And they’re the 3 best friends that anyone could have….
Meet Momma Chicken (a Barred Rock)…
Red (a Welsummer)…
and Liberace (a Blue Cochin Bantam)…
Suburban or backyard chickens seems like a new concept but people have been keeping them in non farm-like areas for years. They are low maintenance and pretty fun to have around. We have 3 chickens that roam around our suburban backyard. We’ve had them for a few weeks now and we sure have learned a lot!
Before we got out chickens, we checked with the city’s planning department to see if it was even allowed. According to the city’s “chicken ordinance”, we are allowed 1 chicken per each 1,800 square feet of our property. Assuming I did the math right, that allowed us 3.33 chickens!
Our next step was to get a coop for the chickens to nest in. We saw this one from Williams-Sonoma and, after seeing the price, thought we could build it ourselves for much cheaper. A few weeks (months) went by and we realized “ain’t nobody got time fo’ that”. So my mom found this one at Costco.com and we ordered it. Way cheaper than building one from scratch and so little effort; just the click of a mouse. The quality is probably nothing compared to the one from Williams-Sonoma but I don’t think the chickens mind. The website says it’s built for 2 chickens but our 3 seem pretty comfortable in it.
After we got our coop, we needed some chickens. My husband made some phone calls and found us some chickens at Wagon Train Feed and Tack in Orange, CA that needed new homes. Not only do they sell baby chicks but they also take in hens that people can no longer take care of and need new homes, kind of like animal foster care. My friend Kristen and I went to pick them up. Because the store didn’t have .33 chickens, we settled with just 3. The owners son gave me an extensive lesson on chickens before we left with them. He was awesome! We also picked up a 40lb bag of food, a giant bag of shavings for the coop, a feeder and waterer. Thankfully, we took Kristen’s SUV.
We got back to my house with the box of chickens and then had to get them into the coop. Before that day, I had never touched a chicken. A live chicken. Kristen thought it would be funny to record me putting them into their coop. Here is the video of that experience.
We have 3 different breeds of chickens; a Barred Rock, a Welsummer and a Blue Cochin Bantam. Liberace, our Bantam hen, has fluffy iridescent feathers and they cover her feet. She’s the cutest thing ever! Also, she’s considerably smaller than the other two. One of them lays light blueish eggs (not sure which one yet) and the other two lay brown eggs.
Here is what we’ve learned so far since we’ve had backyard chickens:
1. They are just a little messy…just a little I swear!
They are really not messy at all. They poop alot, like, alot alot. Most of our backyard is covered in grass which isn’t a problem when is comes to chicken
shi poop. It’s great fertilizer. They do poo a lot in their coop but it’s easy to clean up because it’s covered in shavings like a hamster cage. The top section has a tray that pulls out so we can just dump it out into the trash and fill it up again. Hands free poo cleanup. When they poo on the concrete we can just hose it down. We are in a drought I know but they spend most of their time on the grass or locked in the coop so it’s very little poo cleanup.
2. They are quiet animals.
They don’t make a lot of noise unless they are laying an egg and even then it’s not very loud. They make soft “gobble gobble” sounds but nothing to make the neighbors call the cops let alone suspect we even had animals in our backyard.
3. They fly!
I never even thought about this until I was doing dishes in the kitchen sink and saw one of them staring at me from on top of the a/c unit. When I got to the backyard to get her down, she had gotten onto the fence and was walking the perimeter of our yard. She jumped down and came to me as soon as I put my hand out like I had food. Which brings me to my next lesson…
4. They love treats!
Our backyard chickens love corn and grapes especially. I keep a plate or bowl next to the kitchen sink and when we are done with a meal I put our left over food in it. In the morning, I take it outside and the chickens come running to me like I’m Cinderella! It’s pretty cute. They also love leftover meat. We’ve given them leftover steaks and ribs and then found clean bones when they were done with it. They eat pretty much everything except oranges and apple cores which are not good for them. I’ve even heard that you can give them cooked eggs and chicken but I just can’t bring myself to do that. It seems so wrong.
5. They don’t produce a lot of eggs.
We were pretty excited to have fresh eggs every morning until, well, we didn’t have eggs every morning. We thought we would have an egg a day from each chicken but it’s been way less than that. We’ve been getting about 5-7 eggs a week. Two of our chickens seem to be on egg laying strike.
6. They go to bed at sunset.
As soon as the sun goes down our hens go into the coop and go to sleep. We have one that sleeps in the nesting box, one that sleeps on the roosting pole and one that sleeps right next to the door in the nesting area.
7. They dig.
Or scratch but it’s pretty much digging. They do this around the edge of our yard looking for bugs. It’s kind of creating bare spots in the grass where they do this so we don’t let them run free all day, every day.
8. They eat your plants.
My husbands dad gave me a cutting of one of his plants, a night blooming cereus, so I could have my own. I wasn’t watering it enough so I put it in the backyard in an area where it would get water from the sprinklers. I looked at it one day to see how it was doing and most of it was missing. Goodbye night blooming cereus….it’s been real.
9. They are very friendly.
So far they haven’t pecked at any of us and they love company. They run to us when we go in the backyard and if we pick them up, they stay calm and let us pet them. They like to travel around the backyard together and seem to stay close by when we are out there.
I’m looking forward to bringing you some egg recipes soon with our fresh eggs! If these chickens amp up production anytime soon….