Are chickens for me?

PUBLISHED: 16:23 13 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:23 13 January 2014

Chickens free ranging in the garden

Chickens free ranging in the garden

Archant

I would like to keep chickens, but don't know where to start. What do I need to consider?

Chicken keeping pros and cons

FOR:

• Supply of fresh eggs.

• Relatively cheap to acquire & maintain.

• Surplus eggs can be sold.

• A hobby that can pay for itself.

• Good family pets - entertaining and educational for children.

• Garden pest clearance & source of fertiliser.

• Conservation/rescue opportunities.

AGAINST:

• Can destroy flower beds and lawns if allowed to roam.

• Clauses in deeds may restrict keeping poultry.

• Pure breeds may not lay well.

• Availability of affordable housing and feed.

• Some pure breed lines are expensive.

• Vulnerable and constant security is needed.

• Local vets may not understand poultry.

• Not long lived.

• Need daily care - cannot be left if you go on holiday.

• Poor husbandry attracts vermin.

• Escapees may get into neighbours gardens or worse cause accidents.

Before starting with chickens, you’ll need to ask yourself some basic questions and consider the pros and cons, which will establish if indeed chickens are for you. For example:

• Where will you put them?

• How will you house them?

• What will you do if they get sick?

• Are you prepared to look after them rain or shine?

• Which breed?

• How many?

• You may get lots of eggs, so what will you do with the surplus?

• Can you afford a basic feed and equipment?

• Left over feed can attract vermin, how will you store the feed?

• Can you cope with cleaning regularly and do you have the time and equipment?

Lawns may be scratched bare in the winter so can you cope with the mud?

There are as many questions as there are chickens, and your decision must be your own and as educated as it can be with the information you have to hand. If you are able, it may be worth asking a friend or neighbour who does keep chickens if you can spend an hour or so with them to see what exactly is required, whilst local shows and sales are an excellent opportunity to gain more information and read as much as you can on the subject. Read as much as you can – Your Chickens is an excellent resource and there’s always something new to learn

Whatever you do, do not approach keeping poultry unprepared. Take a look at this quick check list of pros and cons to help you on your way:

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