Read this carefully as it may change the way you think
Here are some important questions to say yes to before you commit to chook management and caring for chickens in your backyard
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You've probably asked yourself about having chooks in your backyard, either for fun or for the magnificent protein the provide by way of the egg. But have you discussed this with the rest of your family? what are their comments? and do they fully understand the commitment as a family and are prepared to help with the many chores involved in having some feathered friends in your backyard? Tick YES/NO. If you say NO to this sentence then read no more as without the support of other family members, your life will take on a very time consuming role. If you have ticked YES, then read on and see if you can tick YES for each question.
- Firstly check all the legal aspects of owning chooks in your backyard. Contact your local Council and check their requirements as there will be laws about what you can and can't do. Most Councils are OK about keeping poultry in your backyard, especially in rural areas. But please check just in case. And just remember, problems may come from a disgruntled neighbour especially if you haven't involved them in your planning stage. Have you done this? Tick YES/NO
- Is your family committed especially your children, as any type of poultry is wonderful for children as it teaches them about caring for others, gives them an idea about different types of responsibility, it teaches them about the life cycle including the hard lessons about death!
Also think about what you'll do if you want to go on a holiday or one morning you're not feeling too well, who's going to get out of bed early and start the daily chores. You really need to discuss all these matters with the family and get a firm commitment that everyone is involved, Tick YES/NO
- Next look at the time involved and work out if you can commit your time and energy. There are chores to do every day. The hen house and run should be cleaned on a regular basis, feeders and waterers have to be cleaned and replenished daily, chooks should be checked frequently for mites and other illnesses or injuries. This is going to sap your energy, are you committed to be available at all times. Tick YES/NO
- Think hard about the cost of keeping chooks. The cost of buying POL (point of lay) pullets is not so expensive, unless you want to get involved in show stock. But all the other associated costs are such as feed, coop materials, bedding material, and possibly Avian Vet costs. And don't think you'll make a fortune by selling any eggs at your gate, it just wont happen. Fully understand this and then Tick YES/NO
- You need to plan the space and or area to build or erect your coop and run. You need to understand the laws regarding proximity of a coop to your neighbours fence. Are there predators such as foxes in your area, do you have enough space to build fence tall enough to keep your feathered friends inside and predators outside. And if you're free ranging in your garden please remember chooks forage, a lot, and a neat lawn can turn into a muddy patch in a few days. And what used to be a neatly cultured flower bed will turn into a ruin once they have neatly trimmed all the leaves off your flowers. Ask yourself if you have the space to let your hens out at day time or are they to be kept in their run, are you prepared for any damage to your garden. Tick YES/NO
- If you have a dog or a cat as a family pet do you think your pet will see the chooks as playthings or lunch. Its something to consider as the natural instincts of both dogs or cats is to hunt and kill unless you have a Livestock Guardian such as my Maremma. Its a very serious issue and need to be addressed, can you commit to this. Tick YES/NO
- Don't think for one minute that you're free from predators such as foxes, They're everywhere in Australia, there are eagles and other birds of prey that can swoop and take your prized lavender Aracuana as quickly as the blink of an eye. Are you ready for this. In my area, the Hunter Valley there are a lot of foxes and I've lost my entire stock three times to a fox. And let me tell you its not a pretty sight to go into your coop and see every bird dead. A fox doesn't eat them he just kills one after another, just imagine the fear that flock holds while the fox is attacking one after the other. And the I got the Maremma
Ask your self how you would feel if you saw this, and how would your children feel to see wholesale death with creatures they have already named and nurtured. Are you ready to take on the problem. Tick YES/NO
Now lets be real, I've painted a pretty difficult picture, and none of these may ever happen to you, but you have to look at every aspect of raising and keeping chickens in your backyard. In real terms, they're a lot of fun and easy to look after. You don't need to take them for a walk every day and to have a fresh egg every day especially if they're free ranged is the big bonus.
But now its time to be prepared and ask yourself can you do this, will you as a family commit to this. If you've ticked any of the above with a NO then stop, think for a couple of weeks and then re-visit this page, you'll thank me for showing you the way to be prepared.