Things I Wish I Had Known Before Getting Chickens

Chickens are a joy to keep for many reasons. If you can, just do it!
So, you want to keep backyard chickens? You’re reading all you can to learn what you need to know to get started, you have bought all the books and are scouring the Internet hoping to absorb the most important information. That’s a great start, but some lessons are painful and expensive to learn by experience, so in the hope of sparing some growing pains for those about to embark on chicken-keeping, I have asked my Facebook fans what they wish they had known before they began keeping chickens. The following are some of their replies and a few of my own.

Chickens are a joy to keep for many reasons. If you can, just do it!Three words: JUST DO IT!
Check your local ordinances and zoning code regulations to make sure you can keep chickens legally. Don’t assume that it’s legal just because others in the neighborhood are doing it. Research whether there is a limit on the number of chickens, a permit required for a coop, roosters allowed or any other restrictions.  Don’t be afraid to petition local government to change the law to legalize chicken-keeping!

Do your homework…chickens are a serious commitment.

Buy chickens from a reputable breeder or hatchery, not an auction or swap if at all possible.Buy from a reputable breeder or hatchery, not an auction or swap if at all possible.  Have what they need before they arrive.

A hen does not necessarily lay an egg every day.

A hen does not necessarily lay an egg every day. There are many factors that play a role in egg-production– some can be influenced by you, but others cannot.

Before the first chicks arrive, have everything they need.

Do it right the first time and don’t cut corners.  Get/build a bigger coop than you think you want/need. Chicken Math is a force to be reckoned with.

Coop placement is important. (shade in summer, dry location in rainy climates)Coop placement is important. (shade in summer, dry location in rainy climates)  Make the coop and run “people friendly” to make cleaning and maintenance easier.

Make the coop and run "people friendly" to make cleaning and maintaining it easier.
Install removable roosts to be able to clean underneath them.

Install removable roosts to be able to clean underneath them.Don’t plan on just getting a few… it’s an addiction. There will always be more than you expected.

Don't plan on just getting a few... it’s an addiction. There will always be more.

Install dropping boards that pull out, super easy to clean.
Install dropping boards that pull out, super easy to clean.

Even when purchasing female (aka: sexed) chicks, vent sexing is only 90% accurate. Have a plan for roosters that cannot be kept.

Even when purchasing female (aka: sexed) chicks, vent sexing is only 90% accurate. Have a plan for roosters that cannot be kept.

Their habitat will never be complete!
Their habitat will never be complete!
Always properly quarantine new birds from other farms/homes.
Always properly quarantine new birds from other farms/homes

Make sure you have a well stocked first aid kit and an area where sick or injured birds can be kept away from the flock.

Make sure you have a well stocked first aid kit and an area where sick or injured birds can be kept away from the flock.

Make sure the coop and run are predator proof.
Make sure the coop and run are predator proof.

Chicken wire will not protect chickens from predators, only hardware cloth can.
Chicken wire will not protect chickens from predators, only hardware cloth can.

Protect them as much as you can from the elements.
Protect them as much as you can from the elements.
What a dust bath looks like and why they do it.
What a dust bath looks like and why they do it.
That nest box curtains can prevent a variety of problems.
That nest box curtains can prevent a variety of problems.

Research the different breeds as some do better in the heat, some do better in the cold, some lay more eggs than others, some are more inclined to brood and some are more or less friendly than others.

Research the different breeds as some do better in the heat, some do better in the cold, some lay more eggs than others, some are more inclined to brood and some are more or less friendly than others.Put sand in the run to keep it from getting muddy.  Using sand for litter inside the coop makes cleaning it much easier and creates a healthier environment for the chickens in all climates.
Put sand in the run to keep it from getting muddy. Using sand for litter inside the coop makes cleaning it much easier and creates a healthier environment for the chickens in all climates.

That chicken scratch is NOT chicken feed and obesity is a major problem in backyard chickens.

That chicken scratch is NOT chicken feed and obesity is a major problem in backyard chickens.

Always have an escape plan from inside the chicken coop and run. If there is any way to get locked inside, it will happen when it is least convenient. The pink rope on the latch to this run door opens the latch from inside the chicken run.

Always have an escape plan from inside the chicken coop and run. If there is any way to get locked inside, it will happen when it is least convenient. The pink rope on the latch to this run door opens the latch from inside the chicken run.

Mulch in landscaped beds doesn’t stand a chance. Chickens will take dust baths in the location you least want them to.

Mulch in landscaped beds doesn't stand a chance. Chickens will take dust baths in the location you least want them to.

How much I would love them and how much they would change my life. Wish I had had chickens years ago!

How much I would love them and how much they would change my life. Wish I had had chickens years ago!Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken ChickAnd a personal favorite, from Tiffany M.: “Make sure they are signed up for your blog and ‘like’ you on Facebook.”☺

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The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens!

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Comments

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Terry
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I wish I knew that the girls will go to bed by themselves when they are ready, once they get used to their new home. It would have saved us all much stress trying to catch them to put them to bed when WE thought they should go! 🙂

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