What happens when you walk with your kids into Tractor Supply?
You walk out with a box full of baby chickens, that’s what.
And why get JUST ONE chick when you can get FOUR?
Anyway, long story short, my kids asked to buy chicks, and now … we have a small flock in our backyard.
(If you know me, you know that baby animals are my kryptonite. The problem is baby animals grow up into regular animals. I love baby animals way more than baby humans. Which is probably why I have more pets than kids. #oops)
Okay, for real though.
Backyard chickens are becoming more and more popular, with good reason.
There are definite pros (like eggs!), but there are also cons to raising backyard chickens. And much like motherhood, the only thing that can prepare you for the feathery shenanigans of the chicken life is by just jumping in and doing it.
So I’m here to help, because I want to spare you as much **literal** crap as possible.
Below I’m listing out a few pros and cons, as well as “Take it from Me” hard lessons I learned, and “Real Life” confession moments.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a chicken expert. I — on a whim — bought chicks last March, and lived to tell about it. This post is based on what I do know.
Because basically, I’m a farmer now … ish.
- coop with nesting boxes & roosting bar – (these can get expensive, but there are plenty of inexpensive DIY options online)
- fenced area, safe from predators
- chicken feeder & waterer
- chicken feed
If you buy chicks and not grown chickens, then you’ll need these additional accessories:
- heat lamp
- starter feed
As with any animal added to your menagerie, there are plenty of a la carte options to enhance your chicken farming experience… like mealworms and other snacks, dusting powders, shots, electrolytes, among others.
They are relatively easy to care for.
This can also be read as: THE KIDS CAN TAKE CARE OF THEM. #winning
With the right size and type of feeder and waterers, food and water supplies really only need to be checked on throughout the week. The feeders are easy to refill with a scoop, and water — when dirty — can be tipped and dumped, allowing the clean, fresh water from inside the container to refill the trough area.
And unless you are a complete neat freak — and I’m close to it — the coop really only needs to be cleaned out every week or two — depending on how many chicken you own.
Real life: My kids do 95% of the chicken farming. And I don’t feel bad about making them do it one bit.
Take it from me: Chicken feed becomes moldy when wet. So place it where it’s dry and DON’T allow kids to toss chicken feed across your driveway to “free range.” Because OF COURSE a rain storm will immediately rain down, mold the feed your chickens decided to not free range on in the storm, leading to CON # 2 below.
They are hysterical.
No really … chickens are funny, weird little animals. They each have their own personality; they tend to be bossy, talkative, and look like mini, feathered T-Rexes when they run. It’s great entertainment.
Real life: As much as I complain about them and the obnoxiousness and extra chaos they cause in my life, I really do like them. They’re awesome.
Take it from me: If you raise chickens from chicks, hold them often (only if you wash your hands after!) and spend time with them. They will be more fun to be around as they get older because they will trust you.
They earn their keep.
If you purchase adult chickens, they can immediately begin paying rent. Except the roosters (see cons below. #freeloaders) … However, the ladies (as should be expected from a mature woman) always keep up with daily payment in eggs.
Real life: I’ve eaten more eggs in the past month since my hens started laying than I’ve eaten in the past 10 years.
Take it from me: Before stashing in your fridge, wash those butt nuggets well!
Think salmonella poop everywhere. NEED I SAY MORE?
Real life: My dog pushed the back door open one day while nobody was home and made herself, along with 3 of our 7 chickens at home INSIDE THE HOUSE while we were gone. I can’t even talk about how annoying that was.
Taken it from me: Wash your hands after touching anything dealing with the birds. Make sure your kids make it a habit to wash well after being anywhere close to them or their coop! I also recommend having “chicken shoes” that are only worn around the birds, and don’t ever wear them inside.
It’s just something that comes with the territory (see above con). Where there are barnyard animals, there will be flies. But they are manageable if you keep your yard and coop clean. There are even homemade remedies to help control them.
Real life: My dog ate the fly trap … and all the dead flies in it.
Taken it from me: Don’t leave the fly trap on the ground outside where your dog can get to it or throw the dirty coop bedding/shavings in the trash can without using a tied bag. Because, again, flies…. and salmonella poop.
There is a reason young roosters — technically called “cockerels” — have an offensive derivative stemming from them. Because REAL LIFE, YO. Roosters, even the friendliest, can be jerks when they grow into themselves. They are territorial, moody, and faster than you’d think.
Unless you live on land, plan to breed your chickens, or are willing to sacrifice your home and neighborhood to the loud song of their people, I don’t recommend purchasing the boys.
Real life: Our roosters are your stereotypical frat boys. They strut around, act tougher than they really are, drink and eat ALL THE FOOD, and chase the ladies. I’m thinking about renaming them Kappa Sig, SAE, and Teke.
(If you are a frat boy reading this, then I am TOTALLY KIDDING. You know that, right?)
(Not really kidding… 😉 )
Take it from me: Do NOT buy chicks from what is called a “straight run.” You will end up with a feathery frat boy. Guaranteed.