I Want My Free E-Book On Egg Laying Chickens

47 Backyard Chicken Owners Speak Out: “What I Wish I’d Known Before Keeping Backyard Chickens”

Backyard Chicken Owners

Table of Contents

Keeping backyard chickens for the first time can be an exciting and nerve-wracking experience.

What if I forget to lock my coop at night? How do I stop predators attacking my hens?
These questions ran through my mind repeatedly when I got my first backyard chickens.

I would constantly be checking on my girls every 30 minutes or so to make sure they were still alive!

To help both the new and experienced chicken keepers, we’ve decided to get in touch with 47 backyard chicken keepers to find out exactly what they wish they knew before keeping backyard chickens.

We asked them:

“What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started keeping backyard chickens?”

We received 47 experienced chicken keepers’ responses, and it’s time to learn the key things you need to know before you raise your own backyard chickens.

The 3 Most Important Things You Need to Know Before Keeping Backyard Chickens:

  1. ‘Chicken math’ and how to plan the size of your coop (10 Votes)
  2. Common chicken illnesses and how to treat them (8 Votes)
  3. How to protect your chickens against predators and rodents (6 Votes)

There are so many things to consider when keeping backyard chickens, but these are often overshadowed by the excitement of raising your own flock.

For instance, what can you do if you have an urban chicken flock instead? What permits should you process?

You may also ask about the chicken yard or the best chicken coop for 6 chickens. You may get confused about which breed to start with. The list is endless!

In this article, you will know the common issues and things that most chicken owners wished they knew before starting to raise backyard chickens.

Benefits of Backyard Chickens

Learning how to keep chickens may seem like an easy task at first. However, there are some things overlooked by novice owners when they’re still starting out.

Nonetheless, raising backyard chicken provides numerous benefits for you and your family. Unlike the urban chicken, you can get the most out of your flock when you have them in the chicken yard.

  • You get a personal supply of eggs and chicken meat.
  • Backyard chickens are great foragers that include ticks on the menu.
  • They create a better quality compost.
  • Your family can bond over chores and kids learn about the responsibility of taking care of chickens.
  • Chicken owners can earn a modest profit out of the chicken eggs and meat.

Backyard Chicken Owners

What You Need To Know Before Keeping Backyard Chickens

Here is the full list of responses and advice from experienced chicken owners :

1. Build a Bigger Chicken Coop

I wish I had known about chicken math.

Plans for one or two chickens turn into three or four… or ten! But then you see another cute chick and get curious and before you know it- you have even more chickens.

The list of reasons goes on and on, which leads me to my point… Build a bigger chicken coop than you think you need – David B.

Our Picks On Best Chicken Coops

SaleBestseller No. 1
Aivituvin Chicken Coop Expandable Mobile Chicken House for Outdoor with Wheels, Nesting Box, Leakproof Pull-on Tray and UV-Resistant Roof Panel
  • Easy Movement: 2 quality wheels with long design handle makes this backyard chicken house easily movable.
  • Expandable Design: Buy 2 Coops to Extending Larger Space. Two combination ways for funny transformation and best fit the area!
  • Easy Cleaning & Large Run: 4 access areas and removable leakproof tray are easy cleaning for pet poop and urine.
  • Nesting Box & Perch Design: The nesting box keeps eggs clean & easy collection. Round edge perch conform to the standing randian of chickens for roosting.
  • Overall Dimensions: 80.7"L x 22"W x 44.1"H. Capacity: 2-3 adult chickens. Also suitable for chickens, rabbits, ducks and other small animals.
Bestseller No. 2
ECOLINEAR Outdoor 80'' Wooden Chicken Coop Nest Box Hen House Poultry Pet Hutch Garden Backyard Cage (Chicken Coop)
  • 【Weatherproof Wooden Chicken Coops】Solid rain-resistant fir wood with Environmental painted keep the chicken coop waterproof and not afraid of sun anymore. Green asphalt sloping roof to protect from water penetration.
  • 【Specialized and Luxurious Pet House】Chicken Coop Dimensions: 80.7"L x 26"W x 44.5"H, Holds up to 2-4 chickens. 80" chicken coop comes with nesting box, resting box and ramp. Your poultry can lay their eggs in the nesting box. There is sliding door and ramp allows poultry to easily enter the raised housing area. There are timber ridges above the ramp to protects your poultry from slipping back. Come with door you can watch your pets without disturbing.
  • 【Removable Tray & Grinding Fences】There is removable bottom sliding tray for easy cleaning. High quality gridding fences provide a healthy poultry lifestyle. With the pitched roof your poultry can run outside even in rainy days. The fences are vital to the ventilation of poultry, they will also protect your poultry from the outside predators.
  • 【Perfect for Indoor and Outdoor Use】This coop is suitable for indoors and outdoors setting. Specially designed with green asphalt roof, the hutch can protect your pets from rain, wind, and snow. The doors feature a metal slide bolt locks to keep your poultry safe and from escaping.
  • 【Extra Large Chicken Coop Easy Assemble and Clean】Simple overall structure which is quite easy to assemble, it is better to use electronic drill to assemble. UPS or Fedex will deliver the item to your house in 2-5 business days after you placed an order. We packed item as good as we can, if there is any damaged part, please contact us first and offer us pictures of damaged part, we will solve the problem as the way you want(discount or replacement).
Bestseller No. 3
Aivituvin Chicken Coop Mobile Hen Coop, Large Poultry Cage with Wheels Outdoor Backyard Chicken House
  • 【Spacious Space & Movable Design】67" chicken coop comes with buile-in wheels and convenient handle on the side to move easily from place to place.
  • 【Comfortable for Poultry】Your feathered friends will love their new hen house with a cozy nesting box and two roosting bars. This chicken coop keeps your poultry safe, dry and warm in the rainy cold days.
  • 【Sturdy & Weather Protection】This outdoor chicken coop is is fully covered with waterproof asphalt roof and environmental painted keep the poultry hutch waterproof and your chicks will enjoy the sunshine.
  • 【EXTRA Independent Space】 -- There is a extra separate space underneath the nest box where you can keep the poultry food and keep the run cage neat and tidy to promoting a happy and healthy lifestyle.
  • 【Easy Cleaning & Good Ventilation】The chicken house has a removable sliding tray for easy cleaning and galvanized wire fencing to protect your poultry from outside predators while ensuring good ventilation.

Feeding Backyard Chickens

2. How Much Fun It Is

How much fun it would really be. I would have gotten them a lot sooner!

It really has been a blessing for me and my family and I really feel it has brought us a lot closer together – Marie P.

3. Chickens Are Much Tougher Than People Think

Be flexible- Things will not work out exactly as you plan them.

Chickens are much tougher than many people would have you believe.

Chickens were taking care of themselves long before they were domesticated and even today’s domesticated breeds can still take pretty good care of themselves with a minimum amount of help.

The main one- don’t crowd your chickens. The more you crowd them the more behavioural problems you are likely to have to deal with, the less flexibility you have to deal with problems, and the harder you have to work – Ridge R.

4. Research Common Illnesses

I have helped people with chickens for around 5 years then I took a break and now I’m starting up again.

I wish I knew how to keep chickens healthy! My first chickens got scaly leg and it was ugly– if you research these common illnesses before you get chickens you will be prepared for when they get ill – Liberty R.

Research Common Illnesses

5. Chickens Are Smarter Than People Think

How much personality these little girls could have. I learn something new every day from them. They are hilarious. And they are a-lot smarter than people give them credit for – Diana S.

6. Common Sense Goes a Long Way

The answer to the question of what do I wish I had known before getting backyard chickens is really a tough one when one delves into the minds of chickens.

I really wish I had known more about the pecking order. Really that is the one thing I seem to have had the most trouble with.

No matter what tricks I have tried someone always seems to end up getting picked on more than what is reasonable.

However, common sense goes a long way with keeping chickens but having a great resource to look things up on and ask questions has really taught me more than I ever thought it could – Barbara H.

Rooster Moulting Issues

7. How Much Space Chickens Need

A year ago, my closest encounter with everyday chickens was at the supermarket. I had no idea about various chicken breeds, their characteristics, or even their feather colors.

Definitely had no concept on where to house them, what to feed them, or what to do if they get sick.

I don’t think there was only one thing to know before raising chickens. To me, there were tons I wished I had known in the beginning. Particularly, it would be nice to have some quick rule of thumb recommended guidelines on chicken housing as a start – Yellow C.

Note: You can find the guidelines here.

8. Use Sand Instead of Sawdust

The best tip I’ve learned is to use sand in the coop. It’s so much easier to clean, doesn’t smell and it looks nice. Plus, the chickens love to roll in it.

The other tip that I think is great is that I installed a poop-deck under the roosts in the coop. It makes cleaning the coop out so much easier.

So far I’m having a lot of fun with the chickens and I learn something new every day – Shelley (37)

9. They Are Stubborn Creatures

It would be: how often chickens do the unexpected.

I wish I knew how hard it was to try to keep control of them. They go on the road over and over again, and eat things they aren’t supposed to.

You think it would be so easy just to stop them. It isn’t! They are so stubborn – Carmen G.

Raising Backyard Chickens

10. Rodent Control

One of the biggest things I wish I’d known, well I knew but didn’t think I’d have a problem with is: rodent control. Mice, rats, chipmunks and squirrels are always around but they aren’t a problem until you HAVE a problem.

If you want to deter them, use an evasive weed such as mint plants. It’s a fast growing ground cover that will take over the run (and beyond) that rodents hate the smell of – Egghead J.

11. How to Relocate Predators

I wish I knew more about predators in the beginning.   Lost some chickens to them.  I still have to deal with them now and then.

I don’t kill anything, I simply relocate the Predators.
Hawks, Raccoons, Skunks, and Possums are the most common ones – Rich C.

Chickens Eating Watermelon
Note: Relocating predators can be illegal in certain states, so make sure you check first!

12. Make Sure Their Run Is Big Enough

I have to say, I wish I would have known how big to build their run sooner. I had no idea what a chicken looked like in real life.

They got so BIG! So when my dad built their cage I thought it was perfect… Until they got past 12 weeks and kept growing – Sammi L.

Make Sure Their Run Is Big Enough

13. The Difference between a Pullet and a Straight Run

It’s hard to say as two things jump out at me.

The first is: I wish I had known to order pullets when I ordered chicks instead of a straight-run so I could have avoided a lot of excess cockerels.

The second is: I wish I had known to use hardware cloth on my run instead of chicken wire as I lost a lot of feed to rats squeezing in through the openings in the chicken wire mesh and had a possum tear through my chicken wire – Michael O.

14. How to Groom Your Chickens

I guess I wish I knew polish chickens get skittish because their top hats block their view- they need a good trim every now and then – Makela J.

15. The Experts Aren’t Always Right

The thing I wish I’d known? The experts aren’t always right for every situation.

Many things I’ve done wrong because of lack of money have turned into benefits.

For instance I had to use tall fences but this ended up discouraging climbing predators – Ray C.

Chickens Eating Feed

16. Get Your Chickens the Right Coop

The one thing people could do that would make chicken keeping easier is to ensure they have an appropriate chicken coop.

This means making sure the coop is well ventilated and also secure against predators and has enough square footage per chicken – Enola B.

17. Get a Sick Bay Ready

Personally I prepared and planned nearly 2 years before making the plunge.

The main thing that honestly surprised me is how large full size chickens get and to emphasize: build your coop larger than you think.

I had read that over, and over, and over and it really sunk in when my six chickens were fully grown and I had to increase the size of their coop and run.

The second thing I’d advise is to have a “sick bay” ready.   Never thought I would need one, but was so glad I did when one of my gals got ill this year – Sunflour F.

18. In Certain Areas You Can’t Keep Roosters

One thing I wish I knew before we got them is how amazing roosters are. They’re truly amazing and it’s sad that in most places (including where I live) you can’t keep adult roosters – Cascadia R.

How Amazing Roosters Are

19. Plan Your Coop for Future Chickens

I read everything available before I started, researched the breeds I wanted etc. I did that for just over a year or so, and then I built my first coop after scanning who knows how many designs!

My thought was that if I’m caring for something alive and breathing then I’d better be prepared!  

The one thing I would have liked to have known before keeping backyard chickens is how to plan for the future.

My original coop was plenty big for the original ladies, but I forgot that I would have to add to the flock at least every other year to maintain egg production.

So I ended up doing an addition to the original coop and built a second coop this year – Sue N.

Plan Your Coop for Future Chickens

20. There Are No Avian Vets in My Area

I wish I had known that there are no avian vets in my area. If something happens to one of my hens- I’m on my own.

So make sure you are knowledgeable about illness and diseases, so you are prepared if something does happen to your chickens – Kathy R.

Backyard Chicken Coop

21. Chickens Are Super Addictive

Prior to keeping backyard chickens I tried to do a lot of research on them and the breeds that I wanted. I read everything I could get my hands on so I could prepare myself for raising them.

But- most of what I have learned has been just from experience!

The one thing I wish I would have known before getting them would be how addictive they are.

I absolutely love new breeds and adding them to my flock. I started out with 5 chicks one day last July and today I have almost 30 chickens.

There is just something about stepping out into my backyard and having them follow me around and going to collect eggs- it makes me feel a sense of pride – Jennifer S.

22. Make Sure You Know Chicken Math

There are so many things I wish I’d known in advance, but in all honesty the one thing I didn’t expect was that I would become so attached to my birds.

Each has their own personality, and whilst they may not be as affectionate as a cat or a dog they are still very much individual pets to me.

The other thing I wish I’d known about is how ‘chicken maths’ can get you – from an original 3 pullets I am currently up to 15 birds!

They are just so much fun to have around in the garden, and of course the fresh eggs are great – Katy T.

Make Sure You Know Chicken Math

23. Calculate the Cost of the Coop

The one thing I wish I had known was the cost of building a coop and run. Definitely wish I would have checked that out before I started keeping backyard chickens.

I would have done better financial planning – Jonez J.

24. The Amount of Poop

I had no idea they could poop so much and so often.

It’s important to remember this when deciding how many birds to keep and how to keep them.

The blogs talk about square feet per bird, deep litter, sand, trays, poop boards, but don’t really address how much poop a new chicken keeper will be dealing with  Sheri M.

Buff Orpingtons

25. How Cool They Are

I’ve been raising them for about 2 1/2 years now. The one thing I’d wish I’d known before I started keeping backyard chickens was how cool of a pet they are – would’ve gotten them sooner if I’d known – Dave C.

How Cool They Are

26. Predator Proof Your Coop

Mostly we learn as we go. One thing I learned the hard way was about raccoons. Once they know there is a food source (your birds) within the coop they are relentless and it is very difficult to predator proof a coop from a determined racoon.

They can climb, they can dig, and they are extremely strong and can rip chicken wire right off of your coop! However, once the offending raccoon was dealt with the attacks stopped – Joey M.

The Best Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener & Door Kits

Our Choice
Happy Coop Door - Weatherproof Automatic Chicken Coop Door Open/Close with Timer/Light Sensor, Predator Resistant Self-Locking Gears, Protection Sensor
Automatic Chicken Coop Door - WiFi Enabled, Smart Electric Auto Opener, Sunrise/Sunset Chicken Coop Doors, Chicken Coop Accessories Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant
RUN-CHICKEN Door (Brown) Automatic Chicken Coop Door, Programmable with App, Battery Operated, Evening and Morning Delay, Aluminum Door, Electric Chicken Run Door, Model T50
Happy Coop Door - Weatherproof Automatic Chicken Coop Door Open/Close with Timer/Light Sensor, Predator Resistant Self-Locking Gears, Protection Sensor
Automatic Chicken Coop Door - WiFi Enabled, Smart Electric Auto Opener, Sunrise/Sunset Chicken Coop Doors, Chicken Coop Accessories Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant
RUN-CHICKEN Door (Brown) Automatic Chicken Coop Door, Programmable with App, Battery Operated, Evening and Morning Delay, Aluminum Door, Electric Chicken Run Door, Model T50
Happy Coop Door
Customer Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Batteries Included?
Light Sensor
Prime Benefits
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Our Choice
Happy Coop Door - Weatherproof Automatic Chicken Coop Door Open/Close with Timer/Light Sensor, Predator Resistant Self-Locking Gears, Protection Sensor
Happy Coop Door - Weatherproof Automatic Chicken Coop Door Open/Close with Timer/Light Sensor, Predator Resistant Self-Locking Gears, Protection Sensor
Happy Coop Door
Customer Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
Batteries Included?
Light Sensor
Prime Benefits
Automatic Chicken Coop Door - WiFi Enabled, Smart Electric Auto Opener, Sunrise/Sunset Chicken Coop Doors, Chicken Coop Accessories Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant
Automatic Chicken Coop Door - WiFi Enabled, Smart Electric Auto Opener, Sunrise/Sunset Chicken Coop Doors, Chicken Coop Accessories Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant
Customer Rating
4.3 out of 5 stars
Batteries Included?
Light Sensor
Prime Benefits
Amazon Prime
RUN-CHICKEN Door (Brown) Automatic Chicken Coop Door, Programmable with App, Battery Operated, Evening and Morning Delay, Aluminum Door, Electric Chicken Run Door, Model T50
RUN-CHICKEN Door (Brown) Automatic Chicken Coop Door, Programmable with App, Battery Operated, Evening and Morning Delay, Aluminum Door, Electric Chicken Run Door, Model T50
Customer Rating
4.2 out of 5 stars
Batteries Included?
Light Sensor
Prime Benefits
Amazon Prime

27. Pick Your Breed Carefully

The most important thing to think about is whether you are going to mix breeds or have a single breed. Make sure you pick breeds based on docility.

Also if you aren’t going to let your girls’ free range, build a very big run – Lynne H.

Chickens Eating Vegetables

28. What Works For Someone Else Might Not Work For You

I guess my biggest thing was how to choose from all the different advice out there.

I kind of stressed over that until one day I realized that no one was wrong.

What worked for them was great but it probably wasn’t going to work for me.

So I started researching a question and looking at all the answers. If I saw a trend leaning toward the same answer I felt like I could try that – Angie C.

What Works For Someone Else Might Not Work For You

29. Get Friends Who Are Good At DIY

The one thing I wish I had known before I started keeping backyard chickens is that setting up for them requires a lot of DIY skills and work.

So if you are someone like me — a person without tools, knowhow, or a handy spouse who enjoys that kind of work — you need to have a line-up of friends/other family who will have time to help you out – Giselle B.

Backyard Chickens

30. What a Joy Chickens Are To Keep

The one thing I wish I had known before I started keeping backyard chickens is what a joy they are to have. I would have gotten them a lot sooner than we did – Patty H.

31. Get Your Antibiotics Ready

I spent a lot of time doing research and my vet is willing to help and explains to me what I don’t know.

The key thing is: chickens get sick. So make sure you have antibiotics ready as they usually get sick on weekends or holidays – Liliana C.

32. Be Prepared For the Unexpected

Originally, I grew up on a farm so we had a bit of everything. A lot of what I know came from that and the rest is from extensive research and asking questions.

I don’t think there is any one thing I wish I knew before hand, all my mistakes I have learned from and haven’t had any drastic ones.

Advice I would give for a new chicken owner, plan for at least twice as many as you think you’re going to get and be prepared for the unexpected – Ravyn F.

33. If a 5-Year-Old Can Open The Door, So Can a Raccoon!

The main thing I wish I would have known is how to protect my flock from predators.
Just an hour ago I found my rooster fighting with a hawk! He’s ok because I heard him scream and ran outside to help.

I found one of my hens a little bloody but she’ll be ok. I’m so proud of him!

Roosters can defiantly be a pain but they are great at protecting their hens.

I also wish I had predator proofed my first coop better. I’m sad to say this but I lost a lot of chickens because the coop wasn’t secure.

If a 5 year old can open the door so can a raccoon – Megan S.

If A 5 Year Old Can Open The Door, So Can A Raccoon

34. They Aren’t ‘Just’ Birds

One thing? Just one? Ha-ha… From being little, to now, I would say I wish I knew how much it took, preparation wise. I always just thought the chickens just walked around and plopped out an egg, no worries.

But predators, weather, worrying about them eating right, making sure they’re safe but free to be chickens roaming the yard. It’s almost like I mother them, too! They have such different personalities.

I guess to put it simply; I wish I had known that they aren’t just “birds”. Lol they really are unique and fun – Short G.

35. Understand Their Behaviour and Biology

I wish I had taken the time to learn more about poultry behaviour and biology and how they live in the wild. Knowing behaviour helps you understand the birds and what they need to live a happy and normal life.

I now understand what my birds need from me. When I first started half of them were roosters, I kept them confined in a small pen, there was fighting, pecking, birds dying, it was bad…

Now I like watching them do what they do. I know how they think and that helps me raise them so I’m able to raise them and not feel afraid – Lisa O.

Understand Chicken Behaviour and Biology

36. How to Make A Wobbly Fence

I would have liked to have known about the wobbly fence. I struggled for a long time to keep chickens contained before discovering that chickens won’t fly up and perch on a wobbly fence (they need to feel they can safely land up on top of it, and then they can jump off).

It is also cheaper and easier to enclose a large area that way so now my chickens have a super huge yard of their very own.

I haven’t had any problems with escaping chickens since I decided it didn’t matter what the fence looked like as long as it was as large as possible and kept my flock safe – Cherie N.

How to Make A Wobbly Fence

37. Plan, Plan, and Plan

Regarding your question, one thing I wanted to know was that they grow so fast!

I had my 10 chicks (which I bought in an impulse) in my garage in a 2×4 plastic storage container that they outgrew so fast I had to get another brooder to separate them.

If I’d known this at the start I would have built them a coop much faster – Kris S.

38. Just Like Children, Chickens Get Sick

Just like children, no matter how well you look after them, chickens do get sick.

Educate yourself on how to treat the most common diseases / injuries (worms/bumblefoot etc.).

This way, you’ll know what to look for before it gets out of hand – Samantha A.

Chickens Get Sick

39. The Various Illnesses Chickens Can Get

Probably the thing I wish I knew most about before I got backyard chickens is the number of things / illnesses that can go wrong with a simple backyard flock – Ali A.

40. Breed Descriptions Are Generalizations

No breed is perfect.

It should always be remembered that breed descriptions are generalizations, based on the average character of the breed.

Individuals will vary based on the environment and breeding. When it comes to hatchery stock, there is little variance between the common breeds.

They will have approximately the same rate of laying – an average Barred Plymouth Rock will lay just as well as an average Speckled Sussex – Misha Q.

Breed Descriptions Are Generalizations

41. Double Your Coop Size

Make sure to decide on how many chickens you want in advance and build a coop which is double that size!

I should have gotten a bigger coop for my girls and I have four right now, but would like more! I did research for a year before committing to getting baby chicks. But the coop size was underestimated!

Also, you want to make sure that you have all the right products for them, the right feed, and how to help them regarding health.

There are so many ways you can prevent health problems, but if you do not know how to prevent them, you can end up with all kinds of problems – Ce C

Our Picks On Large Chicken Coops

SnapLock Formex Large Chicken Coop Backyard Hen House 4-6 Large 6-12 Bantams
  • LARGE CHICKEN COOP - 4 nesting spots with removable dividers, three 36” roosts.
  • STURDY - Water and chemical resistant, impact and ultraviolet resistant.
  • MAINTENANCE FREE - Removable litter tray, large adjustable ventilation, easy access for egg collection.
  • EASY ASSEMBLY - No tools required – just snap together. Lightweight!
  • MADE IN USA - Built in the United States.
Omitree Deluxe Large Wood Chicken Coop Backyard Hen House 4-8 Chickens with 3 Nesting Box
  • Exterior: 47"(L) x 38"(W) x 47"(H) / 120cm (L) x 100cm (W) x 120cm (H)
  • Suitable for around 4 Large or 8 Bantam Chickens (depending on size and breed).

42. Make Sure You Have A Quarantine Zone

The one thing I wish I knew before owning chickens is just how important quarantine is. If you fail to quarantine a new bird before introducing it to your existing flock and it can end up bringing a disease in that is highly contagious it has the potential to wipe out your entire flock.

I haven’t had that happen to me personally, but I do know of some who have.
When I went to add a couple of new pullets to my flock when I first started I had no idea about quarantine.

It wasn’t something I was prepared for so I had to gather up what materials I could to make a temporary cage for them to live in for 3-4 weeks before they could be introduced to my existing birds.

It was a lot more work than I was expecting – Kay S.

Broody Chicken Buff Orpington

43. How to Handle Them Properly

I’ve only just been raising chickens for about a year now, adopted them as adults.

It’s been a learning process for sure but the great thing is they seem to allow for mistakes. They aren’t so fragile.

I think one thing I’ve wished for is contact with other people who raise and care for chickens.

There are many people in my local area (in fact I met someone who kept chickens and ducks in a tractor pen just yesterday) but I’ve never seen anyone else handle chickens before, so I just kind of go about it my own way – Sphinx F.

44. Predators and Illness

I’ve owned chickens for about 3 1/2 years, but we (my family and I) have had so many issues that we’ve had to learn a lot in a hurry. Predators, illness, integration, egg laying problems, “surprise cockerel” just to name a few.

What’s the one thing I wish I had known before getting backyard chickens?

I really have two things.

1) How helpless I would feel when my chickens got sick as we don’t have a chicken vet in our area so we had to rely on the internet and feed stores for information.

2) Predators! We had no idea that our house was right in the middle of bobcat corridor. I have had so many bobcats trying to eat our chickens it’s been insane.

Haven’t been able to let our chickens’ free range since. We just invested in an electric fence and hope this will finally keep the bobcats out of our yard – Janet S.

45. Make Sure You Build a Bigger Run

The one thing I’ve learnt is you can’t have too much coop or run space, and I wish I had learned more about predators.

After years of never losing chickens the predators came around big time, perhaps because more houses and developments are going up so they gravitate to the area where the woods and fields still are – Dekel L.

Our Top Pick for Chicken Run

Large Metal Chicken Coop Walk-in Poultry Cage Hen Run House Habitat Cage Spire Shaped Cage with Waterproof and Anti-Ultraviolet Cover for Outdoor Backyard Farm Use (1.26" Diameter, 13.2’ L × 9.84’ W)
  • 【Durable Steel Construction】Manufactured with high quality steel frame, the coop with spire shaped which is solid enough for your chicken to have free space in it. And our chicken coop has a upgrade reinforced design, The pipe wall we use is twice as thick as the pipe wall of someone else's cheap chicken coop.
  • 【Great for Outdoor Use】The durable UV and water-resistant full roof cover can protect your chicken from the weather, outside elements and avoid raccoon attack. Featuring galvanized coop, it is protective and resists rust, corrosion and fading, so that the coop is weatherproof and of great durability.
  • 【Coated Hexagonal Wire Mesh】Lockable steel door with a latch and steel wire ties for extra safety, easy for you to feed your chicken and clean the inside. The wall of the chicken coop is made of PVC coated hexagonal wire mesh that is too solid to damage, the small gaps between meshes add safety to your chicken that prevent them from some predators and wild animals.
  • 【Safety Lockable Steel Door Design】 Lockable steel door with a latch and steel wire ties for extra safety, and easy for you to feed your chicken and clean the inside. Designed with a number of essential pedestals that make it a wonderful home for any poultry.
  • 【Easy to Clean】 The tube of the coop is galvanized so that it is rust resistant and easy to keep a clean environment for your chicken. The smooth surface is easy to clean with a wet cloth or some running water. It offers protection to your pets whilst also gives plenty of room for foraging.

Hybrid Egg Laying Chicken

46. How Addictive They Are

It’s a tough question. I sort of already had an idea of illnesses, commitment requirements, and the work they require etc.

So I guess it would be how addicting they are. After I had three or four breeds in a flock, I wanted more and more! Then I wanted to try other poultry species, and it just went on from there – LRH.

Chickens Roaming In Grass

47. Research Your Breeds Thoroughly

I just started raising them a little over 2 months ago with no experience.

It has been trial and error.

I researched as I went and had no idea I would fall in love with chickens the way I have. I really wish I would’ve known more about the breeds and also done my homework on the local feed stores – Jahaira I.

48. BONUS! How Valuable a Rooster Is

Once I gave in and added a rooster to my flock, my loss of life due to aerial predators decreased significantly. I was always afraid of a mean or aggressive rooster, but one sweet gentleman changed my outlook forever.

Every rooster is different, and no breed is better than the other. I’ve had all different temperaments across many different breeds. One of the sweetest, most laid-back roosters I’ve ever had was a Rhode Island Red, which often gets a bad rep for aggressiveness.

On the other hand, I had a mean Buff Orpington Rooster, which is supposed to be calm and docile, that would chase me all over the yard.

I learned quickly that each rooster should be considered individually and that keeping one, if you can, is beneficial to your flock. Plus, roosters add extra flair with their flashy colors and feathers. – Johnny S.

Keeping Backyard Chickens and What I Wish I’d Known — Final Thoughts

I really hope these 47 points help you in keeping backyard chickens!

If you are planning on keeping backyard chickens, take advice from these chicken owners themselves! After all, you can avoid these mistakes and misperceptions based on their experiences.

You don’t really need to make a certain mistake with your backyard chicken to learn from it. Take it from the experts and tenured ones in this field and they are sure to give a fresh perspective on how to keep chickens.

Let us know in the comments below what you wish you’d known before getting your own backyard chickens…

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47 Backyard Chicken Owners Speak Out

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37 thoughts on “47 Backyard Chicken Owners Speak Out: “What I Wish I’d Known Before Keeping Backyard Chickens”

    1. Good article. I too, am in the learning process on caretaking laying hens. I have heard that I need one nest for four laying hens. How much space do they need to move around in. We have 26 hens and four two month old hens.

    2. I have a question. How long can I keep my young chickens on medicated starter food? Can I keep adding it to their diet to prevent illness?

  1. I pretty much quit losing chickens when I got an African Goose. He was run over in the street and I just got another. Happy when he is all grown up. Penned with almost 20 female runner ducks. Acts like their daddy.
    The head of ranch security is an old farm dog named Bob. They hang around him every night.

  2. We have had chickens for about 5 years now. we live in a semi- rural area. Our street is unpaved with about 8 houses on it, each with about 1 1/2 acres. There is a large wetland area at the end of our block. we have coyotes and raccoons and eagles in the area and an occasional bear. My best advise is to get a very fast dog of at least medium size. We have a German Short-hair pointer that we have trained not to go after the chickens when we let them out. Because she is so fast, she unnerves predators. She has driven away the raccoons and the eagles.it also helps that there are a lot of dogs on the street that occasionally get to roam around. With a fast dog though, you will need to have lots of room for it to run. Hope this helps.

  3. I wish I’d have known about Duckweed, the girls are mad for the stuff and it grows so fast I don’t have to buy feed! Bug zappers and duckweed, worth their weight in golden eggs!
    Also CD’s in the coop to keep the birds out, I must have lost tuns of feed back before I discovered duckweed.

  4. The Happy Hen House (an old camper painted barn red) from Ryegate, Mt….thank you all for the handy hints…..free-range eggs are the best health to you all!

  5. Such wonderful tips and very helpful information! Thank you kindly. I am a newbie to chickens: I purchased 6, 3 day olds and they are now 3 months and all doing wonderfully. I spent a LOT of time researching before I even made an attempt to acquire my birds and I’m very glad I did. Their coop is beautiful (it’s 6×8~yes large, but that was intentional) and their enclosed, attached run is 9×12, with a height of 8 feet. They’re completely addicting and my only regret is that I did not “get into them” sooner! Thank you again for all this information~LOTS of happy reading for me!!!!
    All the best!

    1. Hi Sue,
      Thank you for getting in touch 🙂
      Congratulations on the start of your chicken journey and I’m sure it will be a wonderful one!
      I hope the website helps and be sure to email us if you have any questions,

  6. I have a bantam that has a YP where the egg breaks inside hurricane cause an infection. I took her to the vet she was on antibiotics and pain medicine inflammation she actually got better. And that was on March 18th 2017 this time I put her in a cage in the house and gave her antibiotics by them self she seems to be getting a little bit better. I hate keeping her in a cage. But what can I do to stop this. It makes me really unhappy to see this just make sure she’s taking antibiotics I’ve been soaking little pieces of bread so she’ll eat it. Please if anybody knows how to stop this completely contact me. I can’t afford the expense of operations they’re talking about on backyard chickens. My email is Lil Rose 5 6 at gmail.com

  7. I’ve got 2, 4 year old RIR’s, a 4 year old Barred Rock, a 3 year old Buff Orpington, a 2 year old Leghorn & 9 newbies this year: 4 RIR’s, 2 Dark Brahmas, A Legbar, a Favaucana & a Blue Americauna. To say keeping chickens is addictive is an understatement! I only hope I can give back to my girls at least as much as they have given to me. I really enjoyed the above article. It proves that you can never know everything and that constant research is a must when you’re responsible for so many lives.

  8. Thanks for all the useful information.I have had my 3 chickens for 10 months.
    Learning every day. They are great characters and their eggs are wonderful.
    Does any one have any helpful information about keeping chickens healthy during the cold winter months?
    One of my girls is going through a heavy moult, this is new to me, so any advice will be very welcome.

    1. They’re well able for cold, keep the coop cosy with hay/straw/ sawdust, whatever suits you, it’s the rain they hate, but they’ll race around in the snow!

  9. We haven’t ordered chickens , nor do we have the coop made yet. Just researching now. We have 5 wooded acres. Would like to get 6 chickens, buff orpington, americauna, and light brahma vareties. We would like to put the coop and run in the little woods between the house and barn. Were having trouble deciding how to make the coop. Plus we have shooting going on around the area, would that cause a problem with the load noise for the chickens? Any other suggestions for us newbies?.

    1. Probably adapt to the noise, but won’t like it at first, there must be lots of preditors in that environment?

    2. Hi, Audra — Yes! As Clara notes — PREDATOR-proof as much as possible!
      Use hardware cloth or welded wire, not chicken wire (though 1″ chicken wire can be used up across the tops of any runs/yards, linked together with wire twists/some such every few inches).
      Suggest you use an outward facing “L”, too, of hardware cloth at bottoms of fencing and, cover with gravel. “L” should extend out at least @2′ and go up as reinforcement on fencing about another 2′. Remember to likewise treat any gates!
      You probably want to use any fencing that is no larger in opening width size than @2″.
      We live in area similar to yours: mountain lions, bobcats, raccoons, skunks, hawks, owls, all of which would love our little darlings — or, our hens’ occasional broods as a meal! With security such as this, we have NO problems, nor, much of anyone attempting!

  10. We are newbies to your Website group, but not newbies to raising egg layers and also broilers (which we did on a large scale). Broilers are hard work but also a lot of fun and you don’t realise how different they taste to supermarket chicken. But back to the eggy types. Currently we are on a new property and are starting over with chickens again. At present we have 2 Rhode Island Reds but would like to get a lot more as these 2 ladies have stopped laying and spend all day sitting together on one nest! We think they are currently broody and moulting so will give them time. PS we live in South Africa so it is HOT here.

    1. Hi Chippy & Hilda,
      It’s great to hear from you! Have you tried looking at our article on broody hens? I think it will help 🙂

  11. We are new at backyard chicken life. We just ordered 4, day old little ladies. I am very excited. But I am a bit overwhelmed about finding the right coop. We are not able to free range them as we have a number of dogs and “free range” cats. My stress is selecting the right coop.

    1. Cats have need looked at my hens, my dogs either, they’re Collies, so depends on the breed. Just get started, you’ll work it out as you go along.

  12. What is the right method of cleaning out the coop? And where do I dump the poop from chicken coop?

    1. Hi Jean,
      You can use a variety of methods. We are going to be publishing an article on this shortly, so watch the space 🙂

  13. Um….. Emmanuel Love, Thank you that diatribe was Hillarious! especially that you have chosen a Chook forum as your flock is very entertaining.
    Perhaps you could have a hat made with a comb on top and profersise your wisdom from the top of a chicken coup

  14. I have more cockerel and fewer broilers hen Presently, my challenge the cockerel are highly aggressive every moment wanting to climb on the hen, this has lead to the feathers of the hen pulled out and making them so ugly.
    Getting to contain the chicken as they are growing up is a bit challenging, they are stubborn and messed up the surrounding with their poop.
    I am a Nigeria. Brahma breed of chicken is the biggest kind of chicken in the world where can i get the chicks for breeding?

  15. Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this web site wants way more consideration. I’ll most likely be once more to learn far more, thanks for that info.

  16. My friend Toni at Keepsake Eggs designs these eggs. She will do it to eggs of your own or she will find the right egg and design it for you.

  17. This is supposed to be about chickens.
    Don’t care for long article about religion.
    Can we stick to chicken’s.

  18. Can’t believe no one mentioned this, make sure you have people lined up who will chicken sit for you. You can’t leave them alone for even a day unless you keep them cooped up & make sure they have water.
    Even then, I wouldn’t do that for more than a day.

  19. You listed 47 things, I listed twice as many things to reasearch 😩 thank you for this article! Very informative😁👍

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