Have you been thinking about keeping backyard chickens? There’s a lot to know before you make the decision. It’s definitely a commitment but the reward is great. Here’s a list of the pros, cons and requirements to help you make your decision:
They’ll eat all your scraps so you’ll never have to feel bad about food wastage again. It’s estimated that a single chicken can bio-recycle about 3kgs of food scraps per month. They can even eat their own crushed eggshells.
You get a constant supply of free-range eggs. It depends on the breed but you can get up to 7 eggs per week in summer, less in winter.
Kids love them.
They eat insects! Score.
They don’t need walking 😉
Their poo is awesome fertiliser.
They’ll help mow your lawn, weed your garden and turn over your soil.
They’re lovely pets with cute little personalities, some even enjoy a cuddle.
They can be very noisy, especially when laying.
They’ll eat your entire veggie patch if you let them near it.
They’ll poo all over your deck if you let them near it.
They can bring rats if uneaten scraps aren’t collected each evening.
Unless you have 4+ chickens, the eggs aren’t really that cheap by the time you buy the chickens, the coop, the self-feeders, the grain feed and any other bits and bobs you might need for set up.
After about 3 or 4 years your hen will probably stop laying… and then you must make a difficult decision about her ‘future’… so to speak.
A coop, either store-bought or DIY (needs to be safe from predators and include a dark place to roost, and chickens instinctively prefer to roost off the ground).
Self-waterers and feeders are handy, especially if you are going away for a few days.
Other chickens – they’re social creatures and like to be in groups of at least 2.
Some extra space so the chickens can forage and have dirt baths.
Daily top-ups of fresh water.
Daily top-ups of quality layer pellet (in addition to scraps).
Locking them in each night due to foxes prowling around.
Weekly change of coop hay/wood shavings.
6 monthly wing clip to keep them from flying into the neighbours backyard (you can do it easily at home).
Intermittent worming and other healthcare related treatments e.g possible mite/lice management.
Finding a neighbour to help with the above if you go away for more than a few days, but most people are happy to oblige if they get to collect the free eggs!???
In terms of council restrictions, there isn’t a limit on the number of chickens you can have in Ryde. The main rule is that the coop must be kept clean and must be a minimum of 4.5m from any dwelling (including the owner’s). However, mostly the council attitude seems to be one of “We don’t care unless we get a complaint”. Sounds good to us…
Hot tip: If you want a trial run, you can rent some chickens. There are a number of people that service the Sydney area. Try Rentachook or City Chicks, and look into whether the service also offers the coop.
Chickens are lovely pets, with a great ROI (return on investment!). Children learn about where their food comes from and will have a great mate to play with. Food scraps won’t go to waste but instead will get turned into delicious eggs! Chickens are a big commitment but at an average of about 10 minutes maintenance a day, they’re just perfect for many families.
Did we miss anything? Would love to hear from you!
Have an Eggsellent day ;p