Following is an excerpt from the book The Joy of Keeping Chickens by Jennifer Megyesi. Click here to purchase a copy of this book from Amazon.
Local laws, such as zoning and other ordinances, may end your chicken enterprise before it takes flight. Some farming magazines have been advertising “Stealth Coops,” mini-pens to conceal your poultry in more urban settings. Besides looking uncomfortable for the chickens (there doesn’t seem to be much space for more than two or three chickens, nor are there sufficient locations for nesting, roosting, and foraging), the idea of concealing your chickens from your neighbors or from town and city officials seems like it will only lead to trouble.
The best way to avoid conflicts is to check with the county zoning board, your extension agent, or the state agricultural department. And
after all the rules check out, consult your neighbors with your plan. Are they okay with the accompanying baggage associated
with keeping chickens–noise, or an enticement for the dog to chase? Perhaps ruffled neighborhood feathers can be smoothed with the promise of fresh eggs and meat, or the reward of manure high in nitrogen for their garden.
Before acquiring birds, figure out what you want to accomplish. Chicken fever (a term used loosely to describe someone acting like they’re in a candy store, overwhelmed with the choices of sweets available and ending up with a bellyache instead of a wise choice of one type of candy) is hard to avoid when so many interesting and colorful breeds exist. In reality, each breed of chicken can differ in its specific requirements for food, water, and shelter. A mixed flock may not necessarily do well together. The type of husbandry you have in mind will determine what breed of chicken you decide upon. Answering these questions beforehand will help you determine how chickens will become part of your plan.
|Will the birds be used as a source of eggs and meat for the homestead? |
|Do you want to develop a small-scale commercial enterprise? |
|Is it easier to market fresh eggs or meat near your farm? |
|Are there poultry processing facilities near to you, or do you plan to butcher them yourself? |
|Will they be confined to a poultry house, or do you wish to raise them on pasture? |
|Are you planning to raise purebred, show-quality poultry? |
Generally speaking, then, there are four broad enterprises for raising chickens: for egg production, for chick production to sell
locally or to hatcheries, for meat production, or as a hobby (for show or companionship).
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