When you think of chickens, you might automatically picture a red barn sitting on a large plot of land with plenty of room for the chickens to roam and graze. While this is certainly the traditional way that chickens have been kept, it is not the only way. You might be surprised to learn that it is entirely possible to keep chickens in your backyard, regardless of whether you live in the city or the country.
There are many reasons why people choose to keep backyard chickens. For some, it is a way to get fresh eggs without having to go to the store. Others enjoy the companionship that chickens can provide. And still others see raising chickens as a way of teaching their children where food comes from. No matter what your reason for wanting to keep backyard chickens is, there are a few things you need to know before getting started.
Choose the Right Breed of Chicken
Not all chickens are created equal. There are dozens of different chicken breeds available, and each one has its own unique set of characteristics. Some breeds are better suited for egg production while others are known for their meat. Some breeds are more docile than others, and some are more tolerant of cold weather. Before choosing a breed (or breeds) of chicken, do your research to make sure you are selecting a type that will fit your needs and your lifestyle.
Prepare Your Backyard
Chickens need space to roam and should have access to both sun and shade throughout the day. If you do not have an existing coop or shed, you will need to build one—or purchase one pre-made—before getting your chickens. The coop should be large enough for the number of chickens you plan on keeping, and it should be predator-proof so that your birds will be safe at night. Once your coop is in place, you will need to add some basic furnishings, such as perches and nesting boxes.
Feed and Water Your Chickens
Chickens eat both plants and insects, so pasture is important for their diet. In addition to pasture, you will need to provide your chickens with a regular supply of chicken feed, which can be purchased at most farm supply stores. Fresh water should be available at all times; a simple chicken waterer will suffice.
You don't need a big piece of property—or any property at all—to start keeping backyard chickens. All you need is some preparation and knowledge about which chicken breed is right for you and your situation. With a little bit of work, you can provide yourself with fresh eggs or meat—or simply enjoy the company of some feathered friends—regardless of where you live.