10 Things Every First-Time Backyard Chicken Owner Should Know

Young cheerful woman picking fresh eggs in chicken houseEmbarking on the journey of backyard chicken keeping can be incredibly rewarding, providing you with fresh eggs, natural pest control, and the joy of connecting with your food source. However, like any new endeavor, there are important basics every first-time chicken owner should know to ensure success. Here are ten essential tips to help you start your backyard flock on the right foot.

Understand Local Regulations

Before you purchase any chickens, it’s crucial to check local laws regarding backyard poultry. Some areas have specific regulations about how many chickens you can keep, whether you can have roosters, and how your coop needs to be situated concerning property lines.

Choose the Right Breed

Different breeds have different needs and temperaments. Consider your local climate and your backyard space when choosing the right breed. Some breeds, like Silkies, are well-suited for colder climates, while others, like Leghorns, thrive in warmer conditions. Think about what you want from your chickens too—egg color, frequency of laying, and whether the breed tends to be more or less docile.

Provide Proper Housing

Your chickens will need a safe, comfortable place to live. Ensure their coop is predator-proof, well-ventilated, and insulated from extreme temperatures. It should also be spacious enough to accommodate the number of chickens you plan to keep without overcrowding.

Consider Their Dietary Needs

Chickens require a balanced diet to stay healthy and lay eggs consistently. Start with a high-quality commercial chicken feed suited to the age and type of your chickens (chick starter, layer pellets, etc.). Additionally, you can supplement their diet with kitchen scraps and calcium sources like oyster shells if they are laying eggs.

Implement a Health Check Routine

Learn how to perform basic health checks on your chickens. Look for signs of illness or distress such as changes in eating habits, abnormal droppings, or lethargy. Regularly checking and maintaining their health can prevent diseases from spreading through your flock and ensure you have a healthy group of animals.

Understand Their Behavior

Chickens are social creatures with complex social structures. Watch for the establishment of the ‘pecking order’ among your flock, which can sometimes lead to bullying. Provide enough space and multiple feeding stations to minimize conflicts between the chickens.

Manage Parasites and Pests

Keep an eye out for parasites like mites and lice, which can cause discomfort and health issues for your chickens. Regular cleaning of the coop and dust bathing areas can help prevent these pests from spreading through your flock.

Plan for Waste Management

Chicken manure is excellent for compost but can accumulate quickly. Plan how you will manage and dispose of waste. Regular cleaning will prevent odors, reduce the chance of disease, and keep your chickens healthy and happy.

Be Prepared for All Seasons

Make provisions for seasonal changes. Ensure your chickens have shade and water in summer and a warm, dry coop in winter. Seasonal management will keep your flock comfortable and productive year-round.

Engage with a Community

Connecting with local chicken keeping communities or online forums can provide invaluable support and advice. Learning from experienced keepers can help you navigate the challenges of poultry care and enhance your experience as a backyard chicken owner.

Raising chickens can be a deeply satisfying part of life, providing not only eggs but also companionship, pest control, and lessons in sustainability.

If you’re ready to start your own backyard flock, Chickens for Backyards is your perfect partner. With more than 100 breeds of baby chicks, ducks, geese, turkeys, and guineas, we offer everything you need to ensure a healthy and vibrant flock. Choose from our extensive selection and start enjoying the benefits of backyard chicken keeping today. Contact us if you have any questions!