9 things I wish I'd known before keeping chickens

For lots of people keeping chickens is a big part of living the rural dream and becoming more sustainable. If you haven't invested yet, here are a few insightful titbits to help make your experience even more fun and rewarding!

chickens with hand trolley and bags
(Image credit: TBC)

woman with chickens and trees

(Image credit: TBC)

1. They're addictive.

Chickens make wonderful, rewarding pets due to their domesticated nature and it's true what they say: once you've got a few you'll want more and more. You've been warned!

chickens with mud ground and tidy garden

(Image credit: TBC)

2. They will destroy your garden!

If you like to keep a neat, tidy garden you might want to think twice about keeping chickens as they love to scratch and bathe in the soil. Alternatively, simply border off a section to keep them separate from your prized patch.

chicken with wooden door and curtains

(Image credit: TBC)

3. They have their own characters.

Just like cats, dogs and other pets, it's amazing how different chickens' personalities can be. They might be nosey, timid, noisy, affectionate, fussy, grumpy and much more! They love a bit of attention, too – in fact the more time you spend with them the more they will behave like a pet and come to you when you appear.

chickens can fly

(Image credit: TBC)

4. They can fly.

This may or may not be something you know but it certainly isn't something we expect to see – until they actually start flying and land on the top of your neighbour's fence while you scratch your head as to how you're going to get them down! The good news is that they don't tend to realise they have this ability and are quite happy to stay close to their home and, more importantly, their food supply.

chicken won't lay every day

(Image credit: TBC)

5. They won't lay every day.

Rhode Island Reds are a popular breed as they are regular layers, and a healthy, safe, dry environment will encourage them to do so, but not all breeds lay as often so don't be surprised if you get a dry patch (so to speak!). On the flip side, happy, healthy hens are often not too fussy about where they do lay, so keep an eye out under your plants, in empty abandoned drawers in the back of sheds etc... basically anywhere that's dry and safe!

chicken in coop and dry grass

(Image credit: TBC)

6. They put themselves to bed at night.

These creatures of habit are early birds and know when to call it a day – probably long before you do. All you need to do is make sure they are locked in securely after dark.

chickens with coops in ground

(Image credit: TBC)

7. Investing in a good hen house is key...

...for safety and comfort. It's a decision you won't regret. When you're looking for your hen house, make sure you choose one with enough space to accommodate your chickens; the rule of thumb is four square feet per bird.

chickens eggs with dry grass

(Image credit: TBC)

8. Chicken eggs can vary hugely...

...in size. And yolks are also bigger than those you buy in the supermarket (which makes it harder to poach them) but they taste delicious and so fresh. Make sure your chickens are getting all the nutrients they need to produce good quality eggs, and they will be happier for it, too.

chickens with trees and river

(Image credit: TBC)

9. Chickens can be noisy!

It's not just cockerels that like to shout. Chickens have got a lot to say, too, and often like to let you know they've woken up in the mornings and even show off when they've laid an egg! So be warned if you're more night owl than early bird.

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