When my niece heard that we raise backyard chickens, she was hooked. However, her husband wasn’t as thrilled. Chickens are work, they can smell, and make noise, too. But, do they? How much work is actually involved to raise backyard chickens? Here is a reality check on everything that needs to be done.
One time work involved
First, you will need a chicken coop. You can build your own or buy one, there are many available on the market, as the Deluxe Chicken Coop. The chicken coop needs to be big enough for the number of chickens you want. We find that 2 chickens per person in the household is a good number. And two square feet per chicken is a minimum of space they need. Also, make sure the coop is suited for your weather and has many conveniences for you to minimize work in the long run.
A good chicken feeder and water supply will minimize your daily chores. We use the Poultry Drinking Nipples with a water bucket for water and a food box for dry food. This way the chickens are always fed, even if I didn’t get out of bed.
Use the deep litter method in the chicken coop, you will have to start it once, and never worry about cleaning the chicken coop. If the deep chicken litter is fed properly it will not smell, nor attract flies.
Weekly work involved
Getting feed and refilling the feeder is something that needs to be done on a regular basis. For us, it is actually more like once a month. If you have more chickens, it could be weekly.
Clean the water bucket and replace it with new water. I like to add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into it. It is good for the chickens.
The deep litter method needs to be “fed”. Again, it will depend on the number of chickens you have, but as a rule of thumb, adding brown material weekly is about all you will need. We use leaves that we gather in the fall, something that most people do anyways but instead of getting rid of them, we store them to use in the coop. We also let neighbors know to leave their bags with leaves at our place. This way we have enough bedding material for free and without any additional work. We also add some wood ashes to the litter once in a while, just to prevent bugs from getting comfortable in the coop.
Daily work involved
As you see, there is not much left for a daily chore. We do give the chickens a daily treat of some greens, weeds, and garden scrub as available. Also, all our kitchen scraps goes to the chickens. They already know when the back door opens, there could be a treat for them, and they usually make a fun noise to welcome the treat. We love it!
Check the water bucket and add more if needed. On hot days chickens drink a lot and the water supply is very important for them.
And last, but not least, gather the eggs. This is the most rewarding job involved with back yard chickens.
All in all, I do not think that we spend more than 5 minutes a day caring for the chickens, but we do get fresh eggs daily as a reward for it. Raising backyard chickens is really easy and a lot of fun, too.