Step 5: Adding Chickens to the Garden & Homestead
Step 6: Adding Chickens to the Garden or Homestead
Now that you have a garden and composting system going, wouldn't you love some help to get rid of extra garden scraps and help with your compost? An, did I mention a bonus of eggs? Then chickens are the way to go!
Here is a list of reasons you may want to add chickens to your gardening/homesteading system:
- Of course, fresh eggs for Breakfast and bakings are a no-brainer! You don't have to worry about not having this protein source if your goal is sustainable living.
- A possible pet that gives you food in return.
- They will help you get rid of your food scraps and, in payment, provide you with those fresh eggs!
- Need to turn that compost pile and ensure there are no unwanted bugs? The chickens will gladly take that job!
- Chicken are experts at natural bug pest removal in the garden and orchard. Especially if you have a large area, they can roam.
- Their mature is an excellent add-on in the compost pile as it is hot (do not use straight in the garden).
- Possible meat source if that is a goal.
I like to keep straight with you, so here are the misconceptions, false reasons, and cautions to keeping chickens:
- First, if you live in a neighborhood or city limits, you must check to see if there are any ordinances on keeping backyard chickens. If you can not have chickens, there are other options, such as quail.
- Chickens are loud. Yes, a rooster will crow, and not just in the morning. They don't have a preference of what time of day. You will hear them at 3 am or 3 pm. But, hens are also loud when alerting others of danger or just happy they laid an egg. So, be considerate to your neighbors, and this is also why there are city ordinances.
- You have to have a rooster to get eggs. You do not need a rooster for your hen to produce eggs. Roosters are just required for fertilizing the eggs.
- It's cheaper to have backyard chickens than to buy eggs at the store. This is not always true because you need to calculate the cost of a chicken coop, supplies, and monthly feed.
- All chickens are sweet and perfect pets. This is not true. Different breeds have different personalities. Hens have natural pecking orders and will be mean to each other until it's established. Sometimes you get a "bad egg," and you will need to get rid of them to maintain the peace in your flock.
- All chickens are excellent egg layers. Once again, this comes down to breed and the goals you have for your chicken flock.
- Chickens are escape artists. They will try to get out, and when they do, they will get into whatever you did not want them to! They especially love those new seedlings you just put into the garden!
- There will be predators no matter where you live. Every meat and egg-eating critter will be attracted to your chickens and coop, but there are defenses you can put in place.
Now that you have weighed the problems and advantages, and you've still decided that chickens are your next step, here is what you need to know! But we must cover the first mistake newbies (let's face it, all of us chicken owners) make, falling into Chicken Math!
It is said that once you get chickens, your small flock of 5 chickens soon turns into 20! Because "Those tiny adorable chicks won't take much room." "Ooooh, those chickens are blue!" "Those lay blue eggs!" "These have fuzzy feet!" Before you know it, you have too many chickens and not enough space for them! You've now experienced Chicken Math!
So you must pick the correct number of chickens for your space! Here is the suggestion from Murray McMurray Hatchery, who specializes in researching their breeds; for heavy breeds, like Barred Rocks or Buff Orpingtons, if you let your chickens out to forage during the day, then the coop that you put them in at night should have at least 4 square feet of space per bird. Thus, a 4′ by 8′ coop would be adequate for about eight birds.
So as you can see, if you end up with more chickens than your space can allow, you will open up the doors to problems instead of self-sufficiency success.
Chicken coops are a whole topic on their own. So if you would like to learn more about different coops and their efficiency, you can do a quick online search. There are plenty of books out there that have building plans. With the current rise in wood prices, in some cases, it will be more cost-effective to purchase a coop kit or already assembled. If you would like me to cover this topic, just comment below or on our Facebook group: Be a part of the Wildwood Wonder Community
PLEASE MAKE SURE TO READ THE FOLLOWING BEFORE BUYING CHICKS! THERE IS ALSO A VIDEO!
Link to Blog Post: What You Need to Know About Baby Chicks
Link to Video: