Let me just preface this post by saying I hope to never become someone who talks people out of getting chickens. On the contrary, I frequently make it a point to encourage people to make room in their lives for these lovely fluffy butts!
Even so, there are some things to consider before getting chickens, and asking yourself these questions will not only make you more prepared for taking on this fun hobby, it will make for healthier, happier hens as well!
6 Questions to ask yourself before getting chickens
1. Who will take care of your chickens if you go on vacation?
Do you have someone nearby who is willing to care for your flock? If not, can you find a knowledgable farm sitter that’s willing to come to your house for daily care?
Chickens need attention at least once a day, but if they’re free ranging, or in extreme temperatures, they need care at least twice a day. It’s a good idea to have someone lined up to watch your birds if you need to leave for the weekend!
This is something we didn’t consider at all when we got our birds. Luckily we have loving family members who love our chickens and are willing to help out when we go out of town.
2. What will you do if one of your chickens gets sick or injured?
As the old saying goes: Where there’s livestock, there’s deadstock. What will you do in the case that one of your flock members needs help outside of your abilities? Will you pay over $100 to take her to vet? Will you cull her yourself? If you do wish to take her to the vet, it would be smart to seek out a vet that will accept poultry before you bring them home.
Most people don’t think about the possibility of illness or injury before getting chickens. These things are inevitable when raising any animals, but especially ones that live outdoors and are more susceptible to getting injured or sick. Make sure you’re able to handle it when surprises pop up!
3. If one of your cute fuzzy chicks turns out to be a rooster, what will you do?
Roosters are illegal in most cities and suburbs so if you happen to end up with one, you’ll need to make alternate plans. Those plans either include finding them a new home, or moving them to the stew pot. This can be a tough reality of chicken keeping. Even if you pay a little extra to buy sexed chicks, there’s always a chance that you could a rooster.
It’s good to have these plans in place before they happen. Waking up to a crowing rooster at five am is not the time to figure out what to do about it.
4. What’s your five year plan? How about your ten year plan?
Chickens tend to live for at least five years, but healthy birds have been known to live for more than ten years! If you plan to keep chickens as pets with benefits, you’ll need to keep in mind that they may be in your life for the next decade.
Other than ten year life plans, you also need to consider whether you have time to care for a flock of chickens.
Do you have fifteen minutes every morning to care for your flock? Chickens require feed and water every morning. Eggs will need to be collected and messes cleaned up. If you’re a meticulously clean person, you may take the time to tidy up the coop daily, cleaning up manure and laying down fresh litter. This can take upwards of 30 minutes every morning.
5. Is there a farm store nearby?
This is a question that is more pertinent for city and suburban chicken keepers than it is for country folk. Most rural counties have at least one feed store to supply farmers and homesteaders with all of their livestock and gardening needs.
Cities and suburbs tend not to be so accommodating.
Before you even consider getting chickens, make sure that you can find a feed store within a reasonable distance from your home. Trust me when I say you don’t want to be driving over an hour to pick up chicken food or medical supplies in an emergency.
6. Can your neighbors handle the noise? Can YOU handle the noise?
While they’re not as obnoxiously loud as some livestock, chickens can stir up quite the racket, even without any roosters in the bunch.
You see, chickens make noise for a number of reasons.
When they wake up in the morning and head outside into the sunshine, they call to each other and alert the whole world to the fact that they’re officially awake.
Chickens also sing what’s called the egg song. When a hen lays an egg, she’ll start a chorus of the egg song, and her singing will get all the other hens in the flock to join in as well.
Those who love chickens find it to be a beautiful, welcome sound. Those who can’t tolerate noise, however, don’t appreciate being woken up by singing at six in the morning.
I hope this post has helped to prepare you for this fun and rewarding hobby. Chickens are so much fun, and you can’t beat a pet with benefits! If you know all the facts before getting chickens, you’ll be much more prepared when they throw you a curveball!
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