‘Should I Keep Chickens?’

      21 Comments on ‘Should I Keep Chickens?’
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One of my Black Australorps struck a pose for the camera!

Are you ready for the responsibility of keeping chickens?

See also How to Get More Eggs From Your Laying Hens

Keeping Hens for Eggs?

With urban chicken websites popping up online, new products for chickens going on the shelves at feed stores, and cute little coops all the rage on Pinterest, it’s obvious that a lot of people are interested in keeping a few backyard chickens.

This post contains affiliate links for products you may find useful. I make a referral fee or a small commission if you purchase products through these links. Please see disclosure below.



It’s a win-win solution for providing fresh eggs for your family and bypassing the cruel conditions in the egg production industry. But before you order a coop and start picking out chicken breeds, here are some things to consider.

  • Is it legal to have chickens on your property?
  • Are you familiar with their potential health issues?
  • Do you have a chicken sitter for emergency trips and vacations?
  • What will you do with the used bedding?
  • Will the neighbors be annoyed with them?
  • Are you prepared to deal with sick or injured chickens?
  • Will you keep the hens into ‘retirement?’
  • Do you have housing for them?
  • Are predators a problem in your area?
  • Where will you buy their feed?


ย mama hen - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

A Simple Way of Life?

With more people interested in returning to a simple way of life, keeping chickens is gaining in popularity. The backyard chicken industry is growing . Chicken saddles, cozy coops, treats and feed, and even toys are available for the chicken keeper to purchase.

Don’t get caught up in the excitement of bringing home new chicks if you aren’t committed to providing proper care for your flock. They need food and water daily, protection from predators and weather, and medical care if they get sick. Chicken keeping isn’t very time consuming or difficult, but it is necessary every day.


A Retirement Home for Old Hens?

When your hens get older and stop laying eggs, but continue to eat feed…what will you do with them then? Will you keep them as pets, make chicken soup, or will you try to re-home them? Takingย them to a shelter may not be an option…many shelters are full or will not accept livestock.

Know What You are Getting Into

I grew up on a small farm. We had chickens, ducks, cattle, horses, and pigs. Every day I went out to the barn to feed, water, and turn out the animals and clean their stalls. It isn’t a glamorous job. So when I bought chickens, I knew what I was getting into. I knew that I would need to find friends to care for the flock when I take a vacation. It’s the beginning of March and I have our chicken sitting arranged for the summer. I know that these birds are my responsibility and their lives depend on me. I know that if one of my chickens is sick or injured, I will take its life. When they no longer lay enough eggs to justify their feed, I will make chicken soup with them.ย And I’m ok with that.


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If you are interested in ordering your chicken feed through a buying club, check to see if Azure Standard delivers to your area. They have a variety of products for the small homestead, as well as natural foods for your family.

Azure Standard carries Scratch and Peck feeds, as well as other options for you small homestead.

This site is a participant in the Azure Standard Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn store credit by linking to Azure Standard. You will not pay any extra for your products and I’ll earn a referral fee to help support this blog.

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21 comments on “‘Should I Keep Chickens?’

  1. Nancy W

    Lisa, Great post with many good points folks should consider before they go out and buy their own chickens! We’ve had chickens for years and I love the fresh eggs and the entertainment the chickens provide!

    Reply
  2. Honey Rowland

    We have had chickens for years. The funny thing is we were a vegan family but with special needs kiddos I had heard about the GAPS diet and the healing it does…so…in with both feet we went to adding animal foods! (We even built a PETA approved gas chamber so as to be as humane as possible.) Anyways, the kids have always been good stewards and family was horrified when I shared the chicken nuggets were from *shocker!* CHICKENS! There’s such a division between us and our food..any food! Vegan to Carnivore people have NO.CLUE! And, it’s shameful. My vegan kids understood respected the plight of animals but the meat eaters didn’t.

    Sorry…soap box. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Anyways, I love that you’re sharing and educating folks about proper stewardship and care of one’s animals (pet or food supply).

    ~Honey ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Thanks, Honey! You’re so right about how so many people would prefer to just not know how their meat got to their plate. Once I found out about the CAFO’s and inhumane slaughter conditions, I couldn’t continue to support that system. So here I am ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  3. Kathi

    These are all very good points, Lisa! I’ve seen ads on Craigslist offering to “take your Easter chicks when you get tired of them.” I think the ad writer is a wise and compassionate person, as well as frugal (getting free chickens!).

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Kathi…don’t give me ideas!!!! Lol! Yes, you’re right…that’s great that you have someone out your way who does that. ๐Ÿ™‚ I would too, if I didn’t have so many chickens right now! I’m thinking it’s time to make some chicken soup. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Reply
  4. Pingback: โ€˜Should I Keep Chickens?โ€™ | Around The Cabin

  5. Ellen C

    Love your article and agree with every point. I currently have a lovely flock of 22 ladies and 1 gent: 15 of the ladies are adopted from two different situations: 8 hens from a military family who thought they could keep a flock secret on a small patio in military housing no less! and the father of a friend who needed to unload his flock of 7 because he was moving. Both situations were preventable with some responsible advanced thinking. In fact, I did go over many of these concerns with the military family prior to them getting hens to no avail. This same family then purchased two Pekin ducks a year later – imagine these guys tromping around on a small cement patio – what a mess it was. Any guesses on who inherited those ๐Ÿ™‚ I would also like to comment on school science projects where chicks are hatched – the teachers should be made responsible for finding suitable homes prior to the hatch. My Mr. Fred – long departed now – was received this way. He was hatched and allowed to be on school grounds until he started crowing. My ex-husband somehow got talked into taking him and he deposited him on my fence and the rest is history. I had a completely happy flock of hens who didn’t need Mr. Fred’s affections but there he was. Better with me than who knows where but shame on a teacher that doesn’t teach children responsibility for and stewardship of animals.
    I’m sure many flock owners can attest to the many times they have been approached to take someone’s roosters. I have turned down many of those requests and it makes me mad and sad all at the same time that people think I should to take what they don’t want.
    Thanks again for such a great article! and you are very lucky to have found a chicken sitter – I’m still looking for that one trusted individual. Until then – it is separate vacations!

    Reply
    1. Vicki

      Great article! I just found out my brother has purchased six chicks to raise for eggs. He is only allowed three hens. He brought them home with no coop, fence, food, or knowledge of keeping chickens. He didn’t even know the permit to keep chickens is $50. I am actually looking forward to six new chickens for my flock. Now I only need to purchase 14 more this year to replace the girls that aren’t laying anymore. If only more people would read your article before purchasing those cute little fluff balls and realize they don’t look like that for long and they need special care.

      Reply
      1. Lisa Lynn Post author

        Hi Vicki,
        Sounds like your brother needs to take some lessons from his sis! Lol! That’s great that you are taking them under your wing ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy your new flock this year!

        Reply
    2. Philenese

      Speaking of classroom chicks hatched from eggs, hope someone can give me a guess-itmate of our potential influx of chicks. The teacher borrowed a incubator from the group with the understanding we would take the day or two old chicks. So Friday I discover she ordered 36 eggs to put into 18 in our commercial incubator and 18 in one the studens have made. Does anyone have idea on how many chicks we might get from 0-? Since there are only 9 in the class, I wasn’t expecting many chicks.

      We will each get half, with the plan being to keeps the hens and fill the freezer.

      Thnaks in advance!

      Reply
      1. Lisa Lynn Post author

        Hi Philenese,
        There are so many variables, it’s impossible to tell how many will hatch. If the eggs were fertilized and the temps and humidity are kept at the proper levels, you could have a total of 36 eggs! Or you could end up with none. I’m sorry to be so vague, but it depends on how well they are handled. Be prepared for all to hatch, but don’t be disappointed if none do.

        Reply
    3. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Ellen,
      I’m so glad that you could take in all those wonderful chickens! Thank you for making the world a better place ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve thought about taking roosters and just butchering them, but gosh…we have a lot of chickens in the freezer already!

      And yes, I agree about the school teachers who don’t take responsibility for the chicks they hatch…horrible. ๐Ÿ™

      Thanks so much for writing…I hope you find a chicken sitter!

      Reply
  6. Katie

    To add to your top list of questions should be – “Am I legally allowed to keep chickens?” In my suburban township, we are not. So if you decide to take the chance and keep the anyway, hoping the neighbors won’t turn you in (ahem), be prepared for the possibility that you may have to get rid of them, or pay a hefty fine.

    Reply
  7. Rob

    My son calls my chickens “bird dogs.” I have a bit of OCD, so I knew what I was looking for in chickens, and what I was signing up for before getting started. If I could give someone advice, it would include all the points you posted here, especially with regard to end-of-productivity decisions. Most of my 7 hens will get to enter a retirement program as pets (I have two Light Brahmas that have wormed their way into my heart). Subsequent hens, however, will be on a different program.

    Some other advice: Everyone says to expect losses with day-old chicks. Don’t be surprised when your chickens thrive, and you don’t lose a single bird. I have room for a couple dozen chickens, but still started small and manageable.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Great advice, Rob! I have had some orders come and several chicks didn’t make it and I’ve had orders where they all survived. A lot had to do with how far they traveled and how long they were in the box.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  8. Karen Holderman

    This is great advice. I only have 2 hens. They provide my husband and me with plenty of eggs. I do not allow myself to buy anymore until they stop laying. Then they will live out their lives with us. Their coop and run are cleaned daily for their comfort and to avoid odors. Before I got into this I read many books about caring for hens and their needs.
    I urge folks whose hens may not be able to roam their yard, to have a nice long run. Ours get to spend their day in the yard as long as we are home.
    I love having hens in my suburban neighborhood. A group of very dedicated people worked so hard to enable folks to have hens in the city.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Karen,
      I can tell that you are up on all the info and have considered everything carefully! Good for you! Thanks for sharing your advice…excellent words of wisdom. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  9. Philenese

    Excellent advice! Advice that sould be posted by every hatchery and every feedstore. Backyard chickens are not for everyone.
    The year that Nashville began allowing 3-hen flocks, a friend and I drove across the state to a small hatchery to get a starter flock of Marans for her husband for Easter and some additional Doms for her flock. While we were waiting our turn, we witnessed an excited city family of four request they wanted three hens, a red one, a black one and a white one. Of course we HAD to stop and listen!
    These city dwellers were clueless and I have often wondered how their hens fared. They literally were only concerned about the color of the feathers and were astounded to learn they would need a coop and fencing and that the birds would need feed and water.
    They were determined to get three hens and resolved these surprising needs by telling us the vegetable garden had a three foot fence and the hens could either sleep with their dog in the dog house or come inside at night like the cat at night. The wife wanted to know what kind of toys they needed and the husband eventually decided he guessed buying chicken feed wan’t going to be any worse than buying dog and cat food.
    They had come to buy chickens and nothing changed their minds. They eventually happily drove away with three pullets … a red one, a black one and a white one. Some people really shouldn’t “keep chickens!”

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      That’s sad…I hate to hear about people getting into something they aren’t prepared for. In this case, the ones that will likely suffer are the chickens. ๐Ÿ™ I hope their chickens are doing ok.

      Reply

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