This article will take a semi-serious look at why you should not get chickens.
Most of this will be fun but there are a few genuine reasons why you might want to think before you get backyard chickens.
Sometimes folks can be disappointed to learn that chicks do not lay for around 4 months. Other folks are disappointed to find out that they cannot make a profit selling eggs.
If you are looking for reasons to keep chickens then make sure to read 14 reasons why you should keep chickens.
Whatever the reason you should do your research first and make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
So, onto our first reason for not getting backyard chickens…
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12. Bad Eggs
If you like eggs that have thin runny whites and pale yolks that taste bland, then do not get backyard chickens!
Eggs from free range backyard chickens are much more visually appealing, fresher and are slightly higher in nutritional value.
Whereas when a factory hen lays her egg, it is taken along with thousands of others, graded, boxed and sent for sale. The farmer has 30 days to get those eggs to market. Once the eggs are at the market, there is another period of 30 days in which those eggs must be sold.
So, your farm fresh eggs could actually be two months old.
The older they are the more the albumin (white) will spread across the plate. Eggs that are fresh hold themselves tighter.
You will notice too that the yolks of factory hens are usually less orange.
Eggs from hens raised on pasture will have sunny orange yolks that sit up proudly.
Finally, free range eggs are more nutritious and contain more antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and lots more vitamin A, D, E and Bs.
11. Vacations and Pet Sitters
Do you enjoy having a leisurely lie in on the weekends, sitting around and doing absolutely nothing? Then do not get chickens.
They want to be up and around early, very early in the mornings.
Of course you could use an automatic chicken coop door, but they can be expensive.
Caring for any creature involves spending time with them and chickens are no different. In fact once you become chicken addicted your family will be complaining that you spend too much time in the coop. Who knows, you might prefer your chicks to your family on bad days!
Hens really do not take too much time to look after and most daily chores can easily be done in under an hour – but they do need to be done (feeding, water and egg collecting).
You can go on vacation but you will need to plan it like a military operation, not for you but for your flock.
They still need to be fed and watered. Eggs will still need collecting and someone will need to let them out in the morning and make sure they are locked up at night.
Finding a chicken sitter can be tricky and getting them trained to do what you need requires a bit of forethought.
10. Neighbors and Complaints
Neighbors can be a mixed blessing as some love chickens and others hate them.
Difficult neighbors can be a reason not to get chickens. However, bribery with eggs usually makes for a peaceful co-existence with even the most grumpy of neighbors.
One of your neighbors might even be willing to chicken sit for you while you are on vacation.
You will still need to make sure you are zoned for chickens and also follow any local laws.
Otherwise some neighbors might try to force you to get rid of your flock just because they can.
9. Space and Fresh Air
Each hen should have four square feet of space inside the coop and eight square feet in the run. This means they are able to move around without being harassed or pecked at by the more dominant members of the flock.
They also need natural light and air. So your basement, attic or spare room will not be acceptable for long term chicken keeping nor is it healthy for you and your family. Unless your chickens are birds that require a warmer climate (Sultans, Seramas and others), chickens do much better outside in the cooler temperatures.
If you do not have enough outside space then consider not getting chickens.
8. Chicken Math
Chicken math, also known as more hens disease, is a condition that comes on slowly over time!
Once you have this condition you will find yourself looking at chicks of all shapes, colors and sizes.
You will start actively plotting how to get more chickens without your partner knowing. You will be able to justify every single chick you buy and when asked how many chickens you have you will reply ten…“ish”.
Also known as more hens disease since you always need more hens.
This condition is incurable and your neighbors and friends will look at you pityingly and shake their heads!
7. Cheap Eggs and Money
Do not keep chickens if you like money!
If you think your lovely free range eggs are going to be cheap, then think again. When compared to supermarket eggs, backyard free range eggs will be more expensive. Backyard chickens can be expensive to keep.
The price of a dozen eggs in the supermarket right now is around $2. These eggs are so cheap because they are government subsidized. When you have your own flock the cost of your eggs is probably the real price of a dozen supermarket eggs.
However when raising your own chickens you do get the benefit of knowing your chickens are treated humanely.
Moving on from the eggs themselves, starting a flock can be costly. They need a coop of some description that will keep them dry, warm and safe. Then they need feed and water plus bowls. All of these initial expenses add up, so be prepared to part with some money initially.
6. Flower Gardens
Chickens just love gardens.
Their favorite is a nicely cultivated and mulched flower or veggie garden.
They will sample all of the plants and eat the really delicious ones. Chickens will also scratch mulch just as far as they can and leave dust bath craters in the flower beds.
If you want to keep chickens and have a nice garden then you are going to have to put up a fence to keep them out. Make sure it is high enough so they cannot fly over. About 3-4 feet should do the trick unless you have fliers or bantams.
Read what I wish I knew before getting backyard chickens for more.
I will be the first to admit I did not know everything when I started out with chickens.
How could you? There is so much to learn.
Chickens need a few things to help them thrive: good food, water, a coop and fresh air.
If you are going to try and keep chickens for whatever reason then do some homework first. What do they eat? When do they lay? Where should they live?
Libraries usually have books on raising chickens or can order them for you and of course, there is the internet.
The internet can be a mixed blessing. Some sites are very helpful and offer up to date information and there are others that perpetuate old wives tales and plain wrong information. Never rely on one site to the exclusion of others, if something they say sounds a bit weird then check it out on another site.
4. Nightly Lock Ups
You must keep your chickens locked up at night for their own safety.
It is not that they are going to wander around getting into trouble, however foxes, raccoons and a host of other predators will be looking for dinner. Nothing shouts dinner like an open chicken coop with birds snoozing on the perches.
Guarding your flock against predators is a day and night occupation, but with planning and care the risks can be minimized or even eliminated.
Even if you think your area does not have predators, it does. You have just not seen them yet.
Foxes, raccoons and hawks have all made successful homes in cities and urban areas. Rural areas have many more hunters such as fishers, bobcats and coyotes. You may never see them but if you have chickens they are sure to visit you to check things out.
3. Poop and More Poop
Chickens poop, a lot.
If you remove it on a daily basis it is not so bad, but if you let it build up then you can develop some serious muscles while shoveling.
Another thing you need to consider is where you are going to dispose of it.
You cannot put chicken manure directly on your plants as it will kill them. You will need to have a compost heap somewhere to deposit it in until it ages.
Do not get chickens if you are not prepared to deal with the poop.
2. Bugs and Other Delights
Chickens get lice, mites, ticks and worms.
You will need to be up for finding and treating these little creepy crawlies.
Dust bathing a chicken is not as bad as giving a pill to the cat, but it does have its moments.
I found early on that chasing them around the barn trying to catch them was more exercise than I wanted! So I got sneaky and did two or three birds early in the morning as they were just getting up or just as they were settling down for the night.
Other delights would include flies.
Chickens poop will attract flies.
You will need to keep your ladies clean, hang up fly tapes (way up high) and do whatever you can to reduce the population of flies.
1. Sadness and Passings
Sadly, chickens have short lives.
The average hen will live for around eight years – you can read more about this in our article on how long do chickens live.
You will find that each one has a personality and some will work their way into your heart. You can give them the best lives possible, but even then they will inevitably die.
Your friends will say, “Well it was only a chicken”, but you will still feel the loss of your little friend.
Children especially get very attached to chickens, so be prepared for a little sadness in your life when those special ones leave you.
Should You Get Backyard Chickens?
All of the reasons we have discussed are valid, but we have taken a humorous look at some of the problems that can arise when you want to keep chickens in your backyard.
Chickens can be very educational (for kids especially).
Teaching them where their food comes from and how to care for livestock is very important.
It will depend on your point of view, but my own is that having chickens is a very positive experience for most people.
Those that find it awful or hard work have not done enough to prepare themselves for the experience.
Hopefully we have given you something to smile at and think about, but have not managed to put you off of chicken keeping!
Let us know why you want to keep chickens in the comments section below…