In this article I would like to share some things that you may want to consider before getting into chickens. Chickens can be lots of fun, entertaining us with their funny antics and different personalities. In addition to this they can provide us with healthy eggs and meat and are one of the easiest of all livestock to raise, also requiring the least amount of space among most livestock. But like everything in life, there are always things that are less that ideal.
1: A big thing to consider is that, more so than dogs and cats, chickens may bind you from going on vacation. Chickens need a safe coop to sleep at night, lay eggs and be protected from weather and predators. If you allow the chickens to free-range, then they must be locked in the coop at night to keep predators out and then let out again during the day to free-range, thus the bind for not being able to leave. However, this may be easily remedied with an automatic door set on a timer, these can be expensive, though. Another good option would be to attach a predator proof run to their coop and keeping them in there while you’re not home to allow them more room than just the sleeping quarters of the coop. If the above scenario is not a problem, good, but keep in mind that they also are a little harder to move elsewhere to be baby-sit! So, you may need someone to visit your place and do the care-taking. 2: If you have other pets such as dogs and cats, than introducing chickens is often a huge problem. Because many dogs and cats will immediately give chase and attempt to kill the birds. This can be remedied, but may take some dedication and possibly the hiring of a trainer. 3: Chickens may bother neighbors, roosters crowing in particular. But hens may also utter an “egg song” before and after laying an egg. The volume of this “egg song” varies widely among different chickens. They also sound loud distress calls. This would most likely only be a concern in the most urban settings, though. 4: Another factor is that chickens will be another hole in your wallet. Initial start-up costs can be quite high if everything is bought new. Coops, runs, fencing and equipment, it all adds up. But as already stated these expenses are all a onetime investment, if well-tended for. After start-up, costs aren’t very much, considering your flock isn’t very large, of course. The reoccurring costs consist mainly of feed, worming supplies and possibly some minerals/supplements. 5: If you garden, then you may have to keep your chickens penned up during certain parts of the season. Chickens will eat seeds, tender greens and ripe produce and may also destroy seedbeds and small, young plants with their almost constant scratching while looking for food. They will also form dust holes in the garden. These dust holes serve as dust baths and places where they bathe in the sun. 6: Chickens may also hang out and roost on porches and decks. If your chickens develop this bad habit, which they often do, it can sometimes be hard to break and you may have to consider closing in the area. Chickens will also dirty a lawn with feathers, droppings and bare dust holes; this can be a real problem if you like a well-manicured lawn or use your lawn often. Dodging dust holes and getting your shoes plastered with chicken poop is not at all enjoyable, to say the least. And furthermore, if the yard that the hens are allowed to range in is too small, they may very possibly reduce all living green to brown and then over time you’re left with a mess of bare dirt and poop. 7: If you live in an area where there are other chicken owners than you may have to deal with your chickens always hanging out at the neighbor’s place. Possibly moving in with their flock, and even if they don’t move in, they may start laying there. If you do happen to get any eggs, and you want to hatch your eggs, you may end up getting mutt chickens, if the neighbors have a rooster, of course. Sometimes, neighbors won’t even tolerate your flock venturing onto their place.
Like anything in life, chickens have their pros and cons, hopefully this article helped you to think of some things that may be deciding factors in whether or not chickens are right for you. If you happen to be undecided, then I strongly recommend that you give them a try for a better idea of what it’s like raising them. They are generally very easy and inexpensive to raise and chickens can be a very fun and productive addition to any home, but remember that they are still animals and need to be given the proper care, attention and dedication any other creature merits.
Just two photos depicting a couple of the things addressed above.
A run attached to the coop. A 'must' in my book, even if you do free-range.
Here you can see what will become of a run that's stationary, is too small, or has too many birds in it. Notice the dust holes within, they will do that where you don't want them to, if allowed to free-range!