Backyard Chickens

Backyard Chickens

Backyard Chickens, Backyard Chickens

Let’s be honest it’s hard to come up with ideas for your speeches. You want something that’s personal but also interesting. When I needed to write and give my research project for my level 1 pathway I was unsure of what to do. So I thought about what I love and what I was interested in at the time. 

Chickens! 
Backyard Chickens, Backyard Chickens

I had just bought a house and wanted to start my own flock. My family had always owned chickens, and we lived in a suburb. But the more I looked into the more I realized how complicated it can get. So to help make my decision on weather to start my own flock I made a pros and cons list. 

Like most people I wanted to start with the Pros!

  1. Free range chickens produce much more nutritious eggs. 
    • 30% less cholesterol
    • 25% less saturated fat
    • ⅔ more vitamin A
    • 2x more omega-3 fatty acid
    • 3x more vitamin E
    • 7x more beta carotene

You can even see the difference in the yoke: eggs bought at the store have a yellow yolk, while eggs from free roam chickens have a darker, richer and orange yolk. Backyard Chickens, Backyard Chickens

  1. Chicken are a natural compost
    • Chickens will eat everything from bread, pasta, and meat to fruit and veggies. 
    • American households produce 150,000 tons of waste a day, a recent study done in 2018 funded by the United States Department of Agriculture found that healthy people were the ones to throw out the most waste.
  2. No animal cruelty 
    • Having chickens also can help ease your conscience because you know how your chickens are being treated. They are actually one of the easier farm animals to care for.

Now for the Cons of these feathered beauties

  1. The smell and space
    • Chickens can smell bad so you need enough land to keep them away from your house
    • Each chicken needs about  2 to 3 square feet inside the chicken coop, and 8 to 10 square feet outside the coop
  2. Chickens are mean and loud
    • Chickens have a pecking order and seeing feather picking and bullying is not uncommon
    • most cities do not allow for roosters, but hens can make a surprising amount of noise when they squeeze eggs out
  3. Other animal
    • Chickens are a good food source for many predators: opossums,  foxes, birds of prey and coyotes just to name a few
    • The food for their coop can attract rodents
    • You also have to be sure that your other animals can handle chickens (a lot of dog breeds will attack and eat your chickens)
  4. Expense
    • They are not the cheaper option, it is better for your wallet to just buy eggs from the store.
    • Eventually the chicken does stop producing eggs. Then you are left with a freeloader for a few years.
    • Average cost of a chicken coop is $500, cost of feed and maintenance $25 per month and chickens can cost anywhere from $3 to $30. 

Now the lists look a bit one sided, and there are alot of things to consider when getting chicken. Let’s say that all the negatives I just listed above did not deter you and you want to buy some chickens. There are a few things you will need. 

  1. Look into your county/city codes on chickens. There can be requirements on the amount of land needed, the number of chickens allowed, and how far the coop must be from your house. 
    • In Seattle, you are allowed up to 8 chickens on a lot smaller than 10,000 square feet
    • In Oakland, you can have the coop no less than 20 feet from any dwelling, church or school
  2. Buy or Build a chicken coop. 
    • You can spend anywhere from free to $2,000 on a coop if you can find one that is being given away near you. 
    • There are even free plans online if you want to build your own. 

Backyard Chickens, Backyard Chickens

  1. Buy your chickens
    • First do some research. You need to look into what type of chickens you want; the following can all vary depending on the breed:
      • Color of eggs
      • Frequency of egg laying
      • Personality 
      • Average age of the chicken
      • Look of the chicken
    • I recommend getting chicks instead of full grown chickens. They are super cute as little chicklings and getting them young will help them establish a pecking order. So you will have to be sure to buy a few. 
    • There is a lot more to buying and caring for baby chicks so be sure to do some research before you take the plunge.

As it turns out after looking into it I realized that now was not the time or the place to raise chickens, so my dream will have to be put on hold for now. But my love for these small feathered beauties will never die out. 

There are a lot of resources online to help people learn what it takes to own chickens and if it is right for you. 

References:

Hope to see you all at our virtual happy hour tonight at 7pm PST.

Backyard Chickens, Backyard Chickens

— written by Samantha Jamwal, Women L.E.A.D. Treasurer 

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