You may think that you have to live down a long country road or have a lot of available land to raise chicken, but the ability for keeping chickens in the city is becoming a reality for many urban and suburban homesteaders.
If you live in a big city and have at least a small area in your backyard, you will be able to build or purchase a pre-built chicken coop and raise up to 6 chickens, which is the minimum to feed fresh eggs daily to a family of four.
That will require, at an absolute minimum, each bird will need 3 square feet of indoor space, which includes 1 foot of roosting space, and 10 square feet of outdoor space.
If you’re still on the fence about raising chickens, there are a wide range of benefits that might convince you.
- Chickens are easy to raise and very inexpensive to maintain
- Chickens require less attention than even dogs and are considered the easiest farm animal to take care of
- Get fresh and nutritious eggs on a regular basis
- Save money and trips to the supermarket
- Have organic eggs
- Know that the hens are healthy, treated humanely and without hormones.
Most people raise hens for their eggs though some will raise them for their meat as well. Continue reading for some benefits and tips on keeping chickens in the city and for a giveaway with seeds to grow your own fodder.
Research Local Laws and Regulations
Before building a chicken coop in your backyard, you should first become familiar with your local laws and regulations and make sure it’s allowed. Some cities in the US don’t allow chickens to be raised, while others have maximum flock size requirements.
By knowing these guidelines, you can decide how big of a coop you can have, and therefore how many chickens you will be able to raise. Roosters tend to be more commonly not allowed because of the noise involved, but most cities allow homeowners to have hens.
If you live in a subdivision with an HOA, it is likely that chickens are not allowed. Band together with other likeminded neighbors and begin petitioning for changes to your by-laws.
Choose the Right Breed for Your Needs
Before purchasing or building the chicken coop and purchasing hens, research the different breeds. Different breeds have different benefits, and it all depends on how you plan to use them. Are you only looking at chickens for laying eggs, rather than raising them for meat?
Some breeds can be extremely small while others are incredibly large. Research the different breeds and decide which ones you want and how many of them you want in your city coop.
For city dwellers, take a look at the article from Farming My Backyard titled: The Best Chicken Breeds for Eggs to help you make a decision. Still on the fence? Read the article from Our Inspired Roots titled, 6 Reasons to Keep Backyard Chickens for more ideas.
Build the Right Size Chicken Coop
City chicken coops should be built or purchased the right size, with strong materials, and include all the necessities. The following includes tips for having a chicken coop in the city that will keep your hens safe, warm, and happy:
Allow at least three square feet per hen inside the coop, plus 10 square feet of space outside the coop. If you have six hens, the coop should allow at least 18 square feet inside, so a coop with a footprint of 5 x 5 feet (25 square feet) will be small enough for any backyard and still allow plenty of room for your chickens. See our article “What Does a Chicken Coop Need?” for an in-depth discussion.
- Removable perches are easier to clean because they can easily be taken out and cleaned regularly.
- Have at least one nest box per four hens, approximately the size of a 12-inch cube; 12 inches tall, wide and deep, or larger if you are raising a large breed. The chicken should be able to get in the box and lay comfortably.
- Line the bottom of the chicken coop with sawdust, pine needles or pine wood chips. For easy cleaning of the coop, consider putting down inexpensive linoleum tiles (which debris will not cling to) or even a removable tray system.
- Be prepared to make adjustments for temperature control and ventilation in the coop so your hens can get cool in the summer months and warm in the winter months.
- Have chicken wire about six inches below the floor of the coop to keep away rodents and other predators.
- Make sure your coop doesn’t have any sharp edges or protruding nails as they will get curious and might hurt themselves.
Caring For and Feeding Chickens
Next, you should learn about properly caring for the chickens. The coop is essential, as this will keep them safe from predators, warm and secure in extreme weather conditions, and provide a dark and cool place for laying eggs.
Your biggest expense after setting up the coop is food. If you have grown your chickens from pullets, they will eat quite a bit of food before they actually start laying eggs. Depending on the breed you chose, that can be from 18 weeks to 6 months. Plan of making 1.5 pounds of food available per bird, per week. That’s quite a few bags of food before you start getting “return” on your investment.
Either way, you’ll need to keep food and water in the coop at all times and make sure that you have time each day to check on them, feed them and give them clean water. While they may be the easiest animals to raise, they still require daily visits from family for their upkeep.
Your chickens will require some outside time every day for getting exercise, fresh air, and socialization. Let them out in the morning for roaming (in a pen or out) and then make sure they are properly secured from predators each evening.
Raising chickens in the city is very possible with the right preparation and care. The most important thing is keeping them safe, warm and happy.
It’s a GIVEAWAY! From October 26th to November 3rd 2019
- Gardening with Chickens by Lisa Steele
- Chicken Garden Seed Collection from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds
- Sprouting Kit with Hard Red Winter Wheat for Sprouting from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds
These are the packets of seeds included in the Chicken Garden Seed Collection
- Black Oil Sunflower
- Golden Millet
- Reid’s Yellow Dent Corn
- Field Pumpkins
- Swiss Chard
- Cayenne Pepper
- Black Cherry Tomato
- Pickling Cucumbers
- Paris Island Cos Lettuce