I guess you could say that I am a city girl, having never grown up around livestock or having any sort of experience dealing with farm type animals. So the idea of starting off on a project like this seemed a little daunting. I took to the interwebs with alacrity, searching out the best breeds for our climate, the best coops, the best feed, etc. There are a plethora of websites available with amazing information on how to start your own backyard flock. There are even great blog articles telling you exactly what you need to get started. That being said, there is no substitute for personal experience and therefore, I see no harm in adding my experience to the collective pool of information.
This will be a multi-part series, wherein I hope to offer advice to the absolute novice. My articles will chronicle the raising of four baby chicks to laying hens in a suburban setting.
Part 1: Assessing Your Situation.
Before you go to the feed store or co-op and fall in love with those adorable little bundles of fluff, you should first find out what your city and county laws are on the keeping of livestock.
Then you need to really sit down with your family and talk over the responsibilities and work that will be involved with your flock. Backyard chickens, kept for their egg laying abilities rather than their meat, will become family pets (for some).
We bought our chickens when they were three days old and raised them in our home for the first 8 weeks before moving them outside. You may decide to buy older chickens, called pullets which are closer to being able to lay eggs.
If you buy them as baby chicks, you'll need a warm, safe place away from predators and weather, to rear the chicks until they are strong enough to go outside.
Once outside, they need space to roam around that you don't mind getting destroyed (chickens are very destructive), a safe coop and hen house to protect them from predators, a place to roost, and a comfy nesting box for the eventual eggs you'll receive. So the very first step in a backyard flock is figuring out if you can provide these things.
Backyard chicken keeping requires:
- Food and water
- A safe chicken coop
- Space for them to roam
- Protection from predators
- Patience and flexibility
- A sense of humor
Once you've figured out if are willing and able to provide all of those things, the next step will be to build or purchase a quality chicken coop. Part 2 will go over my Dos and Don'ts of Chicken Coops.
Have you taken the plunge? What advice do you have for beginners?