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Chickening Out: A Coop in Your Backyard?
You stare blankly out at your cold bare yard, wondering how best to prepare it for the coming warmer months. (And they are coming, we promise.) What do you envision?
A new patio set or elegant gazebo? A bigger garden or a new treehouse for the kidlets?
If that thought crossed your mind, you're not alone. Millions of homeowners across the U.S. have considered turning their backyard into a bok-yard.
It's the organic choice. More and more families want to know exactly where their eggs and meat are coming from. It's economical because store bought eggs often come with big markups. And heck - it's trendy! If Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston raise chickens, really...shouldn't you?
So while we'll let the smart folks at BackyardChickens.com give you all the particulars, here are some quick questions to consider before you even think of traveling down this feathery path:
- Do you have the budget? The maintenance of chickens isn't too costly, especially when you consider how many eggs you stand to gain, but initial installation and chicken-buying costs can add up to hundreds of dollars. If not more.
- Do you have the right mindset? Make no mistake - this is farming. So you need to have the farmer's stomach for the circle of life, death, predation and prey. Especially if you have young ones around. Although there is a lot you can do to prevent predators like hawks and rats from getting at your chickens, natural mortality is just part of the package. Chickens will come and chickens will...go. Make sure you prepare your kids and yourself.
- Do you have the commitment? Although day to day, chicken upkeep isn't that taxing, they are still a new pet. Many chickens live for 10 years or more, so you need to commit to taking care of them for the long haul. This means finding someone to feed and care for them when you are out of town, etc. Put as much thought into this as you would adopting a new dog or cat. Because they need just as much care.
- Do you have the space? According to an article on Backyard Chickens, a good rule of thumb is "4 square feet per chicken in the coop along with 10 square feet per chicken in the run." So the amount of chickens you want will affect how much room you need. So will other factors, like what kind of chickens you are getting and what you want them to do, and where you want to feed them. Read that article for more details. If you do decide to install a chicken coop in your own backyard, or already have one you are proud of, please let us know. You can either comment below or email our editor [email protected]. We might feature you and your brood in an upcoming article in an issue of Atlanta Home Improvement!