Nothing says “country living” like raising animals.
If you live in a suburban area, your options of raising livestock are limited, but not impossible. For example, chickens are successfully raised in many suburban neighborhoods, helping families supplement their nutrition needs.
Before running out and buying your own flock, however, it’s important to keep the following in mind if you decide to raise chickens.
Benefits of raising chickens
Eggs are a cheap and healthy source of protein and when given the right care and nutrition, each hen can produce up to 300 fresh eggs per year. It doesn’t get more local than your own backyard, but keep in mind that egg laying rates typically decline during the molting season for chickens and during the shorter daylight hours of winter.
If you keep chickens and grow a garden in your backyard, your family will lead a more environmentally responsible and sustainable lifestyle. You might choose to raise chickens as a part of a larger initiative to live more sustainably or independently.
Your garden and landscaping will benefit from organic fertilizer produced by hens. In addition, vermin like flies, mosquitoes, ticks, and snails will be eaten by chickens. They also eat a variety of weeds, so they like to snack in your garden after the season’s harvest is finished.
Chickens are relatively simple to take care of in comparison to other animals. Of course, they need food, water, and regular coop cleaning. The coop needs to be kept dry, clean, and properly ventilated.
Chickens won’t smell when their coop is regularly cleaned. You must arrange for someone to take care of the chickens if you plan to travel.
While these are great benefits, there are some difficulties in raising chickens in the suburbs that you’ll need to address first.
If you opt to let them range free, keep in mind that chickens frequently and unexpectedly poop wherever they are. If you or other members of your family don’t take care to take off your shoes before entering your home, the droppings may find their way inside.
Even though chickens are social creatures, occasionally issues arise that call for your intervention, like feather picking or bullying.
Outlive Their Usefulness
The typical chicken lives for eight to ten years, but it only lays eggs well for four to five of those years. When the chickens stop laying eggs, you’ll need to have a plan for what to do with them.
To prepare for the decline in egg production, make sure to raise more chicks to replace older hens. You may decide to keep chickens as pets or harvest them for meat when they stop laying eggs.
You could raise chickens to produce homegrown, free-range meat. But not everyone enjoys the messy, labor-intensive job of processing chickens. Have a plan for what you’ll do when your chickens are no longer able to provide eggs.
Starting out with chickens can be quite expensive. Things you’ll need include:
- ⬥ purchasing (or building) a coop
- ⬥ nesting boxes (if your coop does not already have them)
- ⬥ feed
- ⬥ watering supplies, and
- ⬥ the price of the actual chicks themselves
Also, you might need to pay for a permit to keep chickens within city limits. All of it adds up.
Watch out for issues with your HOA
Check the covenants and limitations on keeping chickens in your backyard if you live in a neighborhood with a Home Owners Association (HOA).
If the HOA is less formal, has voluntary annual fees, or offers fewer recreational amenities, it is simpler to raise chickens. Most likely, chickens are not permitted in the HOA neighborhoods that are more recent, mandatory, and full of amenities.
Still want to raise chickens? Great! A type of chicken coop known as a chicken tractor is a great option if you have a limited amount of space and/or you want to reduce the “cleaning up” aspect of raising chickens.
To illustrate what I’m talking about and to give you some idea of what you can do for your own little flock, read on to find some clever examples.
Chicken Tractor Ideas
If you’re struggling with whether or not to let your chickens roam free, a chicken tractor might be what you’re looking for.
Your hens will still have shelter and safety while being free to daily safely explore new areas of ground.
You can easily DIY a fun and rewarding project by building a chicken tractor, or you can buy a kit that will take out all of the guesswork.
A quick search online will yield many accessible, free plans to choose from. The hardest part of the process might be choosing the best design for you and your flock.
To help you determine if a chicken tractor is right for you, here are 5 chicken tractor concepts that will get you started.
1. DIY Repurposed Chicken Tractor
If you have scrap wood lying around, you can easily create your own portable chicken coop. Simply construct the framework of a coop, and cover it with panels. Then finish it off with salvaged roofing materials or leftovers from your renovation.
2. Little red barn
This DIY project is a common type of structure. An 80 square foot barn tractor will help your birds feel at home (regardless of where you park them). This chicken tractor is sturdy thanks to its long studdings and single plywood slabs. Additionally, heavy-duty latches and hardware cloth are present for increased security.
3. Small space friendly
With approval from her city council, this blogger used discounted lumber and plans downloaded from the internet to build her own, tiny chicken tractor.
4. Little house in the yard
At the time of this writing, you can, for less than $500, buy different styles of chicken tractor kits from Amazon; some are made of wood, others of metal. Easy, peasey!
5. Small business vendors
Prefer to spend your money with small businesses? This company offers a wide variety of styles and designs of chicken tractors that will fit well with any suburban chicken owner!
Finally, if you find that you’ve got more eggs than you can eat, you can make some additional income by selling them. It’s guaranteed that your neighbors will be more than willing to take them off your hands!