Thinking of starting your backyard chicken journey? Whether that means keeping them exclusively as pets, or bringing your eggs to market, there are a few things you should know before jumping in. Check out these 10 disadvantages of keeping chickens before you get your first hen.
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #1: Poo
It will come as no surprise that chickens, like every other animal, go #2. However, it cannot be overstated just how much poo they create. It’s stinky, so you have be strict with yourself about keeping it clean or it will become absolutely disgusting.
Luckily, there are products out there to help you get around this issue. Nest box herbs and herbal nesting pads will make your coop smell significantly better, while remaining 100% safe for your hens. You’ll still have to clean regularly, but these will make the experience more enjoyable.
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #2: They dig holes
Seasoned chicken keepers are well aware, but those of us who are new to the wonderful world of chickens may not know that hens love a good dust bath. Dust baths are a chicken’s way of staying clean & hygienic, but the holes they leave behind can be annoying.
Are the holes as big as something a dog could dig? No. But it is something worth considering if you love a spotless yard!
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #3: They’ll Destroy Your Flower Beds or Home Garden
Destroy may be a strong word here – but they will likely eat the flowers & produce you grow to some degree. This issue can easily be solved with a bit of chicken fencing around the areas you don’t want your hens to peck at and eat.
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #4: Egg Production Goes Way Down in the Winter
As the amount of sunlight a hen receives goes down, so too will her egg production. This is the natural egg cycle of your hens. If you’re only keeping them for eggs and not just as pets, there are ways to get around this with heat lamps. However, the use of these has been debated. Don’t worry – eggs will be back in full force come Spring time!
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #5: Just like dogs & cats, chickens can have medical issues, too
Unfortunately, just like any other pet, your chickens may eventually have a health related issue that you alone cannot solve. While many helpful chicken supplements exist out there including scaly leg protector and daily hen health, sometimes your chickens will just need a trip to the vet.
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #5: They can make it hard to go on vacation
Dog sitters and cat sitters are incredibly easy to find. Chicken sitters… not so much. While it’s not impossible, it will be much harder to find someone willing to watch your flock while you go on a trip.
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #6: They can get noisy
Even if you don’t get a rooster, chickens can be pretty noisy. Add a rooster to the equation, and you may find yourself getting complaints from neighbors who’d rather not be woken up at 5:30 every morning.
If you live very close to other neighbors who might get annoyed with your flock, consider speaking with them before you get your first chicken(s). Maybe you can convince them to not complain if you donate some eggs to them once in a while.
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #7: Predators
Truly one of the hardest parts of keeping chickens is the existence of predators. Chickens need to be well-protected, and it’s easier than you’d think for them to get snatched up. Every chicken keeper must learn to deal with loss in a way that no other pet owner may be able to relate to.
There are a number of preventative measures you can take – consider an automatic coop door to ensure your flock is locked up tight at night, or solar nite eyes to imitate eyes & scare off furry predators.
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #8: Daily, Monthly, Annual Maintenance
We mentioned it a little bit before, but chickens require a decent amount of maintenance. Around 1 hour a day is usually required to do the appropriate coop cleanup, watering, and feeding. Monthly & Annual checks are also recommended to make sure everything is ship shape for your hens, especially around the time the temperature starts to change.
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #9: Neighbors
Again, your neighbors may not love your hens as much as you do. As long as you are following the regulations put in place by your city & state regarding backyard birds, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, though. If they do complain, free eggs are always a good way to get neighbors off of your back, especially with this year’s soaring egg prices.
Backyard Chicken Disadvantage #10: Aging Birds
Unfortunately, chickens don’t lay eggs until the day they die. Most hens will start to show a decline in egg production around years 2-3, depending on the breed and individual bird. It will be up to you to decide whether to keep them with you in their retirement, or to give them away. It is never an easy decision.
In conclusion, as perfect as chickens are, they still have some drawbacks. Every pet has inconvenient upkeep to some extent, but it’s up to you decide whether it’s worth it or not. Chickens provide love, comfort, companionship, and plenty of delicious eggs. They deserve proper care and attention, just like any other animal. Happy chicken keeping!