Five things to think about if you want to raise chickens in Arizona
Arizona residents have continued to be interested in raising chickens in order to produce fresh eggs in their own backyards.
If you’ve been thinking about it, here are five facts you need to know before you buy chicks or hens:
Are you allowed to?
Before building a coop, check on whether raising chickens is allowed in your city, county or subdivision. You might have a zoning problem. If chickens are not forbidden, find out just how many chickens you can raise.
Do you have space?
Some Arizona residents wonder if they can raise chicks in an apartment or condo, but chickens really need to have a yard to live in.
You can’t walk chickens like you walk your dog when you come home at night after work. Chickens need space to find bugs to eat and they like to root around outdoors.
The right housing is important. Chickens need to be in a run outside or enclosed in a coop for the night. You want to keep out wild critters, like bobcats, coyotes and raccoons.
Put in a sturdy fence area fastened to two-by-fours that are set in concrete. Put welded wire fencing on the roof of the enclosure and hardware cloth on the sides.
Coyotes can break through chicken wire, so don’t buy that. You want an enclosure that is almost a fortress, but it’s possible to buy many prefabricated housing options that are on the market rather than having to build a coop yourself.
Where do you get them?
Try visiting local feed stores rather than going online. Feed stores seem to know all the answers about when and what to buy. You can mix breeds.
Some people like chicks, whereas some like to buy adult hens, but so-called point-of-lay hens are hard to find.
You also want to buy a minimum of three chickens to start. Each bird will lay six eggs a week when they are from 6 to 24 months of age. As hens get older, they lay fewer eggs.
They do fly
Generally, chickens will not try to fly off to neighboring yards, but lock them in a coop for a couple of weeks when you first get them to be sure they become acclimated to their new home.
You can also trim feathers on one wing of a chicken twice a year. That will prevent them from flying or getting airborne.
Some breeds fly better than others, so keep that in mind when you purchase your chickens.
Make friends with your neighbors and share your eggs with them. That’s one way to avoid complaints.
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