SO...YOU WANT TO HAVE SOME CHICKENS. Not just any chickens. Maybe your heart is set on Rhode Island Reds, or Silver-Laced Wyandottes, or Leghorns. And you don’t want just any chicken coop. No, that won’t do. Your wife would like some custom metal work, and a few flowers to make it “fit in.” Rooster? Some say yes and others say no. No matter, backyard chickens are all the rage, even with our Southwest Georgia Farm Credit team! Here’s what we learned.
Why have chickens? Where did the inspiration come from?
PAXTON: Well, my Dad was my inspiration. He built a coop, and I thought it would be a good way to teach my kids the responsibility of having to feed the chickens and gather the eggs
BRENDA: A co-worker of mine, Dianne Maxwell, always brought me some fresh eggs. I started to see lots of folks I know getting chickens, and I decided I wanted to try it, too.
BRIAN: My wife, Kresta, and I live on a farm...and we’ve always talked about having horses and really trying to utilize the farm more. She wanted chickens so we started there. Then we’ll add a greenhouse and the horses, and maybe expand the garden.
What was your biggest concern as you were getting started?
BRENDA: Their house! (Spoken like a true Mortgage Loan Officer!) I wasn’t sure where I was going to find one that I liked and I didn’t know where to get the chickens. So, we ended up finding a coop we liked online, and believe it or not, we mail-ordered our chickens!
PAXTON: I wanted to be sure that the chicken coop was aesthetically appealing because we put it in our backyard. That was pretty important to my wife, Stephanie, too!
BRIAN: Well...we don’t have chickens, we have pets! One of our friends gave the chickens to my daughter, and she raised them in the house until we put them outside. So, they’re used to getting a lot of attention and petting!
What kinds of chickens do you have?
BRIAN: Crossbreed of Golden Orpington and Rhode Island Red
BRENDA: Black Jersey Giants!
PAXTON: Rhode Island Reds!
Do you use anything like Nite-Guard to protect your chickens?
PAXTON: It’s too late for Nite-Guard! (seems there might have been a problem!)
BRIAN: I’ve used poultry fencing and a second landscape fence around the bottom, which keeps predators out...then I’ve installed a fence around the border of it. I also have a plastic owl that seems to help.
BRENDA: The first 10 days we had them, we kept them in the house. Now, they are double-secured.
Do your chickens have names?
BRIAN: Bandit, Roberta and Penny
BRENDA: Foghorn, Viva, Kella and Vegas
PAXTON: One is named “Buttercup!”
Do you have a Rooster?
BRENDA: No, we don’t have a Rooster. But a Rooster will protect the ladies...so it’s not a bad idea!
BRIAN: We had a Rooster. Two of them. We only have one now.
PAXTON: Let’s not talk about the Roosters.
Where did your chicken coop design come from?
BRIAN: Kresta and her Dad found a guy who builds coops from restored wood from burned buildings or old homeplaces. They had it built, put it on a trailer, and moved it to our farm.
PAXTON: I liked my Dad’s and tried to copy it...with some modifications.
BRENDA: I ordered it online. But I should have bought a bigger one! Our chickens have out-grown their home. It’s time for a new, bigger one! (again...spoken like a Mortgage Loan Officer!)
How do you collect the eggs?
PAXTON , BRENDA, AND BRIAN: We haven’t had any eggs yet!
(They are expecting their first eggs this fall!)
What are you going to do with the eggs?
PAXTON: My grandmother is known for her delicious cakes. We’re going to give her lots of eggs!
BRIAN: Scramble them!
BRENDA: I’m not going to have to go to the store to buy them!
What is your plan to get your chickens laying in their nesting boxes?
PAXTON: The trick is to put a golf ball in there.
BRENDA: I’ve heard you use a golf ball or an egg.
BRIAN: They’re going to know where to go...
How much did you pay for your chickens?
BRENDA: About $2 a piece.
PAXTON: In the $5 range.
BRIAN: Mine were free.
Now that you have the chickens, are you glad you became a backyard poultry farmer?
BRIAN: It’s really calming and relaxing to just sit outside and watch them and listen to them cluck! They’re curious little things!
PAXTON: It’s been a good investment of time and money. It’s been very educational for me and for the kids—teaching them some responsibility and creating an understanding of where our food really comes from.
BRENDA: It’s been a blast! I’m ready for a bigger chicken coop!
OUR SURVEY TELLS US:
- People want the fresh eggs. It’s not that buying eggs at the grocery store is all that difficult; it’s that this is one way you can control your diet from your backyard. Some studies have shown that pasture-raised eggs are more nutrious than industry-sourced eggs. Of course, they’re going to cost a little more, too.
- The “social” nature of the chickens is simply fun to watch. “They have a little society going on,” Paxton Poitevint, Chief Relationship Manager, said.
CONSIDERING BACKYARD CHICKENS?
- Most important: Check your local ordinances. Many municipalities have strict guidelines or even bans on chickens in your yard.
- Be sure you have a happy chicken home! Chickens need a place to lay eggs, and a “run” where they can roam and peck. Visit backyardchickens.com for great chicken coop design ideas.
WHAT’S THE TIME INVESTMENT?
- Your chickens will need daily care—they need to be fed and watered daily.
- You need to be vigilant about cleaning your coop—and good hygiene is essential when you handle your chickens.
GREAT PLACES TO GET STARTED
NEED FINANCING FOR YOUR BACKYARD CHICKENS?
Email Brian Wilson at BWilson@SWGAFarmCredit.com or APPLY NOW