Backyard Chicken Facts — 5 Things No One Told Us


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Our backyard chickens are now 12 weeks old and are well on their way to being full fledged layers.  We're still a ways from collecting fresh eggs every morning, but they look happy and healthy and, well, just 'right' wandering around the yard.  Now it feels like a real homestead!

But there have been a few surprises along the way — some of them pleasant, some not so much.  Here are a few things we've learned that might help you as you decide whether or not to get chickens for your backyard.

#1.  Backyard Chickens are Poop Machines

 OK, I knew chickens produced a lot of manure, but I really didn't realize how much.  Apparently, it's about 45 pounds per hen, per year.  So for us, that's 45 lb x 15 hens = 675 pounds of poop.  Pardon me, but holy cr*p! 

Now that our 15 girls are out ranging in the yard most of the day, it's not so much of an issue.  Except that we can't walk outside barefoot anymore (not that we really did anyway).  But much of that ends up in the coop, as they spend upwards of 12 hours a day there, and will be more as the days get shorter.  So what to do with all that high — nitrogen manure?  Put it this way — I'm building a new composter!  You can also make something called manure tea — you can find chicken manure tea instructions here.  Essentially, you can take care of a good chunk of your vegetable garden's nitrogen requirements with your chickens' well — composted manure.  Pretty efficient, huh? 

I've heard from others about the fact that their chickens pooped all over everything — furniture, vehicles, porches... you name it.  So far, we're working on 'aversion training' to try to teach them what's off limits for perching and pooping, and we have no manure on anything other than the ground.  I know some of you are probably rolling on the floor laughing right now, but I'm sticking to the plan.  I'll let you know how it goes...

7/16/2016 2:24:33 AM

If you are going to hold yourself out as an expert after just a few weeks then you should do a lot of reading and wise up first . Things people need to be aware of are like chickens don't lay until they are 26 weeks old-First lay . Chickens lay for a few months -then they stop laying for the rest of the year . The second lay is for a shorter time again and the third lay gets later and shorter again and if you hav'nt eaten them by 4 years they are just costing you a lot of money.

1/28/2015 2:41:52 PM

Actually cindy.maier a heat lamp is unnecessary; a simple 60 watt bulb will do. Your timer should also be set for a few hours before dawn because chickens use the sunset and gradual decrease in light to naturally fall asleep. If you use the timed light at night the dramatic light shut off will disrupt this and cause stress which could do the exact opposite of what you're trying to achieve.

6/8/2013 2:48:44 PM

I had chickens for years and absolutely LOVED them.  I miss them, but thank goodness, I am moving soon to a place where I can have them again.  Did you know that chickens will stop laying in the winter because of shorter days?  The remedy is to put a (red heat lamp) light out at their coop that comes on in the evenings.  It will trick them into thinking it's still laying season.  Just wanted to share that tip, in case you didn' know.  

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