Considering Back Yard Chickens? Pros and Cons

The Honest Truth About What You’re Committing To

The first and most important thing you’ll need is proper housing. That means you’re going to have to spend some money on a shelter that’s not only suitable for flock, and the climate you live in, but one that is easy for you to clean and maintain. The coop also must be predator proof, no matter where you live, chickens are not safe from predators, not in residential communities, and not in the city.

If you’re not sure where to start, or need some ideas on coop types, here’s a collection of  Chicken Coops to help you choose the proper set-up.
Always keep in mind, you get what you pay for. Here’s the truth, by the time you get your first egg, you probably will have spent $1,000 for your chicken set-up.
Usually, new chicken keepers invest good money in a to small coop and end up spending even more money on larger one. Bigger is always better, no exceptions. Chickens need space, they live by the harsh rules of a pecking order, and their chosen territories are not kindly shared.  Remember, happy chickens fill the egg basket. So always keep in mind, build or buy bigger than you need, it’s the smarter investment in the long run.

Furnishing the Coop
Your birds are going to need a feeder, drinker, nest boxes, shavings, and a roost. Those are the obvious necessities. But there’s a lot of little things that you might not think of such as a rake, gloves, buckets, a hose, etc. It would be really helpful to have a nearby shed to store all your supplies, including feed, shavings, or straw/hay.

Pine Shavings

So the next time you are mesmerized by those cute fuzzy butts at the feed store, remember what you’re getting into. You may only have to pay a few bucks for the chicks, but I guarantee you’ll be digging a lot deeper into your pockets in no time at all.  It’s best to get your set-up in place before you buy the chicks. Make sure it’s weather proof, predator proof, and in a place where it’s protected from inclement weather.

Caring for Your Chickens
You will be committing to a daily chore, even in inclement weather. It will be your responsibility to keep the coop clean and dry, provide your flock with fresh water, and ample good quality feed. As a rule, chickens don’t need much personal attention, but there will be occasions when a bird may need special treatment. You may even have to isolate a bird if it becomes injured. A chicken that is bleeding even the tiniest bit will cause havoc among the flock, will most definitely be pecked by the others, and the outcome is rarely good. Be prepared for these inevitable situations.

Cost of keeping Backyard Chickens
If you think you’ll save money by having a small flock to supply your family with fresh eggs you are dead wrong. In comparison, buying grocery store shelf eggs are substantially cheaper. One standard size bag of chicken feed is about $14.00, it will feed 4 birds for a month, One bale of shavings (bedding & nest boxes) for your coop is about $10-$12 and it will last about 2 weeks.  Straw or hay is also comparable in price, somewhere between $10-$15, depending on where you live.
Considering the initial investment of a coop, and the monthly overhead of caring for the birds, it’s hard to argue the fact that you could buy more store shelf eggs for much less money. Just sayin’…. get into chicken keeping because you want to invest in healthy eggs and enjoy a rewarding hobby.

Bottom Line
A back yard flock is wonderful if you’re up for the job. If you want to bring your own farm fresh eggs to the table for your family then jump right in and start preparing.  Research what breeds are best for you, get your coop and set-up ready, then get your chicks. We are here with any help you might need raising chicks from brooder, to coop, and beyond. Check out our Resource Directory, Articles Archives, and FAQ’s.

More on Raising Chickens in the City

Back to Chicken Keeping Resources HOME PAGE

 

 

Chicken Coop is Finished

Preparing for the Brooder to Coop Transition

The chicks are heading into their 5th week in the brooder and will be ready to move into the coop the following week. This is what I call their transitional week. Their radiant heat heat source is slowly taken away, and they’ll also lose their all-night red lighting.
The first few nights I switch from red lighting to a white night light, then the night light is taken away. By the time they transition from brooder to coop they will have learned to accept cooler temperatures and total darkness at night.
In most parts of the country chicks are kept in the brooder until they are fully feathered, which is usually around 8 weeks. Here in Phoenix, Arizona, by the end of April temperatures during the day reach about 85-90, lows about 65. Therefore, it’s plenty warm to move the chicks to the coop at about 6 weeks. As you can see, they’re pretty well feathered already!

The Finished Coop
The coop is an existing 10×10 x walk-in covered dog enclosure converted to a chicken coop. It’s inside a 3 stall covered open air barn, offering them plenty of shade and fresh air. It has taken almost 3 weeks to completely cover the chair link fencing with 1/2 inch hardware cloth.
Needless to say, I have spent my self-quarantine time wisely. Unfortunately, my fingers are a mess from working with stubborn wire and zip ties.

Predators have been a problem in the past, we have had our share of traumatic experiences with hawks, bobcats, and coyotes. I’ve lost at 8 birds over the years, with so much time on my hands, this was a good time to put the effort into predator proofing the coop. Not to mention keeping wild birds from entering the coop and eating all the chicken feed!

Tip: Chicken wire isn’t going to keep your birds safe from predators, always use hardware cloth. Chicken wire can be chewed through or easily bent to give predators access.
Also, lay /bury hardware cloth at the base of the coop to prevent digging by raccoons and coyotes, etc.  More About Predators

Resource Directory, FAQ’s, Informative Articles
HOME PAGE

Chicken Wire 220

Updating the Chicken Coop

Chicks in the Brooder are Three Weeks Old

The March 18th chicks are growing fast and there’s work to be done before they leave the brooder and move into the coop.  As long as I’m stuck at home, seemed like a great time to update the chicken coop. There’s always something I’m not satisfied with, this year I’m going to do something about it.

My biggest pain in the butt are wild birds eating all my chicken feed. They squeeze through the tiniest hole in the chicken pen, and then can’t get out. They fly around inside bouncing off the walls, causing total chaos among the flock.

You probably think this is no big deal, but chicken feed is expensive, and wild birds can easily eat 5lbs or more every single day. That means I’m buying a $14.99 bag of feed every 8 days or so. Taking that into consideration, it would be a lot cheaper to just buy eggs!

The coop is a 10×10 covered chain link pen, inside an open air barn or shedrow at the back of our property. I had it completely covered with aviary netting, that was somewhat suitable, however, birds and lizards would get caught in it. That’s another problem I  want to avoid so I took all of it off. One problem solved, but another was created.   I was now committed to finding a favorable solution.

The Solution
I bought 3 50ft rolls of 1/2 inch hardware cloth and have almost finished covering the entire coop. Talk about time consuming, OMG. My fingers are a mess, my nails broken, and my arms look like I’ve been in a battle zone.  BUT, there will be no birds getting in my coop this year!

The Girls at Three Weeks Old

Back to TBN Ranch Chicken Keeping Resources HOME PAGE