So…I caved (or rather, my husband did).  I got chickens.  Our friends who were relocating from a house into an apartment offered them to us and…well, that’s pretty much the whole story.  Now, technically, I’m not supposed to have them in my neighborhood, but I find they’re relatively low-profile.

As with everything, there are pros and cons to the chickens, and some of these go hand-in-hand.

Pro: They’re fun to watch!

Ahhhh...the open range!

Con: Watching them usually entails letting them out from their enclosure into the yard which leads us into…

Sub-con: They poop on the deck if we’re not watching.

Sub-con: They eat our nommable tomatoes if we’re not watching.

I have my eye on you...!

But…Sub-pro: Free-ranging them means low feed costs.  They eat very little feed if I let them free-range.

Sub-pro: They also eat slugs, fertilize the garden area, and turn over the dirt.

Pro: Their eggs are bigger than quail eggs! 2 vs 10 for an omelette!

Con: Their eggs are bigger than cute widdle quail eggs :\

Three short of a dozen!

Pro: Hens are very quiet most of the time.

Con: Their bok bok ba-GAWK hey-I-just-laid-an-egg-song can be noisy and nerve-wracking if you are not technically allowed to have chickens.  It’s at a dog bark decibel level and goes on anywhere from 0-5 minutes a day.

We converted the side yard into the chicken yard. Area on the right is for growing nommables for the chickens. Right now it holds clover, chickweed, vetch, bok choy, and a grapevine.

Pro: If you give them plenty of greens, their egg yolks are orange and the eggs amazingly delicious.

Summer vegetable fritatta

Con: They need more space than quails and are more conspicuous.

TIME INVESTMENT: 5-10 minutes a day.  I put them somewhere between fish and cats on the upkeep scale.

COST: $2-3 for a baby chick at your local feed store + $25 for a bag of organic feed (less smelly poop with organic feed) + $90 to build the coop = $124 start-up costs for three hens.  If you add on pine shavings, a heat lamp, straw, store-bought feeder/waterer, the cost would be something closer to $150.

Raising baby chicks is adorable, but keep in mind, they will not lay for six months.  A hen at laying age costs somewhere around $10.

I'm really selling the older hen thing, aren't I?

So…keeping chickens is not the most money-wise venture in the world.  If you value fresh organic eggs, then keeping hens may be a good idea for you.  If you could take them or leave them, you could probably leave the chickens out of the equation as well.


3 thoughts on “Chickens!

  1. HI! I just wanted to let you know how much I”ve been enjoying browsing your blog. Super inspiring! I found you via BYC as I was looking for ideas for quail coops. ANyway, thanks for writing and sharing what you are doing out there in CA. It makes me believe I can do it too!

  2. We have 7 hens in our backyard. They sing for their eggs every morning, and I worry that it bothers the neighbors. We just bribe them with eggs! Our girls eat layer feed, and kitchen scraps. We get between 4 and 7 eggs a day, and figure we spend less than $1 for every dozen eggs we get. Plus we’ll have some amazing comport next year!

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