Keeping chickens is catching on and it isn't a particularly expensive hobby, but you do need to purchase a quality chicken coop and maybe a chicken run and you will also have to look at the price of feed, supplements and vitamins. There are several types of chicken coops or chicken houses on the market but it is wise to consider how many chickens you’re planning to keep and make your decision from there.
If you’re a newcomer to chicken keeping, then it’s adviseable to keep only standard breeds such as the Rhode Island Red, the Marran or the Silver Sussex. Don’t buy a chicken purely on it’s looks, as cross-breeds and exotics can be unpredictable in nature and behaviour. Some types of chickens are known for being extremely noisy and will crow all day long and your neighbours will certainly not take kindly to this trait if you live in a residential area and intend to keep them in your back garden !!
Certain other breeds are poor at resisting disease and require much more attention and a greater level of pampering from their owners. Some types of chicken are not good layers and others may be susceptible to being attacked by other chickens. This is known as being “lower down the pecking order” as they are lower down in the hierarchy of chickens.
You really do need to choose chickens that lay well, are easily tamed, are physically strong and not known for being too noisy. The birds that always seem to meet these requirements are the good old faithful Rhode Island Reds.
Chicken Keeping Tips
If you haven’t kept chickens before then 3 birds is a good number to start with. Don’t ever keep one chicken because they are social creatures and need contact with birds of their own kind. A lone chicken will suffer from being lonely and will not lay well. Any more than three and you will very soon see the mess they create in terms of chicken poo and the amount of scratching about they do is unbelieveable !!
If you have 6 chickens or more don’t forget the difference it will make to the noise levels because more chickens means more birds competing to be top hen. It’s also worth remembering that the amount of space they will need around them also changes dramatically. That means larger chicken coops and larger chicken runs. A good guide is to allow approx. 1 square foot for a small breed bird, 1 1/2 square feet for a medium sized bird and 2 square feet for a large breed chicken.
On average, one hen will lay one egg a day during the summer months, so this will maybe give you some idea of how many hens to purchase. The amount of eggs you can glean from your chickens easily pays this outlay back providing you have layers! Chickens tend to live up to about 15 years old and can lay for a large part of their life but it’s worth remembering that a healthy, happy chicken will lay for a lot longer than one that is poorly kept and ignored.
What type of chicken coop should you pick?
There are lots of chicken coops to choose from and generally they are made from wood but ideas-4-pets have had good feedback from customers who have purchased the new eco-friendly recycled plastic chicken coops. Provided you either purchase a tanalised chicken coop or treat your standard chicken coop with a non-toxic wood preserve annually, these will be fine. Whether wood or plastic they will provide your chickens with a warm, dry environment. Make sure the chicken coop is well ventilated and has an external egg box for easy egg collecting.