So you think you want chickens, huh? Take it from me, there is a lot more to it than you may think, but it’s not really that hard.
I’m having a blast being a chicken mom. At the moment I have 5 hens and intend to add 5 more to the flock in the spring. I would like a roo, but I live in town and roosters are not allowed. Honestly, being awakened by a cock crowning just outside my window would piss me off every bit as much as it would my neighbors, so I have to agree with the ordinance. But if I lived in the country, there would be a roo or two.
Aside from the awesome supply of fresh organic eggs, chickens can be pretty danged entertaining. They each have their own unique personalities and quirks. They come running to greet me when I open the back door like their tail feathers are on fire and I’m a fireman! It’s really not me they are all that interested in, they just know I’m the human that feeds them and brings them treats. Food is about the only thing on their minds most of the time.
Here are a few things I’ve learned in the short time since becoming a backyard chicken owner.
- It ain’t cheap to get started. I could have bought 300 dozen eggs from my egg man for what I paid to get started raising chickens.
We had a very small backyard with no sheds or fencing before we started. Here are the main things we purchased to get ready for my new flock:
Used chicken coop – $100. The coop came with a galvanized chicken waterer thingy and a hanging feeder. I figure that saved me about $45
Fencing, posts, lumber and hardware – $400
Coop repair – $50
Bedding for the coop – $10 I’m using the crushed corn cob bedding from Rural King. Don’t know if that will be what I use forever, but for this winter I am doing the deep bedding in my coop for warmth and I’ve already got several inches of this stuff so I guess I’ll stick with it til spring when I clean it all out. I do like it, but there may be cheaper options out there.
Coop heater – some chicken owners don’t heat their coops at all – chickens really are capable of keeping themselves warm. But being a new chicken mom, I just wanted something for extreme weather. Our coop is way to close to the house to risk anything as dangerous as a heat lamp so I went with a Cozy Coop – $50 but well worth it for the safety factor. I sleep better at night knowing there won’t be a fire because of dangerous heating choices.
Layer feed, scratch, oyster shell calcium, grit, meal worms (this is how you get them to let you pet and hold them, just watch your fingers, lol only use as a special treat once in a while) – about $60 or so.
Galvanized trash cans – 3 of them. A big one for all the feed and scratch and 2 smaller ones to close up the food and water each night. As I said the coop and run are very close to my house and I don’t want to leave food and water out at night to tempt the rodents.
Rodent killer – I used to own a little cafe that was right across the road from a small grain elevator and storage. We never ever had mice after I discovered these little packets of death! They really do the trick.
- It’s a lot of hard work.
We spent several back breaking days putting up the fence, painting, repairing and lifting that gazillion pound coop up on legs. Thank you to Mr. Happypreneur for working so hard for my hobby, just because you knew it meant so much to me. XO ?
- Keeping your chickens healthy. I put 1 or 2 drops of oregano or thyme essential oils and some apple cider vinegar in their water to help keep them as healthy as possible. Oregano and thyme are natural antibiotics and a little goes a long way.
Here are the oils I use because of their quality and price…
- There’s a LOT of poop involved… a. lot. of. poop. Nough said.
- You have to be diligent to predator proof your coop and run. I live in a small town in rural Illinois. I live on the edge of town near the woods. So, I can’t be lax about protecting my flock. Even if you live in a populated city there are still the occasional raccoon, owl, hawk, possum and skunk. Not to mention dogs, cats and rats!
- You will need chicken shoes. You know, an old pair of shoes that you only wear in the chicken run because they will be covered in poop. Did I mention there is a lot of poop.???
- Enjoyment. There is much to enjoy about raising backyard chickens. They are funny and like their turn at getting their backs scratched. There’s something very satisfying about gathering eggs. I truly enjoy my chickens.
As I mentioned, I’m fairly new to backyard chickens, so I thought I would share a few of the backyard chicken resources I’ve learned so much from…
My Backyard Chickens Pinterest Board is loaded with tons of great pins that lead to helpful information from all over the web. While you are there be sure to follow me!
BackyardChickens.com is one of my favorite forums with all kinds of incredible insight from hundreds of others who share their first hand experience raising chickens.
Here’s a free guide to raising backyard chickens from The Countryside Network.
The Chicken Chick know’s it all. Her blog is chook full (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) of amazing knowledge and her book is a must have for all backyard chicken moms and dads!
OhLardy.com has a Practical Guide To Keeping Chickens – 101
Pam’s Backyard Chickens has a whole bunch of short videos to help you with your new chickens!
Well, that ought to be enough to help you get started planning your first flock. If you enjoyed this I would really appreciate if you commented below, pin it to Pinterest and share it on Facebook 🙂
Talk to you soon,