Chickens

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Many people with plots of land in Virginia of all sizes choose to have chickens. From cities to the country, chickens are an easy way to bring the farm to your home, and all you need is a little bit of Virginia land. What does owning chickens entail? How much land? How much work? What are the benefits? These are just a few questions that might be swirling around in your head while you are contemplating owning a few of your own.

Things to consider as you begin your journey with backyard poultry:

  1. Is it legal?

Although in many cities and counties owning chickens & poultry is legal and encouraged, it may not be everywhere. For example, the city of Waynesboro has an ordinance allowing these feathered friends, whereas the neighboring county of Augusta has ruled out the birds. Do not waste your time and money on getting your coop started if you have not first checked to see if you can own these animals legally first.

 

  1. Answer the question: Why do I want chickens?

There can be a multiplicity of reasons as to why you would like to try your hand at owning chickens. Home-raised eggs? Meat? Pets? This question is essential to guiding you on the path to choosing your chickens. There are many, many breeds to choose from! Here is a quick reference guide: Chicken Breeds.

 

  1. Cost

The coop is likely to be your biggest expense. If you are handy enough, you can build one yourself, but you can also purchase one premade if you’d like.

 

Check out these homemade options:

Thanks Modern Farmer!

61 DIY Chicken Coops

 

Or these prefab options:

$175 – You may want to seal this one up as soon as you can.

$375 – Can house up to 4 chickens in this hen house.

$675 – Adorable Mini Barn!

 

Buy your chickens:

Poultry Hatcheries in Virginia  

Cackle Hatchery – Shipping, minimum 3-5 Chickens

Dunreath Farm – Pickup Only, Ashland, VA (Non-GMO Feed)

Expect to pay $10-25 a bird.

  1. Daily Chores
  • Feeding
  • Watering
  • Collecting Eggs
  • Closing hens in at night
  • Clean Coop (1X/week)
  1. Land/Space

You will need approximately 10 square feet per bird. You should plan your flock and coop appropriately as per the space you have available.

 

  1. Feeding your Chickens

Chickens will eat almost anything, but you really want to think about what chickens should eat, not what they can eat.

  • Pellets
  • Oyster Shell & Grit
  • Vegetables
  • Table Scraps
  • Scratch Grains
  • Meal Worms (Sparingly, otherwise you can make your chicken extremely sick. )
  • Fresh Water

Owning backyard chickens has been increasingly popular in urban areas as well as rural areas as of recent. Because of this, resources have become readily available among local communities as well as online to help you make use of your Virginia land in this way.

A few more resources:

Raising Chickens 101

What to Feed your Chickens

My PetChicken

 

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