You may have noticed that there is an increased interest in backyard chicken keeping, and many first-timers are starting their flock. And while Spring is typically the time for increased chick sales regardless of world events, this New York Times article explains how in times of economic uncertainty, sales of live chickens increase.
If being a backyard chicken keeper has always been a dream of yours, we think now is a great time to start, and here’s why:
- You have the extra time. Many Americans are under shelter-in-place orders to avoid the spread of COVID-19. And that means that many adults are working from home (gaining the time they typically spend commuting) or are out of work. If you have extra time and wish to start your flock, set aside ample time to research all that is involved in caring for a backyard flock. When things return to normal (which we hope is soon!), will you still have time to care for your chickens? These are live animals you’re considering, so be responsible and determine if this is the right hobby for you.
What are your chicken keeping goals? Will you raise chickens for eggs? Meat? Stress reduction? Are chickens even allowed where you live? Many HOA’s and municipalities do not allow home chicken keeping. If yours does not, perhaps it’s a good time to get involved and push for more freedom in the ordinance.
Assess your yard and determine the best place for your coop, and what kind of predators inhabit your area. Ensure you’re selecting a sturdy coop and adequate predator protection. Here is a good list of considerations in regard to chicken coops from our friends at My Pet Chicken.
To prepare yourself for the ups and downs of chicken keeping we also suggest The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow, and Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele.
- Chicken keeping is good for kids. Most schools are closed, and parents are looking for meaningful and educational activities in which to engage their kids. Not only are chicks super cute, but learning about how to care for them is a great way to teach responsibility. Kids can catch up on their reading and research skills by looking up what it takes to raise a flock. They can sharpen their math skills by calculating startup costs. They can help design the coop if you’re building it yourself, or draw a picture of the coop in the yard. They can practice their instruments by playing to their new pets. Here are 9 tips for keeping chickens with kids from our friends at Tilly’s Nest.
- Wider varieties may be available right now. Spring is the best time to get started because you’ll be able to find a wide variety of breeds from hatcheries and breeders (though this year, many will be sold out). Research the breeds that are hardy to your climate and fit your chicken keeping goals. Here is a good article on selecting chicken breeds to get you started.
- It’s warmer in spring and summer, and chicks need warmth. Chicks need a warm, draft-free environment, which spring and summer often provide. Be sure to have a proper brooder indoors if it’s too cold to house the chicks outdoors. And you’ll want to start growing chicks early enough in the year to ensure they are full grown and fully feathered before winter, depending on your location. Here’s what you need and what to expect during the first 60 days of raising chicks.
- Chicken keeping provides food security. Chicken eggs and meat are excellent sources of protein when grocery store supplies may be reduced or sold out.But it takes an investment of time, supplies, and care to get chicks to the mature laying stage, so don’t rush into this hobby thinking you’ll have eggs right away. Depending on the breed, hens will start laying between 18 and 26 weeks. And no, you don’t need a rooster to get eggs!
- You have support. There is a wonderful chicken keeping community out there, and most of us love to help newbies. But don’t expect people on the internet to teach you everything. Learn what you can on your own, and join online chicken keeping groups to ask specific questions. Join us on Facebook at Henny+Roo Poultry Supplies, on instagram @hennyandroo, and in our Facebook group, Chicken Coop Connect.
Henny+Roo offers support for new and experienced chicken keepers, delivered to your door each month. You don’t have to leave your house to get treats,health and first aid items, coop supplies, and gifts for owners. Check out our monthly plans and one-time shop at hennyandroo.com. For a limited time, you can save 15% sitewide with code SPRING15.
We chicken keepers invite you to experience all that we love about this hobby, the least of which is tasty, fresh, and available eggs. But we want you to be sure to consider your lifestyle and resources before jumping in. Take the time to learn all you can, which is a fun activity regardless if you decide to move forward or not.
From all of us at Henny+Roo, we wish you and your flock health and wellness. Please feel free to reach out to us with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and check us out at hennyandroo.com.