A lot of people today have started raising chickens in their backyards. Everyone has their own reason for wanting to raise chickens.
You have decided to research raising chickens at home to see if this is right for you.
Your first question is How to raise chickens at home and where do I start?
First lets decide why you want to raise chickens. Some of the reasons people want to raise their own chickens are:
- fresh eggs (there is nothing better)
- chickens are easy and inexpensive
- chickens make good pets (yes they have personality)
- you can use them to fertilize your yard and garden
Whatever your reason, it’s a fun and rewarding experience that will give you enjoyment as well as food. Let me give you some ideas on how to raise chickens at home.
Room to Raise Chickens
The first step is to find out if it’s legal to have backyard chickens in your town.
If it is legal is there a number allowed and are you allowed a rooster?
Subdivisions frown on roosters, often because they are loud early in the morning. (You don’t need a rooster to have eggs.)
Keep in mind how your chickens will affect your neighbors. A dozen eggs will often make a neighbor happy about your chickens. Check your local laws.
There are many schools of thought on exactly how much room is needed to raise chickens in your backyard.
Some say that you need 4-5 sq ft per chicken, others believe chickens need 10-12 sq ft per bird.
There is no set size space that is best for chickens.
There are other things that must be taken into consideration on how much space you will need.
Take into consideration how big your coop will be. Will your chickens stay in a run all the time or will they be let out in the yard during the day and only be spending nights in the coop?
My personal run is 14 ft X 36 ft or, 504 sq ft, including the coop, for 6 chickens and believe me they have plenty of room.
I could have more chickens in this size of run but I’m just enjoying the six for now.
How many chickens you have will be based on room, laws and most importantly personal preference.
Free Range Chickens
What is a free-range chicken? On a farm or ranch chickens that are given free run of the property are considered free-range chickens.
They have no fences. This is considered by many to be the ideal situation to raise chickens, or any livestock for that matter.
Since we are talking about back yard chickens, your free-range will be your entire yard to run.
What are the pros and cons to free-range your chickens?
- You don’t need a run, only a coop
- Chickens will eat bugs in the yard
- Back yard chickens will fertilize your yard on their own
- They may decide to hang out on your patio… leaving fertilizer
- Chickens scratch for food… It could kill your flower bed
- Other pets, like dogs, may want to eat your new pets
These are a few things to consider when you are comparing free-range chicken to chickens in a run.
Raising Chickens in a Run
You may want to look at keeping your chickens in a run. Much like a dog run but built for chickens.
I let my chickens free-range for a while and decided to build a run because of some cons listed above.
Again, run vs free-range is what’s best for you. If you live in an area where predators live you may want a run to keep your chickens safe.
You can cover a run with chicken wire to keep out unwanted guests that are only looking for an easy meal.
I built my run from my chicken coop down my yard fence 14 ft out from the yard fence and just down one side of the yard.
The nice thing about a run for your chickens is that you can go away for a few days and relax knowing your chickens will be safe and happy while you are away.
If you go with a run just consider giving each chicken about 10 sq ft each. With six chickens that’s 60 sq ft. or a just under 8ft X 8ft.
Add on a 8ft X 4ft chicken coop and you have a nice home for your back yard chickens in less than 100 sq ft of space in your back yard.
One of the most important parts for raising back yard chickens is the coop. Your chickens will need a place to live.
We all want to go home and have a safe place to sleep at night. Chickens are no different.
Your backyard chickens will go to the coop every night to sleep. They will also go to the coop to lay eggs for you to eat.
I would recommend having a chicken coop that has laying boxes (for eggs), and perches for sleeping.
The chicken coop will give your flock a place to go in bad weather and a warm place to snuggle up together to sleep.
It is important in winter for warmth. Keep in mind that it is nice to have electricity near your coop if possible. In cold areas you will want to have a way to keep water from freezing.
I built my own coop but many farm and ranch stores have pre-made coops. It doesn’t matter if you buy or build a coop, only that you have one.
Raising Backyard Chickens
I hope this answers all your questions on How to Raise Chickens at Home.
Start by checking the local regulations concerning raising back yard chickens.
Decide how many chickens you have space for and how many chickens you actually want to start with.
Are you going to free-range your chickens or keep them in a run?
Finally, and most importantly plan your chicken coop. I will be writing my next article on chicken coops. Stay tuned.