This post is hard for me to write. I deeply, truly, want more people to raise chickens. I want more people to get back to the land and live a simpler life. I want more people to experience the joy of raising these delightful birds.
Due to the particular climate of the world right now, I’m worried.
Worried that many people are rushing out to feed stores to pick up chicks, not because they’re fulfilling a lifelong dream of keeping chickens, but because they’re scared, and they think keeping chickens will make them feel at peace.
I don’t want to write a post discouraging people from keeping chickens, but I have to.
I have to because I can see that many of the people rushing into this hobby for the wrong reasons will be looking for new homes for these birds in a few months, and it isn’t fair to these creatures, or to the animal shelters and sanctuaries that will have to feel the brunt of these bad decisions.
Let me preface this by saying there are many excellent reasons to keep chickens. If you truly feel ready for this new hobby, I’m here for you, every step of the way. Raising chickens is downright awesome, but only if you’re really ready for it, and going into it for the right reasons.
If any of the reasons on the following list resonate with you, please hold off on getting chickens for right now. Find a different way to fulfill your needs until you’re truly ready.
8 Reasons you should NOT get chickens right now
1. You’re Desperate
Whether you’re feeling desperate for eggs, meat, or companionship, desperation is never a good reason to bring animals into your life. Eggs and meat may not be readily available at the grocery store, or maybe they’ve gone up in price.
Even so, this is not a good reason to jump into chicken keeping. Getting eggs from your chickens takes time. If you got a one day old chick today, it would be at least six months before you’ll see an egg. Even if you buy adult birds, the stress of moving and adjusting to a new home will likely keep them from laying for several weeks.
If you want chickens for meat, remember that butchering your own birds is really tough, and takes practice. It’s not something to jump into without thought.
If you’re desperate for eggs and can’t get them at the store, try taking a drive through the country. You can find farm stands on almost every country road selling fresh eggs.
Can’t find meat? Try reaching out to local butchers directly instead of looking at the store.
2. You’re already extremely busy or short on time
Chickens take time and effort to care for, every single day. You can expect to spend at least ten minutes in the morning before work to feed and water them, and ten minutes at night to close up the coop and collect eggs.
Weekends will be spent cleaning poop, monitoring free range time, and checking over your flock to maintain their health. You can’t take a break if you don’t feel like caring for them. You can’t go on vacation without finding someone to care for them. If you’re super busy and can’t spend half an hour of your day taking care of your birds, this is not the time to get chickens.
3. You’re scared
You may be thinking of getting chickens because you’re scared of egg and meat shortages. Fear plays a big role in a lot of bad decisions. Don’t let fear cause you to panic buy chickens. These are creatures that will depend on you every single day of their lives. And chickens can live for many years, some will live as long as a dog or cat, which brings me to the next point.
4. You only want them short term
Getting chickens is a long term commitment. Especially if you’re getting them for eggs or to keep as pets. Chickens on average live for 8 years, some even live to 10 or 12 years! Are you sure you’ll be able to care for these creatures for the next decade of your life?
If you only want chickens to get you through a tough season or a rough year, just don’t. You need to be prepared to provide for them for their whole lives.
5. You don’t have anywhere to put them
This is a huge mistake we see all the time. People impulse buy a dozen chicks, thinking they’ll figure out building the coop and run later, then later comes and they still haven’t figured it out, meanwhile the chicks have taken over your spare bathroom and you’re getting desperate.
This is especially difficult right now, when it’s harder to source materials for building a coop. Don’t jump into chicken keeping until you have all systems in place and ready.
6. They’re illegal where you live
If chickens are restricted where you live, please don’t get them anyway. Don’t get them thinking no one will notice, because they absolutely will. Chickens make a lot of noise. They can attract pests like rats and flies. They have no respect for boundaries and will wander into neighboring spaces.
Your neighbors absolutely will notice, your HOA for sure will fine you, and the city may ticket you. If you’re not allowed to get chickens, just don’t get them.
7. They’re on sale
Cheap chickens are still chickens, they’re still animals that require care and love every single day. Bringing animals into your life should never be a spur of the moment decision. It should be well thought out and planned. Even if chicks are free, that’s not a good reason to get them. Impulse buying and animals don’t mix.
Also, they may be free or cheap right now, but caring for them won’t be. You’ll need to provide housing, food, water, bedding, and medical care for these birds for their entire lives, and let me tell you, it’s not cheap.
Which brings me to the next point.
8. You just want some free eggs
Any chicken keeper can tell you that raising chickens is MUCH more expensive than buying eggs from the grocery store. If you want to save money, don’t get chickens. Period.
A chicken coop alone will cost you at least $100, and that’s if you’re handy and able to build it mostly from free or cheap materials. If you’re buying a pre-built coop or a kit, they’re more expensive. $100 could buy you at least 30 dozen eggs, depending on egg prices where you live.
Chickens don’t just need a place to live, they need food, water, bedding, and medical treatments. These things all add up. In the winter, when our chickens can’t free range, we personally spend a little over $50 per month on these items for our flock of 21 chickens. I could buy 16 dozen eggs a month for that price!
While there are many ways to save money raising chickens (like free ranging in nice weather), it’s FAR from free to keep chickens, and you absolutely will spend more on your flock than you would on eggs.
The only way you can get free or very inexpensive eggs from your flock is if you have plenty of land and are able to rotate through free range space or provide your own homegrown feed and bedding for your flock. For most chicken keepers this just isn’t possible.
So long story short, don’t keep chickens because you want to save money on eggs.
If you’ve read through this list and nodded your head at any of these, please re-consider getting chickens right now, it just might not be the time for you. That’s not to say the time won’t come, and when it does, we’ll be here, waiting for you.