Right now many people are worried about food shortages and egg shortages in some areas. This has prompted an extremely high jump in chick and poultry purchases! While we LOVE that more people are wanting to become poultry parents we also have a few things we’d like to address. While this is a great time of year in which many poultry owners do add young chicks to their flock, and there are always new chicken parents joining the poultry ownership joys, there are many joining out of panic or fear right now.
What should you know? First let’s start with those just concerned about egg shortage and only wanting to jump in for eggs. You have other options we’re here to share with you! There are many chicken owners throughout all locations rural or not (you’d be surprised). If there are less eggs or an egg shortage in your area, we recommend you reach out on your facebook and nextdoor sites and find the local chicken enthusiast/poultry groups – they likely will sell you some eggs or enjoy sharing. During difficult times there are many out there who will at least spare an egg or two. And bonus – they may appreciate your scraps for their chickens or you can offer to get their chickens some dried meal worm treats!
Maybe you’re actually really wanting chickens now anyway AND eggs! Here’s a few things you should consider beforehand. Chickens take 6-8 months before they begin to lay eggs – so age is important to consider depending how long you’re willing to wait for your new little fluff balls to start providing you breakfast. If you want to skip the baby phase you can always search your local online and poultry groups to see if there’s a small flock for re-homing at laying age (another age to keep in mind is that depending on breed they may lay less frequently after hitting somewhere between 4-6 years old) so do your research if you’re a first time chicken parent. Breed can also determine how frequent of layers, how big / color of egg, and sometimes how soon or long egg laying phases last.
**Special note please check your local ordinances to see if you CAN have poultry, and if so how many**
While we feel anyone should have the freedom to chicken ownership, not all regulations agree and this would be something you’d have to take up with your local legislation and zoning commission.
Pros and Cons of chicken ownership – welcome to the real world of chickens! The number one surprising aspect of chicken ownership we hear the most often is “I didn’t realize just how attached I’d get!”. Chickens are far more endearing than most people expect. They can learn their names, routines, a few tricks and of course recognize their family and favorite treats. They love to explore, enjoy your kitchen scraps, and are great bug control for your garden but will also eat your garden if given the chance haha.
Chickens are amazingly personable pets, they can learn their names, a few tricks and definitely recognize their owner. They may even run to them when they pull up if they’re free ranging at the time hoping for more treats. They provide so much more than just eggs.
Chickens also come with a huge amount of responsibility, they need a LOT more room than is advertised or recommended and the coops sold for 3-4 hens is by far often too small unless just a sleeping quarters. They LOVE to run around a large area and just using a chicken tractor to move them around, while it spares the wear on your ground and fertilizes the area during movement, it is not enough space for them to run and fly on a full time basis. Yes, chickens fly – no not migrate type of flight but they are good at scaling things to climb/fly up, getting up high, getting over fences, into trees and a good glide across a larger area than expected.
They also love the sun AND the dirt. They adore laying out to sunbathe but need access to water at all times and an option for shade, and they love to dig dirt holes to bathe in which is actually excellent for bug control on/in their feathers and good for them. Some offer a kiddie pool filled with dust bathing opportunities. They will use toys, create a pecking order, have favorite pals to hang out with and more.
On the down side though many animals are attracted to them, regardless of where you live you have to protect them from rodents, raccoons, minks/weasels, dogs (stray or your own), coyotes, larger predators, foxes, and even other birds of prey who will all snatch your chickens not just in the night but also in broad daylight in front of you. The best way to protect your chickens is to have a fully enclosed run and a very secure sleeping coop. The run should also have protection around the base, hardware cloth while expensive is often the most effective for keeping things from digging up into the coop.
Chickens are an investment and the easiest one to make is with your heart but few people expect the initial cost for an appropriate set up and protections so your heart isn’t broken. You also must be aware that chickens can get sick from a number of things, even other wild birds who may visit near the pen. Many people fear if you have chickens you’ll get salmonella and while they’re carriers if you have healthy chickens and wash your hands the risk of that is very low. They can however pick up bugs like mites, worms, diseases like coccidiosis, marek’s and a common problem is bumble foot.
Chicken owners must learn to either be prepared to perform basic care and treatment of common potential issues like bumble foot or mites or have the funds to afford a vet that sees poultry.
The next pro/con is eggs! You get eggs which is obviously a pro, but you’ll get beautiful (possibly even colored shelled) large, healthy, and by far the most flavorful eggs you’ve ever had. You’ll be proud of your eggs and fall in love with farm fresh. The con with this, after all the love, care, hard work, feed and costs – you’ll have the most expensive eggs you’ve ever bought.
BUT, chickens are freeloaders during the winter. Some put lights inside the coop during winter to extend their daylight hours and encourage longer laying periods or year long laying but this can be hard on a chickens body which is used to a natural off season so we generally do not recommend this. They do not need lights inside their coop and they rarely (you must be in EXTREME cold temps, far below freezing) need a heat lamp which could easily and have caused many coop fires. Chickens adapt quite well to the cold if they have a draft free shelter and a nice area to bed down and make their nests, they will also sometimes huddle together if they’re buddies and share a sleeping area.
We are here to encourage chicken/poultry ownership and if you have questions about care (at any age/stage), or whether getting chickens is even right for you we welcome any messages to discuss!
Chickens are an amazing pet, very fulfilling, create food sustainability with the most beautiful eggs you’ll ever have! – Side note – You do not need a rooster for your chickens to lay eggs (or even go broody/try to hatch the infertile eggs). We just hope to help everyone understand that chickens can live 7-10 years with amazing care but require research into the best diet, more space than expected, a very secure set up, and a wait period if starting from babies. Generally we suggest that you start with full grown hens who need a loving home and next year add to your flock if you would like to try babies (they must be nearly full grown and introduced properly to your flock in order to get along as a group safely and you should always raise more than one together). Chickens need friends! Chickens are addicting 😊 Go out and be chicken people – but don’t do it out of fear, we’re here to help.