8/12/2009

FAQs for Backyard Chickens


Raising chickens in our backyard has been a great experience. The kids love them and love taking care of them. They'll follow our 18-month old around when she isn't looking. And they're fun to watch.

There have also been several surprises along the way. We were quite surprised at how quickly our dogs accepted them into "their domain" (the backyard). We were surprised by how positively our neighbors reacted when they found out that we had them. The most surprising thing has been the questions. It seems like everybody is interested in the chickens and/or has questions.

So let's cover off on a few of these, shall we?

  1. So how many eggs do you get? We get this question all the time. Right now - none. Chickens, like any other animal, have to be 'of age' to produce eggs. Once they're ready to lay, they'll produce 4-7 eggs per week, per chicken. Your mileage may vary depending upon the breed and conditions.
  2. So how do you keep from ending up with a bunch of little chicks instead of the eggs? This is one of my favorites. Didn't mother talk to you about the birds and the bees? You see, it takes a mommy chicken and a daddy chicken to make little chickens. We have only hens - no roosters. If the eggs don't get fertilized, then you don't end up with babies, just eggs.
  3. How do you get them into he coop at night? Actually, its pretty easy - we just leave the door open. Since they know it's their home and that they have a place to roost inside, they file in each night around 8pm. All we have to do is close the door behind them to keep preditors out.
  4. What do they eat? Whatever they want! Since they spend their days out in the backyard (fenced in for the doogs), they eat what ever they can find. Bugs, grass, weeds. We also have a feeder inside the coup and will also put out some scratch, oyster shells, or scraps out for them.
  5. Don't they fly away? Yes and no. They can technically fly, just not like the birds in the sky. They have been roosting out the fence gate lately and have flown out of the backyard on 2 or 3 occasions. We need to clip their wings, which will keep them from flying too high.
  6. Aren't they messy? Not really. No messier than they dogs when it comes to droppings. Most of the feathers end up in the coop. Other than that, you don't really notice them. The coop doesn't smell terribly since we built in so much ventillation.
  7. Don't you need a rooster? It's fun to let folks try to guess which of the four is the rooster. None! No, roosters needed. In fact hens produce eggs just like women do. The difference is that chicken eggs are fertilized after they are laid, not before. No rooster, means no fertilized eggs.
  8. What do you neighbors think? That was actually quite funny. On the same Saturday afternoon, both neighboors came over to aske what I was building. When I told them it was a chicken coop, not only were the supportive, but they also asked when e were going to get them. We'd had them for 3 weeks.
  9. Aren't they loud? Different breeds behave differently, kinda like our neighbors! Ours happen to be known for being neighborhood-friendly as they don't make much noise. And again, no rooster crowing.
  10. How do you know what color the eggs will be? Different breeds lay different colors. Ours happen to lay various colors - blue, green and brown to be specific.
Now, with those out of the way, what questions do you have about chickens?


2 comments:

Bryan said...

I have three questions:

Where do you get them to start with? What about the winters and when it gets cold? And, is the coop your own design or did you follow plans?

Thanks!

Mr. (not) the Jet Set said...

Bryan -

Great questions.
1> we got them from a local feedstore. They typically sell them in the spring.
2> From what we understand, they take care of themselves in the winter. So much so that the coup really needs no insulation.
3> The coup is our own design, but we took a lot of influence from several designs online. That post is coming....

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