For many people, raising chickens is their first step to becoming more self sufficient. Chickens need relatively little care, but there are a few things you may want to consider before placing your order :
Do you have the space : A coop needs to allow at least two square feet per chicken and they will also need a secure run allowing at least three square feet per chicken (the bigger the better - particularly if they won't have a chance to free range safely). Their coop doesn’t have to be anything palatial, but some care will need to be taken to ensure that it is dry, free of drafts and safe from predators.
when you might need it!
Cost : In terms of the monetary cost of feed and bedding, hens usually more than pay for themselves with their eggs (not to mention the enjoyment they bring as pets). The cost of buying or building a coop and run however, may take a few years for them to 'earn'.
How many : How many chickens really depends on how many you think you would like, have the space for, and can look after. Chickens have a group mentality so having at least two or three is better than having just one. With most egg laying breeds you can expect to get four to six eggs per week from each hen (this number will probably decrease as they get older). You don't need to have a rooster to get eggs but if you want one then the normal ratio is one rooster to every ten hens.
Neighbours : Some local areas have rules on keeping chickens so you should always check for any restrictions before building / buying your coop. Even if you are allowed to get chickens, it may be a good idea to have a word with the neighbours first if they are very close by - particularly if you are thinking of getting a rooster.
A Rooster can add a lot of colour and excitement to your flock - but will your neighbours mind being woken up at 5am (or earlier) every morning?
Free Ranging : Chickens enjoy being able to free range, but if they are not in a secure area, and / or you are unable to keep an eye on them, it is not always safe for them to do so (predators, including your local neighbourhood dogs, can make their presence felt very quickly). If you are able to free-range safely then nothing in your garden is safe – they will eat / dig up / dustbathe in everything! If they can’t free range safely then they will need a secure pen – fresh air and exercise is as important to a chickens well-being as it is to our own.
Below is a video from keeping chickens newsletter subscriber Carol H of her baby chicks first day :