Raising backyard chickens is a dream addition to many new homesteads – even those in the middle of a city where backyard chickens are allowed. And it’s easy to see the appeal:
- Backyard chickens provide fresh yard eggs daily
- Raising chickens give you access to free-range meat
- Chickens are a great form of pest control in your garden and yard
- Plus, they are fun addition to your homestead
So, should you raise backyard chickens? While there are definitely reasons to say yes, here are 5 simple reasons NOT to keep chickens on your homestead. These are things I wish I had known when considering whether or not to add chickens to our lives.
Whether you are new to the homesteading community or not, it’s probable that you’ve considered adding chickens to your life. After all, it would be great to have fresh eggs daily and homegrown meat.
Add to that the appeal of the general aesthetic pleasure of being able to look out of the kitchen window to gaze upon the pastoral scene taking place in your yard and chickens are very tempting!
That’s what we thought a few years ago when we first moved to our 8 acre shared family homestead. Chickens are the first natural progression from city life to homesteading, at least it is once you have your garden set up.
Here are our personal reflections after 3 years with backyard chickens!
5 Reasons NOT to Raise Backyard Chickens
After 3 years of having our chickens, here are the 5 things I wish I had really known before committing to raising backyard chickens.
1. They poop everywhere
If you have free range chickens, then you need to accept that the chickens will poop everywhere! On the porch, the walkways, the swing set and fort, the outdoor chairs and benches… everywhere.
For some people, that’s not a deal breaker, but it’s really not pleasant for me to have to hose down ever surface on a daily basis.
This is probably something that we should have known, but just didn’t think about! If you are preparing to raise chickens and don’t want to hose off everything daily, I would recommend a coop that the chickens can’t fly over – an 8-9 foot fence – unless you want to regularly clip their wings.
2. The Rooster Will Likely Attack You and Your Kids
My dad grew up around chickens, and I had always heard stories of roosters attacking the kids and cousins.
But I’ve also seen all those great Facebook videos of the rooster crawling up into the lap of its owner and cuddling them…
So I figured it was just a fluke that my dad grew up with mean roosters and that ours would be different.
Our gorgeous rooster was fine for about 6 months but then a switch flipped and he would relentlessly attack any male that went anywhere near the coop… like anywhere within 20-30 feet!
It didn’t matter what you did to “beat” him back, he would still come back for more.
We tried everything we could to make the situation better, but the final straw was when he attacked my husband while he was holding our 3 year old son and was blocking the way into our house!
Not all roosters are like this! But it is something that you should be aware of and have a plan for in the event.
3. You Have to Gather Eggs Daily
This is may be a “duh” point for you, but it’s a reality that you need to consider.
Do you like to travel or have days where you are gone all day? Then this is something you really need to think about before committing to raising chickens.
Also keep in mind that in order to keep a clean egg laying box, you really need to open the laying boxes in the morning, and close them at night. Otherwise they will poop in the boxes and it will make the eggs dirty and your gathering job much less enjoyable.
This makes gathering eggs a two times a day process.
BONUS: We found a beautiful coop for just a few hundred dollars. Isn’t it lovely?
4. You Will Have to Deal with Snakes
Nothing is so startling as opening the laying boxes to find a big old black snake coiled up there waiting for you. Yikes.
Now, snakes are a reality of homesteading living, but being confronted with them in such close quarters was something that I was not ready for on a daily basis.
What finally helped cut down on the number of snakes is what we added two outdoor cats to the farm. As soon as we added the cats the snakes stopped coming around. Snakes really hate the smell of cats!
But still, if you don’t want cats around, snakes are going to happen. Just know that.
5. The Chickens Will Die
The thing that surprised us the most was how the death of one of the chickens hit us so hard.
When you bring an animal into your life and commit to taking care of it, any situation that causes you to fail at that job is very difficult to cope with.
This grief and pain is compounded when there are children involved as they get attached to the animals.
There are all sorts of ways to protect your chickens from predators and diseases, but eventually one or more of them will die. So be prepared for the event in advance!
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We Still Love Our Chickens
Having said all that, we do love our fresh eggs and being able to have the chickens wandering the property with us!
These things take some getting used to and are things we wish we had known before-hand!
Tell me what you think? Are chickens still on your homestead list?