Should I raise my own small poultry flock for eggs and/or meat? This is a question that is posed to Extension Agents on a regular basis.
Even though the United States enjoys one of the safest and one of the least expensive food supplies in the world, you have probably noticed that the price you pay at the grocer is going up. If this has led you to wonder if raising a small flock of poultry for egg and/or meat production would be a good alternative to purchasing these items, there are some considerations that need to be taken into account.
Limited Poultry & Egg Operation Permit
If you are looking to raise poultry as a business venture, you will need a larger flock than most municipalities allow. There is also a permitting process that is overseen by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). The rule for this permit is rule 5K-4.033 and can be found here. A short explanation of the rule along with an explanation of requirements can be found here. Information from UF/IFAS concerning poultry can be found on the EDIS website.
Are there specific zoning laws that allow or prevent you from raising poultry at the location that you desire?
Many municipalities have started to allow small flocks to be raised and housed in non-agricultural zoned areas. These allowances vary at the town, city, and county levels. Please make sure to check with your local zoning office to determine the rules for your specific area.
Is there someone available to take care of the birds on a daily basis?
Raising even a flock of 5 birds involves a good bit of labor; and there is no time off from the chores on the weekends or holidays. Constant access to food, water, and shelter is a must for the small flock. Please take this into account before purchasing birds.
Do you have the necessary housing and equipment available, or will these items need to be purchased and/or constructed?
Multiple feeders and waterers are necessary, even for very small flocks. The correct type of housing is also essential if you plan to collect eggs from the flock.
Are the facilities that you plan to use designed in such a way that they will prevent nuisances such as noise, odor, and insects from affecting you and/or your neighbors?
In addition to following specific zoning laws concerning livestock, there are laws that concern noise and odor. If you have neighbors in close proximity to where the poultry are kept, make sure that you will not be in violation of any ordinances. It is also advisable to talk with your neighbors about plans that you have concerning a small poultry flock, so that they are not surprised by the appearance of chickens in the area.
Finally, please remember that you can also consult with your County Extension Agent about plans that you have for a small flock.