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With the farm-to-table movement seemingly taking the world by storm, many people are looking for ways to incorporate eating locally grown foods into their daily lives. And what’s more local than their very own backyard? Growing tomatoes in the garden and having a few herbs planted in windowsill pots have always been popular, but there is a new fad that takes home-grown eating one step further: raising chickens as pets!
While this new feathered family member may not be playing fetch or going on long walks with their owners anytime soon, they do offer a benefit that no other pets can claim and that is their ability to lay eggs. Most hens (only female chickens lay eggs) lay eggs either daily or every other day starting around the time they are 6 months old. For egg lovers, nothing is more convenient than access to fresh eggs daily, mere steps away from the kitchen.
More popular as family pets
Long gone are the days that chickens are only raised on farms, chickens are becoming more and more popular as family pets and with good reason. Chickens are fun and entertaining animals, that are relatively easy and inexpensive to raise.
It is recommended by most chicken owners that families purchase their new chickens when they are just chicks. Also, as chickens are a very social species, it is advisable to plan on having at least two chickens. Chickens love communicating to one another through their cheerful clucks and a chicken without a friend to talk with will quickly become lonely.
When first getting started with backyard chickens
When first getting started, there are just a few items that will need to be in place to ensure the pet chickens feel comfortable, cared for, and safe. First of all, a chicken coop is an essential item to have as this will act like the chickens’ home. Inside the chicken coop, there will need to be containers that provide the chickens with easy access to food and water, as well as a nest box. Generally, chickens eat around 1.5 pounds of chicken feed each week. A 50-pound bag of chicken feed can cost anywhere from $20-$50, depending on the quality of the ingredients. Usually, up to three chickens are happy to share a single nest box.
Chickens need access to the outdoors
Secondly, chickens need access to the outdoors. Just like plants and humans, chickens also need time each day to soak up the sun. This area is often referred to as a “chicken run” and can vary greatly depending on the local environment. Depending on nearby predators, it may be critical to use a heavy duty material around the chicken run that will protect the new pet fowls from becoming another animal’s dinner.
Finally, it is important to have dedicated time each day to care for the chickens. Just like any pet, there are a certain amount of daily activities that need to be done to keep pet chickens happy. This includes feeding the chickens, providing them with fresh water, keeping the coop clean, and gathering eggs. For a family looking for a pet that will not only become a beloved member of the household, but also a contributing one, chickens may be the perfect pet to consider!
Read more at backyardchickenscoop.com