So you want to keep chickens…

April hanging out in the backyard.

A lot of people these days are concerned with the amount of chemicals that go into their food. More and more people have started to grow their own vegetables, so the next logical step seems to keep two or three hens in your backyard.

You will soon learn that it is surprisingly easy and very pleasurable to keep chickens. It is becoming increasingly popular, probably  because hens make such charismatic and endearing family pets. It is a hobby that children can easily become involved in. You can also be safe in the knowledge that hens are not unhygienic. On the contrary, they will spend hours cleaning themselves.

As you get to know your chickens you will soon discover that each one has an individual personality or characteristic. At the end of a hectic day there is nothing more relaxing than to stand and watch your chickens strutting around the backyard, fending for themselves.

Before you go out and buy your first hens you will need to be aware that you must devote a certain amount of time each day into looking after them, just as you would with a dog or cat.

Rose hanging out in the backyard.You will need to consider where you are going to keep them, whether you have a friend or relative who will feed them when you are away, and how secure the site is against foxes, raccoons and other predators. Even if you live in the middle of a city this is still a major consideration as there are a surprisingly high number of urban predators these days. I must also note that there are certain city by-laws that prevent people from owning chickens (I have had no trouble to date).

Your neighbors will be another consideration because there is no point in causing unnecessary trouble if they are adamant they do not want to live next door to any livestock.  You can always entice your neighbors by offering them some fresh eggs every now and then.

Your hens will soon pay for themselves. For example, if you have three hens you can expect them to lay as many as 600 eggs a year – they will be large, extremely fresh and would have cost far more to buy.

Bernie (Alex's dad) loves his chickens!

Beginners always ask how much space a chicken requires. The rule of thumb is to allow 4 square feet inside the coop for each chicken and 10 square feet outside. Always allow your chickens to roam freely if you can, provided you have a safely fenced-off yard. Hens usually like to stay fairly close to their coop and as long as you provide them with regular food and water they shouldn’t look to wander.

If you are considering keeping chickens, here are couple books that can help you decide: