Check local regulations on keeping chickens.,
Decide what chicken breeds to keep.,
Decide how many to buy.,
Make space for the chickens before you bring them home.
Most communities permit keeping chickens, but there may be zoning codes you should follow. You may need to get a permit or a signed agreement from neighbors before you’re allowed to set up a coop.Each state and local municipality have slightly different codes, so be sure to check up on the laws in your area before making any purchases. Check your local homeowner association rules.
Some communities limit the number of chickens you can keep. There may also be a limit on the size of the coop you can have in your yard.
Others limit the number of crowing chickens, or roosters, you’re allowed to have. This is more common in areas that are densely populated.;
, Chicks might look the same when they’re little, but different breeds grow up to have very different qualities. Some chickens are great egg layers, others have sweet pet-like personalities, and still others are good if you want chicken meat. Do some research to find out which breeds to get before starting your coop.
For example, if you want a breed that reliably produces good eggs, choose a layer breed. Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpington, and Australorp are all layer breeds.If you’re interested in chickens that lay eggs and provide good meat, you need a dual-purpose breed such as Silver Laced Wyandottes, Ameraucana and New Hampshire.Broiler chickens are raised primarily for meat. These include Jumbo Cornish Cross and Heavy Man Special.
, Chickens are a flock animal and perform better in flocks of at least 6 or more, so it’s a good idea to get more than one. A healthy chicken will typically lay 1 egg each cycle (about 1 egg every 25 hours) five or six eggs per week, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding how many to get. Most small coops start with four to six chickens. If one falls ill or gets eaten by a predator, you’ll still have plenty of chickens to produce eggs.
Once you know how many you want, you can choose to buy them from a disease-free licensed hatchery, reputable breeder or at your local farm store in small quantities. If you want to order them from a mail-order catalog, you may have to purchase a minimum number of 20 or 25 chicks.
Unless you’re prepared to raise a rooster, make sure you get all female chicks. Roosters can sometimes be aggressive, however they are no more difficult to take care of than hens. Roosters don’t lay eggs.
If you want to see the chicks hatch from eggs, different preparations are necessary. See How to Hatch Chicken Eggs for more information.
, For the first two months, your chickens will live in a brooder. This is a small box or cage that can be kept indoors at a controlled temperature. Once they’re fully feathered the chicks can be moved to an outdoor coop with a yard for them to roam.
The coop structure will need to be six to eight feet tall. It should be wide enough to accommodate side-by-side nesting boxes for your birds. Each box will be about 10 inches wide.A good rule of thumb is to plan for four square feet of yard space per bird. This is enough room for the birds to roam comfortably. Of course, if you have more space, the birds will appreciate having a bigger yard to explore.