Many people in the inner city suburbs are starting to realize the benefits of raising backyard chickens. They are easy to take care of, produce fresh eggs for the table, and are a great learning tool about farm life for children growing up in the inner city. This article will give you the inside scoop on raising backyard chickens 101.
Raising Chickens in the Backyard
Inner city life brings with it a lot of pros: you’re close to the action and work, you don’t miss out on anything, and you don’t have to sit through hours of peak hour traffic, but it also holds you back from having the backyard of your dreams. Many of those who live in the inner city do not have much space in their yards; many only have courtyards, but if you have enough space to install a chicken coup, you get the best of two worlds: city and urban.
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Chicken Coop and Run
A coop and run is essential for your flock of backyard chickens. Plenty of shed companies supply well-sized chicken coups for backyards, so you can benefit from raising chickens while living in the inner city.
For those who enjoy doing things yourself, build your chicken coop from any designs found at Easy Coops, like this small chicken condo suitable for most backyards. All the Easy Coops plans have a chicken house design with enough space for the number of chickens they are built for, and all provide adequate light and ventilation for a healthy flock. I suggest having an outside run area large enough to allow good exercise for your chickens. This may mean adding extra space to your plans or building a coop bigger than the suggested number of chickens for the coop design. You can make any of these coop designs using used lumber from a second-hand building store or with pallets. Add a coat of paint, and no one can tell.
Your chickens need a bare area to take a dust bath in the run. They rid themselves of mites and bacteria, not with water but dust. They need an area of dust approximately 2′ by 2′ by 16″, either bare ground or a low-sided box filled with dust. If you use the ground in your yard for their dust bath area, you might want to consider one of the moveable chicken tractors. As its name implies, this coop is a portable pen that you can move from one area of your yard to another. These unique coops have wheels on one end and handles or a handlebar on the other.
The Cost of Raising Chickens
Chickens are easy and inexpensive to maintain, compared to your average pet, and they are your very own chemical-free bug and weed control; they make an excellent fertilizer, and your kids will love them. There are two costs associated with raising chickens: startup costs, like the coop, equipment, and the chickens themselves, and ongoing costs for food and other essential supplies. Maintaining a chicken flock of three chickens or less costs approximately $30 monthly.
If you are up for a little nature experiment, you can raise your chickens from an egg by making an egg incubator. You can watch your chicks hatch and raise them from birth to be the big, healthy, egg-laying chicken of your dreams.
Your chicks will eat crumbs and drink water from a drip. Encourage your kids to play with the chicks to get them used to being around people from an early age. If you haven’t spent much time around chickens, getting to know them from when they are chicks is a great way to acclimate yourself to them, as it can be a little daunting to start with adult chickens, and it helps you learn the temperament of each chicken.
If you plan to raise baby chicks, I suggest using pine shavings for the flooring of your chicken coop. It is non-toxic, making the coop easy to clean, whether you are raising babies or not. Just sweep everything out of the coop and bag it for trash collection, or let it sit and use it in a compost pile the following season.
It is also important when considering raising chickens to check with your local council to see if it’s legal in your area; this may be an issue if you have a small yard, but it may be possible to keep one or two. In addition, if you live under the regulations of a Home Owners Association, you must check their rules and regulations once you have verified your city or county allows you to raise chickens in your backyard. While the government council may say yes, the HOA may look differently at raising backyard chickens.