Are you thinking of adding chicken keeping to your set of skills? Yes? Then this article is for you. Congratulations on starting down this rewarding road.
Chickens are an excellent addition to your family for reasons such as fresh eggs every morning, brightening your mood when they run to greet you and they make excellent snuggling buddies. This article is for the absolute beginner that is wondering where to start to make their dream of keeping chickens a reality, so let’s get to it!
How Many Chickens Should You Get
If you are an absolute beginner, then we recommend starting with 2-3 chickens. Getting more chickens when just starting out can be a little overwhelming especially if things go wrong. At least with a small flock, problems should be easier to manage while you learn the ropes.
2-3 chickens should give you 2-3 eggs per day. A chicken’s egg-laying cycle is around 24 hours so they may not always all lay every day. Once you’re feeling more confident, you can add more hens to your flock.
Why Do You Want Chickens?
This is a very important question to ask yourself before you get chickens. This question will help you decide on which breed of chicken will suit your needs best. Some chickens are better at laying eggs for example while others are better for meat.
Here are some of the things you should consider before getting your chickens:
If eggs are your only reason for getting chickens, then you should consider getting a breed that is known as good egg layers. Good egg layers will lay one or more eggs per day. If you’re starting with 2-3 chickens, then you will have plenty of eggs for breakfast every day.
Breeds that are great at egg production include Rhode Island Reds, Isa Browns and Australorps.
If you want chickens just to have an adorable feathery friend, then you can’t go wrong. Some chicken breeds, however, do make better pets than others. It is best to choose a breed that is known for their gentle temperament and docile nature if you want a lovely pet that lays eggs for you.
Popular choices for pet chickens are Silkies, Australorps and Sussex. If you want a pet that also specialises in egg-laying then breeds such as Isa Browns, Orpingtons, Sussex and New Hampshire Reds are great choices.
Free-Range Or A Chicken Run
The amount of freedom you give your chickens really depends on your lifestyle and environment. In order to keep your chickens safe, you will need to make some adjustments depending on your schedule and backyard size.
- Full-time worker/ stay at home chicken parent
If you are someone who has to go to work during the day and cannot let the chickens out to roam safely while you’re gone, then it is better to get a chicken run. A run is an extension of the coop that allows your chickens out during the day and keeps them safe from predators while still allowing them to behave as chickens do.
If you or another member of your family is home most of the day, then letting your chickens out to roam free is a great option. Chickens usually will retire back to the coop when the sun goes down, then you will have to close them up to keep them safe during the night.
People with a small backyard often go for the coop with a run so that the chickens can free range without getting themselves into danger. People with a large backyard often don’t mind their chickens roaming free and exploring all the space available to them. In both situations, your chickens will still need a coop to retire to at night.
Chicken keepers who live in an area with predators, usually go for a coop with a run. It is easier to make a run predator proof than it is to make your whole yard safe. For certain areas, predators like foxes, rats, mice and quolls can be a problem. Knowing that there are predators and taking action to protect your chickens are important especially if you aren’t home to supervise while they roam free.
Anyone who’s ever embarked on the chicken keeping journey can tell you how rewarding it is despite some tough times. Chickens are very independent creatures so you don’t have to run after them day and night to make sure they eat. It is, however, better to start with a small flock since many first-time chicken keepers often struggle with chicken health and behavioural issues. Good luck in your chicken keeping journey!