Backyard Chickens

Backyard Chickens (by Brianna Reinhard, Intern, July 10, 2015)

Raising chickens has become trendy, and many people in urban and suburban areas are starting to keep them in their backyard. Chickens provide many benefits. Aside from being exciting and lively pets, they also produce excellent fertilizer for backyard gardens, consume insects and bugs (and sometimes snakes). And, of course, they supply fresh eggs.

Chickens are thought of as a low-maintenance animal that contributes to a sustainable and local food system. However, it is good to be aware of the difficulties that can occur. One of the first considerations is the legality of housing a flock in your backyard—every area has its own rules. If approved, a flock will also require a safe and secure house that is designed to provide a place for the chickens to sleep at night and to lay eggs. Daily feed, water, and appropriate temperatures are all important. Cleaning the coop, as well as any hands and shoes that come into contact with chicken waste, is important in order to prevent salmonella infection. Other potential problems include diminishing egg production as the chickens age, inadvertently promoting commercial hatcheries through purchasing new chicks, unwelcome visits from predators (wild ones, such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons, minks, and domestic pets), receiving surprise roosters in a group of chicks, and unexpected costs. None-the-less, backyard chickens can be a great contribution to your lifestyle.

It is important to fully appreciate both the benefits and risks before jumping into raising “backyard chickens.” The resources below provide some insights and instructions.

4-H Guide to Raising Chickens–Book

Raising Meat Chickens in Small or Backyard Flocks

Helping Your Backyard Chickens Beat the Heat (4-H Website)

Small and Backyard Flocks

Backyard Chicken Basics

How to Grow Healthy Chicks