Questions and Answers
We have a 30×30 backyard and would like to have some chickens. I was wondering how we get started. I would like white eggs, and and was wondering how many chickens I can have and if different breeds can live together. Los Angeles area, so any breeders and where we can get supplies too. Thanks.
First of all you need to contact your local authorities- some areas don't allow you to keep chickens at all, some may have restrictions on the number of birds you may keep, you may have regulations regarding how far the birds have to be kept from boundary lines and neighbors houses, you may have to pay a fee for a permit or annual "license", many areas do not allow you to keep a rooster, some even dictate that you must ration feed the birds to reduce the chance of rodent problems, you may be required to construct your coop with a cement slab floor, if you intend to build a coop you may need to apply for a building permit etc etc…. Depending on exactly where you live there could be no rules or regulations or there could be hundreds- those I've just mentioned are a few that I've come across in communication with urban chicken owners. It doesn't pay to ignore the regulations- some areas have fines and some areas will confiscate and put down your birds if you do.
It's considered courteous to tell your neighbors that you intend to keep chickens- they may have some concerns of their own (noise, smell, rodents etc…), offer them the odd carton of eggs and most neighbors are pretty happy but do check the security of the fences etc between you- especially if your neighbor keeps dogs.
Measure the area of the backyard you are prepared to hand over to the chickens- where you intend to build your coop and run, or go to the store where you intend to purchase your coop and measure it. A healthy chicken needs about 1 metre square of space including inside and outside area- don't be misled by the coop manufacturer, always go off your own measurement of floor area as some manufacturers simply offer the figure which the inbuilt roost can comfortably handle.
Now work out how many chickens can fit in that space, keeping in mind that large and active breeds would do better with more space, bantams can cope in about half that area and if you intend to let them "free range" the garden mostly, you can also reduce the space (but keep in mind that in periods of extended bad weather they will need space to perform natural chicken behaviors such as dust bathing still, so it's worthwhile making sure they have a covered outdoor area as well). If you are mostly just after eggs, it's worthwhile to get one bird per each person in the household plus one- but please bear in mind too that after the birds first year, egg production becomes seasonal, and the number of eggs produced each year reduces- so it's worthwhile considering at this stage what you are going to do when the hens slow and/or finally stop laying.
You say you want white egg laying birds- which basically means you're looking at getting one of the Mediterranean breeds (such as the Leghorn). When you buy stock, check their ears carefully to make sure they have white earlobes- not red and not earlobes that are mostly red with some white. That increases your chance of actually getting a good colored white egg shell. However, it's important to bear in mind that almost all the Mediterranean breeds are fairly highly strung birds- unless they have been well handled they are not exactly the most "affectionate" birds- the pay off for this is eggs as they are great layers, but if you want "pets" then you may be better compromising and getting a more cuddly duel purpose breed (fewer and generally cream to brown eggs)
I will forever argue that mixing breeds and especially birds of different sizes is not recommended. If you simply must have mixed breeds, do your research and buy breeds that are all roughly the same size and weight and by at least two of each breed and color variety- so you basically have a coop full of matched "twins". If you do this, you will have relatively no problems. If you want examples of the problems you can get in a mixed coop, please feel free to email me and I'd be happy to explain in greater detail, but for now this answer is probably going to be long enough as it is.
Since I am nowhere near you, I can't help regarding breeders and suppliers, however visit your local newsagency as there are several great magazines and other publications which cover the poultry fancy- you will usually find listings for poultry clubs, advertisements for suppliers etc- and from there you should be able to locate everything you need.
My yard is small, pretty private and mostly concrete. I live in new orleans so its doesn't get super cold. Any advice or info would be appreciated!
Well i'm no expert at making chicken coops but for 2 chickens should be small enough for your backyard 🙂
For my coop I made with some help I got a lot of plywood, etc.
And placed 2 perches on each side.
The smallest for 2 chickens should probably be 3×4 feet 😛
I'd love a couple of chickens! I think they're quite the character and would be good for us as a family. I'm quite used to keeping animals and am responsible etc.
My husband has pointed out that chickens scratch and scrape up the ground a fair bit. I wouldn't want the front garden trashed. We have a small front garden and a small back garden, but not too small, if you get what I mean.
How much room do chickens need and what kind of behaviour do they exhibit when it comes to scratching 'n' stuff? Would they be too much of a problem or do you think it'd be okay. I would get them an eggloo or a run in which to stay at night, but obviously they'd need to be out during the daytime hours.
Would I return home to find no lawn and poo everywhere?
I need to contact my local council to find out if we'd even be allowed to keep them in our area too.
Chickens are wonderful pets. Chickens do love to scratch at the ground, but they generally don't waste their time scratching in an area where they won't find a snack. They really can't do any real damage to your lawn either. Your garden on the other hand, they might find the loose soil too tempting to pass up. My hens loved to 'jump' the fence and run over to my neighbor's garden. The upside is that they don't have any pests now!
Chickens really don't need much room, but it is healthier for them. They keep in shape running from one end of the yard to the other and it also gives them more variety as to where to scratch for bugs.
Chickens poop really wasn't an issue to me. I only kept a small number of birds at a time because they were just pets to me. The good thing is that their poop is very small!
I NEVER found any pests or bugs ON my chickens. If it is a problem for you though, there are dusting products that will remove anything that may be harmful to your fowls.
Chickens are wonderful pets to have, beautiful lawn ornaments, safe pest control, and you may even find yourself with a new shadow in the yard! My hens follow me around everywhere. It is very rewarding.