So, you’re a city dweller who has a dream of owning some chickens? This dream may not be too far off! So long as you do your research beforehand and have at least some sense of commitment, you could be a professional urban chicken farmer in no time. Here are some things to think about first:
Chickens need a bit of space—typically three or four square feet and some running area—so assess the space you have access to before considering how many chickens you might want. The rules and regulations for urban farming and household livestock vary depending on what city you live in, so it’s quite important that you contact your municipality before purchasing anything for this project. Some cities do not allow household livestock, while other cities simply have rules about how far you must keep them from your neighbors. Speaking of neighbors, you might want to talk to them first before embarking on this journey. As a neighbor of someone who is raising chickens, they are kind of embarking on a journey as well. So long as you commit to keeping the chickens clean and healthy, it should not be much of a problem at all for the neighbors.
Okay. You’ve talked to the neighbors, you’re aware of all your city’s regulations regarding urban farming, and you are SO ready to get started. You’ll need a sort of coop for the chickens. A coop isn’t too hard to build yourself (if you’re that type, which you probably are seeing as you are delving into the world of urban chicken farming), however, you could also purchase one at a local hardware store. While you’re there, pick up some of your other supplies—fencing for a chicken run area, food and water dispensers, chicken feed and grit, supplies for building a roost if your coop doesn’t have one, and nests or boxes for the chickens to make their nests. OH, and the chickens themselves! You’ll probably want to stick to a moderate amount since you’re in the city—two to six chickens should do. Try to avoid cooping hens and roosters together, or else you could end up with more chickens very quickly.
Set up your coop in an area that complies with the city guidelines—often this area must be a certain distance from a neighbor’s property. Remember that each chicken needs about three or four square feet to themselves! Also set up a chicken run area. Chickens need a bit of space to move and run about. If they don’t have this, they will be sad, sad city chickens who probably won’t lay any eggs. Somewhere in your coop should be a roost—an area about two feet off the ground for your chickens to hang out. Also set up some bins or boxes where the chickens can nest. Place the food and water dish in an area that is accessible to all the chickens. If you don’t want to have to visit the coop every day, consider buying an automatically refillable dish. This way you can load it up every few days as opposed to every single day.
This could also be a hindrance if you’d rather more strictly control how much your chickens are eating. They should be eating around one half cup of feed every day. If they have access to a food bin that is always full, you could run the risk of having some overweight chickens. Watering is simple, just keep clean, fresh water in the coop always. You can also opt to throw some grit in the coop. Grit is a type of sand gravel that chickens eat to help grind up their food in the gizzard. Exciting stuff. If you are feeding your chickens anything extra such as table scraps, cheese or yogurt—which is all totally fine—consider keeping a tub of grit in the coop as well, to promote healthy digestion. The chickens will know how much to eat / how to use grit, so you don’t have to worry about over feeding them.
Hopefully by now you have a happy chicken city home all set up. Here are a few more things to consider getting started:
Watch for rodents, they can be detrimental to chickens. Make sure your fencing has a solid bottom contacting the ground so that rats can’t get into the coop. Check for eggs every day! This can be exciting. So long as your chickens remain healthy (keep an eye out for city related diseases), the eggs with be healthy as well. Creating a daily routine with your chickens can be quite a nice experience, and they are interesting animals to have around. Plus, you cannot beat fresh chicken eggs—even if they come from city chickens. Happy urban farming!