“But I can’t have chickens where I live…”
This is one of the most common reasons I hear for why people don’t maintain a small flock of chickens at home. You may be surprised just where you actually CAN have chickens.
In the last few years, there has been a renewed interest in the backyard flock and many cities have changed their ordinances to allow them, though often not roosters due to noise concerns. Check out the rules where you live. For inspiration, look at http://madcitychickens.com/ .
“But my neighbors will think I’m nuts…”
For a variety of reasons, you may not want to draw attention to your flock. There are many breeds to choose from and in a future posting, I will make some recommendations for calm quiet breeds.
The type of housing you choose can help to camouflage your activities, too. I have seen some beautiful coops that look much like children’s playhouses or oversized birdhouses. If you have a privacy fence, all the better.
There are many low profile coops to choose from also. In England, they often call these “arks,” so if you want to search for plans or pictures, you may want to try that term also.
Your coop doesn’t really need to be anything fancy. You need shelter for your ladies during inclement weather and to guard them from predators. You need a nesting space for them to deposit their gifts to you. And you need an area for them to act like chickens, scratching for bugs and weed seeds. It doesn’t have to be very complicated.
We have tried a number of ways to manage our flocks. At times they have been completely loose with a henhouse to return to at night. Occasionally, they have been confined to a yard attached to the henhouse. And we have tried out several generations of what are often called “chicken tractors.”
Chicken tractors, or portable coops, are our preference. We have built 4 x 10 foot frames, bent PVC pipe from side to side, and covered it all with fencing. The birds have a tarp over at least half of it to give them shade and protection from wind, rain, and snow. We typically house about 10 birds in this type of coop to prevent too much wear and tear on the grass and to give them plenty of “wing room.”
We move these chicken tractors 10 feet forward each day to allow the chickens access to fresh food. They fertilize the ground for us as they go.
For a typical family of 4, three chickens would provide all the eggs you would need. And if your neighbor gets a little testy about the presence of poultry in the neighborhood, a dozen beautiful fresh eggs every once in a while goes a long way toward smoothing things over.