Raising chickens in backyards is a growing trend in the past few years. Chickens are no longer limited to farms and rural homes. It is not uncommon for residents of urban areas to now own chickens. The idea of fresh eggs and natural pest control is appealing. However, raising chickens in an urban home is not a straightforward process. It requires a lot of planning ahead of time. Here is a beginner’s guide to raising chickens in an urban home and backyard.
The first thing to consider before raising chickens in an urban home is the local law. Because there are no federal laws on owning chickens, it’s up to each individual city to make such regulations.
Some cities limit the number of birds allowed per household. It may be mandated that chickens are kept inside of a coop. Other cities don’t allow chickens to be kept in backyards at all.
It’s important to research the city ordinances and regulations on keeping chickens before purchasing the birds and necessary supplies. Doing this research helps to prevent getting in trouble with the law and/or having to surrender the birds.
The next thing to consider before raising chickens in an urban home is their spatial requirements. Unlike pets such as dogs, chickens don’t require a large backyard or a ton of space to run around in. However, they do need a large enough coop and sufficient outdoor space for ranging.
According to the University of Missouri, each adult chicken needs 3 to 4 square feet of room in a coop. Between 8 to 10 square feet of outdoor ranging space is also needed per bird.
It is important to know that most cities have laws regarding where a chicken coop can be located in a backyard. For example, the city of Los Angeles requires coops to be kept at least 35 feet away from neighboring property lines. This buffer zone expands to 100 feet for roosters, and there’s a limit of one rooster per household.
There are several different breeds of chickens, but some do better in urban environments. Some breeds are also more quiet, which neighbors appreciate. Chickens and More recommends the following, traditional breeds for urban environments and small backyards: the Plymouth Rock, the Dominique, the Cochin, and the Silkie (to name a few). Bantam chicken varieties are also great choices for urban environments because they are smaller than traditional chickens and require a bit less space.
One of the more difficult aspects of raising chickens in an urban home is the disposal of soiled chicken bedding. According to the University of Wisconsin, a single chicken will produce around 75 pounds of waste per year. It is critical to plan how to dispose of such waste properly before starting to raise chickens.
A great, space-efficient way to deal with soiled chicken litter is to use it for compost through the deep litter method. This method involves placing fresh litter on top of old litter in the coop. This allows the layers of soiled litter to compost underneath the chickens. This method helps keep the smell of chickens at bay. It produces wonderful compost material in about a year’s time as it is high in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Use this material as fertilizer in gardens to help plants and flowers flourish.
Like other pets, chickens require a balanced diet. There are various vitamins and minerals that chickens require in order to protect against disease and stay healthy in order to lay eggs.
The University of Georgia notes that there is no singular type of chicken feed that contains all the vitamins and nutrients necessary for a chicken’s health. Supplements rich in vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, and sodium should be fed to chickens in addition to store-bought chicken feed.
It is also important that chickens have access to a lot of fresh water. Dehydration stops chickens from eating and negatively impacts their health. It’s necessary to purchase a chicken waterer that holds plenty of fresh water and hangs a few inches above the ground. This prevents chickens from kicking soiled litter into their water and contaminating it.
A difficult aspect of raising chickens is their susceptibility to predators. While the most common predators of backyard chickens—raccoons and coyotes—are not as common in urban areas, pet dogs pose a huge risk to chickens.
Before raising chickens in an urban home, it’s necessary to think about how the birds will be protected from predators. This is especially important for those who live busy lives and cannot keep a constant watch on their birds. Chickens And More recommends purchasing an automatic chicken coop door. These automatic doors open in the morning and allow chickens to range freely throughout the day. The doors then close at night so chickens are safe from predators.
Chickens are traditionally raised on farms and in rural areas. However, they are now more popular as features of urban backyards. It is important to keep in mind, though, all the different issues to be considered when raising chickens in an urban home. However, following the advice in this guide should give beginners a chicken-leg-up on the process.
Raising Chickens In An Urban Home
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Raising Chickens In An Urban Home
Chris Lesley, Guest Contributor
Having raised backyard chickens for over 20 years, Chris Lesley is the Chickens And More poultry expert. She has a flock of 11 chickens (including three Silkies). She instructs people all around the world on how to care for healthy chickens.