There are many things you can say about organic chickens, and I bet none of them are about how fulfilling it is to have your own flock of chickens in your own back garden or yard. It’s natural to think that you need acres of space to be able to have your own chickens, but in reality you can have a surprisingly small amount of space and still have one or two birds.
Just how much space do I need?
To have a happy healthy organic chicken flock the ideal space is about 1.2m2 per chicken if they have some outdoor space to scratch around in. If they don’t have any outdoor scratching space, then you will need closer to 10m2. It’s also a good idea to check the laws for your area, sometimes chickens aren’t allowed in your neighbourhood, especially if you’re in an urban setting, or on a housing estate.
So you have the green light? Here’s what to think about next
You’ve checked that it’s OK for you to have your own flock and you’ve got enough space to house them there are 3 things you will need to consider next:
- The breed of chicken & how to look after them,
- The Chicken’s habitat & what to feed them, and
- General maintenance of the chickens and their habitat.
You’re on the way to becoming a neighbourhood organic chicken farmer.
Which Chicken to Choose
Have a good long think about why you want to have chickens. Do you want them for their meat, which you know will be tastier, fresher and definitely organic when you’ve raised it yourself? Do you want your own fresh supply of organic eggs – do you want a bit of both? Chickens make surprisingly good company too. They are fairly intelligent creatures and will chatter to their humans once they get to know them. There are breeds that will give you what you are looking for.
When you have your chickens then you will need to brush up on how to keep the chicken healthy, what vaccinations you will need to give them to protect against parasites, and if you’re raising organic chickens then what to give them rather than antibiotics.
Now for the daily living routine of an organic chicken.
There are some fundamental practical things to consider about your chicken’s habitat and what and how you feed them. Have a good look at where you’re planning your chicken coop – does it have shade? Is it protected from the wind? You will need to provide some shelter from the sun, wind and rain if there isn’t anything naturally occurring from your chosen spot. The chickens will need to have somewhere to nest and sleep at night, protected from predators, also somewhere to lay their eggs. If you’re building a nesting/ sleeping area, it might be worth raising it off the ground – as this not only protects them from predators that can dig and burrow, such as foxes, but also will make the house last longer as it’s away from the dampness of the ground.
Feeding your chickens is also a consideration. Not only what you feed them, but how you deliver their food and water to them. Chickens poop a lot and they’re not above pooping in their food bowls – so think about a way to raise their food and water to minimise contamination. They will need their water supply changing daily – and 15ml of apple cider to 4l of water will keep the water from sliding up and keep your chickens healthier too
There are plenty of organic foods that will give chickens a good foundation to their diet, be sure to buy the right one for their specific stage of development though. You can also supplement their diet with scraps from your food waste, and allow them to scratch around your garden. They love a few garden pests – such as slugs, and scratching out the weeds. You can also give them some fresh oregano to bolster their defences against illness. If you are feeding them your scraps, avoid potato peels and raw grains and pasta (they tend to swell in their stomach).
Organic Chickens Maintenance
The chickens will stay happier and healthier if you clean out their coops at least once a week – getting rid of all the old faeces and sweeping their sleeping quarters out. It keeps their respiratory systems in better condition as they are prone to respiratory problems. You can also use this time to check the fences and habitat for any signs of damage that will make your birds vulnerable.
It’s so easy to have your own flock of chickens, having them around can give you some company, get you outdoors and more active and also give you some lovely fresh organic eggs, and even meat. You can find books, blogs and many internet sources that will fill any gaps in your knowledge. Organic chicken farming, even on a small back garden scale, isn’t so difficult.