Getting chickens for your backyard CAN result in problems. Not always, but it can happen despite your best intentions. Here are some things to think about to help to avoid common mistakes.
It’s a beautiful golden morning. The smell of coffee fills your home and you start thinking about breakfast. You walk outside and collect eggs, so fresh, they are still warm. In your hands are the ingredients for the world’s freshest omelette, and its all from your own backyard! Irie!!
Sounds like a dream breakfast doesn’t it? What if your dream of having chickens turns into a nightmare?
Here are some of the most common causes for problems with chickens and how to overcome them.
The Chickens Are Very Noisy
Chickens are generally quiet animals. Their gentle clucking can be soothing and the little announcement that they have laid an egg won’t bother anyone. However in certain circumstances they can become very rowdy and you will be able to hear them a couple of houses away. This is particularly important if you are living close to your neighbours who may not share the same enthusiasm for your chickens as you do. Some chicken breeds like Wyandottes are very vocal and love to sing their EGG SONG and then do an encore several times over. Just as a dog might bark when they see you or get scared, they will bark. Well, chickens do the same without the barking. Food, freedom and a lot of fun.
Chickens love treats! If you like taking your scraps to your chickens and feed them from your hands, your chickens will start to associate you with fine dining. If you go outside to hang up the washing (and don’t have treats) your chickens will let you know that they are disappointed that their expected treat didn’t arrive.
To prevent this problem, take your greens a container, just make sure it is the same container and you make a small show by tapping it on your way to deliver the treats. This ensures the chickens associate treats with the container and not you, so they won’t expect greens every time they see you. They will try however!
Another method is to deliver the feed after dark. When the chickens wake up they will not know how the greens appeared. However this could cause a problem with the chickens expecting greens in the morning and letting you know (very early in the morning) that they are very disappointed!
FREEDOM and FUN
Allowing chickens to free range around your garden seems like a good idea. They will eat out of the garden and fertilise as they go. However in practice it doesn’t always work out like this. The chickens end up decimating veggie gardens, scratching mulch out of garden beds and leaving droppings all over your patio for you to walk inside.
A problem with noise will occur if your chickens have had a taste of the freedom run of your backyard and when you decide that they need to be enclosed for whatever reason, they will protest. Sometimes quite hard and loudly, just so you know their plight.
The way to prevent this problem occurring is to not let them free range in the first place. What they don’t know, they don’t miss, and they won’t demand to be let out. Before you get your chickens, make the largest enclosure you can afford to give them. Once they are here leave them behind the fence and don’t let them out! My run for the girls consists of their coop/sleeping area (5m20 and their foraging, play, chillaxing, preening area (10m2). So they have ample room to play and be chookies whilst not destroying your tiny farm.
Chicken enclosures can smell if you don’t regularly clean it out or you have tried to squeeze too many chickens into a small area.
Its worth considering that most councils allow 3 chickens per household, along with their laws and bylaws, proximity to dwellings etc this can sometimes mean they are away from sight and house, so sometimes maintenance is not always first thought. However, they do need their enclosures cleaned weekly. Religiously. Unless using a DEEP LITTER set up, which still requires a monthly clean out and redo. Compost the BEDDING, FLOORING AND POO.
A good way to make sure you keep up the cleaning of the enclosure is to look forward to cleaning it out.
How am I going to look forward to cleaning my chicken pen, it’s stinky, dark and had poo in there!! Easy!! Make sure you have a veggie garden close by. Have a CHECKLIST and make sure that is first cab off the ranks.
Dogs aren’t always accepting of the new additions to the family resulting in a barking dog and scared chickens. In most cases the dog will become accepting over time, especially when they work out that they can’t actually get to the chickens. However, in some cases the dog just won’t drop the issue.
If you think this is going to be the case, ensure that your enclosure is totally dog proof and that you get a confident breed of chicken. An example of a confident breed of chicken is the ISA Brown. These birds will quickly learn that the dog can’t get to them and they will soon come to ignore the dog, some cheeky hen’s even taunt my Red Heeler through the wire. Flighty or easy scared chicken breeds will not develop this level of confidence and will most likely live in a degree of fear. Naturally this excites the dog which in turn scares the chickens further. Heritage Breeds are sometime quite flighty.
There is nothing worse than waking up at the crack of dawn with what sounds like one of your chickens being strangled (loudly) in your backyard. Roosters are not permitted in suburbia however accidents do occur, so be careful when purchasing Fertilized Eggs. PULLETS and POINT OF LAY is best to avoid Cockerels.
Buy a breed of chicken where there is a 100% success rate of the chicken being sexed correctly. This can be achieved in breeds such as ISA Brown and Hyline chickens that hatch in different colours for boys and girls. If you buy chickens that are not one of the ‘brown’ varieties then there is a chance that at least one is going to be a boy. Brown is generally Hen and White is generally Roo/Cockerel.
Let’s get chickening!
Majesty Blessings from Ras Mark SUBURBAN FARMER.
In order to make sure your decision to get chickens is the best decision you have made:
Create a large, sturdy, and dog proof enclosure where the chickens will stay day and night.
Let your chickens associate feeds with the presence of a bright feed bucket. Always deliver feed with the bucket and never feed them without the bucket.
Do some research. Look for breeds of chickens that are confident and have a guaranteed sexing success rate.
If you have ideas to help make life great for you and your chickens please leave them below. It will help anyone considering chickens!