If you’ve always wanted to own chickens and experience the joy of collecting your own fresh eggs, you can easily do so in your own backyard. While it is possible to keep chickens, there are some things that you need to know so that you and your neighbours are happy! Read on for more.
The Legal Issues Concerning Keeping Chickens
If you want to keep chickens, there are some simple laws that you have to follow. The specifics will depend on your local council (so always check with them first!) but the basics are that roosters are not allowed; there are no limits on how many chooks you keep as long as they’re in a clean and healthy environment; and the chickens must be kept in a coop that is a suitable size for the number that you have. Also, the coop must be located at least 4.5 metres away from any dwelling.
Roosters are not allowed simply because of the noise they make, especially in the early morning when people are trying to sleep. However, the good news is that they do not affect the production of eggs at all; it just means that the eggs laid will be infertile. The next two regulations simply means that you need to have the right size coop and that the coop is kept reasonably clean. You also need to have an enclosed yard and make sure that your chickens cannot escape. An easy way of doing this is to clip the chickens’ wings.
How to Keep Your Chickens Safe and Comfortable
Foxes can be a concern to chickens, even in the most populated of areas, so your coop needs to be lockable and fox proof. You can fox proof the coop by using a wire base in the coop or digging the wire into the ground. This is because foxes burrow to get into the chickens.
Of course, the chicken coop needs to be comfortable for the birds. You should have a zone at the back to give the birds protection in winter – made from galvanised iron or another waterproof material. You will also need to provide nesting space and nesting materials in the coop. One nest for every five birds should be enough but be aware that chickens will lay wherever they like. Simple straw is a great floor litter in the coop, and you should only have to clean the coop weekly. Always remove excrement and dirty litter.
Caring for Chickens
Chickens are relatively easy to care for. To ensure that the chickens keep laying eggs for you, you should make sure that your chickens always have access to a seed/meal mix or to pelletised chicken feed. Most laying breeds of chickens need about 15 percent protein in their food in order to keep up the egg laying. You can also give your chickens scraps from the kitchen, and they will happily eat scratching from the garden (such as weeds). Of course, you need to make sure that your chickens have access to plenty of fresh water at all times.
To help keep your chickens healthy, you should worm them every three months or so using a special worming liquid. If your chickens get mites and lice, you can dust the birds and the coop with a powder that is designed to kill these. Your chickens should be vaccinated before you buy them.
Of course, it is important that you keep the coop clean and hygienic. Not only is it good for the birds but it will help to keep vermin away, and keep the coop free of odour – which is important in residential areas.
Topic: Owning a Pet, Birds