How To Raise Chickens In A Small Backyard Without Losing Your Sanity

You want to know how to raise chickens in a small backyard? There is something about having chickens. They are interesting to watch and bring character to your home.

They are easy to get started with if you have not had much experience with livestock. AND they are more affordable compared to most other livestock.

Whatever the case they are often the first thing people look at getting when they start getting a draw for the country life and finally get a piece of property even if it’s small. (If you are in the city keep on reading because this is for you too)

how to raise chickens in a small backyard intro image

Then there are people who don’t get them because they think they need a lot of space to keep backyard chickens.

The truth is you really don’t need to have as much space as you think to raise chickens for your family. The amount of space needed in the coop and chicken run will vary a little bit depending on the breed temperament.

If you get a very energetic and opinionated breed you will defiantly need a larger amount of space to avoid the birds getting into trouble and or getting cranky with each other. But if you get a clamer breed its not required.

General Space Requirements For Backyard Chickens

These space measurements are a guide for you to find a building to work for shelter and a fenced-in area for protection if at all possible. If you don’t have a run of some kind you will experience losses in the flock.

Coops

  • 4 square feet of floor space per Large breeds.
  • 3 square feet of floor space per Bantam chicken
chicken coop next to a tree

Roosting (Perch) Space

All domestic chickens put themself “to bed” or go to roost at night which is AWESOME. It is their way of staying safe and off the ground while they sleep. If a predator is close by they just freeze and don’t really do anything to protect themselves. Which is the main reason they need the coop to begin with. Not so much daytime shelter from the weather but it’s more predictor protection.

They will naturally find a spot to roost if you don’t provide one and they will be scattered all over the place where ever they feel like finding a space. So you have to be consistent and keep putting them in the space you want them to roost at night and they will get the hint.

For us it has always taken about 5 nights before all of the flock gets the idea.

  • 12 inches of perch space per LF chicken
  • 9 inches of perch space per Bantam chicken

Chicken Run Space

  • 10 Sq Ft of ground space per standard chicken
  • 7.5 Sq Ft of ground space per bantam chicken

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How To Choose The Right Breed Of Chicken

So, you’ve decided to bring some feathery friends into your backyard. But before you rush out and bring home a whole flock, it’s important to choose the right breed of chicken for your backyard.

Now, let’s talk about temperament. You want chickens that are cool, calm, and collected. No drama queens here, thank you very much.

Some of the calmest and family-friendly chicken breeds out there are the Buff Orpingtons, Wyandotte, and Plymouth Rocks. Black Australorps are not aggressive but they do like to roam and check things out. So they may not be suited for a small backyard because of that.

Anyway, these ladies know how to keep their cool and won’t send you running for the house.

However, breeds like Rhode Island Reds are total jerks every single time I’ve had them.

Read these posts to help you decide which breed is best for you.

Why is selecting a calm breed so important, especially for beginners in backyard chicken raising? Well, think about it. If you’re just starting out, you want chickens that are easy to handle and friendly towards humans. Plus, a calm breed is less likely to cause a ruckus and disturb your peaceful neighborhood.

Backyard Chicken Breeds That Do Well In Smaller Spaces

These are the top five chicken breeds I would recommend for their calm temperaments and laying ability. I have raised most of them and never had a chicken of these breeds be aggressive.

Don’t hold me to it though because there is are always those special ones that like to prove you wrong. All breed profiles are from cacklehatchery.com

Buff Orpington

  • Weights:Hen—–8 lbs Rooster——10 lbsPullet—7 lbs Cockerel—-8 1/2 lbs
  • Purpose:Dual Purpose, egg laying, and meat production
  • Egg Shell Color:Brown
  • Egg Production:200-280 eggs per year
  • Mating Ratio:9 Females to 1 Male
  • Country of Origin:England

Wyandotte

  • Weights:Hen ——-6 1/2 lbs Rooster—-8 1/2 lbPullet——-5 1/2 lbs Cockerel—7 1/2 lbs
  • Purpose:Dual Purpose, Egg Laying and Meat Production
  • Egg Shell Color:Brown
  • Egg Production:180-260 eggs per year.
  • Mating Ratio:9 Females to 1 Male
  • Country of Origin:United States
Wyandotte chicken to the left and two ducks on the right

Partridge Plymouth Rock

Weights: Hen—–7 lbs Rooster——8 lbsPullet—5 lbs Cockerel—-6 lbs

  • Purpose-Dual Purpose: Egg laying and meat production
  • Egg Shell Color-Brown
  • Egg Production– 180-240 eggs per year. (*estimates only, seeFAQ)
  • Mating Ratio:9 Females to 1 Male
  • Country of Origin– United States (New Jersey)

Cochin

As a side note, one thing I love about this breed is that they are large and stocky enough they can’t fly or flutter. So they will stay in almost any enclosure you put them in. I went to only Cochins so they could stay out of my gardens unlike some of the other breeds.

  • Weights:Hen—–8 1/2 lbs Rooster——11 lbsPullet—7 lbs Cockerel—-9 lbs
  • Purpose:Exhibition and meat production
  • Egg Shell Color:Brown
  • Egg Production:110-160 eggs per year (*estimates only, seeFAQ)
  • Mating Ratio:6 Females to 1 Male
  • Roost Height:0 to 2 feet
  • Country of Origin:Asia

Brahma

Weights: Hen—–9 1/2 lbs Rooster——12 lbsPullet—-8 lbs Cockerel—–10 lbs

  • Purpose:Multi-Purpose, Egg laying, and meat production
  • Egg Shell Color:Brown
  • Egg Production:180-240 eggs per year (estimates only, seeFAQ)
  • Mating Ratio:8 Females to 1 Male
  • Country of Origin:Asia

Keep Chickens In Their Designated Space

This can be one of the most annoying things ever…..

Chickens will not naturally stay where you put them. Period end of story. They are nosy and know no limits. So you have to do one of three things.

  • Find a breed that is too heavy to get out of the fenced-in area.
  • Have an enclosure over the top.
  • Or clip their flight feathers on 1 (ONE) I repeat ONE wing. By doing this you are basically messing with their aerodynamics and they can’t use the air to give them a boost. However when you have chickens that are also good jumpers. That doesn’t matter. We have had a few breeds that is just as good at getting out with or without their wings for assistance.
chicken coop with a fence around it.

How to find and understand your local laws

Want to have chickens in your backyard? Before you start planning your chicken coop and dreaming of farm-fresh eggs, it’s important to know and understand your local laws. Just because your neighbor has a flock of chickens doesn’t mean you can too. So, how do you navigate the complex web of regulations? 

First things first, do your research! Online search can be your best friend when it comes to finding information about backyard chickens in your area.

Look for key drivers like city ordinances or county clerk websites that outline the rules and regulations for keeping chickens. You can also explore community forums or websites where flock enthusiasts share their knowledge and experiences. Don’t forget to check out government websites too.

Most of the time the issues come when you live in city limits and are trying to raise chickens. So make sure that the websites and resources you are looking into are government websites or at least more official than asking on a Facebook group.

Sometimes, local officials may have updates or announcements about upcoming meetings where chicken-keeping regulations could be discussed. Remember, knowledge is power!

4 week old chickens walking in the grass.

What To Look For

Once you’ve gathered some information, it’s time to dig deeper. Look for specific details about the number of chickens allowed per acre, the required square footage of outdoor space or chicken enclosure, and any restrictions on roosters.

Consider the breed of chicken you have in mind and check if there are any breed-specific regulations or restrictions. Some cities may have noise ordinances, so finding out if your chickens’ clucking will be a cause for concern is important too. Some breeds make more noise than others but in general adult chickens are not as quite as you might think even without a rooster.

It’s worth noting that laws surrounding backyard chickens can vary greatly from city to city and even within different neighborhoods. What may be allowed in one area could be prohibited just a few blocks away.

It’s always a good idea to double-check with your city hall or local government officials for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Make sure to ask any specific questions you may have and seek clarification on any confusing points.

two hens

How to avoid nuisance complaints

Okay, let’s talk about something that no one really wants to discuss – nuisance complaints when it comes to backyard chickens. While it’s not an issue where I live now we used to keep chickens in a small 1900-person town where I grew up and it was more of a don’t ask don’t tell kind of situation.

Look, we all love the idea of fresh eggs and happy hens, but let’s be real, there can be some downsides too. The two most common complaints from neighbors are usually the aroma and the noise. So, how can you avoid these nuisance complaints?

First, let’s tackle the smell issue. Individual hens don’t really produce a strong odor, so if you’re just planning on having a small flock, you’re probably in the clear.

However, if you’re thinking of starting an explosion of backyard chicken heaven, hundreds of hens might result in a noticeable smell. To avoid this, make sure you keep their living space clean and odor-free. Regularly clean up their coop and provide ample ventilation to reduce any potential odors.

Keeping your chickens contained. I am going to take more in-depth about this further down but in short. Keep your chickens contained or from going to your neighbor’s property. Chickens will dig in a garden, patch of nice dry dirt for dusting, and cause a crater in the yard. They will poop A LOT and I could go on. If your chickens are doing any of these things on your neighbor’s property you are going to have issues.

Now, onto the noise. A quiet flock of hens won’t usually cause any issues. They’re like a peaceful choir, clucking away happily. But the real troublemakers here are roosters. They can be quite the early morning divas, crowing their hearts out before the sun even rises. That’s why many cities have restrictions on keeping roosters. So, if you’re hoping for a little peace and quiet, it’s best to stick with just hens.

Being a considerate neighbor is key. Keep your chicken coop clean, provide your hens with plenty of space, and avoid roosters if noise is a concern. By doing so, you’ll minimize the likelihood of any nuisance complaints.

chick walking in the grass

Pros And Cons Of Keeping Roosters

Alright, let’s talk about the pros and cons of keeping roosters in your backyard flock. These feathered fellas can be a great addition, but they also come with their fair share of quirks.

You don’t really need a rooster, to begin with. Their main duty or job if you have one is to watch out for predators and to warn the rest of the flock if they see something suspicious. You don’t need them for eggs.

On the bright side, having a rooster in your flock can provide some benefits. First off, they act as natural protectors against predators. Roosters are like the bouncers of the chicken world, always on guard and ready to defend their ladies. Plus, they can be quite the handsome fellas, adding a touch of interest to your flock.

Another perk is the ability to hatch your own eggs. With a rooster around, fertilized eggs can be incubated, resulting in some adorable baby chicks. It’s like having your own little poultry nursery!

Buuuuut, before you get all starry-eyed about having a rooster, let’s talk about the potential downsides.

Yokoyama rooster

The most obvious one is noise. These guys love the sound of their own voices and will crow their little hearts out at all hours of the day. So, if you have cranky neighbors or value your beauty sleep, a rooster might not be the best option. Especially if you live in a small area and the chickens are not as far away from the house as would be comfortable.

Another thing to consider is aggression. Roosters can be a bit, well, macho. They might pick fights with other chickens or even peck at you if they’re feeling feisty. Even the calmest breeds need a reminder even now and then that humans are off limits to boss.

Also keep in mind that if you only have one rooster this will help keep them from having another rooster to compete with. Hense keeps them from making a stupid move against another human.

So, if you have little ones running around or are just looking for a low-drama flock, be cautious about adding a rooster to the mix. 

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Chickens Will Cause Trouble

So, you’ve got dreams of having your own little backyard flock? Well, let me tell you, chickens may bring you joy and fresh eggs, but they can also bring a whole lot of trouble. Here are some potential issues and challenges you need to be aware of before diving headfirst into the world of backyard chickens.

Cause there ain’t many people talking about the not-so-good things about raising chickens.

Chickens are going to get into trouble. Anything from dusting in that patch of dirt, digging up a freshly mulched garden, to eating the potted petunias on the front porch…

Oh and pooping all over the concrete while they do it. And if you don’t catch it in time it drys on like glue and will stain. 

You have to contain them if you want to avoid any of the above. Chickens are driven by their stomachs and graze all day long. It’s just what they were wired to do. So a chicken coop with a completely closed-in chicken run is going to be required to keep them in. Do you have to? No but if you live in the city or town where people care what your chickens do it’s a good idea to do so. 

You can let them out in the evening for a few hours and they will go back in the chicken coop at dusk to “go to sleep”.

Let’s talk about roosters. These guys may look suave with their fancy feathers, but they’re not always the best houseguests. They have a tendency to crow at the crack of dawn, waking up not only you but also your grumpy neighbors. Nuisance complaints about noise can really put a damper on your chicken-keeping dreams.

And let’s not forget about the smell. Chickens may be adorable, but their poop is not. The odor can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you don’t maintain a clean coop. Trust me, your nose and your neighbors will not appreciate the funky aroma wafting through the air.

Waste management is another challenge that comes with raising backyard chickens. You’ll need to figure out what to do with all that chicken poop. If you have a smaller coop you may be able to shovel the pine shavings into a trash bag and send them to the dump.

Improper disposal can attract flies and other pests, turning your once peaceful backyard into a hotbed of annoyance.

One thing to remember is that water mixed with chicken manure will smell AWFUL. The dampness causes the waste to smell next level. If you have a low spot in your yard where water collects that is not the place to put the chicken run.

Next, choose an appropriate breed of chicken. Some breeds are quieter and less likely to cause a ruckus, while others may be more docile and less likely to pick fights with your other chickens.

So, while backyard chickens can bring delight and fresh eggs to your life, they can also cause trouble if not properly managed. Take the necessary precautions, be mindful of your neighbors, and you’ll be well on your way to a happy and harmonious backyard flock. Now go forth, my chicken-keeping friend, and may your flock bring you joy without the trouble.

Before getting backyard chickens, have a plan

Before you jump headfirst into the exciting world of backyard chickens, let me drop some knowledge bombs on you – have a plan!

Trust me, it’ll save you from a world of clucks and squawks. So, grab a pen and paper (or your smartphone, if you’re fancy like that) and let’s get plotting!

First things first, check your local laws. Don’t be that person who unknowingly violates city ordinances and ends up with a flock of angry government officials at your door. Research whether your city or county has any restrictions on keeping chickens in your backyard. A quick call to the county clerk or a visit to city hall can save you from a whole coopload of trouble.

But wait, there’s more! If you live in a swanky neighborhood or belong to a fancy HOA, double-check their rules too. Some places have regulations on the number of chickens allowed or even prohibit chickens altogether. Don’t let the chicken haters ruffle your feathers – make sure you’re in compliance with all the fancy rules.

Now that you have the legal stuff out of the way, it’s time to think about the nuts and bolts of chicken-keeping.

Consider where you’ll house your feathered friends. You’ll need a sturdy chicken coop that provides enough space for them to stretch their wings and lay their eggs. Do your research on coop building or find a pre-made one that suits your backyard. Remember it doesn’t have to be pretty. Start with what you’ve got and upgrade if you want to or see you like chickens enough to stick with it.

Don’t forget about their dietary needs! Chickens need a balanced diet to keep their feathers shining and their clucking at its prime. Find a reliable source of chicken feed, whether it’s a local feed store or an online supplier. Your flock deserves only the best, so don’t cheap out on their meals.

How are you going to handle the predators lurking in the shadows? Birds of prey, raccoons, skunks, and even your neighbor’s dog can all be an issue. Take precautions to secure the coop and protect your poultry from any unwanted surprise visitors.

Other things like:

  • Whos responsible for the daily feeding and collecting the eggs? 
  • What are you going to do with them while on vacations or trips? — You can’t call up a border to keep your chickens like you can dogs or cats.
  • What is the mindset you will have toward them? — Are they more like farm animals you have for fun or are you going to take it next level and take a $20 chicken to the vet and spend $$$ fixing it instead of putting it out of its misery?

How Many Do You Need If You’re Are Keeping Chickens For Eggs

First things first, you may not have to decide based on two factors.

  1. Your local area might have a limit on how many you can have.
  2. OR simply the size of the yard might dictate the number of chickens you can have. — So before stressing over how many to buy check into that first.

Buuuut assuming you can get as many as you want within a reasonable number lets do some egg math.

Take a good hard look at how many eggs your family devours on a weekly basis. Are you the type to whip up a fluffy omelet every morning? Or do you just need a few eggs for some baking shenanigans?

Whatever the case may be, knowing your egg consumption is key.

Next, it’s time to do a little math. Don’t worry, you don’t need a degree in calculus for this.

Let’s say each person in your family eats two eggs per day. Multiply that by seven days in a week, and ta-da! You now have the number of eggs needed for one person per week.

Now, let’s talk about the birds and the bees… er, the hens.

Wyandotte rooster

How many eggs can you expect from a good-laying hen assuming you chose a good-laying breed?

Productive egg-laying chickens can lay around 5 to 6 eggs per week. (The best egg-laying breeds lay about 250 eggs a year)

So, if you need, let’s say, you need 2 dozen eggs per week for your family, you’ll want to aim for around 4-6 hens. Six hens that lay well can provide you with a whopping 3.5 dozen eggs per week. So that’s on the higher end.

But before you start counting your chickens before they hatch, don’t forget about breed selection. Some breeds are egg-laying powerhouses, while others may be a little more laid-back in the egg department. So, do your research and choose your chickens wisely.

How Much Does Keeping Chickens Cost?

Before you jump headfirst into chicken-keeping, let’s talk about the all-important question: How much does it actually cost?

First things first, you’ll need a chicken coop. But you can be as scrappy as you want to with it or you can spend thousands of dollars on it. It’s totally up to you. 

But let me tell you a secret….. YOUR CHICKENS DON’T CARE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. 

Chicken coop cost details, please…

The cost of a coop can vary depending on the size and design, as well as whether you decide to DIY it or hire some skilled labor to do the job. On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to upwards of a thousand dollars. It all depends on how fancy you want to get with your chicken digs.

Next up, you’ll need a chicken run. This is where your birds can stretch their wings and enjoy some outdoor time without wandering off into the great unknown (or your neighbor’s prized vegetable garden). Again, the cost of a run can vary depending on size and materials. Expect to shell out a few hundred dollars for a good-quality enclosure.

How much do chickens themselves cost:

Prices for chickens can vary depending on the breed, but you can usually expect to pay around $15 to $30 per bird if you buy them already started and about halfway to laying or even as adults. 

Chicks will be about $5-6 a bird whether you buy them from a hatchery or from a farm supply store.

Make sure to read this post to get my thoughts on which is better. 

Once your coop is set up and your chickens are happily clucking away, there are some ongoing expenses to consider.

Feed is a big one. The cost will depend on the size of your flock, but one hen needs about 2 fifty pound bags a year. One bag is about $18-20 with tax. So one hen will cost about $36-$40 a year. A flock of 6 hens will cost about $216 – $240 a year. Which works out to be about $20 a month.

Bedding material, like straw or wood shavings, will also need to be replenished regularly, and that can cost around $10 per month if you are changing the shavings often.

There are the occasional expenses that may come up like pest control. I always recommend setting aside an extra $50  for surprise purchases.

Total Expenses

  • Start-up cost
    • Coop $500 min
    • Chickens $120 – If you are buying grown chickens.
    • Chicks $40
    • Chick care supplies $60 (if raising your own chicks.
  • Monthly cost = $30

So, while keeping chickens does come with some expenses, the joy of having your own fresh eggs and the pleasure of watching your feathered ladies frolic in the backyard is definitely worth it.

Plus, you’ll have a never-ending source of entertainment. Chickens are just hilarious.

How Much Does It Cost To Raise Chickens For Eggs? Easy Tips To Save Some Cash – Read This Post For More Details

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Predators Are Going To Try To Get Into Your Flock

Alright, listen up! If you’re thinking about getting some backyard chickens, let me tell you something you need to know: predators are going to try to get into your flock. It’s just a fact of life.

But don’t worry, with a few precautions in place, you can keep those pesky critters at bay.

First up, we have the top offenders: coyotes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, dogs, and birds of prey. These crafty creatures see your chickens as nothing more than a tasty meal, and they’ll stop at nothing to get their paws (or talons) on them.

So, what’s your best defense? A secure coop. Make sure it’s built like Fort Knox. Ain’t nobody getting in without an invitation!

Now, here’s a pro tip: make sure your chickens are tucked away safely inside the coop at night. That’s when those sneaky predators tend to come out to see what’s available.

Hawks are your daytime predator but if you are not letting your chickens run loose in the yard you shouldn’t have too much issue there.

By keeping your feathered friends locked up tight, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of an attack.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this information about chickens. My neighbor has chicken and he lets them roam around his yard. I love to watch them. Tweeting! Congratulations on being featured on Homestead blog hop!

  2. Oh gosh I had no idea! Thank you.

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