More and more families are loving the idea of keeping chickens in their back garden. Chickens do not only provide fresh eggs but are also great pets. Keeping chickens in your garden can be relatively easy and doesn’t require so much work. However, it is important to cross check certain factors and be certain you have them in place.
Some areas require that you get permission before keeping chickens in your back garden, so it is important you check your state law before you begin. Certain areas do not allow residents to rear chickens in their back gardens at all while others only permit a certain number of chickens. You should also check homeowners laws to check for rules against noise and keeping of pets or livestock.
It is also important to check with your neighbors. They should be aware of your plans to keep chickens as they could have problems with the noise or issues when your chickens escape and wander into their garden. Check with them and be certain they are duly informed. Here are some other things you need to know:
The best hen houses
It won’t make sense to leave your hens wandering about in your garden. If you have plants and flowers, this is a great way to damage them. You should get a suitable hen house for your chickens. There are many available in the market and are equally affordable. You can also choose to build yours. Be sure to carefully select the right kind of timber. You can go for hardwood or softwood that is dense and well insulated. Ensure your hen house is well ventilated and rust proof.
You should also consider building wires around your fences to prevent your hens from escaping. If you would be raising freshly hatched chicks, then you should set up your brooder. This is a place where your chicks will thrive and safely grow. A brooder must provide your chicks with all the conditions they need to survive and mature. It must be safe and offer protections from other pets around like cats and dogs. Setting up the suitable brooder is very easy and requires a cardboard or plywood box filled with suitable bedding.
The most recommended bedding is the corn cob bedding as this is softer and safer than pine shavings. Chicks also need the right amount of heat, and you can either install a heat lamp or an electric radiant heat brooder which comes with less risk. From here, you can move them to their permanent hen houses after 5 to 6 weeks. You should also provide a nesting box where they can lay their eggs. It won’t make sense if they lay their eggs carelessly about.
Providing your pets with the needed food and water is important. Taking care of chickens is actually quite simple. You just have to be sure to provide them with fresh water and chicken food daily. Litter spreaders could also be used to spread grains for chickens allowed to roam freely. Chickens need layer pellets that contain wheat, salt, maize, sunflower seeds, and oats. You can feed them with grains like wheat or corn.
Additionally, you can add vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, bananas, and even oranges. You can also get organic chicken feed, especially if you do not wish to let your chickens roam about. This will provide them with the needed nutrients. It is best to place the feed in a chicken trough placed a little high as this keeps them dry and clean.
The chickens should be fed at least once in the morning and once in the evening. It is also important not to put too much feed in the trough or leave them overnight as this encourages the presence of pests such as mice.
Where to site the hen house?
You should also consider the position of the hen house. Chickens need space to roam. This is why it is usually advised to keep a minimum run space of 2 square meters per chicken. It is also important to position it in a place where you can easily keep an eye on the chickens and where animals like foxes can’t get to them. Also, provide enough to shade to prevent overheating.
Number of chickens
If you are just looking to breed chickens in your back garden then you do not need so much. A maximum of 3 chickens is okay for a start. You can easily maintain those three and should anything occur to one; you still have 2 to keep each other company. It is also easier to maintain 3 chickens as against having 5 or more. You also do not need to get a cockerel. They can be really high maintenance and not necessary in the long run. They can also be very loud which can be annoying if you have neighbors around.
You can get your chickens from a farm or a local hatchery around you. You can also make orders from hatcheries online. Be sure to get sexed chicks if you are really serious about getting chickens that will lay eggs. It is also important to consider your area, and the climate as this will determine the breed of chickens you get. Some chickens do not do well in certain areas and weather conditions, so if you want to order for your chickens online, you might want to consider this factor.
Protecting your garden
While keeping your chickens, maintaining your garden will require additional work and precautions. Chickens love to scratch around the ground, particularly around beds and containers. This means they are more likely to scatter flowers and plants planted.
A good way to protect your garden is to plant flowers which chickens are most likely to avoid. Although placing stones in plant pots do offer some form of protection, it is not entirely guaranteed, so it is advised to keep your chickens in pens and away from your garden.
Keeping chickens in the back garden can be quite easy and also fun. Be sure to start small and move from there.