How Many Chickens Do You Need?
Too many people are turning to raise backyard chickens in various urban setups across the country. Most of these keepers do so as a hobby or a desire to collect fresh eggs and get poultry meat as their ultimate source of protein.
So, if you are looking to start keeping backyard chickens you need to know the exact number of birds that you can comfortably take care of without breaking your back or depleting your bank account.
One thing you need to know is that chickens are among the most social creatures on the farm. So, make sure to start with keeping at least three or six chickens in your backyard as your starting point.
With this number of birds under your care, you will always look forward to a steady supply of fresh eggs for your family. This is attributed to the fact that an adult hen is capable of laying two eggs in a period of three days (on average).
Below are some of the top factors to consider when deciding on the number of chickens you want to keep in your backyard.
Deciding How Many Chickens You Need
Before you decide to bring in your first batch of newly bought chickens to your backyard you should have these factors at the back of your mind:
The space for your chickens is of great essence if you want your project to succeed. In this sense, you need to ensure that there is enough space in your backyard to accommodate the maximum number of chickens you are intending to start raising.
The available space depends mainly on the breed of chickens you want to keep. For instance, a medium-sized chicken requires at least three square feet of space in the coop.
The same chicken needs around eight to ten square feet of space outside the coop. After all, the more space you have, the healthier and happier your chickens will be.
Overcrowding your birds may lead to serious problems such as feather picking, diseases, and fighting for the available small space.
Enough space in your backyard will enable your birds to spread their wings, play around freely, and co-exist peacefully with each other.
Your birds will need plenty of outdoor space to run around, forage, catch a few sun rays or take a soothing dust bath all day long.
Either way, the available space should be fenced to keep your backyard flock of chickens safe from predators. The fencing will else prevent them from wandering far away from your homestead.
Your Goals: Meet vs Eggs
The ultimate goal of raising chickens is to collect eggs daily or butcher them for their delicious meat. With this goal in your mind, you must decide whether you want to raise chickens for eggs or meat.
If it is for egg production, make sure you choose the right egg-laying chicken breed. In addition to that, purchase all the equipment necessary to raise layers in your backyard. Some of these equipment include nest boxes, waterers, feeders, and many more.
The same case applies if you are going to raise chickens for meat production. At the same time, decide on the type of feed you will give to your chickens. The commercial feed should be specifically formulated for either layers or broilers.
Every city, town, or state has its laws guiding homesteading. This means you need to do due diligence to know whether your town allows residents to raise chickens in their backyards or not.
Some of these laid-down laws outline the maximum number of chickens every homestead should have. The laws also state whether residents can raise roosters among their flock of backyard chickens or otherwise.
Most importantly, some towns require chicken owners to obtain permits that authorize them to raise chickens in their homes.
Ensure that you familiarize yourself with the laws of your town or municipality. If the law states that you only need to keep less than tend chickens, just follow it to be on the safe side and also to protect your investment.
On the other hand, if the law, prevents you from keeping roosters in your neighborhood, just obey so that you can have an easy time with your neighbors and the authority in general.
Make sure to check the legality aspect of raising chickens with your local government. Aside from that, be sure to have those rules written down to prevent future problems.
In case your local government does not approve a permit for raising chickens or doesn’t entirely agree with the laid-down restrictions or regulations, work towards changing those laws.
The best time to push for such reforms is when you are about to get your first flock of backyard chickens.
Types of Chickens to Consider
Take into account the chicken breeds or types you want to raise before you get started with this project. This decision should come into play after you have confirmed and verified that your area allows residents to keep backyard chickens in their homes.
Once you are done with your research about the local coordinates, your next task should be to find out more about the most likely breeds that you can raise comfortably.
Your choice of chicken breeds to raise will be based solely on factors such as personalities and temperaments displayed by different breeds.
Most likely you will go for those chickens with mild temperaments and friendly dispositions. Examples of these breeds include Cochins, Aistralorps, and Buff Orpingtons which are all gentle breeds for your family members to handle.
Some chicken breeds are adaptable to different climatic conditions. For instance, some will do well in colder climates while a good number of them will thrive best in warm climates.
In this case, make sure you select the types of chickens that are better suited for the climate within your area.
Chicken Housing and Care Requirements
Your chickens will require their own house or coop where they will retreat when night falls. The size of the coop will depend on their number, the chicken breeds, and whether they are layers or broilers.
Design a coop that is spacious enough to give each bird at least 3 to 5 square feet of space on the floor. Likewise, provide 8 inches of perching or roosting bar and one nesting box to serve between three and four hens.
Add an attached run to allow each bird a minimum space of about 10 square feet. The run will allow your chickens to venture safely outside of their coop when you are not around to keep an eye on each one of them.
Aside from that, provide adequate lighting and ventilation to the coop to keep your chickens comfortable and safe throughout. Make sure to seal the coop off in order to keep predators and other intruders away from your chickens.
Most significantly, choose the safest location in your backyard to erect the coop. The coop itself should be accessible and easy to clean or collect eggs.
Keep the entire chicken housing dry and safe from parasites since chickens are highly vulnerable to unfriendly environments.
Regularly disinfect their housing to get rid of disease-causing organisms. Above all, give them a nutritionally balanced diet and clean fresh water at given intervals.
Egg Expectations from Your Flock
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Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or expert chicken keeper, you need to know the exact number of birds you can raise in your backyard.
However, the number of chickens that you can keep depends on various factors as those stated above. Key among these factors is the capital and size of the backyard you want to use for these projects.
Your goals regarding the number of birds you are looking to raise are also important factors.
Don’t forget the legality, types of chickens, housing, and care requirements among other factors that make keeping backyard chickens a successful investment.