Raising a few chickens to supply your family with eggs is fun and easy. Even if you don’t live out in the country, you can easily raise chickens in a small backyard, and you can’t beat the flavor of fresh eggs. There are a few things you need to know before you start raising your own chickens, such as whether your town allows chickens, what kind of housing you want to use, and what breed you will want to raise.
Find Out if Your Town Allows Chickens
Just because you live in the suburbs or even the city does not mean that you cannot have chickens. Many towns and even large cities allow the keeping of small numbers of fowl. If you are not sure of the rules for your town or city, check online or call your local government office.
Most cities do not allow roosters because of noise concerns, but you do not need a rooster to have eggs. If your town currently does not allow chickens, consider trying to get the law changed by applying to your city council.
Backyard Chicken Coops and Chicken Tractors
Now that you have verified that you can keep chickens, you need to decide how you are going to house them. You may decide that a traditional stationary coop is the best for your needs, but most people in an urban or suburban setting would do better with a moveable coop, or chicken tractor.
A chicken tractor is usually small and moveable and will hold about 2 to 6 hens. It has an open bottom that allows the hens to get to the yummy grass and bugs, but will keep them contained, safe from predators and out of your flower beds.
There are many pictures of chicken tractors online to give you an idea of how to build one, or you could purchase one like the Eglu. Whether you chose a stationary coop or a chicken tractor, make sure that there is at least 4 square feet of space for each full grown bird.
Which Breed of Chicken is Right for Me?
The first thing you want to ask yourself in regard to which breed of chicken you want is whether you want bantam hens or standard hens. Many people in an urban or suburban setting decide to keep bantam hens because they are smaller. However, bantam hens’ eggs are also about half the size of standard hens’ eggs, so you need to keep that in mind. You also need to decide if you want chickens that lay white, brown, or even green eggs.
For white egg layers I recommend staying away from the production breeds like White Leghorns, as they tend to be flighty and not very friendly. A breed like the Hamburg is better suited to backyard living. For brown egg layers there are so many great breeds out there. Brahmas are considered to be one of the friendliest and most docile of the brown egg layers, consider also Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, and Rhode Island Reds.
For green eggs you will find the breeds listed as Easter Eggers, Araucanas or Ameraucanas, and they are many times sold interchangeably. All of the breeds listed above will do well in any climate, and should do well in a small backyard setting.