When most people think of chickens, they likely picture the rooster on the fence post at dawn or a big farm with a flock of birds roaming the fields. While this is the case in many instances, it doesn't have to be the only scenario. This picture just might keep people from capitalizing on a wonderful resource for self sufficiency. Following are three commonly held myths about keeping poultry.
Right off the bat, most people will say they do not have the space to house chickens. This is especially the case in the suburbs or cities. While people in apartment complexes may be correct with that argument, many who are in a home can do it. Chickens do not need large amounts of field or space to be happy. Chickens can do very well with approximately 3x3 living space. If the average family of four were to keep 3-4 chickens, a 9x12 area will suffice nicely. That number of chickens will share nest space and all they will require is an enclosure to protect from the weather. This number of chickens will keep the average American family stocked with eggs very well.
In suburban environments people have neighbors and neighbors do not appreciate smelly farm animals right outside their door. The fact of the matter is that chickens can smell, but so can humans if we do not clean ourselves and our surroundings. With care and maintenance the smell of a chicken house is minimal. Fresh straw or wood chip bedding cleaned or changed weekly should prevent any offensive stench from being overpowering. Cedar works especially well in absorption of smells and having a wonderful natural fragrance.
The classic rooster on the fence post, crowing at dawn is a classic American picture of farm life. When you implant that picture in the modern American neighborhood, it can become a nuisance. Roosters, being the male chicken are the culprits in noise making. They are the ones who will crow in the morning, or for that fact all day. They use that call to ward off other males, or check in with the rest of their flock. The hens, which are the females, tend to only make a soft clucking sound. This will be less of a noise nuisance that most dogs. It is important to note that occasionally a hen will take on rooster traits and emit a softer crow. This happens when there is no male in the social structure at times, but it is rare.
The ideal set up for a family of four would be to have 3-4 chickens which would likely lay about one egg per day. In colder climates this would change somewhat in the winter. The cost of having chickens is not tremendous. Initial set up involves some costs of course. Fresh eggs provided right in your own backyard can be a wonderful pay off. It is important to check local ordinances regarding poultry. Some areas have laws against farm animals, which they might consider chickens. Other places do not or are flexible. Just be sure to check it out, but after that go get your hands on some of those cluckers.