Top 10 Things to Consider Before Buying Chickens

  1. Mountain Peeps
    Lots of times when we get excited about things we jump right into them before even considering what is involved. I know I have certainly done that! Chickens are wonderful animals to keep but they can also be a big problem if you aren't prepared and/or you don't consider what is involved. Below I have listed the top 10 things to think about before raising chickens. If you are interested in keeping chickens be sure to consider the following before doing so.

    1.) Time: Chickens require your time and energy each and every day. You have to feed them, water them, check for eggs, spot clean the coop, spend time with and observe them each and every day. (Here is a link on how to properly observe your chickens every day and catch problems/illnesses early on Depending on how you feed your flock you may be spending ten to sixty minutes a day feeding them. Also, you have to constantly check their water in summer and in winter. Plus egg collecting takes time. Depending on how much you care for eggs and how many chickens you keep you may be spending lots of time collecting, cleaning, packaging and storing the eggs. Cleaning the coop probably will take up the most of your time. Chicken coops should be spot cleaned daily, cleaned out once a month and deep cleaned twice a year. The time spent on coop cleaning depends on how big your coop is and how many chickens it holds.
    Another thing you need to think about is how often you are away from home. Chickens are harder to leave unattended too and are a harder animal to find a caretaker for if you go on vacation. So consider how often you are away from home and how you will find someone to care for your flock.

    2.) Housing: When some people think about a chicken coop they usually think about a small red and white shed off to the side of a barn on a farm. They don't think about the roosts, the ventilation, the nest boxes, the bedding, the location and the structure itself. A appropriate chicken coop must withstand the amount of chickens you wish to keep, (and possibly more) withstand your climate's extreme weather elements, withstand your climate's predators, have proper ventilation, have enough roosts and nests, (you need one nest for every two hens you own and each chicken needs 10-12 inches on a roost) and have room for the chickens to walk, stretch, flap, eat, drink, etc. (Here are links on ventilation, predators, square footage required for chickens, etc,

    3.) Laws: Lots of people jump right into chicken keeping, don't check their local laws and then sometimes end up having to get rid of their chickens because they were not aloud. (Here are two great links on how to change local laws and Chickens are not aloud in many city and suburb areas so make sure you look into that before getting your flock.

    4.) Noise: You may read that some chickens never make much sound. This not true. ALL chickens make noise. Some breeds may be quieter than others but there is no way to keep a chicken from making any noise. (Unless you remove their voice box!) You may also hear that only roosters are loud. This is completely not true! Hens can be extremely loud! All hens sing what is known as the "egg song" which is especially loud. Some people (like me) love to hear it but others simply hate it. All chickens talk all day too. Clucking, squawking, peeping, crowing, singing, announcing, chirping, warning calls, tidbitting are all different noises chickens make.

    5.) Expense: Like any living creature, chickens cost money. Their food, bedding, coop, nest boxes, feeders, waterers and medicine all cost money. They can vary from 5 to 5,000 dollars! You also have to continue paying for them. You will have to buy food and bedding on a regular basis. You have to purchase materials to fix up things in the coop and sometimes buy medicine and pay vet bills. You will spend the most money when you first start out.

    6.) Neighbors: Some people don’t like having chickens wander over into their yard, pecking around and leaving their droppings for people to step on. If your neighbors are like this, you will have to fence your chickens in a run. Other neighbors will be excited that you are getting chickens. They will probably want to come over and see your chicks when you get them and buy eggs from you. All neighbors are different but more than likely they will not want to be woken up at the crack of dawn by a rooster crowing. If your neighbors are concerned about other factors such as smell, noise or even sight then you will have to thoroughly explain how you plan to keep your chickens. Tell you neighbors that you are only going to keep hens and not roosters. Tell them that you will stay on top of your chores so there won’t be much smell. If they are concerned about seeing the chickens then you’ll have to build your coop out of common sight. (Behind the garage or in the backyard.) You can decorate it with designs, flowers and bushes to make it more appealing. Sometimes neighbors don’t like chickens because they had a bad experience with chickens when they were young. If you plan to keep friendly breeds, be sure to allow your neighbors to hold and pet each one so they can actually see how docile some chickens can be.

    7.) Damage/Mess: Chickens may seem fluffy and harmless but believe it or not they can be messy and damaging birds! Their droppings and feathers will end up everywhere! Also, if they are given access then they will utterly destroy your garden, flower beds and compost pile. You'll need to confine them if you don't want droppings on your porch and walkways and you don't want them damaging your plants. You will also, again, need to clean their living areas often. Also, chickens attract flies and other insects.

    8.) Quarantining/Introducing: When you are wanting to add more chickens to your flock you will have to quarantine the new members and introduce the new members properly. (Here are links on the importance of the quarantining and introducing,

    9.) Heartbreak/Loss: Again, like any living creature there will come a time when they pass. You have to realize that they will die someday from illness, injury or old age. Chickens are an animal that you will bond with. Their passing will be extremely hard! If you have children then you have to be prepared to help them through this rough time.

    10.) Addiction: Finally, chicken raising is addicting! You will never stop once you have begone! You will want more chicks in spring or buy a new, fancy breed next time you are at a poultry show or fair. So it is imperative that you build your coop large enough so that it can hold more than you plan to start with and that you introduce new birds correctly.

    Chickens are a joy that will bring you great pleasure and enjoyment. If you do it right and consider all that is involved you won't have regrets. Have fun with this adventure!
    (Have questions? Please PM me!)

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  1. Rick&chickTampa
  2. N F C
    Another good article Sarah! The only thing I can think of that wasn't covered (you covered 99.9%!) is to encourage people to figure out how the flock will be cared for when they have to leave town. Even if vacations are not something a person usually does, there could be times when other responsibilities require the flock keeper to be away from home (family emergencies, illness, etc.).
  3. Mountain Peeps
    Thanks for those words, critterkeeper25! :)
  4. familyfarm1
    Thumbs up!
  5. Mountain Peeps
    Glad this helped you all!
  6. arialp
    Great article!
  7. act5860
    Thanks for a great article. I've been considering getting chicks for the last six months and finally took the plunge. I have a total of 14 chicks being shipped to me over the next two weeks.
  8. Indiana feather
    Thank you Mountain Peeps for this information. I am one who bought chickens first then had to consider all these points after the fact. Thankfully there are other people like you who are willing to share their knowledge about raising chickens with us newbies. I have really learned a lot in a very short time thanks to BYC and am so glad i joined the group.
  9. TwoCrows
    Wonderful article Mountain Peeps! Everybody should read this article before diving into chickens. Animals of any kind are a big responsibility and as said by critterkeeper25 here, they do get sick. All animals do. So it is best to be prepared in advance as to all the aspects of keeping animals before we take on the responsibility. Great article!!
  10. critterkeeper25
    We got chickens as a means to rid our property of ticks. They have been an increasing nuisance, I myself have come down with Lyme disease. We originally only wanted a few but the breeders that my husband researched would only sell them in groups of 5. He couldn't decide on a breed so ordered 5 of three different kinds. He read up on keeping chickens in the book "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens." I also read the book. With difficulty with our chick shipment (the first shipment was delayed in the mid-west due to storms in the spring caused the delayed delivery of our first order, they all died). We ended up with 25 chickens. Seven of them turned out to be roos so we sent them to new homes. We now have 18 hens. We average about a dozen eggs a day. We have been giving them to friends. Well, now one of our hens is struggling with either EYP or internal laying. We have been treating her with penicillin and have been keeping her isolated. I looked and looked in the book for references to illnesses to try to diagnose her problem. I ended up finding out what was wrong with her on this forum. I wonder if we had read about all of the complications that hens suffer due to reproduction difficulties, if we would have had second thoughts about getting them. Don't get me wrong, we love our hens but with having these issues already I wonder what still lies ahead for us.
  11. MyPetNugget
    Great job! :D Very helpful information for newbies and good organization!
  12. crazyfeathers
    Got as far as housing and figured I must be doing everything wrong as I have over 60 chickens and 4 nesting boxes and the all lay in 2 of them. I guess my chickens don't know the rules lol.

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