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The Pros and Cons of Backyard Chickens

The Truth About Backyard Chickens


Source: Flickr user sarah_mccansChickens have left the farm and are popping up in backyard coops across the country, from spacious suburban lawns to small urban gardens. We took a closer look at the pros and cons of chicken rearing to see if a family coop is all it's cracked up to be — or if we're better off buying our eggs at the store. Read below before you bring home a flock of your own.

Pros

- Fresh Eggs
If you're paying top dollar for organic eggs at the grocer, this could save you some serious money — not to mention that the two eggs you can expect to yield from three hens per day on average will taste much better than anything store-bought.

- Low-Maintenance
They require little more than feeding, watering, and regular coop upkeep, making them easy to care for compared to other family pets.

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- Inexpensive Upkeep
Day-to-day chicken expenses are minimal; for three chickens, you can expect to pay around $25 per month on food and miscellaneous expenses.

- Lush Lawn
Chicken poop is a natural lawn fertilizer. It will do wonders to revive your grass and garden, and if you have chickens in your backyard, you can expect to have a lot of it around!

- Pest Control
These hungry birds will graze away all the pesky bugs and weeds lurking in your backyard, no chemical lawn treatments necessary.

- Fun Pet
While, admittedly, they're nowhere near as engaging as dogs, chickens do have little personalities, and if you raise and handle them from a young age, they'll often let you pet and hold them.

Cons

- Expensive Initial Costs
Getting ramped up can be a bit pricey. You have to purchase the chickens; feeding, watering, and heating supplies; and the chicken coop itself, which costs about $500 on average.

- Inconsistent Ordinances
The rules surrounding what is and isn't allowed in terms of backyard chickens vary from city to city, and you must make sure your backyard coop abides by the ordinance in your specific area.

- Unhappy Neighbors
Those living next door to you might not be as excited about your new pets as you are — but you can always try to win them over by not purchasing a noisy rooster and by being generous with your fresh eggs.

- Breed Incompatibility
Each chicken breed has its own personality, from the strong egg-layers to the more brooding types. If you pick a chicken breed that doesn't match with your needs and lifestyle, you could run into trouble.

- Coop Upkeep
While chickens are relatively low-maintenance, they're not zero-maintenance. Their coop must be kept clean, dry, and well ventilated, and they need a steady supply of fresh food and water available to them. If you travel a lot or are squeamish about picking up poop, they're probably not for you.

- Destructive Tendencies
Left to roam unsupervised, chickens can do some real yard damage — bye-bye, pretty landscaping and flowers.

- Natural Predators
Chickens have many natural predators, from coyotes to domestic dogs. Even when taking precautions, like getting chickens into their coop before dark and making their coop as break-in-proof as possible, it's likely that you'll lose chickens to predators at some point.


Source: Flickr user roseannadana

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