and somewhere to roost are what is important.
7. Chickens can be purchased through local Chicken Keeping groups and through online hatcheries like http://www.mthealthy.com/ and www.meyerhatchery.com. If you are close to Cincinnati, OH you can go to Mt. Healthy and pick them up instead of having them delivered by mail. With the hatcheries you can buy eggs to incubate yourself or day old chickens. You can also buy young birds (pullets), your prices are cheaper the younger the stage of their lives.
If you live in the Central Kentucky Area, CLUCK! "Coop"erative of Lexington Urban Chicken Keepers is a great group to friend on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/#!/clucklex. They are a great resource for learning about chickens and asking questions when you need some help.
Hopefully this will get you started thinking about whether chicken keeping is for you!