If you’ve been hoping to start a backyard flock, 2021 might be the perfect year to start your first flock of chickens.
And if you’ve already made the decision to start your flock this year, you’re in luck, because we’ve put together this list of things you can do now so you’re ready to bring your chickens home when the weather is better!
What to Do Now To Prepare for Your Chickens
Thinking ahead puts you in a position to have a smooth beginning to your journey as a proud flock owner.
One of the best things you can do right now, while you wait out the winter, is to read…like, a lot!
While chickens aren’t a complicated animal to care for, they do have their quirks and special considerations.
For example, did you know that chickens need grit to digest their food?
Yup… it’s because chickens don’t have teeth like we do, so they need stones to grind up their dinners.
You can learn all about a chicken’s dietary needs along with other essential things you’ll need to know to raise a healthy, happy, flock in books like:Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, 4th Edition: Breed Selection, Facilities, Feeding, Health Care, Managing Layers & Meat Birds
The Chicken Health Handbook, 2nd Edition: A Complete Guide to Maximizing Flock Health and Dealing with Disease
Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens…Naturally
Determine Your Budget
Now is the time to think about what you’re willing, and able, to spend on a flock of chickens.
Because, well, you can’t just have one chicken.
And yes, they are like potato chips, and you’ll almost always want more chickens.
But in reality, chickens need each other. So wanting more than one is perfectly acceptable.
At a minimum, you’ll want at least three chickens in the coop so they keep each other company and so they can cuddle up and keep each other warm during winter.
You might be surprised at how close a couple of chooks can become. Some will appear to be attached at the hip.
So when determining your chicken budget, think about things like feed costs, bedding, nesting and coop supplies, feeders, and waterers. Then factor in how many chickens you’ll have so you don’t fall short on supplies.
Oh, and don’t forget the grit!
How Many Chickens Can You Have
How many chickens you want to have and how many you can physically keep are two very different things.
We completely understand how you feel…we’d have all-the-chickens if we could.
But before you place a massive order with your hatchery, other things you need to consider are:
- Your physical space
- The buildings you already have and how you might use them to house your chickens
- How much time you have to care for your chickens
- Your other pets that may interact with your chickens
These things are important because they directly affect your ability to care for a happy, healthy flock.
But one of the most important things to look into before you bring a single chicken home is ordinances.
Yup, each city, town, county, and state may have laws regarding keeping chickens.
Some cities allow chickens, while others prohibit them, for example.
So make sure you look into the local laws where you live to ensure you can have the ginormous flock you’ve been dreaming of.
What Kind of Chickens You’ll Keep
There are many different breeds of chickens to choose from. And the kind you decide to raise depends on things like:
Where you live: If you’re in a cold climate, you’ll need to think about choosing breeds that are cold hardy.
Your purpose: Are you mostly interested in layers, or would you rather have a dual-purpose breed and raise your chickens for both meat and eggs.
Your personal preferences: Do you like ornamental chickens or are you a fan of solid-colored birds?
Availability: Are the chickens you’ve chosen available to you either locally or through a hatchery?
Don’t forget to think about the future home of your flock!
Will you buy coops online, at your local farm supply store, or will you DIY a coop castle, for example.
Think about the kind of space you have available and how much of that space you’re willing to gift to your hens.
Remember, chickens love to forage, and if you’re planning on keeping them in confinement, make sure you’re willing to part with the lawn you’ll be keeping them on.
Or, better yet, consider free-ranging your chickens if you have a safe space to do so.
And, of course, think about what you want your coop to look like…will it be simple, repurposed, or will it be grand and decorative?
Some are really creative when it comes to their chicken coops, and while you wait for spring to arrive, maybe you can spend some time designing the coop of your dreams!
Buy Ahead of Time
Of course, the last item on your list of to-do’s before the spring showers bring flowers is to purchase your chickens.
While you should make sure not to have chicks shipped to you during the cold months, many hatcheries will allow you to place your orders ahead of time.
Doing so ensures you’ll get the breeds you have your heart set on.
So once you know what you can handle, go ahead, and start chicken shopping!
Then, go ahead and start shopping for the rest of your supplies. And if you’d like a head-start, don’t forget to check out our monthly chicken subscription boxes.
Henny+Roo is the first and only subscription box supporting new and experienced chicken keepers with monthly deliveries of supplies for your flock, and items to make you smile. Visit us at hennyandroo.com to learn about our monthly plans or purchase past boxes.