Of all the animals I’ve ever owned (which really only covers dogs, rabbits, and fish), chickens are the easiest. All they ask is a house and something to eat and they give you eggs. However, there are a few things you should know before rushing out and buying your own little flock:
1. Chickens require food and shelter, and not much else. But since it’s becoming kind of a FAD, there are lots of ‘must-haves’ on the shelves that are really not necessary. For a discussion of the equipment you need and more importantly what you DON’T need, check out How to Raise Backyard Laying Chickens.
2. Chickens are easy, but a bit gross, depending on your tolerance for poo. The world is their toilet. This is the largest consideration with chicken ownership. Check out Dookie!!! to learn about the negative and positive sides of chicken manure (there are positives, ha!)
3. Chickens sometimes escape, but thankfully, they don’t seem to GO anywhere. I usually find them about ten feet from the fence they just jumped. To curb this tendency (to protect the foolish fowls from local dogs etc.), a chicken owner needs to be prepared to clip some wings. Find out what that entails in Clipping Chicken Wings.
4. Eggs start arriving at about 20 weeks, and it is SO EXCITING
5. Chickens lay year round, except when the days get really short. If you want to eat fresh eggs in the dead of winter, you’ll have to have them shipped in from Florida. And each breed lays at a different rate and has a different heat and cold tolerance, so ask about it before you buy.
6. If they look like they’re going bald, they aren’t dying. I know, I was surprised too. Check out Bad Feather Day to see what you’re in for.
7. Chicken coops can be CUTE!!! For another look at mine, go here