It’s that time of year to start ordering baby chicks. I’m now into my third year of raising backyard chickens for eggs and meat. Last year I raised 15 chickens specifically for meat and I now have 10 hens leaving me eggs every single day.
I’m so used to seeing my girls every morning that I often forget that many people are still learning about the frugality and simpleness of raising backyard livestock within city limits.
Chickens are by far the easiest livestock to raise, however, before diving in you need to realize that these are live animals that need to be tended to on a daily basis. That means constant work and clean up. The nourishment these girls leave behind, however, far outweigh the daily chores.
If you’re not afraid of compost, I mean poop, keep on reading.
First Things First… Does Your City Allow Urban Chickens?
Before jumping in and ordering chicks, brooders and lights… does your city allow urban chickens? This one question is going to make or break your urban farming experience.
In order to find this information, you need to search your city ordinances that can usually be found online.
I wouldn’t suggest giving your city a call and asking them if you can keep urban chickens. Most likely this is a question one won’t quite understand and their first response will be, “no.”
You need to ask someone who is more familiar with those laws and usually your local animal control or shelter can actually answer many of those questions. Ask family and friends on facebook or try to find your local Weston Price Foundation group. Usually many people in that loop are more familiar with raising their own livestock.
Talk To Your Neighbors
Once you have found out if you can legally keep chickens, talk to your neighbors. Regardless if they have any say in it or not, if you want a peaceful urban chicken experience let them know your plans and inform them of the law.
Doing this allows them to see that you are in regulation and have plans to keep the law including maintaining a peaceful, calm and clean environment. Offer them some eggs as well.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve overcome the most difficult part of starting on your way as an urban chicken farmer.
Believe it or not, this is the most important part about starting your urban chicken flock. It’s very easy to look around at all the different kinds of breeds, sizes, color of eggs and order away. However, it’s extremely important to only select chicken breeds that can withstand your regional elements.
In my area, we easily see winters with -30 degree weather. It was very important to me to find winter hardy birds that can withstand those elements. It was also important to me to find docile birds since I have children.
www.mypetchicken.com makes finding all of this information very easy. They have a great breed selector tool that allows you to pick out your chickens according to its hardiness, how docile they are, and even egg colors that you’d like.
Once you find the perfect breeds that are going to suit your family and region, it’s time to order and start raising baby chicks.
Ordering Baby Chicks
Locally, you can usually find chicks being sold in early Spring at farming supply stores or seed and gardening stores.
I order mine from a local seed and gardening store where I am able to order small quantities including the specific breed that I want. At a farming supply store you may not have that option. They usually only sell one or two different breeds.
Online, you can order from a hatchery such as Murray McMurray Hatchery. One thing to keep in mind is that they do ship your baby chicks by mail. Unfortunately, sometimes this means a baby arrives lifeless.
You can also order from www.mypetchicken.com, however, their prices and shipping are usually more expensive.
An average chick only costs between $2 and $3.
In Part 2
Now that I’ve touched on city ordinances, selecting breeds and ordering your chicks, in Part 2 I’ll cover raising and tending to your backyard chickens. This will include brooders, coops, free ranging and daily care.
Are you thinking about starting a backyard chicken flock?
What requirements are you looking for in a chicken? Hardiness, a docile bird, color of eggs? Please share in the comments below.