When I was working in the chicken coop this morning I was astounded by the realization that I am just a few weeks from having the chicks for a year. They have become such a part of our life and routine that I guess time just flew by. I am one that likes to analyze decisions and then get way ahead of myself with "what if's" so I have been pondering about whenever we move if I would take the chickens with me. I have been weighing pro's and con's so in case you were considering chickens I thought I would give you my thoughts so far.
1. The eggs really are the best. I don't think I anticipated how much I would love having my own eggs. I have been buying high quality, organic eggs for quite a while now so I did not think that having my own would be much different. I was so wrong. We try and feed our chicks really well knowing that what we feed them we will get back when we eat the eggs. They love berries, kale and really any kind of greens so with a diet like that you can only imagine how healthy these girls are. Their yolk most days is a bright orange because it is so packed with nutrients. It is also amazing always having eggs on hand. Last minute meals are so easy now.
2. They are pretty low maintenance. Most people think that they wouldn't have time for chickens but in our experience they have been very easy to take care of. Now on a busy week they are one more thing you have to do but for day to day life they are easy to work into a routine. Most of our daily duties are refilling food and water and gathering eggs. That takes me max 5 minutes. We started off doing all this in the morning but then quickly realized that wasn't best for us and now in the afternoons we run out, give the ladies a snack and make sure they have plenty of food and water. Every few weeks we rake out the coop and add new pine shavings but even that only takes 20 minutes.
3. They don't need much space. We don't have a very large yard and we probably have room for 20 chickens if we wanted. They only need about 8 square feet per bird so for our 3 chickens we could just have a fenced area of about 4x6 feet. Thats tiny! We have more space than that knowing we wanted to add more chickens later but having chickens doesn't mean you have to give up your yard.
4. You can go out of town. Jim and I travel a lot so one of our main concerns with the chickens is would we be able to leave them. We have left for a weekend before and made sure their feeder and waterer was full and they did fine. We came back to a few extra eggs but we had no issues with that. For longer trips we have to have someone check on them about every other day. We pay them by letting them keep the eggs and that has worked well for us so far.
5. It's not always pretty. We have had a few issues with the chicks but nothing terrible. My biggest complaint is unfortunately rats. Having chicken feed out means that its a free for all for anything can squeeze through our fence. It is pretty impossible to rat/mouse proof anything so we just have to take it as it is. We set traps and have seen lots of success with that. But its not a pretty job.
Another issue we have come across is hens getting broody. Well, really it's just one of the hens. This is when she tries to lay on her eggs and hatch them even though we don't have a rooster and there is no hope of this happening. She will lay on the egg as long as you let her and not eat or drink. She also takes up the nesting box which means the other chicks can't lay their eggs. It typically throws the coop off for a week or two and we won't have any eggs. We basically have to put her in a cage alone where she cannot lay for a few days until she stops. That can be time consuming but has only happened twice so far.
I would say that is a pretty good re-cap of chicken life. I really have loved it. I love trying new things so I am very grateful I have gotten the opportunity to own chickens. I love the girls but because I have been busier the last month I am much less attached to them then at first. I would love to always have chickens but knowing what our busy seasons are like I also know that it wouldn't be the worst thing if we couldn't for a time.
Do you have any more questions about chickens? I am sure I left a lot out! Or are any of you considering having chickens?