Can't decide if we should raise chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by KCLulamae, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. KCLulamae

    KCLulamae In the Brooder

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    DFW Texas
    I hope this is the proper place to post this. It kinda pertains to managing a flock...

    I'm trying to decide if raising chickens would be a good choice for us. I have some questions and I'm hoping all you experienced chicken-lovers can help. I've never been around chickens so I'm a total newbie. My only experience has come from this website and forum, and even that is limited!

    If we decide to do this we were planning on having 5 laying chickens. We are not permitted to have roosters, nor do I want one. We are a family of four and I figure 5 chickens should lay enough for us. I have been trying to find ways to improve our diet and I feel strongly that this is the right step for us. But, I've been wrong before and I don't want to get too far down the path before we realize we're in over our heads!

    My first concern is how the chickens will fit into the neighborhood. I realize you don't know our neighborhood but I'm interested in seeing what others have experienced. When you say you are raising chickens in your backyard - how big is your backyard? How close are your neighbors? How noisy are they (the chickens, not the neighbors)? We live in a suburban neighborhood and our lot is about 1/3 of an acre. Our backyard has a wood fence wood that is common to 4 other neighbors. I have a great shady spot picked out but is it against a side of the fence that is common with the next door neighbor. I've read that there are breeds that are quieter than others. Does that mean we could possibly raise these chickens without the neighbors even knowing?

    My second concern is how the chickens will change our lifestyle and how much time and resources they will need. What is involved in a typical day tending backyard chickens? I figure watering and feeding won't take that long but what about cleaning the coop? City regulations state we have to do that daily (not sure how they're gonna know if we do that or not) so the deep litter method is not a choice. Are there any grooming and/or hygiene things that need to done regularly? Besides feed, are there any other routine expenses I should be considering?

    Thirdly, how big a problem is lice? Don't ask me why but the thought of lice creeps me out and I don't want to introduce a breeding ground for them in my backyard.

    Lastly, but definitely not least, my husband is not 100% on board with this idea. Anybody else have experience with a reluctant spouse? What helped you convince them to take the plunge? [​IMG]

    Thanks! -kc
     
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast

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    My Coop
    I hope I can help.

    I'm on a third of an acre. I can legally have 20 and I have 28 adults.

    My neighbors have complained but they are OK about it now.
    They haven't turned me in yet and I have roos, BUT there are lots of feral roos in the neighborhood to the south and they can hear them crowing day and night.

    If you have close neighbors, they will know. Discuss it with them. Either they will like it or hate it. I clean my coop every week, sweep and mop and much of the year we compost the droppings for the garden.

    Chickens need care everyday. Vacations have become less frequent since I got our chickens.
    If outside birds can get to your chickens or their coop, you will end up with lice and you dust them and spray them at least four times a year... so yeah that's another "fun" job and expense.

    My wife hates that we have chickens but she loves the eggs.

    She tolerates them.

    All of that said,

    There is nothing funner than watching your chickens at night after work or on the weekend. They are hilarious and great entertainment. The eggs are wonderful... and then you'll want to incubate and hatch replacements...

    oh it gets fun.
     
  3. terrilhb

    terrilhb Songster

    Dec 11, 2010
    Georgia
    [​IMG] from Ga. I say get chickens. I love mine. Can not imagine my life without them. But then I am a Chicken ADdict
     
  4. SunnyCalifornia

    SunnyCalifornia Songster

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    Escondido CA
    Here is my experience, and I'll try to withhold opinions [​IMG]

    I have 6 laying hens right now, and I have enough to give a way once in a while. I've had my hens for a year, and my roosters (bantams) for a couple months. The roosters are a bit noisy in the morning, but fortunately, mine don't have the need to crow all day. My girls can sometimes get a bit noisy for unknown reasons, typically in the morning. But again, they don't do it all day, or during evening hours, and they are MUCH quieter than my dog, which does like to bark at all opportunities. I have not had any creepy lice or mite problems so far, but I know of some people that put "Frontline" in small doses on their birds to keep the bugs away. However, I find it necessary to put fly traps out, because they do draw a lot of flies, and the traps help with that problem. My morning routine consists of filling up their feed, and changing water. I have a second set of water dishes to make that easier. I put them all in at dusk. I don't have a run, but I have large coops, and the birds get to free range in the afternoons, when I am available to keep an eye on them. My backyard is not that big. Its about 100' x 35', half of that being sloped. My birds are content in that area. I only have one neighbor to the north, and nothing close on the other three sides. Now that I have the roosters, I may start dropping off eggs there once in a while, to make up for the extra noise.

    Feed costs are cheaper than other pets, i.e. cats and dogs. Coops are the biggest expense. I clean out the whole coop about once monthly, and just spot clean poopy areas, like under the roosts more frequently as needed. Good coop design will really help with the clean up part, and make it a cinch.

    My kids LOVE the chickens. My DH won't admit it, but he LOVES the chickens too. He was a bit resistant, but in general, he's an animal lover, so he warmed up fast. I sent him a pic from the feed store of my kids holding the chicks and just asked "PLEASE????"

    My biggest mistake was having too many chickens before I had enough housing for them, and I found myself with chickens living in my bathroom until coops could be finished. That almost ruined the experience, but now that they are happily outside, peace and harmony has been restored.

    If you have great neighbors, that you have a good rapport with, I say go for it.
     
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Pros:

    1. Great eggs.
    2. The chickens are fun to watch.
    3. Fertilizer is free.
    4. Bugs are gone.
    5. You are ensuring that your chickens are well treated.


    Cons:

    1. You must dust them with pesticides every few months (in my experience) or end up with mites crawling on you (from songbirds).
    2. They are more expensive than you think and you won't probably even break even compared to store-bought eggs. Especially the coop.
    3. They sometimes require medications that are expensive.
    4. The hens are noisy- sing the egg laying song after every egg laid. The neighbors will hear.
    5. The poo is smelly and you must have a plan for it- a compost bin or garden to till it in.
    6. Flies are around in summer because of poo.
    7. You must clean the coops out with new shavings (or hose it out, or use sand).
    8. Sometimes the chickens don't get along and you have to separate groups for their protection.
    9. You cannot take long vacations without getting assistance.

    Would I do it all over again? Yes. My DH tolerates the chickens.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  6. The Kibble Goddess

    The Kibble Goddess Songster

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    Sylvania, Ga
    Lulamae,
    Do you get along well with your neighbors now? If so, chickens probably won't change things. I live on 1/2 acre (sounds like more than what it is!) and if it weren't for the fact that the Ladies can walk through the spaces in our oh-so-well-built fence, the neighbors wouldn't know they were there.
    If you have to clean your coop daily, use 4 -6 inches of sand for the bedding and scoop it out with a kitty box scoop. I've been using deep pine shavings and while I stir them up daily, I haven't cleaned them out in a year - believe it or not, no smell! However, I'm changing to sand as there's not the volume of chips to compost, just the daily scoopings.
    If hubby isn't convinced about the chickens yet, don't spend a lot on the coop. Check out the cheap coops in the coop section and go with that. You're gonna' want to upgrade in the future anyway. Do be sure to have it predator proof and have a good sized run attached. I have a 2nd-hand, chain-link dog run with shade cloth on top. Cost me $50 and works fine.
    I have a variety of dual purpose hens as I'm trying to find 'the one' breed I want to go with for a self-sustaining meat/egg flock. If you don't plan to eat any of yours, stick with a good basic laying hen.
    Once you get the kinks worked out of your chicken care routines, they really don't add much time to your day. I let mine out in the AM, stir the bedding if I remember, check and top up food and water. Let them out to free range the yard after lunch, put them up for the night after dinner. I don't have food or water in the coop which keeps it cleaner. They only go in to sleep or lay. On Saturdays I tidy the run - it's 'floored' with mulched leaves but sometimes there's uneaten table scraps that need to be removed, top up the grit & shell bowls inside the coop, wash the water bowl. Only takes a minute.
    If we're going away overnight, I hire a lady to come in and open up in the AM & close up in the PM. She feeds the cat and lets him in and out of the house too. She costs $20/day + all the eggs they lay. Not a bad deal for peace of mind.
    If you want chickens, give them a try. I love how they do a number on weeds and bugs (we live in the bug capital of the world!). They're fascinating, educational and the eggs taste great.
     
  7. grandmachicken

    grandmachicken Songster

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    Just do it! I started on 1/4 acre with 3hens and a rooster that were left at animal control. They were too pretty, I had to have them. It's been two years and I'm up to 25 birds! coop doesn't have to be perfect, just shelter, food twice a day, clean water. Easy to clean up after 5 birds. So much fun to watch. Hubby will come around, mine did, he brags about our eggs too. Will never eat another anemic grocery store egg, won't even order them in restaurants. And such a simple and enjoyable way to improve the quality of your family's food.

    Have you ever had a pound cake made with fresh free range eggs? OMG!

    Just do it . . .

    Christi
     
  8. Hi and [​IMG]

    We are relatively new to chickens -- started last Spring. We live in a suburb with 1/3 acre which is fully fenced and we have neighbors on two sides. We told all our neighbors we were getting chickens. Our city allows 6 hens only - no roos and we have only 3 bantam hens that we really love. we were going to get 3 more this Spring, but one of our girls has a respiratory issue and an avian vet has advised us to not increase our flock as she is probably a carrier and could infect any new birds we get.

    The positives are that they are fun and entertaining, delicious and healthful eggs, our grandkids love them, they do eat bugs in the warmer weather, poo for fertilizer, and a small flock is not too much work on a daily basis.

    In the morning about 15 minutes: feed and water and I scoop poop into a covered container to minimize any smell or flies, pet them, talk to them, give them any food treats then go off to work. WHEN IT SNOWS . . . a different story! I'm not sure where you are, but this winter it has been. . . shovel out to the coop, shovel out the run a little, then feed and water etc. Chip ice off the door and lock to get them out. . .

    Evening can be as little as 5 minutes, we check on them, talk to them, make sure they have feed and water -- give them treats and lock them in.

    When we are home, we spend some more time with them. Sounds simple, but seems like there is always something . . . We free range them when there isn't snow and you have to worry about predators, and one had a hidden nest and kept disappearing to sit on 9 infertile eggs, another one has been broody a number of times sitting like a fluffy pancake on nothing in the nest box, and this winter they got lice - NOT the same lice that will infest people, but I understand that if your birds have mites those can be bothersome to people and infest human environments. Also the coop and enclosed run were costly, and in general they have not been inexpensive pets. For us they are pets, not livestock. In addition to the cost of coop and run, there is cost of food, calcium, grit, waterers and feeders, bedding-wood chips, medications they might need, scratch corn and other food treats.

    All in all, though it is a positive experience and we really enjoy them and reading and participating on the forum a lot. We will probably continue to have chickens for many years and would definitely encourage others to try it! If you know anyone with chickens, you might want to go and visit!

    Good luck!
     
  9. Kaceyx73

    Kaceyx73 Chirping

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    Dec 14, 2010
    I got my first chickens July 19 of last year, and my girls are just now in full laying swing. I have 11 pullets and 2 roos, one of which is from the same hatching as the ladies and the other was an adult rooster I picked up to provide a little guidance and plenty of protection when I first moved them to their coop. I live on just under an acre, and my flock is in a run that averages around 50x15. Part is covered to give outdoor space out of the weather. The rest is open topped.

    I spoke with all of my immediate neighbors before buying, and all were excited about it. Of course they buy a few eggs along the way, and can visit the chickens themselves most anytime they want. I have 2 neighbors, homes within 200 ft of the coop, that until recently didn't even know I had them. Did I mention the roosters? They start at 4am and continue like clockwork about every hour until full light. For reference, most of their crowing is in the coop, with only 2 1ft sq windows open. The loudest my chickens get isn't the crowing, though. Its the egg song. Even though most of that is also in the coop, the rest of the flock will often join in, especially an expectant daddy bird.

    My suggestion is talk one at a time to all of your close neighbors and discuss it candidly. Point out that chickens aren't as loud as large breed dogs barking all night, and that one neighbor with a small flock of chickens means fresh eggs for all, provided they help with feed. That is probably the thing that suprised me most... chickens are about the only pet I know of that pays there own rent. I can find good feed for around 11 bucks for 50lbs, and wild bird seed for 14 per 50. Add in a bale of straw a month, and thats only $30 a month. My 11 are currently laying 5 dozen a week, and 16 dozen sold at 2.00 a dozen is 32.00. They are also hours of enjoyment watching their antics, especially when treats come near. I also garden, so I get plenty of fresh manure to compost.

    As for smell, use the smell test in the coop. If you can tell its beginning to smell, fluff up the bedding so that the piles fall to the bottom and add a small layer of bedding the next day. Every couple of weeks pull the bedding to one side and use a small hand rake to pull the droppings out and into a bucket. they dry pretty quick anyway, you are just preventing a build up. Pile it on a garden spot, or bag it with some leaves, straw, soil, and wet it. Close it up and put it out of site. Other option is a plastic barrel that can be rolled on the ground every week. Either method, it doesn't tale it long to compost. Remember the smell test. don't do it when they are in, otherwise you will smell a fresh pile. Point being, if you deal with it as soon as you smell it in the coop, your neighbors wont smell it. If it rains for a few days, make sure you have windows that you open, and open the "people" door so that it can air out as soon as the sun comes out.

    Your biggest problem in a sub is that one person that wont tell you to your face how much they hate your idea. They will likely tell everyone else. Make sure they all have a number to reach you, and if they smell it or anything becomes a problem, you can deal with it. Hopefully you won't have a back stabber, but it seems every sub does. I will not live my life according to the whims of madmen, but I will respect the problems they can visit on me. If you think something is becoming a problem, get out in front of it. Deal with it now before it gets bad. With any pet, there is no room for playing ostrich and putting your head in the sand. Cats walk on freshly washed cars, and pee on tires. Dogs get into garbage and bark for no apparent reason. If a neighbor politely asks or request you do something to mitigate a problem, honor a reasonable request.
     
  10. moetrout

    moetrout Songster

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    May 5, 2010
    Milan, MI
    Maybe someone here that is close to you would allow you to come out and have a look at what a flock, coup, and run look like. You would probably get a good feeling for what it might take to raise a flock. Not that it is really all that hard.
     

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