Why on earth do you have chickens?
Several reasons, chief among them that my husband became convinced that he wanted a hobby farm. This from the man who hates spiders and bugs and nature and most hard work. I suggested we start with some chickens in the backyard first. Also, I like the idea of knowing where my food comes from. And they’re cool pets.
Does your husband still want a farm?
Who are you people?
Are you hippies?
No, really, you’re hippies, aren’t you?
Fine, you’re not hippies. Are you survival nuts?
No. We have a pretty extensive emergency kit, but that’s just sensible, considering that we live in an area that gets tornadoes, and the frequency with which our power goes out.
We are fairly environmentally friendly, but not crazy about it, no.
Are all urban chicken owners like you?
Are you legal?
Yes, I am over 18. Oh, you mean the chickens? Yes, we have a permit from the Columbus Board of Health.
How did you get your permit?
Not the same way you will! When we applied for our permit, there was no real process for doing so. With the increase in applications, the Board of Health veterinarian has put a process in place. Go visit their website for more information. You can read about our process here.
Now that you have a permit, is that it?
Every year we have to submit a care and waste management plan, proof of health (which means a vet visit), and be reinspected.
Can I use your care and waste management plan?
No, but you’re welcome to take a look at it. Be assured that the Board of Health vet will know if you’ve just copied ours.
What do your neighbors think?
Where did you get your coop?
We built it.
Where did you get the plans?
I looked around the internet for pictures, and then drew out what I wanted.
How much did it cost?
More than buying one, I assure you! In retrospect, we probably would have saved several hundred dollars by buying one and making any changes we needed.
Don’t the chickens get cold in there in the winter?
Their house is better insulated than ours is. Besides, we were sure to get chickens who were able to withstand the extremes of Ohio weather.
Do they get hot in the summer?
They do, but in the summer we put reflective insulation on the roof and install a solar-powered fan.
Where did you get your chickens?
From a local woman who raises chickens. I met her on the Backyard Chickens forum. The girls’ names are Nugget, Noodle, Dumpling, and Fricassee.
What kind of chickens do you have?
Three are mixed breeds and one is an easter egger. You can read more about them here.
Do you have a rooster?
No. Our permit says that we can only have hens. And besides, roosters are really noisy, and we don’t want that.
Can hens lay eggs without a rooster?
Yes, but there’s no chance they’ll be fertile.
Can I give you my chicken that I don’t want anymore?
No. According to our permit we can only have four chickens.
How many eggs do you get?
Egg laying varies by age and season. This year we seem to be getting 3-4 eggs per day from all four girls. We get fewer in the winter and as they get older.
What do you feed them?
Do they smell?
The chickens themselves don’t, but their crap does. Keeping it cleaned up every day keeps both the smell and the flies down.
Yes, if you have chickens, you’ll have flies. We use a fly trap, and that helps a lot.
How much work is it to take care of chickens?
About 5-10 minutes a day to clean up and feed them, then about 1-2 hours every few months to completely clean out the coop and run.
Yep, but remember, you have to do it every day, even when it’s cold, or raining, or hot, or you’re sick, or tired.
Is it true that chickens who eat raw eggs will crack open eggs?
Not in my experience. We’ve had chickens lay eggs in the run instead of the nest boxes and they leave them alone. But if I throw an egg down in the run and it breaks, they’ll happily eat it! They do accidentally break eggs and they’ll eat them then. But they don’t do it on purpose.
Are chickens really cannibalistic?
Yes, they will peck at each other until they bleed. Sometimes until they die. In my experience, the lighter-colored chickens seem to have it worse because blood is more visible on them.
What do your dogs think of the chickens?
They think we’ve given them the best live television show ever! They like to run up to the run and scare the chickens, but other than that, they’re fine with them.
Do you let your chickens roam around your yard?
No, because we don’t want chicken poop all over the yard because the dogs think its tasty and then they want to lick us. That’s really gross.
Do you have problems with predators?
Our run is very secure, but we have raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and, of course neighborhood dogs and humans. So far we haven’t had any problems.
Do chickens get sick?
They can. We’ve had to de-worm our chickens several times.
What vet do you take your chickens to?
We go to Animal Care Unlimited, who also take care of our dogs and parrot.
Are chickens friendly?
Me, me, me!
I think I want to get chickens. Where should I start?
Read all you can. Visit message boards and websites dedicated to chickens. Find a vet. Find out the laws where you live. Get educated. Then get chickens.
Can I ask you more questions?
Sure. Post a comment below and I’ll be happy to add them to the FAQ if appropriate.