Backyard Chickens


lbosmer

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I wasn't really sure where to post this but I decided this was the best place. Do any of you have your own chickens that you keep to harvest eggs? If so how many do you have and what kind of time is involved.

I live in a quiet dead end neighborhood with minimal traffic. We have a big back yard but no fence. We have plenty of room to build a small coop which I am sure is going to be needed. Our neighborhood is actually kind of secluded and our back yard is actually more like a "forrest". I work full time and so does my husband, so we are not farmers by any stretch of the imagination. Although I do have a small veggie garden in my backyard right now.

I would love to hear if any of you have your own chickens and what your experience has been so far. (i.e. is it a hard job)

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I briefly had some but the fox got them.

They're pretty easy. You need to decide if you will medicate any sicknesses - in which case you'll need to learn symptoms and treatments - or whether you will just cull any that get ill. I would build the run in the shade (these are descended from jungle fowl), make it predator proof. They'll scratch up the ground, so you might want to make a portable coop?

Time-wise, think about food, water, egg collecting, and cleaning out the coop (it stinks). You basically need to be there dawn and dusk to let them in/out of the secure part. Have a google around coop designs and see what you like :)

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http://www.backyardchickens.com/ is your friend. :)

We've had chickens for the past 5 years. We started with 12, lost a few, hatched some more (that was a learning experience) and at our peak, had 15. The eggs were WONDERFUL - better than any egg I've been able to buy since (even from other backyards!).

The time commitment? It depends. 1) build a predator proof coop that has plenty of shade and a place for them to be dry. 2) make sure they have plenty of feed and clean water 3) let them out in the morning and lock them up at night 5) cleaning out the coop is gross, but necessary (every couple of weeks) 6) will they have a contained run or will you free-range them during the day? Free-ranging is great (you get better eggs when they have plenty of access to grass and bugs) but it can be a pain. Neighbor dogs, coyotes, raccoons, etc can do a number on your girls. As can cars if you are near a road. We free-ranged ours in a huge fenced in meadow and we have three big dogs that knew not to bother the chickens, so we were fairly predator proof. Our girls also liked to only lay eggs in their nesting boxes in the coop, so they were trained to go back in to lay which makes finding and collecting eggs easy. They were also trained to go there when it got dark, so we didn't have to chase them down or round them up at the end of the day. Chickens that like to roost when free-ranging can be a PITA.

Research your breeds too. You want to make sure you get the right kind of bird for your situation. We had Rhode Island Reds, White Leghorns and Araucanas. The Reds were the best all around, the Leghorns were entirely too flighty and fragile and the Araucanas were the prettiest and laid for the most years (mostly because they don't lay in winter at all where the other two breeds do occasionally).

We don't have them anymore as we now live in town with zero yard. I don't miss cleaning the coop or having to dispatch sick birds...but I do miss those eggs and the funny things the chickens would do! I liked the sounds they would make and even the stupid rooster.

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