Backyard Chickens 101

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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:

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Requirements

  • 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

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