Getting Started With Backyard Chickens
The Urban Chicken
As natural foods and sourced ingredients continue to become an increasing priority nationwide, raising “backyard” chickens is likewise gaining popularity. So-named for the convenience of maintaining a flock of typically 1-4 hens in a small-scale setting, such as in the backyard of a residential property. “Backyard” chicken raising makes for a fun hobby for rural and urban families alike, with many practical benefits.
Before purchasing chicks, it is important to first create a plan for your “backyard” experience. Decide how much area of your property you want to dedicate to chickens. With this in mind, map out the area dedicating space for a chicken coop, chicken run, and foraging area. Keep in mind that chickens enjoy scratching at the ground to forage for insects. Be sure to make note of any areas you wish to remain off-limits (flower beds, delicate areas of the garden, etc.). Knowing your space determines how many chickens you can comfortably house. For birds with a free range of the backyard, you should allow 3 square feet in the coop per bird. If they will be in an enclosed run all the time 10 square feet per bird should be provided. Get familiar with your city’s regulations as well as any residential ordinances that may limit the number or sex of chickens allowed on your property.
Selecting a Breed
Once you have an area mapped out and have determined the number of chickens you wish to keep, you will need to establish your purpose in keeping chickens: meat production, egg production, or both. Today, there are many breeds of chickens that have been selectively bred for certain desirable traits. There are heavy-weight, fast-growing breeds that are well suited for meat production. There are many that are well suited as egg layers. There are some that are both heavy-weight birds and do well with egg production (known as dual-purpose birds). Look into the popular breeds and narrow your choices to those that will suit your purpose. Zamzows carries a wide variety of both dual-purpose birds, as well as layers. At Zamzows, you will only find layers rated “Good” to “Excellent”, which often means you can expect more than 300 eggs per year from a single hen!