Sustainability Idea: Raising Chickens
More and more people in cities, suburbs, and in the country are raising chickens. They’re relatively easy to keep and the daily fresh eggs are quite a treat. It’s becoming so common that you can probably find chicken feed at your local home store. This is of course a bigger project than composting for your garden but it’s not as huge of an undertaking as you might think.
Step One: Your Chickens and the Law
The first step is to see if you can legally keep chickens in your area. Check city and neighborhood laws and ordinances. If you live in an HOA community there may be rules that say you can’t keep animals/livestock on your property. Some cities limit the number of chickens you can keep. Also check with your neighbors, you do not want to get off on the wrong foot with them. Promise them a fresh egg or two in turn for the noise the chickens might make. It only takes one to two chickens per person to keep your household in fresh eggs, year round.
Step Two: Choose Your Breed
Before you build a chicken coup or plan their area, decide what type of chickens you want to keep. Consider looking for breeds that lay a lot of eggs so you can get more bang for your cluck. Hybrid chickens tend to lay more eggs and they’re generally easier to raise, which is great for beginners. Also look for birds that are gentler in personality so you don’t have to worry about being chased out of the hen house.
Step Three: Build or Buy Your Chicken Coop
A chicken coop serves several purposes. It keeps your chickens warm when the weather turns cold and gives them shade when it’s sunny. It, also, protects them from predators, and gives them a happy place to lay their eggs. Make sure the coop is well ventilated. You’ll need nesting boxes, roosting poles, a place for food and water, and clean bedding material. Straw is a good material to use in chicken coops.
Step Four: Feed Them and They Will Lay
You can buy chicken feed at your local hardware or farm supply store. It’s a well rounded food that provides your chickens with the nutrition they need but remember chickens love green leafy vegetables, including lettuce, kale, spinach and beet tops. So if you have a garden, you might want to grow some of these just for your chickens. An assortment of some kitchen scraps can supplement their store bought food also. Make sure they have fresh water and create a system to keep the water flowing. You can buy an automatic water feeder for chickens and ducks.
Step Five: Room to Roam
Create a fenced-in area where your chickens can roam and stretch their legs. Keep in mind that the area where they’re able to roam will get scratched up pretty quickly. You will want to rotate where you let them roam, to prevent them from completely destroying your yard. This also helps prevent boredom. Yep, chickens get bored and when they do, they can cause damage to property and themselves.
Raising chickens is an adventure. Talk to other chicken owners to learn more about the best breeds and how they’ve managed their flock. Then enjoy the daily fresh eggs you get and have fun watching your flock grow.