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Chickens 101: Where To Start

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So – you’re starting to seriously think that chicken keeping could be a great addition to your skillset- congratulations! Backyard chicken keeping is incredibly rewarding – ask anyone with their own flock, and you’ll hear stories of delicious fresh eggs, friendly chickens running out to greet their owners every morning and great family pets that love snuggling up to children.

Here are some beginner FAQ’s that crop up when beginners want to know more before they buy.

How many chickens should I get?

For absolute beginners to chicken keeping, we recommend starting off with 2-3 chickens.

This gives your new flock some friends to keep them company, and will give you approximately 2-3 eggs per day (a chickens laying cycle goes for around 24 hours). A small flock is perfect for beginners, and for smaller urban backyards.

What do I want the chickens for?

Something you should ask yourself before deciding on which chickens to get is-  what’s your motivation in getting them! Different breeds are suited to different purposes – so you should definitely take this into consideration before buying.

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  • Eggs

Many people get chickens purely to enjoy their fresh eggs- nothing wrong with that! Good egg layers will produce around 1 egg per day – so if you’re starting out with 2-3 chickens, you’ll have plenty for your breakfast.

Some breeds that are great for egg production include Rhode Island Reds, Isa Browns and Australorps. Find out more in our The Best Egg Layers vs. The Best Meat Chickens article.

  • Pets

Chickens make absolutely adorable pets, and fit into family life just as well as any dog or cat. Chicken breeds that are known for their gentle temperament and docile nature are the best choice if you’ve got young budding chicken keepers of your own. Popular choices include Silkies, Australorps and Sussex. Find out other breeds that your kids will love in our The Best Chicken Breeds for Families article.

You don’t always have to have it one way or the other – there are lots of chicken breeds that lay well and are sweet, gentle creatures perfect as pets, such as Isa Browns, Orpingtons, Sussex and New Hampshire Reds.

Am I going to be able to let my chickens out to free range, or do they need a run?

The way you look after your chickens depends on your lifestyle and environment. In order to keep them safe and happy in the backyard, you’ll need to make some adjustments according to your living arrangements and backyard size.

  • Full-time worker/At Home Most Of The Day

If you’re someone who works during the day and can’t safely let your chickens roam in the backyard while your gone, then getting a coop with a run attached is essential. The run is an enclosure that extends from the coop, keeping your flock safe but allowing them to have access to fresh grass, pick at bugs and grit and enjoy all the benefits of free ranging!

If you or another member of your household is home most of the day, then letting them out to free range is always a great option. Chickens will generally go about their business until the sun goes down before you need to let them back into the coop for a good nights rest!

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  • Small Backyard/Large Backyard

People who don’t have a large backyard often opt for a coop with a run, so the chickens can have the free ranging experience without crowding the space.

If you have a large backyard, then you have the option of letting your chickens free range and forage in this area – but they’ll still need a coop to sleep and nest in.

  • Do You Have Predators In Your Area?

Some chicken keepers who live in areas that are known to have predators opt for a coop with a run, as its fit with predator-proof wire mesh. Common predators include foxes, rats, mice and quolls for those living in certain areas. This is important especially if you’re not home to supervise free ranging chickens.

Anyone who’s ever embarked on the chicken keeping journey can tell you how rewarding it is, and how easy it was to start! Chickens are very independent creatures, and are fantastic at looking after their own needs – keeping themselves clean and parasite-free.

Before you look at buying your flock, ensure you have somewhere for them to live! Having the right coop for your lifestyle is essential to keeping your chickens comfortable, healthy and happy – whether you need a coop with a run like the Taj Mahal and the Penthouse, or eventually plan to have a larger brood down the track and need the Mansion!

Sources and further reading

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