Originally published by http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/truth-about-raising-backyard-chickens/ January 12, 2015
© Chicken Coop Chatter
January 12, 2015
Spring will be coming and chicks usually show up in farm stores and catalogs by mid-February, so it’s not too soon to start thinking about planning to raise some backyard chickens. There are many books, bloggers and websites that talk about raising chickens. We encourage everyone to do research through reliable sources and to steer away from the latest fads. But, no matter where you do your research, few people ever talk about the realities of raising backyard chickens.
Questions To Answer Before Raising Backyard Chickens
While researching, ask yourself: what are your intentions? Are the chickens to be pets or livestock that provides a food source? Then ask yourself what your expectations are — do you want an income, or are they just for your own immediate family? Are you limited by ordinances in your county, city or state? What is the number of backyard chickens you are allowed to raise at any given time and what are the requirements? What are the specifics or coop size and the distance required away from residences? This is a big one and something you really need to check into before purchasing that first cute chick. If your area has limitations or strict rules against raising chickens, you may need to either challenge those ordinances or accept the laws and restrictions in place.
The Realities Of Restrictions On Raising Backyard Chickens
Some areas I’ve researched allow backyard chickens, but the requirements make it virtually impossible to actually raise them within those restrictions. Some require minimum of 150 feet from any and all residences and 50 feet from any street. Yet many lot sizes are less than even the required distance. So read those restrictions carefully and know your lot size and a guesstimate distance from your neighbors. Some require no less than 5-acre plots for raising chickens and then strict restrictions within that acreage. Some require very specific plans for chicken coops so you may not be able to use recycled materials, and you may have no options on size, style or possible expansion or alterations. You may be required to submit your coop dimensions and plans on paper for approval, and you may be required to have a permit to build a coop if it is not a portable structure. So if you were thinking you could convert an old garage or garden shed, you may be sadly mistaken. If you were planning to put that coop in a specific place you may not be able to if it is not within the region guidelines.
Another requirement may be that you contact each of your neighbors to get written approval to raise chickens and if you do not contact your neighbors, you may be forced to get rid of the chickens even if the ordinances for your area allow them. Complaints can negate all rights. What if a new neighbor moves into the neighborhood and does not agree with backyard chicken keeping? Just because you are within your rights does not mean they cannot force you to get rid of them. As new county council members are elected, new rules can and often are structured which negates previous ordinances. Are you prepared to stand up for your rights against your neighbors and your city or county officials? Even people out in the country are now dealing with new neighborhoods and being forced out regardless of their right to farm. Those new neighborhoods are winning the battles.
How Much Backyard Chickens Cost And More
Once you’ve answered the above questions, you need to be thinking about some equally important topics. Are you prepared for the expenses, time and energy involved with raising chickens? Do you have a proper disposal for the waste? Are you prepared to deal with illness or injury, or space requirements, the amount of time involved in raising chicks before they can be put outdoors on their own, or will you purchase grown out juveniles that are outdoor ready and near laying age? Do you intend to free-range or will they be in a chicken run? Are you prepared for devastation of your landscape where you allow the chickens to roam? If you intend to have chickens as a meat source, are you allowed by local ordinance to process your own? Some areas do not allow private processing, especially city or smaller than 5 acre plots. Some have strict ordinances about handling waste, especially if you are near ponds or streams or have a high water table.
Chicken raising is a respectable and honorable endeavor that we encourage; however, if you are not prepared to deal with all the possibilities, ordinances and neighbors, then you need to decide if it’s really the way you wish to feather your bed.
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