Are you thinking about getting backyard chickens? They can be a great addition to your family as both pets and a source of food, but there are some things to consider before getting chickens. Does your city or town allow them? Where will you keep them? Will they be safe from predators? What breed is best for you? This post will help you answer all those questions so that you have the best experience when getting backyard chickens.
The first thing you need to figure out is if chickens are allowed at your home. Do some research to determine if chickens are permitted by your city/town and homeowner’s association, if applicable. Some municipalities require approval from your neighbors within a certain radius. Others limit the number of chickens you can have, and some do not allow roosters. Learn about the rules and regulations BEFORE getting your backyard chickens. We have heard too many stories where people are ordered to remove their chickens, or worse, the chickens are removed for them.
Next, consider where you will keep your chickens. Build or buy a coop and get it set up. Think about your location and what kind of predators are around, including your own animals. Your dog may harm chickens if he/she has not been trained to be around them. If you have a large enough area and your chickens will free-range, you might need a livestock guardian dog. Get the dog now and begin training before you bring home chickens. Secure the chicken area with a sturdy fence if fox and coyotes are prevalent too. Predators are sneaky and unfortunately may still penetrate your flock, but be as prepared as your can to prevent an incident.
Chickens come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. They also have very different personalities and a few other traits to consider. Consider what the purpose of your chickens will be. Are you getting backyard chickens for fresh eggs, quality meat, or breeding? Leghorns can lay over 250 eggs per year! Cornish Game Hen grow fast and are typically raised for their meat quality. If you have children, you might consider bantams. They are small chickens that are easy to handle. Dual purpose breeds are most popular for backyard flocks. They can offer a steady supply of eggs, then be harvested for meat or live out their lives as family pets.
Breeds of Popular Backyard Chickens
Buff Orpington – A friendly breed and easy keepers. They are a stunning orange color.
Barred Rock/Dom/Dominiquer – Their feather pattern has a color and white pattern known as ‘barred’. They have gentle personalities.
Silkies– These fall into the bantam category because they stay small. They are known for their wild feathers and friendly disposition.
Delaware – Dual purpose chickens that are good at foraging for their food and thriving with minimal assistance.
White Leghorn – Dependable egg layers. They are small bodied but lay extra large white eggs.
Easter Eggers – These chickens lay blue colored eggs.
Olive Eggers – Often multicolored feathers that lay green eggs.
Copper Maran – They lay dark brown eggs.
You can tell what color egg a hen will lay by looking at the color of their ears. Hens begin laying when they are about six months old.
Backyard Chickens Lingo
Are you ready to buy chickens? You can order from a hatchery or check local listings on Facebook or Craigslist. Your local feed supply store is a great resource too. Here are some good terms to know when buying chickens:
Chick/Biddie/Diddle – Baby chick
Pullet – Young female
Stag – Young male
Hen – Female of laying age
Other poultry make great additions to a backyard flock too. Guinea, Peafowl, Partridge, Quail and Pheasant help control pests like ticks, fleas and even snakes. They add beauty and unique noises as well.
We have fallen in love with our chickens’ unique personalities and can’t get enough of their fresh eggs. You are sure to love raising chickens too!
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments. We are always happy to answer them. If you are interested in breeding and hatching chickens, you might like this post on How to Choose an Incubator.
More Information on Homesteading
- Advice for a New Homesteader
- Comprehensive List of Plants to Grow for Chickens
- How to Really Make Money Homesteading
- Idaho Pasture Pigs
- Welcome to Happiest Camper Homestead