The Not So Attractive Side of Having Chickens


“Chickens have become the new black,” I often joke with the people in my chicken workshops. What I mean by that is that having backyard chickens has, all of the sudden, become very trendy. It seems that everyone is interested in getting a flock started.

Chickens are more than just trendsWhile I applaud the desire to raise clean unadulterated food (eggs and meat), I want the students in my classes to understand the benefits of chickens, I also want them to clearly understand the often not so attractive side of having chickens.

Chickens need daily care – oh sure, it’s not much care once they become old enough to live in a hen house but they do require fresh water, and food every day.  And don’t forget mucking. That hen house will need to be mucked on a regular basis. It’s not the most glamorous job but it has to be done.

Eggs need to be collected – You’ll need to check for eggs throughout the day.  An egg left in the nest can be an egg that gets pecked and as many of us chicken owners know, once an egg-eater, almost always an egg-eater. Even though egg production goes down in the winter, the hens will still lay. An egg not gathered in freezing weather will frequently burst turning it into nothing more than a waste.

Chickens poop – A lot. Many chickens will poop every 30 to 40 minutes. I’ve also seen estimates that a flock of 3 chickens can create up to 5 pounds of waste a week. That’s a lot of poop. Chickens will poop all over your yard, your driveway, and maybe even your porch. It’s one of those things that you’ll just have to accept and learn to deal with.

Chickens curtail vacation plans -  Although it doesn’t take much work to care for an established flock, they still need to be released, fed, watered, have eggs collected, and be locked in their coop at night. Since we’ve gotten our chickens, our vacation plans have changed from overnight stays to local day trips with our kids. It is possible to get “chicken sitters” who will do a fine job but just know that a certain amount of vacation spontaneity disappears when you have a flock.

Jeanne Kopcho
4/28/2013 11:39:34 PM

I have run into folks that ask me a lot of questions re chickens. Like the mail man rain snow sleet we will make our girls happy!!!!!!!!!!

4/28/2013 3:48:31 PM

Wendy, very good advice. Homesteading is not all as glamorous as most people think. Yes, it is satisfying to have barnyard animals but so true that vacationing will be at a minimal. Well, I should say that vacationing as a family together will be at a minimal. Even my garden plants during the spring and summer need to be tended at least every two to three days. Homesteading does tying a person down to the land. Is that such a bad thing? I don't know. It's for a person to decide what kind of life they want to live. Have a great homesteading day.

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