One of the big concerns about keeping chickens at home is space. The good news is, you don’t need a massive space to keep them in your backyard. With the move to healthier, organic and free-range, many people are now looking at keeping chickens in their garden. For some people there may be an option to allow their chickens to run free, but for most, a coop or chicken tractor is a necessary addition to keep their chickens safe.
What about the noise?
When you encounter a noisy flock of chickens you’ll notice that most of the noise is coming from the roosters. If you decide to keep chickens, unless you are planning to breed, which is not usually a good idea in an urban area, you don’t need a rooster. You can still get bright yolks and daily eggs from only keeping hens.
No early morning wake-ups, no complaining neighbours and no reduction in productivity. If you do live in a more rural area, you can add a rooster for protection of the hens as well as to allow you to breed chicks if you want.
Which breed should I have?
Chicken breeds are a personal choice in many aspects. Some breeds are very friendly and make great pets. Some chickens love human company and will be happy to see you, while others are more skittish and anxious around people.
If you are free-ranging your chickens in a smaller yard, you might consider a small breed such as bantams. You can keep large breeds such as Australorps in a fixed coop or chicken tractor as they can cause havoc in your garden.
Besides preventing the destruction of your garden, having a chicken coop set up (or a few coops) will help protect your chickens from predators such as feral cats, dogs, hawks, eagles and foxes. If you plan on breeding you may also need to watch out for snakes and rats that can attack chicks.
Your coop should also have a nesting area for your chickens to lay their eggs in privacy. Remember that there needs to be shade available all day long as well to keep your chickens cool. You can move a Chicken tractor around the yard to keep your chickens out of the blazing sun. Normal coops should be kept open so your chickens can retreat in to them if they need to during the day and so they can return at night for sleeping.
When do I start getting eggs?
If you have bought point of lay pullets, it means they will be laying within a week or two. Once they are six months old, hens will lay around six eggs per week. In the colder months this usually drops off though. Hens will keep laying eggs until they are around 6 years old or more.
Once they stop laying you can still keep them around to keep your garden free of insects and well fertilised. If you are not breeding chicks, then make sure you take your eggs out every day to prevent the hens becoming broody.
So, there you have it. You can keep chickens in your backyard and collect fresh, healthy eggs daily. They make lovely pets as well and are loved by many from their varied personalities and quirks.