We recently had the chance to house three hens in our backyard for a week. While backyard chickens are allowed in our area, most of our family and friends thought we were crazy inviting them into our backyard. The experience was highly educational and fun though, and I don’t think my kids (or my wife and I) will ever look at chickens the same again.
Here are 5 things I learned after having chickens for a week.
Fresh eggs taste better
The entire reason we wanted backyard hens was to get fresh eggs every day. And the three hens we had delivered the goods daily once they were comfortable. Fresh, unwashed eggs don’t need to be refrigerated and really do taste much better than store-bought eggs (eggs will absorb other odors and tastes when sitting inside your fridge). The eggs also had different colour shells and ranged in size depending on what the hens were fed the previous day.
Chickens are smarter than they look
The day after the chickens arrived a neighbour said he saw a chicken up the road during his early morning walk and asked if we lost one. Since all our chickens were accounted for we thought someone else in the area must have had chickens, too. Lo and behold, the next morning I caught one of the chickens walking around the front lawn! Even with an electric fence around the hen-house, which was inside a fenced in yard, they somehow figured out a way to escape. Every morning! The bigger surprise though was that they knew how to get back to our house and into their enclosure without us knowing.
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They are noisy creatures
Whoever said chickens were quiet never had them wake them up at 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday! All three hens would start “bok, bok-ing” every morning and continue to get louder until we went out and fed them. They would do this again in the afternoon when they were hungry and again in the evening when they were hungry (chickens eat a lot!).
They act like dogs
One of the biggest surprises to all of us was how much personality each hen had. They would run to us when we entered the backyard, enjoyed being picked up and petted and if we had a bowl with us they would follow us around waiting to be fed even if there was no food in it). And when they did escape it wasn’t that hard to tell them to get back into the yard. Quite honestly, they acted more like dogs than what I perceived a chicken to act like. It was kind of neat.
Raising chickens is a lot of work
Along with them waking us up, escaping and wanting to constantly eat, we had to clean their poop a few times a day and make sure they were comfortable. Because we had them during a heat wave, this also meant setting up shade zones and misting them to keep them cool. There was no way we could go away for a night while we had them either and if we were to keep them full-time it would be a major lifestyle adjustment.
If you’re considering getting backyard chickens, check with your municipality to find out the rules and bylaws in your area first.
Do you have or want to have backyard chickens? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.