6 Things To Know Before Getting Chickens

Getting your first flock of chickens is an exciting adventure. Visions of bountiful egg harvests, peeping baby chicks, and coops full of clucking hens occupy your dreams.

But we’re here to tell you, there’s a few things we wish we had known before we brought chickens into our lives. 

And the good news is, we’re sharing all the dirty details with you so you can be prepared for these otherwise unexpected issues when you start your first flock.

Let’s dig in and get you ready for your chickens!

1. Predator Prevention is Non-negotiable

There’s nothing worse than coming across deceased chickens during morning chores. 

That’s why it’s important to take a preemptive approach to predators in your region.

And when we say predators, we don’t just mean the big ones (like bears of foxes).

Some of the smallest predators are the most deadly.

Snakes, raccoons, and weasels can find their way into even the most predator-proof coops.

So when you’re designing your first chicken coop, always take extra precautions to ensure you’re not leaving your chickens exposed to predators, like making sure every opening in the coop and run is covered in hardware cloth (not chicken wire – it’s not strong enough). Be sure that predators cannot dig under fencing to access your chickens, or fly into your run from above (they will definitely try).

2. You Need a Plan for Roosters

Even if you’ve planned to order all hens, there may come a time that a stray roo gets into the shipping container from the hatchery. No hatchery can guarantee pullets (hens under one year old) with more than 90% accuracy, so it’s best to assume 10% will turn out to be roosters.

On the other hand, if you’ve decided to incubate, prepare for the possibility of more than one rooster in your new little clutch of chicks.

If you’ve got the room and enough hens to go around, you might be able to keep some of those roosters.

With that being said, you’ll need a plan ahead of time for the roosters you won’t be keeping. 

Because more than one rooster means you’ll need more hens for each one, and it also means there’ll be more crowing, more fighting, and maybe even more aggression.

So, what will you do with unneeded roosters?

Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Sell them as chicks as soon as you know they’re roosters to someone who wants to raise them
  2. Raise them and butcher them for yourself
  3. Raise them and process them for sale (check local regulations)
  4. Give them away to a family in need

3. Chickens Don’t Lay Eggs Until They’re Mature

Unfortunately, chickens don’t start to lay eggs until they are a few months old. And depending on the breed you’ve selected, it may even take months to see your first farm fresh egg. 

So it’s a bit of a waiting game, but we’ll tell ya right now when that first egg appears, you’ll be celebrating all the way to the breakfast table!

While you wait for your first eggs, you can spend your free time ensuring your chickens have everything they need to lay quality eggs as soon as they’re ready. 

That includes:

  • Endless amounts of fresh water
  • Oodles of layer feed (formulated for layers)
  • Grit (to help chickens digest their food)
  • Treats (protein treats pack a punch for chickens when they’re growing!)
  • Calcium (this helps chickens lay eggs with strong shells, and it promotes strong and healthy bones)

And if your chickens are happy and healthy, they’ll start laying eggs as soon as they’re old enough, without delay.

4. Chickens Need Plenty of Elbow Room

It’s true! And if your run isn’t large enough to allow all your chickens to hunt, peck, and scratch the earth freely, you’ll soon learn that your beautiful run will turn into a large mud pit. 

So if you’re not free-ranging your chooks, make sure your enclosure is plenty big; it’s just the polite thing to do. 

In general, you’ll need to allow for about 5 to 10 square feet per bird outdoors. 

5. Chickens are Also Predators

Ok, not like the-top-of-the-food-chain predators, but predators to things like mice, frogs, and bugs. 

Never forget that chickens are omnivores and enjoy eating meat. So the next time you see your fluffy butts running across the lawn with a frog in the lead hen’s beak, just know that it’s completely normal and good for them. 

On another note, chickens are predators to your landscaping efforts. 

Nope, your chickens have no idea that your flower garden is not an a la carte buffet created just for them. 

If you want to protect your landscaping from free-ranging beaks, then create barriers to keep your flock from ruining your flower beds…and veggie gardens, for that matter. 

6. The Companionship and Connection

Some will tell you that chickens aren’t pets. And that might be true for the vast majority of them. But from time-to-time, you’ll come across a hen, or rooster, that plucks at your heartstrings. 

Chickens can be friendly; they may even cuddle with you on the porch as you drink your morning coffee in the sun. 

And before you know it, you’ve got a friend or two in the flock. 

The truth is, you’ll see personalities emerge, and you may catch yourself naming your chickens (if we’re being honest, all of the fluffy butts in the Henny+Roo flock have names). 

We’re not ashamed, and that’s one of the reasons we knew we needed to create the Henny + Roo subscription box for chickens (and chicken lovers)!

Dogs and cats aren’t the only companions who deserve a treat for all their hard work (Ummm, egg-making, friendship, and let’s be honest a little bit of pest control too).


So, just know, that your chickens may turn into an extension of your family, and as far as we’re concerned, that’s perfectly fine for everyone involved.

Start Your Backyard Chicken Flock in 2021

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?

Coop Considerations

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.

6 reasons why NOW is the perfect time to start your backyard chicken flock

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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 info@hennyandroo.com and check us out at hennyandroo.com.