Written by Samantha Walter-Cano
Edited by Andrea Lazzari
Why Keep Chickens?
Keeping a backyard flock has become increasingly popular over the last few years. But what are the benefits of backyard chickens? Keeping chickens gives you access to fresh and delicious eggs. For many people, they are also an entertaining backyard companion that requires little maintenance. Keeping chickens can help you and your family lead a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Additionally, chicken waste is a great natural fertilizer for your soil!
Who Can Keep Chickens in Indian River County?
The first step to keeping chickens is to research local requirements and specifications in your area. Some counties and areas may not allow the keeping of backyard chickens on residential lots. In Indian River County, cities such as Fellsmere and Sebastian allow the keeping of backyard chickens. However, Sebastian is limited to 2 hens, while Fellsmere is limited to 6 hens. Both cities do not allow the keeping of roosters. In the city of Vero Beach, you cannot keep backyard chickens. Unincorporated areas of Indian River County are allowed backyard chickens but are limited to 6 hens and no roosters.
Keep in mind that rules may vary if you live in an HOA or deed-restricted community. Many of these communities don’t allow chickens. Reach out to your local extension office to learn more about specific ordinances in your area. Besides limits on the quantity of hens you can keep, and restrictions on roosters, there may be other regulations on chicken coop size and free-roaming of birds in your zoned area.
Things to Consider
There are many things to consider when keeping backyard chickens. The first is that roosters are not necessary for your hens to produce eggs. Without the presence of roosters, mature hens will still produce eggs. Another thing to consider is housing for your chickens. Whether it is a regular coop, or a mobile coop, all chickens need their space. For example, a 6 ft x 3 ft coop would be appropriate to house 6 chickens. There are many sources available to help you brainstorm what kind of housing would be appropriate for your property.
Lastly, it is important to choose the right kind of feed for your hens. Feed may differ based on the health and age of the hens. Chicken should have constant access to fresh water. Consider using an automatic waterer to do so.
Keeping Backyard Chickens
Before you run out and purchase a coop, consider participating in a backyard chicken class from UF/IFAS Extension Indian River County. You will have the opportunity to learn much about keeping chickens and how to keep them safe from predators and diseases. Keeping chickens is fun, but it is important to be educated on how to care for them. Follow us on Facebook for updates regarding this class, and all things agriculture! Register for upcoming classes on Eventbrite!
For additional information on raising backyard chickens, check out these great resources from UF/IFAS Extension:
AN239/AN239: Raising Backyard Chickens for Eggs (ufl.edu)
Backyard Chickens – Gardening Solutions – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (ufl.edu)
Backyard Chickens- Resources – UF/IFAS Extension Baker County (ufl.edu)