Raising city chickens is so much fun, and a great way to ensure you get fresh, healthy eggs every day!
Keeping backyard chickens is a little different than most pets. There are certain requirements to keep your new chicken friends happy and healthy. In this post we’ll cover everything you’ll need to get started with raising chickens in the city!
What Do City Chickens Need?
Having a flock of chickens isn’t the same as adopting a cat.
Getting chickens alters the outdoor living space of your home, sometimes permanently. There are several questions to ask yourself before diving into this venture.
Do you rent or own?
If you’re a renter, you’ll first need to look into whether your landlord will allow you to keep chickens. Don’t assume they will, and don’t assume they’ll never find out, because they will.
If you rent…
Some landlords are very understanding of the new urban chicken boom and will allow you to keep a few birds, so long as they aren’t destroying the landscape. Other landlords will give a firm no to your question, and you should respect that decision.
If you’re a renter thinking about getting chickens you’ll also need to think about the future. If you plan to move or are forced to move by something outside of your control, what will happen to your chickens? It may be difficult to find another housing situation that’s willing to accept them.
If you own…
Homeowners also have a lot of questions to think about. How long do you plan to stay in this home? Will you be building a permanent enclosure on your property? If so you may need permits in order to do so.
If there’s a chance you’ll want to move within the next ten years, you will also need to consider what a chicken coop will mean for that plan.
Will a permanent coop be a benefit or a detriment to the sale? If it needs to be torn down before moving, where will the chickens go?
If any of these situations do apply to you, it doesn’t mean you can’t keep chickens, just that you’ll have to alter your plan to accommodate the situation.
Space Needed for City Chickens
Cities tend to have rather limited space, and residents need to be creative about how that space is used. It’s a good idea to think about how much space a chicken coop and enclosed outdoor space for the birds will take up in your small yard.
Buying or building a small coop for just a few chickens is a great option. Small coops are easy to move, don’t take away from the value of a property, and aren’t likely to bother landlords or potential homeowners.
The coop will need to have three square feet of space per chicken. If the birds don’t have an enclosed outdoor space, or run, they will need closer to eight square feet per chicken.
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.
Cost of City Chickens
Chickens don’t need much to be happy. If they’re fed, watered, and have a clean and warm place to live, they’re living the high life.
So how much does it cost to raise chickens, anyway?
Let’s look into all the things you’ll need to raise chickens.
City Chickens Supplies
The cost of supplies varies widely according to location and your personal choices for your flock. Luckily, these supplies are generally purchased just once.
If you’re handy with carpentry and have an eye for good deals, you can put together a coop for under a hundred dollars.
Chicken feeders and water founts are generally purchased only once as well, and both can be bought for about $50 in most areas.
Litter / Bedding
Litter or bedding is simply a word to describe the material laid down on the floor of the coop and run to catch droppings and provide some comfort to the birds feet.
We tend to use straw as the bedding in our coop and run. Some people prefer pine shavings or hemp bedding, which is well known to reduce odors. Pine shavings and straw are quite inexpensive, and usually run under $10 a bale.
If you want to get really economical, you can mix mulched leaves into your bedding of choice to make it last a little longer.
Leaves are free in our area, just require a bit of time to rake.
We will usually go through one of these per month with our twelve birds.
Laying hens eat roughly a quarter of a pound of feed per day. Chicken feed costs about $3 per pound, so each hen will cost about $.75 per day to feed.
This amount can increase or decrease depending on time of year, type of feed, and whether or not you supplement the feed. Supplementing the feed with kitchen scraps, or letting the birds out to free-range can bring down the expense considerably.
Alternately if you choose to give your hens organic and/or non-GMO feed, the cost will go up a bit.
All told, chicken keeping is fun and entertaining, once you get past the cost and work of getting started. You’ll just love raising these pets with benefits in your backyard!