Nowadays, it’s not unheard of to live in a city and still wake up to the cock-a-doodle-doo of a rooster call. Raising chickens has simply become a part of the modern urban homesteading movement. Do you find yourself wanting to join the flock and raise a few birds of your own? Before you get started, Janice Cole, author of “Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes,” recommends you ask yourself these four essential questions:
1. Is it legal where you live?
First and foremost, you should find out if it’s actually legal to raise chickens where you live, as Cole points out. There may be any number of regulations as to where you can raise chickens, as well as how they need to be kept and housed. There’s an insightful article here on Dummies.com that will help you start asking the right legal questions you’ll want to consider.
2.Do you have the space?
You’ve determined that it’s perfectly legal in your state, city, and neighborhood to raise chickens. Step one, complete! But do you actually have the space to need to physically harbor and raise happy, healthy chickens? As Cole points out, each bird should have about 10 to 25 square feet available for optimal quality of life. You might have a small city lot to use, or perhaps a small fenced backyard, which can afford your chickens more space to run free outside of their formal coop. Lauren Ware, a writer on About.com, lays out some key information in this article on choosing, building, and maintaining your ideal chicken coop.
3. Will you have the time?
They say that couples benefit from raising a dog before they embark on having a child together, but if you’re not ready for even that big of a commitment, chickens might be for you. According to Cole, they’re lower-maintenance than dogs, but they still demand your quality attention and time. They’ll need a regular time to be let out of their coop for a run, and of course they’ll need to be fed. But you’ll also need to consider the time it takes to secure them each evening, make sure all predators are kept at bay, and give their living area a thorough cleaning every month. The blog Keeping Chickens has a great article on daily, weekly, and monthly schedules of chicken to-do’s that’s worth a read.
4. Do you have what you’ll need?
You’ll need to invest time in raising and caring for your chickens, yes—but you’ll also need a bit of money for your endeavor. Cole cautions against thinking too preemptively that raising chickens will save you money on the cost of eggs; not so, she warns. Up-front costs of creating your chicken’s new home go towards setting up the coop, creating predator-free shelters, and building secure fencing around the living parameters. An article by Amy Yang on eHow.com lays out a checklist of anticipated costs you should consider when undergoing a new chicken venture.
To learn more about Janice Cole’s adventures raising chickens—and to get her 125 mouth-watering recipes that accompany her story—check out the book “Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes.”
For more on raising chickens, check out the following resources:
Image adapted from William Lachance, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0