Before raising your own chickens, be aware of these 6 considerations…
Want to raise your own chickens? Go for it! Chickens can be a wonderful, friendly, and useful addition to your homestead or hobby farm, but there are a few common misconceptions about raising your own chickens that should be cleared up before you start.
Below are a few things to keep in mind, many of which you may not have heard before – or you may have heard incorrectly stated.
Before you start your own flock, you should be aware of the following:
1. Check the Laws.
Each town and municipality has their own rules about backyard chickens ranging from how many are allowed, if roosters are allowed or only hens, and whether permits are needed for the chickens or their coop. Before you bring home your chicks, you’ll want to know the laws where you live. And it’s best to get them in writing.
2. You Don’t Need a Rooster.
Speaking of roosters, did you know that you don’t need a rooster in order for your hens to lay eggs? They’ll lay eggs for you whether or not there’s a male around. The eggs just won’t be fertile and will never hatch into chicks.
3. Hens Don’t Lay Year Round.
Although during the prime spring and summer laying months, good layers will lay an egg every day, no chicken lays year round. Once the days get shorter in the fall, they will start “molting,” which means dropping their feathers and growing in new ones for winter. Most hens stop laying during the molt. The shorter days also mean they aren’t getting the 14 hours of daylight needed to stimulate the ovaries, so you might not see eggs again until spring. (You can add light to your coop to keep your chickens laying through the winter, but that doesn’t give their bodies that natural break).
4. Eggs Don’t Need to be Washed.
Commercial eggs are washed before being shipped off to the grocery store, but eggs from your own flock don’t need to be – and shouldn’t be – washed until just before you use them. Every egg is laid with an invisible protective coating called the “bloom” that prevents air and bacteria from entering the egg through the pores in the shell. Washing removes that coating, so best to save the washing for later. And when you do wash your eggs before eating, a gentle rinse under warm running water should be sufficient.
5. Eggs Don’t Need to be Refrigerated.
As long as you haven’t washed your eggs, they don’t need to be refrigerated. The bloom helps to keep the egg fresh and it will still be safe to eat even after several weeks out at room temperature. An egg will keep longer in the refrigerator though, so if you aren’t planning on eating your eggs fairly soon, chilling is always better.
6. Everything Wants to Eat a Chicken.
Chickens can’t fly, so they are extremely vulnerable to all kinds of predators including fox, hawks, coyotes, raccoon and even the family dog. In fact, dogs are the #1 killer of backyard chickens. To ensure their safety, chickens should have a secure enclosed pen for daytime or a dedicated guardian animal if you plan on letting them roam freely.
Read more about raising your own chickens at Lehmans.com…