Overcoming The Disadvantages of Having Chickens–Why You Should Get Them Anyway

Inside: What you need to think about before you get backyard chickens. While I love having them, there are disadvantages to having chickens. Know before you buy!

So, you’re thinking about getting backyard chickens. You see yourself drinking coffee from the porch and watching them graze across your lawn. A few hours later, you head to the coop of your egg basket and lovingly gather a beautiful dozen in shades of cream, brown, green, and blue. And all of these dreams can be real. But before you dive in, let’s talk about the not-so-sunny side of caring for backyard chickens. It’s not all cuddles and omelets.

Chickens are a big responsibility, and they come with some challenges. Better to know up front, right?

Key Takeaways

  • Chickens require daily care.
  • They make travel difficult
  • There are many costs
  • Can damage your yard.
  • Drama! Roosters, pecking orders, problems with dogs.

Chickens are a Big Commitment

First things first, let’s talk about the time and effort that goes into keeping chickens. These feathered friends need your attention every single day. Rain or shine, you’ll be out there tending to their needs.

A group of chickens freely roaming on a lush green lawn, with a couple of chicken coops in the background.

Say Goodbye to Spontaneous Travel

When you have chickens, you can’t just pack up and leave on a whim. You’ll need to arrange for someone to take care of your feathered friends while you’re away. Finding a reliable chicken sitter isn’t always easy. Your friends and family might love the idea of fresh eggs, but they might not be so keen on the daily chores that come with them.

Daily Care Takes Time

Speaking of daily chores, let’s break it down. You’ll need to feed and water your chickens, collect eggs, and clean the coop regularly. It might not sound like much, but it adds up.

How To Minimize Your Chicken Time Commitment

I have a friend who gets free lifetime eggs in exchange for watching my chickens while I’m gone. You might be able to barter something similar or pay a neighborhood teen to care for them.

Daily chores are quick and easily outsourced to your children. The most time-consuming task is cleaning the coop.

Chickens Aren’t Cheap

Now, let’s talk about the financial side of chicken ownership. You might think that having your own egg supply will save you money in the long run. Well…it can..but it might not.

A single black and white speckled chicken stands near a wire fence, with greenery and blurred chicken wire in the background.

Coops and Runs Add Up

First, you’ll need to invest in a coop and a run. And trust me, you’ll want something sturdy and secure. Chickens have a lot of natural predators, so you’ll need to keep them safe. But here’s the thing: good coops and runs aren’t cheap. You can easily spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a setup that will keep your chickens happy and healthy.

Don’t Count on Saving on Eggs

And then there’s the ongoing costs. Chickens need feed, bedding, and occasional vet care. Plus, you’ll need to replace their supplies from time to time. It all adds up, and before you know it, you’re spending more on your chickens than you would on store-bought eggs. So, if you’re getting chickens to save money, you might want to reconsider. It’s more of a labor of love than a cost-saving measure.

Making Chickens More Affordable

Your biggest expense will be chicken feed, but feeding hens table scraps and letting them free-range will keep feed costs way down.

Purchasing chicks instead of pullets is much cheaper, and raising chicks is not hard. For even more savings, consider hatching your own chicks in an incubator.

Chickens are Messy and Destructive

So, you’ve got your chickens, your coop, and your run. You’re all set, right? Well, not quite. Chickens have a way of transforming your yard in ways you might not expect. Say goodbye to your pristine lawn and perfectly manicured gardens. Your chickens have other plans.

Chickens Love Digging Holes

First of all, chickens love to dig. They’ll scratch and peck at the ground, creating little holes and dust baths all over your yard. It’s like they’re on a mission to redesign your landscaping. And if you have a favorite patch of grass or a meticulously maintained flower bed, well, good luck with that. Your chickens will see it as their personal playground.

A black and white speckled hen is pecking at the ground inside a chicken coop.

Protect Your Precious Plants

Speaking of plants, you’ll need to be strategic about what you grow in your yard. Chickens have a knack for destroying delicate plants and flowers. They’ll nibble on leaves, peck at stems, and generally wreak havoc on your garden.

Key Tip

If you have any precious plants you want to keep intact, fence them off or keep them out of reach.

Poop. Poop everywhere.

And then there’s the poop. Oh, the poop. Chickens are little poop machines, and they don’t discriminate when it comes to where they do their business. Your yard will become a minefield of chicken droppings.

How to Minimize Chicken Destruction

This is the toughest. You could simply keep your flock cooped up, but then they’d be eating tons of feed (and free-range eggs taste better, too!).

I simply deal with the destruction and keep my coop downhill from my house so they rarely wander up. Keep pet food somewhere they won’t access, or it will attract them. If your garden is in a particularly fragile state (newly planted, baby tomato tomatoes, etc.), keep them in the coop.

The Pecking Order and Rooster Problems

Now, let’s talk about the social dynamics of your chicken flock. You might think that chickens are all about peace, love, and harmony. Well, think again. Chickens have a strict social hierarchy, and they’re not afraid to enforce it. Welcome to the world of the pecking order.

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Chickens Can Be Brutal

In a chicken flock, there’s always a boss hen. She’s the one who calls the shots and keeps everyone in line. But here’s the thing: the other chickens are constantly vying for a higher spot in the pecking order. They’ll peck, chase, and bully each other to establish dominance. And trust me, it can get brutal. You might find yourself breaking up chicken fights and playing referee more often than you’d like.

Injured Birds Need Separation

And if a chicken gets injured or sick? Well, that’s when things can really take a turn for the worse. Chickens tend to pick on weak or vulnerable members of the flock. They’ll peck at wounds and exacerbate injuries, which can lead to serious health problems. If you have an injured bird, you’ll need to separate them from the rest of the flock until they heal. That means setting up a separate coop or enclosure, which can be a hassle.

Roosters Are a Pain

Roosters come with their own set of drawbacks. Roosters are notorious for their early morning wake-up calls, which can be a nuisance to both you and your neighbors. Their crowing isn’t limited to sunrise either; they can crow throughout the day, making them unsuitable for areas with noise restrictions.

A colorful rooster with a vibrant red comb stands proudly in a sunlit coop. Its feathers display a rich mix of brown, gold, and black hues, creating an impressive and striking appearance.

Additionally, roosters can be aggressive, especially towards each other and sometimes even towards humans. They can injure other chickens, particularly hens, during mating, and may even chase and peck at people. If you have young children, the risk of injury is even greater. So, unless you’re specifically interested in breeding chicks or having a rooster’s protection for your flock, it’s often best to stick with hens only.

Dealing with Hen Personalities

Free-ranging your flock solves a lot of these problems by giving them space. You can also choose friendly breeds for your flock.

We eliminate our roosters once they begin showing signs of aggression, but of course that is a personal choice.

FAQs

Are chickens noisy?

Well, it depends on your definition of noisy. Chickens aren’t exactly known for their inside voices. They’ll cluck, squawk, and cackle throughout the day. And if you have a rooster? Super loud. Roosters love to crow at the crack of dawn (and sometimes even earlier). So, if you have close neighbors or you’re a light sleeper, you might want to think twice about getting chickens.

Do chickens attract pests?

The birds themselves do not, but their feed absolutely does. Their feed and droppings can attract rodents, flies, and other unwanted critters.

Will chickens lay eggs year-round?

Not exactly. Chickens lay eggs based on the amount of daylight they receive. From late winter through summer when the days are longer, you can expect a steady supply of eggs. But in the fall and early winter, when the days are shortening, egg production can slow down or even stop altogether. Some chicken owners use artificial lighting to keep their hens laying year-round, but that’s a personal choice. Just don’t count on a constant stream of eggs, no matter what time of year it is.

I Still Think You Should Get Them

Despite all the challenges and disadvantages, there’s just something special about these feathered friends. Watching them peck and scratch around the yard, hearing their happy clucks, and collecting fresh eggs each morning – it’s all part of the charm.

Overcoming The Disadvantages of Having Chickens--Why You Should Get Them Anyway

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