What made you decide to raise chickens in your suburban backyard?
For some reason, I have always loved the idea of having my own chickens. I love to cook for my family and others, and dishes made with fresh eggs just sounded better. My husband and I are both small animal veterinarians, so I thought for sure we can do this!
I still decided to read up on the subject before we dove in. The book I found the most helpful was A Chicken In Every Yard, by Robert and Hannah Litt. Even as a vet, I had forgotten so much and knew so little about basic husbandry for poultry.
Where did you get your chickens?
We purchased our first four chicks in May 2015 from a seller on Craig’s List. I had been researching breeds a lot, so I knew what we wanted. We started with two Easter Eggers, one Rhode Island Red, and one Chocolate Orpington
Dr’s tip: When ordering chicks, beware of “straight run” which means you will get un-sexed chicks. Some hybrid breeds can be sexed by color, but most require an expert to tell the sex, so if you don’t want any roosters always order pullets.
Does your neighborhood have restrictions on keeping backyard chickens?
How did you care for the young chicks?
When did you move the chicks into their coop in your backyard?
Seeing as we are not handy people (literally we could not build a bird house) I hired a contractor to build our coop. You can easily find free coop plans on the net. For this, I have one word: Pinterest.
I would also strongly suggest using Hardware Cloth for the sides and to line the bottom of the entire enclosure. Chicken Wire is NOT sturdy and can easily be chewed through by predators!
Another thing we recommend is to use the deep litter method for keeping their coop clean. It’s a great way to make sure the coop doesn’t smell which is especially beneficial when you live in a neighborhood where the homes are relatively close together.
Do you let your hens free range?
What has been the most fun thing about owning suburban backyard chickens?
What has been the most difficult experience with owning chickens in a suburban backyard?
The hardest thing has been having to deal with losing our birds and seeing how much it hurt the kids.
What about keeping chickens with other household pets?
We have had a hawk swoop down twice, but the girls are expert hiders. Our kid’s trampoline provides wonderful shade and security! If you are worried about dogs or other wildlife, I would suggest building a huge run off your coop so your girls have plenty of room to scratch and stretch their legs.
Are you happy with your decision to get backyard chickens?
Any tips for a first-time backyard chicken owner?
One cool thing we’ve noticed is that we waste a lot less food. Our girls love leftovers. We feed them fruit, veggies, cooked pasta, bread, etc so we never have food go to waste. Plus it saves on their feed costs.
Chickens are very skittish around humans, but if you raise your own birds from chicks and feed them lots of treats, they’ll be more affectionate.
Chickens as pets are quite easy to take care of, but I would suggest you do your research before bringing home chickens. Especially to make sure backyard chickens are allowed in your area. It would be terrible to invest time, money, and emotion into bringing home some birds that ultimately get taken away.