• Posted on: 5 June 2017
  • By: Cathy McGuire

So I have been raising chickens for five years, and although I still have much to learn, I want to share some of what I’ve learned.

Chickens are growing in popularity in both rural and urban regions. They are adaptable to many circumstances, and can be raised singly or in flocks of varying sizes. They are raised for eggs, for meat, for pets, and for their contribution to the enrichment of soil. Because of this popularity boom, there are many resources to help the newbie. But some are better than others.

One good place to start is
Backyard Chickens
which is full of information, and has a forum full of knowledgeable folk willing to help newbies!

First, start small and think through you own situation before plunking down lots of money on packaged solutions. I actually built my own coop, which is not much to look at, but if a middle-aged non-carpenter can do this on her own, then you probably can, too.

It’s a 4×6 ft, raised both to allow chickens a “safe shady space” (they love them), to make it easier for me to bend into, and to reduce the damp, cold floor situation. The top and sides open; the various doors were meant for getting eggs from the nest and for cleaning out the floor. They were modified when I moved the nest boxes to an add-on, to make more room inside, and at this point holds 9 chickens.

Roofed cage around coop.

My chicken run has evolved significantly since I started, and now is roofed and really “critter proof” – allowing me a dry area to clean out the coop (very needed in PNW) and a safe, dry area for the chickens when I’m not home (otherwise, they have a 1/4 acre field).

All this is just to show you that raising chickens is location-dependent. There are basics to learn, but you can adapt to the area that you have.

Ask yourself:
– why do I want chickens?
– how much time can I give to their care?
– what natural predators are in my area?
– what local ordinances apply to chickens?
– what is the local climate? (affects breed to chose)
– how much money do I want to invest?

As I said, it’s really good to start small and see if you enjoy chicken raising. (I do, and I spend more time outside watching “chicken tv” than I do inside watching videos!) You can expand as you get more involved.

And, even though chickens aren’t as helpful as, say, a dog, they do try to be of assistance.