Help, I need some advice


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jan 12, 2010
I need your help! (I hope this is the right forum, and I did search, but couldn't find the exact answers I'm looking for)

My city just approved chickens in city limits and I’m ready to get started raising four chickens, but I unfortunately, my wife isn’t on board yet. We got a dog last year, and it turned out to be more work than either of us expected, so she’s a little gun shy about getting more animals. And with me working two jobs, she’s worried it will fall to her to take care of them (which I’ve assured her it won’t).

So now that we can legally own chickens, I know we’re headed for a showdown. Here are some concerns I’ve gathered from her over the past few months, that I would love to be able to have the answers for when she asks them. If you were asked the following questions how would you answer?

Q: We both already have too much on our plates. How much time each day will it take to care for four chickens?
Q: What are we going to do when we want to take our week-long trip in the summer, and the occasional weekend visits to family?
Q: I don’t want my backyard smelling like a farm. Don’t chickens stink?
Q: Money is tight right now, how much will it add to our monthly budget to keep four chickens?
Q: Won’t it just be easier to buy eggs from the store? Eggs are eggs, right?

Any other questions I should plan for?
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Sorry Holyhabanero but your DW has some valid points. My DH and I both like the chicken thing but they do cost more money than you get back in eggs and if you don't keep the coop clean or use a great method for deep litter it can smell some. We don't mind the smell, it's just nature. Some people do mind the smell and all of the poop though. Working 2 jobs is a lot to deal with and if you were honest with her she probably will have to care for them once in a while.
On the plus side... My dog is more work than my chickens are (I don't have to walk the chickens). The dog's poop is much stinkier than chicken poop. NOTHING beats the taste of super fresh eggs (seriously, friends come over for breakfast and swear I've got a secret exotic spice I'm adding to my eggs. They can't believe how much better fresh eggs taste) and four chickens aren't going to be that much work (I keep between 20-25). As far as travelling goes, you do have to find reliable folks to open them up in the morning, close them up at night (predators are a serious problem with chickens) and collect eggs at least once a day. Luckily I have many such folks near me that are happy to take care of the chickens in return for free eggs!
Good Luck!
First it does not take alot of time each day. Just to open coop check water, food, check for eggs. You can clean coop on weekends. Time wise is up to you on if you stop and talk to them ect...
Line up someone to check on them( food ,water, clean coop when needed) I have my mom or family next door intrade for the eggs they collect while gone.
Only if you do not clean the coop when you see or smell the poo.
Feed runs between $11 to $18 a 50 lb bag. Heating if useing a heat lamp would be know more then leaving a lamp on in the house.
No eggs are not just eggs. Store eggs can be up to 3 months old. Freash eggs have nothing in them for storing them longer. Also the eggs are what you feed your hens. If you feed healthy then the eggs will be healther. Brn eggs have more omega 3 in them as well as any fresh eggs.
There is nothing like fresh eggs you go out and get your self. They just are and taste better.
Good Luck! Sorry if any spelling is bad very sleepy. caf
I’m lucky, because our yard is completely enclosed with a 6’ high fence, and one of the city requirements is that the chickens be enclosed in a coop or chicken tractor at all times, so predators won’t be a problem. I know the eggs will need to be collected each day, but I wonder if someone still have to open and close the coop each day, or can it stay open all the time since there is no problem with predators?
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It takes @ 10-15 min twice a day to take care of them. Plan on once a month clean out of coop at least (more often if you have a small coop)

You need someone to come check on the chickens in re: food and water when you are gone. At least once a day.

4 chickens don't smell too bad. Do they have somewhere to roam or will they be kept in the coop all the time? As long as you keep the area clean, they don't smell too bad. If you have a tractor or a way to move them around, it's not too bad.

Feed runs @ $8-15/bag. With 4 chickens it will prob last a month or so.

If you are getting them as chicks, you will need to order from MPC or go in with a group to get hens. Buy from a feed store and you risk roosters.

You will need a brooder (Wal Mart can supply components for @ $40). They need somewhere draft-free to stay that will get very dusty. In your living space is not recommended.

need a coop. (I like Catawba coops) A miter saw is a must. Cost: $100-150.

Is it easier to buy eggs from the store. Yes. Will they taste better from your chickens? Yes.

Does your dog get on with chickens? How old is your dog and do you have a good handle on him/her now? I have 3 horses, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 16 chickens and 2 wild hummingbirds who buzz me if I don't keep their feeders full so I'm probably the wrong person to ask about getting more animals. But, if your dog is still young and isn't completely trained, you might want to wait another year before adding another species. Just a suggestion.
Thanks for the info. The chickens will be in a tractor (by city ordinance) so that should work fine.

Our do is 10 months old, and has never been around chickens, so I'm sure that will be a training issue. Any ideas how to train a dog to leave chickens alone? She's a Rottweiler/German shepherd/Golden Retreiver mix.
Hello and

A. 4 chickens will take very little time to take care of! I take care of my large flock in just about 5 minutes a day if I'm in a rush. Take maybe 15 minutes on coop cleaning days.

A. You will probably need someone to stop by during a week long trip but for a weekend I would invest in gravity waterer and feeders. I have a 30# gravity feeder, it takes my flock of around 20 about 3 days to go through it. I also got a 5 gallon water tower and that takes about 2 days for them to drink out. Ideally you should change the water daily but if you need to be gone for 2 or 3 days that will hold them through. In the winter, if it's freezing temps you do need to water them a few times every day or get an electric heat pad that goes under the waterer to keep it flowing all day.

A: 4 chickens will not have a very strong smell, especially if you clean the coop twice a week, even once a week would probably suffice with 4 chickens. Just have a plan for the poop. Getting a compost bin would probably work out best if you are on a small lot.

A: The cost of raising 4 chickens is very low. I don't know what feed will cost for you, but I pay $16/ 50# of layer feed. About $14 for grower (which my hens prefer). A 50# bag lasts my flock about 15 days so it would last your 4 chickens a very long time. In fact, you may want to buy in 25# bags to keep it fresh. Add in maybe $2 a month for grit or oyster shells (if you feed grower your hens will need free choice oyster shells or some other calcium rich additive for making strong shells, sometimes even on layer they need added calcium). You can add other things to their diet but those are the bare minimums.

A: Home grown eggs taste 100 times better than anything you can buy at the store! Not to mention, you control what goes into your chickens so no worries about hormones or chemicals getting into your eggs. The first thing you will notice will probably be the color. My DH can tell when I use store eggs compared to home grown eggs just by looking at the egg in a bowl. Also, store bought eggs are usually at least a month old before they even reach the shelf! Add veggie, cooked white meat, and cooked fish scraps from your kitchen and you will notice the flavor of the eggs gets even better! Free range chickens produce tastier eggs because of the variety in their diet but cooped chickens can get that same variety through your kitchen scraps. Just be sure to look up a list of items poisonous to chickens before you go hog wild with the plants and veggies!

I hope that helps. With the variety of breeds and colors out there, you will find you will enjoy just looking at your chickens. They are beautiful and fun to watch. I have likened watching my flock to watching aquarium fish. Except chickens entertain you AND feed you!
We have four hens and a 50lb bag lasts around a month or so . . . it varies depending on weather - and they get a pan full of treats each morning (lettuce, broccoli, carrot and whatever else I have to throw in with it).
Do keep in mind that you may very well have predators - if you live in a metropolitan area you still most likely have raccoons and possums and skunks - they just come out at night so most people never see them. Doesn't mean they're not there, and chickens can be a magnet for hungry critters. So do make sure your coop is secure - there's plenty of info here on how to make your chooks safe.
Enjoy your chickies!!
My advice on trying to mix dogs and chickens is DON'T! It's just plain instinct for dogs to kill small animals and they are especially drawn to chickens! However, I have heard of an occasional dog that seems to get along fine with chickens...

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