Keeping chickens in your own garden is fun and not difficult. If you can eat eggs from your own chickens, you don’t have to worry about dioxin contamination of the eggs or a lack of species-appropriate chicken husbandry. Private chicken farmers also think that eggs from their own chickens taste especially good. However, before you can enjoy eggs from your own hens, you need to acquire some basic knowledge about keeping chickens so that you can implement your plan properly. With our guide, we help you to learn more about the conditions under which chickens are kept.
What are the requirements for keeping chickens in my own garden?
Before you start keeping chickens in your own garden out of sheer enthusiasm, you should find out exactly what rights and obligations you have to think about as a chicken keeper. In addition to your neighbors’ perceptions of your chicken keeping, there are a number of legal requirements for keeping chickens in your home garden.
The neighborhood – not everyone likes the morning “cock-a-doodle-doo”.
Not every neighbor is thrilled to be awakened early in the morning by the crowing of a rooster. Therefore, it is advisable to talk to the neighbors before you acquire the animals. Perhaps just the promise of regularly giving them eggs from happy chickens will help keep them positive. Who can say no to that? However, if the neighbors remain critical of keeping chickens, one solution to the problem may be a soundproof chicken coop with an automatic door opener. A timer controls the opener so that the chickens do not come out of the coop until later in the morning. In any case, settle any disagreements up front. You’ll do yourself a favor by avoiding a dispute in private neighbor law.
In allotment gardens it is usually already regulated in the statutes that the keeping of chickens is excluded. But of course you can always apply for an exemption to the association board. Maybe it helps to offer the members eggs from healthy and happy chickens.
The building law – mobile coops are not a problem if you have a reasonable number of animals
If you want to build a permanent chicken coop, you must comply with the regulations of public building law. Depending on the federal state, different regulations apply here. It is best to clarify with the responsible building authority what you have to think about when you want to build a chicken coop.
Maybe a small relocatable chicken coop is the right solution for you. They can usually be used without an official permit.
Mandatory vaccination according to the Avian Influenza Ordinance – sensible protection for the birds
As a keeper of chickens, you are obliged to have your birds vaccinated regularly against Newcastle disease (avian influenza, atypical avian influenza). How often you must vaccinate depends on how the vaccine is administered. The interval is specified by the manufacturer. If several birds die at the same time in your flock, you must call a veterinarian immediately to rule out highly contagious avian influenza.
The above regulations provide only a brief overview of the most important regulations. Check with your veterinary office and your veterinarian for the regulations that apply to you before you start keeping your own chickens. Then you are on the safe side.
How much work does it take to keep chickens?
Keeping a small flock of chickens is much less labor and time intensive than keeping a dog. Chickens need fresh food and water at all times. They need to be let out of their coop and put back in daily. In addition to thoroughly cleaning the entire coop on a regular basis, droppings should be removed from the droppings board or pit daily, as well as checking for eggs. Accordingly, you should calculate a time expenditure of about 15 minutes daily for the care of your chickens.
How do I keep chickens in the garden?
A chicken should never be kept alone. Chickens are social animals that only feel comfortable in a group. You should give five to seven chickens an area of about 100 m2 in the garden, eight to ten chickens about 150 m2 and 20 chickens about 400 m2. If you have decided to keep chickens in the garden, set up a natural and varied run and coop. They provide the conditions for keeping them in a manner appropriate to their species and needs.
The chicken run – ideally with shrubs, lawn and scratching area.
The chicken run should correspond to the natural habits of the chickens. That is, plants such as bushes, shrubs and trees should provide the animals with shelter and the opportunity to hide. Since the animals are busy foraging almost all day, they need a large scratching area with grass and soil surface. Once you know where you want to build the run, you can start building the fence. Depending on the breed, it can vary in height. For light breeds it is recommended to use fences up to two meters high, while for heavy breeds already one meter high fences are enough. With the Euronet – poultry net from Patura, chickens of heavy breeds are particularly safely fenced.
Make sure that your chickens have the opportunity for a dust bath. Chickens love to clean themselves in this way and rid themselves of excess fat and mites that may be present. If the chickens do not create their own bath by scratching, place a container of dry soil or sand for them in a sheltered spot. It is guaranteed to be accepted with enthusiasm for sand bathing.
The chicken coop – a shelter for the chickens especially at night and in winter
Before you decide which chicken coop to build, chicken breed and number of chickens should be clarified. In general, the more space chickens have, the more comfortable they will be. If the run is large enough, one square meter of coop space can hold up to three medium-sized chickens or five bantams. Since the coop will be the main place where your chickens stay besides the run, you should pay special attention to it. A chicken coop must be warm, bright and well ventilated. Accordingly, the coop should have windows for daylight and double walls and insulating material for sufficient heat. To protect your chickens from martens, you need to lock them in the coop at night. The coop must be closed all around.
The chicken coop – what must go inside?
Chickens stay in the chicken coop for sleeping, laying eggs and in rainy and cold weather. The chickens should have roosting poles. It is best to place all the roosts one meter high – all the roosts of the same height, so that there are no rank disputes among the animals. Under the perches you should place droppings boards or create droppings pits, which you clean regularly. The hens also need nests for egg laying and brooding. One nest is sufficient for three to four hens. You can line the nests with hay, while sawdust or chopped straw is suitable as bedding for the floor. A drinking trough and a feed trough ensure the supply of the chickens in the house. Feed troughs or poultry drinkers made of metal or plastic are available for purchase in various sizes.
Make sure that the laid eggs are within easy reach for you. For you, fetching the eggs should not involve any effort and the chickens want to be disturbed as little as possible in their coop.
What breed of chicken is suitable for keeping chickens in the garden?
When the run and coop are ready, the big moment arrives and your chickens can move into their new home. But which chicken breed should you choose? In Europe alone, there are over 180 different breeds. Chickens come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. As a hobby owner, you will be happy if the animals are tame and trusting. Especially for children it is nice when they can gently stroke the chickens and feed them by hand. Cochin, Sussex, and Wyandotte breed chickens are especially tame. Cochins have lush plumage and can handle almost any weather. They are sedate, trusting and lay up to 120 eggs a year. The Sussex chicken is quiet and cuddly. It is easy to care for and is especially suitable for beginners when keeping chickens in the garden. The heavy breed does not fly much. Sussex chickens can make it to a laying rate of over 150 eggs a year. Wyandots are also considered to be chickens with a friendly disposition and good laying performance. Most chickens of this breed cannot fly. They lay around 180 eggs per year.
If you don’t have a lot of space available, you should look into bantams in particular. Bantams don’t feel much urge to move around, and can live a species-appropriate life even in a small space.
Chicken feed – what do chickens eat in the garden?
In the wild, chickens feed mainly on seeds, greens, insects, worms and berries. However, in captivity, they usually can’t provide enough for themselves, so you’ll need to feed your chickens additional food. When feeding chickens, make sure that it is adapted to the chicken’s natural diet. By feeding laying meal you exclude that the chicken leaves less tasty, but important feed components. You can offer finely ground or pelletized laying meal as a complete feed or as a supplementary feed when feeding grains.
For more detailed information on proper chicken feeding, read our guide “Feeding chickens right – How to make all chickens happy!” here.
If you have enough time and a suitable garden, keeping chickens is straightforward. You have to follow some legal regulations. For example, chickens must be registered and vaccinated. Besides the eggs, the contact with the animals enriches your daily life. In addition to species-appropriate feeding, the right run and the appropriate coop are important. This requires appropriate planning in advance. If you have chosen a trusting chicken breed, this will make everyday handling easier and a relationship with the animals will be established more easily. Especially for children, close contact with the animals is something very special.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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