7 Reasons Why You Should Not Get Chickens

7 Reasons Why You Should Not Get Chickens

Many people get chickens thinking they are cute, easy to look after and do not require a great deal of maintenance.

After all, how much upkeep can a chicken require?

Unfortunately, this rosy outlook puts a lot of chickens into shelters, on the streets or killed because they did not meet the owners’ expectations.

If you are looking at getting chickens but are not 100% sure, then this article is for you.

We have compiled a list of all the reasons to not keep chickens. We don’t want to deter you from keeping these beautiful creatures, but for the best interests of you and the bird we are going to take a real world look at keeping chickens.

Chickens Can Be Expensive

Whilst the average chick will set you back about $3-5 per bird, there are plenty of additional expenses to keeping chickens.

The biggest will likely be your coop.

If you are handy and can build from scraps, a sturdy coop will set you back less than around $100.

DIY Chicken Coop
A simple DIY chicken coop

It’s also possible to re-purpose a garden shed or small outbuilding too.

To buy a ready-made coop for a few hens will cost you upwards of a few hundred dollars, depending on what you want. Often, the advertising of these coops are optimistic- to say the least! A large hen such as a Rhode Island Red, requires about 4 square feet of per chicken. So, if you bought a coop that says it will house six hens, it probably will house four comfortably.

Another hefty expense can be your equipment: feeders and drinkers in particular.

These don’t have to be expensive and there are plenty of homemade or re-purposed chicken feeder and drinkers. If you decide on secondhand, make sure they are well cleaned and disinfected before you use them with your flock.

And finally, a sometimes forgotten recurring cost is feed- depending on how many chickens you have will determine how much feed you use. I have 30 chickens and they eat about 50lb every two weeks, so roughly $6 a week.

To help you figure out the cost of feed, an average hen will eat between ½ – 1 cup of feed/day.

Other items your chickens will need are grit, oyster shell, vitamins/electrolytes, dusting powder and any toys you may buy them.

The ‘Ewww’ Factor

Chickens can get lice and mites, not to mention intestinal worms and other icky parasites. Are you up to dealing with these?

Truthfully, in five years I have dusted my birds only a handful of times since they have had few lice. They dust bath themselves regularly, so keep the parasites in check for themselves.

Homemade Chicken Dust Bath

I have however trimmed ‘poopy’ feathers from around the vents- this is not for those who have a delicate constitution and it needs to be done to prevent maggot infestation in the summer.

The hens’ usually sit quietly for me, but I have a few that are convinced I’m going to kill them, so it becomes a struggle to see who wins out!

A note on dust bathing- chickens need somewhere they can dust. We have shown you how to make a simple dust bath in a previous article. However, they will still make your garden look like it has survived a bomb blast. They love to make several small depressions in the garden for their own personal spa!

Chicken Scratching Area
A poor garden which the chickens have ‘scratched’.

They Need Some of Your Time

Once you have your birds’ set-up and running smoothly, they will actually only require about half an hour or so of your time each day.

However, to get to know your hens well, spend as much time as you can with them whilst they are still young. The rewards are tamer chickens and the ability to spot trouble early and treat accordingly and of course, free psychotherapy!

The coop needs cleaning regularly to keep it and your birds clean and healthy.

The summer months especially need your regular attention. Dirty, uncared for coops can lead to disease and death of your birds, possible rodent infestation- not to mention flies!

To give you an idea of coop cleaning, here is my schedule for an eight by twelve foot coop:

The coop and surrounding area is cleaned thoroughly two times a year- fall and spring. I use a spray of vinegar and water to clean the walls and surfaces, a shop-vac to remove dust and cobwebs etc. All used bedding is removed and disposed of to the compost. Replace with new bedding etc.

Once the ‘spring clean’ is done, I remove the poop and soiled straw at least every other day in summer, this helps to keep the coop from smelling.

If you have a small mobile coop such as a tractor type, obviously the time you need to clean thoroughly will be considerably less.

Chicken Zoning in Your Area

Depending on where you live you are likely to be zoned for noise, nuisance, sanitation etc.  Many towns and cities are slowly relaxing laws on keeping chickens due to public demand.

However, roosters are usually a ‘no-no’ in urban areas.

Rhode Island Red Rooster
You won’t be allowed to keep this rooster in most places!

The big concern most neighbors voice is rodents. Where there is food there will be mice or rats. If you keep your feed stored securely, there really should not be a problem, but keep your eyes open.

Using a metal container is best, but a plastic tote bin works well also. Make sure you check the plastic bin frequently for any sign of gnawing on the plastic- rodents can be very determined!

How Is Your Health?

If you suffer from allergies or respiratory problems, you must think very seriously about keeping birds- chickens or otherwise.

The dander and dust created by birds is an allergen and it can occasionally causes reactions in people.

Many people raise chicks inside their house until they are big enough to go outside- the amount of dust created is huge and anyone suffering from asthma or similar ailments will be highly stressed.

If the allergy is mild and you want chickens anyway, a facemask will help to keep the dust from bothering you.

Do You Have a Backup Plan?

Having pets or livestock is a big undertaking. You should always discuss it with your family.

What will happen if you are unable to take care of your birds for a few days? Will a family member take over- or will the birds be left alone?

If you don’t have a back-up plan for the welfare of your birds, think carefully now about what will happen to the birds in an emergency. They are living, breathing creatures that depend upon you to care for them.

Many families make chicken keeping a 4H activity which teaches children about keeping and caring for livestock. It’s a great educational experience and may be the best route to decide whether or not keeping chickens is for you.

If you have a dog in the family it could be a problem. Dogs love to chase things and chickens are no exception. You have to train your dog to accept the birds and leave them alone or fence the birds in well so the dog cannot access them.

Hens Stop You Going On Vacations

If you regularly go on vacation you need to check that your usual pet-sitter is ok with chickens.

Some people are terrified of birds- this would be good to know before the vacation starts!

Chicken sitting is a bit different to regular pet-sitting. They have to be let out in the early morning, fed and watered, eggs collected and in the evening they need to be securely locked in.

Collecting Eggs

Your ‘sitter’ must be diligent about this otherwise you may come home to find the local fox had chicken for dinner…

A friend recently went on vacation and came home to find the chickens had not been fed for a couple of days, eggs had not been collected and she now had four broody hens!

They Lay Lots of Eggs

Hopefully, this is one of the reasons you are considering adding chickens to your home, but if you aren’t ready to collect eggs, eat them, sell them, or give them away on a regular basis then take a hard pass on chickens.

Most hens lay about an egg a day, and if you don’t plan on collecting them, they will end up all over the coop, dirty and cracked.

Additionally, uncollected eggs are a magnet for predators and rodents, especially in the winter. Raccoons, snakes, and even barn cats love to eat eggs, and if they’ve found their own egg factory, guess where they will be setting up shop?

So, if you decide to get chickens, make sure you have a daily plan to collect the eggs, and a place to put them. Whether that’s in your own tummy or your neighbors; someone will appreciate them.

Summary

We have given you much to think about here. Caring for chickens is usually pretty straight forward, but you must be prepared!

If you’ve read this and aren’t deterred, the best advice we can give is start small with a few hens and read this advice from 47 chicken keepers.

Some people ‘collect’ hens because they have pretty feathers or lay blue eggs. Decide what you want and stick with it.

Many online hatcheries will supply you with small order numbers and can give you one each of what you want.

So, as always- do your homework and decide what’s right for you.

For those of you who have decided to get some chickens- welcome to the world of crazy chicken people!

If you already have chickens, let us know in the comments below advice for new chicken keepers…

Read Treats That Will Make Your Hens Lay More Eggs

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Comments

  1. Lisa Steele says

    Great points for people to consider. I do think that sometimes they jump in without thinking things through. Chickens do change your life. Mostly for the better, but they do make going on vacation or even out for the evening a bit more challenging. But still, I think the benefits outweigh any hardship!

      • madison smith says

        well i have chickens and even thought there are some bad factors there are way better ones like you get fresh eggs that haven’t had any antibiotics or medicine in them. you also get free fertilizer, and they rid your yard of weeds and ticks and mosquitoes..

    • McKinley Smith says

      Smitty, I love my 150 birds , i have been keeping birds now for almost ten years. When I go away for a football weekend a friend will gather my eggs and put then in the refrigerator for me. and do a general check of the area, he is a city boy. Thanks JB

  2. Anita Shelby says

    Make your hen house and coop AT LEAST twice the size you think you need. Chickens are addicting! and then you don’t have to build another one when you find the next perfect chick after another…

      • Alex Belles says

        I disagree. If you have a hen with a problem that you aren’t comfortable dealing with, you might want to see a professional. When getting chickens, it’s a good idea to have a number to call in an emergency.

        • Fluffyhead says

          Why get an expensive vet for the sake of a sick chicken (most people kill them for meat anyway) a lot of people raise chickens for economic reasons, how many butchered chickens could you buy from a supermarket for price of the vet bill? Or how much feed could you buy? Unless the chicken is a prized breed or a pet then it’s not viable.

          • Deb says

            For moral reasons I guess. I would want medical care if I were sick. I would do this for any animal I come across…but I understand how a farm cant function like me…the bottom line and all.

  3. Natasha says

    Hi if you are out of an evening and can’t get back to put the hens to bed so to speak, are they ok to put themselves to bed if they are left in the joint coop/run for the day?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      They will find their way on their own and should be completely fine. They just cant close the door 🙂

      Claire

  4. jacob says

    hello i have chinkens to i have 7 of them 5 hens and one boy i had ten but they keep dieing on me i was thinking of the cold if any boudy has a quit about it that will be nice or you can call me at 608 404 0238 thank agian

  5. Laura Waldbart says

    In our area(Lake County Illinois) there is an enterprising business. It is called Urban Chicken Rentals. They bring you everything you need (coop, feed, bedding, run and some chickens!) This way you get to try before you buy to see if you want to get into chicken keeping.

  6. Peter Goble says

    If you want to keep chickens bear in mind that cleaning out the urine and poop stained bedding regularly is an unsavoury job. It’s useful to wear a waxed full length apron and a pair of sturdy rubber gloves to transfer the soiled litter to you compost heap, and you’ll need a composter too. Otherwise the hens will spread the stuff far and wide, and with great glee and enthusiasm.

    • Art G says

      And the compost heap/pile will house a plethora of worms, bugs, and other goodies the hens love to eat, and scratch to uncover them. Simply rake the heap back into a pile when they are done and the bugs will reproduce nicely. The bugs also improve the flavor of the eggs, free range taste, to most people.

  7. sonya mayer says

    I have 3 hens, i plan on getting 6 more chicks this Spring. When the pullets are old enough to be incorporated into the big girl coop, what’s the best way to keep them out of the big girls layer feed, since they will still need to be on grower feed for awhile?

  8. K.B. says

    Natasha, Tara, & Jacob:
    (Tara) Mostly you need to check your area you live in. We are lucky because it is rural but not “too” country. Meaning there are lots of farm areas, but we live in a normal neighborhood so we never see raccoons, foxes, weasels, really only crows & squirrels. ( Natasha) Our two coops, two big hens in one, and two smaller in the other, to keep the peace, let themselves out in the am & put themselves to bed when it starts to get dark.
    (Jacob) As far as the cold goes, in Calif. it does get wet, foggy, and pretty damn cold at night, not like N.Y. where we’re from, but I always worry about any pet being cold so my wife and I bought a heater for each coop off Amazon, looks like a black plastic computer screen, with a hi/low switch, so the ladies stay nice and warm all winter. They are stupid cheap and give us peace of mind knowing no one is suffering. No matter who or what you are, being freezing cold is horrible and if all it costs is a few bucks and a little electricity, well I sleep better at night too! KB

  9. K B. says

    I forgot to mention, save up and buy a good solid coop the first time. It will stay warmer, and last longer and you won’t have to replace it as soon. We bought (6) 4-ft x 4-ft sections of picket fence and put a coop on each side of our far backyard, and used the fence to make a large circle with the coops as part of it. That way, they have a huge community courtyard and they all play, scratch, and interact during the day, and at night they separate, pair up, and go to bed. That way the big ones don’t take over the coop and make the little ones sleep outside on the perch in the cold like they used to, drove me crazy! Took some doing, to let the big ones know they didn’t have two coops. We did it by wiring the big entrance door slightly open on one coop, enough for the little guys to fit in, but not enough for the big ones, and chasing the bigger ones off when they got near. It took awhile, but worked, and eventually solved the problem and they love it.

  10. Chicken keeper says

    There are definitely way more good than bad I’m only 16 and I take care 30 chickens completely by myself and it’s a great deal of fun. They end up being more than just a chicken they become part of your family. My chickens have made a great impression on my life and yea it revolves around them but it’s amazing

    • Suzanne-Marie says

      Chicken Keeper — That’s great! Thirty chickens are quite a responsibility! We have a 15 year old neighbor girl, in FFA, who has added @ 20 chickens to her family 10 acres. Like you, she finds them interesting, delightful, enhancing to her life and great fun! Until our chickens started laying, we were her best customers! Good for you — have fun!

  11. Kim says

    I’m still on the fence. I live in northern Utah where the winters are cold. And I’m worried about committing to having to go out in the snow every day to take care of them. I’m also worried about the smell. I’d only be able to get 3, 4 at THE MOST. Any advice?

    • sonya mayer says

      Hi Kim,
      Just get a few. You will love them. I live in Northern Tenn. It gets cold but not as cold as you. Last winter one day it snowed about 3 inches. My hens are pastured all day. My hen Margaret came up onto the porch squaking like no other, she had to lay an egg but refused to walk back thru the snow to the coop. I had to shovel a path for her back to the coop. Once I did she was happy. They are so funny, each with their own individual personalities. I only have 4 but plan on getting more this Spring. Ive had them for a year and a half now and love them so much. They are my babies since all my children are grown. I do scoop poop daily out of their coop and about once a week I pick some spearmint and sprinkle it in their coop and nesting boxes. There is no smell. It helps that they are out of the coop all day only in to lay an egg and at night to sleep. I picked Rhode Island Reds. Good egg layers even through winter and can handle the cold. They brighten my day. I roam around the yard finding beetles and crickets for them and they come running to eat out of my hand. They follow me because they know I will have a treat for them. I so enjoy them, Im the mother hen, always watching them and making sure they are ok and healthy. I never thought I would enjoy them as much as I do.

    • T. Cat says

      Chickens do NOT need warmth. They need a coop that is dry and where the wind will not blow on them when they are wet from the snow or rain. The coop needs to be ventilated but not to have a wind blowing factor. Do not heat the coop because the transition from warm to cold is where they can get sick. Their breathing (respiratory) tract can be ill when wet and in a draft or when transitioning from warm to cold.

      What I did was to do what is called the deep little method, which is, essentially: Fill the coop with wood shavings about 1 foot deep. The hens live on top of that! They drop manure, you can put feed on the surface and the hens will seek the feed and mix up the wet and dry bedding on the floor. This flooring can be changed when needed. The websites say once a year. For us, once every two years works out great. The composting floor adds a little bit of warmth but not much. The composted floor is great for your garden. I actually sold a bunch of it 2 years ago! 100 dollars for the lot. A guy came who loaded up his trailer and put it into his garden! You can buy hens and be confident they will not be bothered by cold weather, going out into the snow, etc. Be sure your water bolws are not frozen. Some people put them on to heating pads. Same with their feed. I made mine a special place for dust bathing inside, too: Just a box of dirt. I put it into a corner of the coop using and put just two walls at right angles to make a 4 sided box. They love the dust. I made mine also with a removable roof so that in summer they can stay in and still get sun.

  12. Emma says

    I have four questions. How much maintenance do chickens need? How bigger coop do three batnams need? We have a dog who barks a lot will this scare the chickens? And finally do batnams get picked up by birds and if so which ones?

    • cynthia says

      As she mentioned, 1/2 hour a day is pretty average but many people like to spend more – the main chores are fresh water, food and cleaning up poop (lots and lots and lots of poop). they say about 3 square feet per average size bird so a 3×3 space could technically work fine – just want to have a nesting box or two and perches for them to sleep on. The chickens will get used to the dogs but dogs will usually try to chase and kill chickens so keep them separate. Hawks and Eagles are the usual bird predators but I’ms ure there are others. Any bird of prey.

  13. Cynthia says

    I agree the up front cost should not be underestimated – there’s a lot to getting them set up but if you do it right it makes it easier for on-going maintenance. With any animal you have A) figure out containment B) deal with the poop/pee C) the obvious feed/water.

    If you free range you still have to deal with containment with a good coop but many of us keep them in penned/fenced up areas that are also covered by a netting of some kind to protect them from birds of prey – it’s a personal choice and depends on your situation. If you (or your neighbors) have dogs that haven’t been raised with chickens they’ll probably kill them.

    The other thing you have to really figure out is what to do with the poop – you CAN NOT put it directly on your garden because it’s “hot” – if you want to use it for compost there’s a whole (in my opinion) complicated process for that.

    One of the things I really really love is the massive amount of resources and information out there. Chicken folks love to share information enthusiastically and there are exceptionally good forums, newsletters, blogs, articles, etc. on the net.

    Chickens are an excellent resource for food (both eggs and meat! and they are relatively easy to take care of and highly recommended for being self- sustainable. As a note, another animal I really love to have for those reasons are rabbits. No eggs but their poop makes excellent fertilizer and you can put it right on the garden. You can easily have rabbits in a suburban area and be discreet about it… just got to do the A, B, and C’s I talked about above. xoxoxox

  14. Suzanne-Marie says

    Hi, All — I had chickens decades ago (housed,then in a very nice, human-sized house, with two yards for them). That was then and, after a few years, Life rolled on, necessarily sans chickens…This year, once again, we got chickens. We are delighted!

    My son built, from his own design in his head (little on paper; he’s good that way) a beautiful, again, human-sized (10x12x@10ft high), shed-roofed house raised on a pier foundation. It is totally insulated and paneled inside w/lightweight plywood. It has a walk door with sliding screened window in it, two other windows, 12 nesting boxes, two long perches, two simple ladders to the nesting boxes — AND, two different, lift-up doors that go out to TWO different/alternate @8’x20′ yards. These yards are planted with native grasses and seeds, allowed to sprout and near maturity, then the chickens are able to go into them — and “free range” until that yard is stripped bare (doesn’t take ’em long!). Meanwhile, the alternate yard has had its door closed off and been replanted.

    Both yards have pest/predator-proof wire and hardware cloth around, up, over, under. We live in mountain lion, coyote, fox, racoon, skunk, sky predators (hawks, owls)…etc wild hills of Northern CA Sierras, so, in order to be at peace with our 14 “girls” and one great Orpington rooster, “Orp”, we have made certain they are safe and sound. Unless we care to spend a few hours right there with them, we don’t let them free range over our acres. Occasionally, they can be let into the simply-fenced orchard and raised bed gardens nearby while we work, but, that’s not safe enough to leave them for any extended period. Sure to lose them, that way.

    So, from their yard(s), they put themselves into their chicken house at will and go out every morning. All we have to do is check food, water, eggs. Their chicken doors could be closed, but, unless unusual weather hits this winter, requiring more heat than insulation and their own snug selves can afford, they stay open. We are below the deep snow line.

    I should add that my son wisely sited the chicken house under two large, well-established evergreen trees. One of the most trying situations for chickens is heat. This shady setting with morning and later afternoon sun, is perfect.

    We use wood shavings as bedding and floor covering — AND, a factor of this design he created is a trap door at one side, covered with heavy, but large-ish, thick wire for safety. When we want to clear out nests and freshen with new shavings, or, on rare occasions when house needs to be thoroughly cleared and renewed, that trap door is opened and the shavings and litter are swept or poured down into a waiting garden cart. That is “gold” for our nearby compost pile. It’s EASY doing!

    Also, for those of you who may also keep a worm compost bin, that bedding, again, is “gold” for that — they thrive with that added.

    Because of the excellent safety factor, we could leave at least for a full day and overnight. Longer, someone can check on them, gather eggs.

    Now, all of this, as my grandfather would say, is “hell-for-stout” and, wasn’t inexpensive. As much as possible, we used left-overs from other building projects, however, it still cost a few thousand. But, it is an investment in family future, peace of mind and, it works just great. Not cheap; worth it. We are grateful we did it this way.

    Verrrry long response to this subject. I hope it helps some folks with ideas and encouragement. Our chickens are delightful — and, we are “serious” egg eaters, so, win-win.

  15. Suzanne-Marie says

    I went back and re-read a few questions. Here are thoughts on flies, cleanliness and smells.

    We have next to no smells with our setup (you have to be in the chicken house to notice, and then it’s not at all bad — just modest chicken smell) and, same with flies.

    Key to this is that we use wood shavings as bedding and litter. We use about 3-4″ in boxes and about the same on the floor. Each area is renewed as needed: nesting boxes cleaned out weekly (easy!) and floor shavings lightly added to at that time. Thorough “gut” is needed only about twice/year.

    Shavings are neat, easy to handle, relatively “clean” (I do wear a mask when adding or clearing out, however, for the attendant fine sawdust). They don’t come with any unwanted weed seeds as can hay or straw; they definitely help w/ making it next to NO smell. Wood shavings are easy for humans to navigate in — not slippery and you don’t get tangled up as one can in straw. As for bedding and nesting, wood shavings stay fresher longer and keep the nesting boxes cleaner longer.

    Wood shavings come bundled in plastic bagged, solid “bales” and we only need to buy equivalent of one/month, if that. Not at all prohibitively expensive and certainly tidy to buy, move and use.

    I’m a fan!

    Wood shavings are SUCH an improvement over the heavy, messy, difficult to handle and clean out straw I used years back!

    As for flies, we truly have next to none — and, if we did, our hens would pluck them out of the air! 😉

  16. T. Cat says

    Very little maintenance: Food, ensuring they go into your coop, ensure coop is not just a pile of excrement by putting in wood shavings and removing and replacing regularly or doing the deep little method (look it up online). Watch to ensure they are healthy and happy. Gather eggs daily. Ensure they are inside a locked predator safe coop nights. I love mine so the above is not much work.

    I prefer to give them a big coop — three bantams will need only something little such as 4 by 4. The problem is you may become sort of addicted and want more! I personally prefer non bantom. I like the big beautiful hens. I like the huge delicious eggs. The dog won’t scare the hens, but he may have hunting instincts. Do not let him have access to the hens until you know what he will do. Even sweet little Bishon and tiny terriers sometimes chase chickens and kill them. See what your dog does. Re birds, a bantam is small and hawks, eagles and other predators do pick them up. In a small space they won’t. Making a good fence around the hens with small hole wire, i.s., 1 inch size or hardware cloth wire is helpful to prevent coons, coyotes, weasels, rats. If you live where there are lots of birds of prey, you may want to put wire over the top of the chickens yard area.

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