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Resources for Backyard Chickens

The rise in popularity of backyard chickens in Pinellas County brings up many questions about best management practices. There are various ordinances depending on your location and which city you live in. Each city has its own ordinances about keeping backyard chickens and you need to be familiar with whether your city allows them and what special requirements they may have.

chicken coop

(picture: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-super-awesom-chicken-coop )

Backyard chickens require protection from predators that are common in cities. Their main predators are raccoons, rats, owls, hawks, and cats. An enclosed space for them to stay at night is essential to their protection. Ensure that the coop is free of small holes for predators to sneak in. There is an endless variety of coop designs with just as much range in cost. If you have a small space in which to raise the birds, choose breeds with a calmer temperament and avoid birds that are listed as active. Active birds will not be happy in close confinement.

Here is a checklist of items you will want to think about before you consider keeping backyard chickens.

  • Review your local ordinance (City or County Planning Department)
  • Space necessary to provide appropriate care (Housing, protection, food storage)
  • Breeds that do best in your local area , space requirements and temperament (Local breeders)
  • Best housing for your available space and safe from predators
  • Daily feeding, sanitation and removing eggs
  • Bird health and potential diseases
  • Egg production and food safety

Hens begin laying at around six months of age and can continue for 5-10 years, with peak production occurring in the first 2 years. They will lay roughly 6 eggs each week. Egg production drops each year when the hens molt (replace their feathers in the early fall) and as daylight hours are lost. Hens need at least 12- 14 hours of light each day to continue laying eggs. A regular light bulb is sufficient to supply this light. Contact local breeders for the best information on care of poultry in this area. Have fun and get to know your chickens.

Resources:
Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises: Poultry
BackYardChickens.com
Quick Reference Guide to Heritage Chickens Livestock Conservancy
Backyard Chicken Basics