The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
Spring is here and it's once again chick season at the local farm supply stores. Sure a ready supply of free range organic eggs raised in your backyard sounds heavenly, but as my husband points out, when you factor in housing and feed, the eggs are anything but free. And while those little puffs of yellow fluff look so adorable in store, are you really prepared for a seven to eight year commitment? Prior to impulse buying your first flock, allow the Library to help you gather some pertinent information.
What You Need to Know About Raising Chickens
1. Know the Law
It would be a disservice to neglect to mention that there are laws governing backyard flocks. For example, the City of Toledo permits flock of a maximum of 6 hens without a permit, provided you follow their rules; any deviance from their prescribed conditions will require a permit. In other areas, the limit is two birds. Some places forbid roosters. Check with your local legal code to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.
2. Get to Know Chickens
Don't start counting those chicks before you know a little more about them; this is where a little library research can be instrumental.
Take the time to learn about different breeds. Are you looking for meat birds or egg layers? White eggs, brown eggs or colored eggs? Having an idea of the temperaments of various breeds as well as how well they can withstand heat and cold will help your new flock work well for your situation.
Try these books to get acquainted with the breeds:
|"The Backyard Chicken" by Eric Lofgren is also available in eBook.||"The Field Guide to Chickens" by Pam Percy is also available in eBook.|
3. A House Fit for a Chicken
Sure, baby chicks are cute and small when purchased at just a few days old, but they grow fast. They will be out of the brooder in your garage and need a coop much sooner than you think.
All coops should provide adequate ventilation, a roosting bar for sleeping, nesting boxes for egg laying, and an outdoor run for exercise. However, a carefully planned coop will also save you time on cleaning. A coop that is tall enough to stand upright inside is certainly easier to maintain than a smaller model. We use sand instead of straw on our coop floor for less costly waste removal, though others swear by removable boards, trays or hammocks under the roosting bar to catch and dispose of nightly droppings.
Check out these titles to help you design your optimal coop:
|"Backyard Chickens" by Pam Freeman is also available in eBook.||"Chicken Coops" by Judy Pangman is also available in eBook.|
4. Save the Chickens
Everyone thinks their backyard is perfectly safe, until they look at it through the eyes of a chicken. Even in more urban areas, dogs, possums, raccoons, rats, hawks, and even the occasional fox can be devastating to a small flock.
Furthermore, as avian veterinarians are not always easy to find, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with common chicken diseases and suggestions for treatment.
Find out about the many hazards your flock could face and what you can do about it by checking out these titles:
|"The Chicken Chick's Guide to Backyard Chickens" is also available in eBook.||"Homesteading" edited by Abigail Gehring is also available in eBook.|
5. Chicken Love
Caution: if you bring home your first box of chickens, you are likely going to want to bring home more. When I first told my husband I wanted to raise chickens, he thought I was crazy. Three years later and he still thinks I am a crazy chicken lady. That said, I am amazed by how clever and intelligent these birds really are. I love to observe how they interact with their world and one another. I never expected that they would have such individual personalities. It has been a fantastic experience for our kids as well. And as I like to say, my pets provide me breakfast.