Thursday, 14 April 2011

Debunking Common Chicken Misconceptions

After doing some research into raising backyard chickens over the last week or so, I have come to realise that there are a lot of misconceptions floating around that put urban chicken raising in a bad light. Now I originally believed some of these things and have been pleasantly surprised not only by what I have read but also by what I have seen first hand. Below I am picking some of the most oft heard objections and am hoping to raise awareness to the actual truth.

  1. Chickens Smell - Absolutely! Every animal that defecates is going to smell. But the odour that immediately comes to everyone's mind is that of a thousand or so chickens crammed into a chicken barn where the close quarters allow ammonium to build up, although a good farmer doesn't allow this. With urban chickens we are talking about 8 hens in a coop. A proper coop is built to afford each hen with around 2-3 square feet of room and when cleaned out properly has almost no odour. Just as a comparison, the average dog produces 12 ounces of solid waste per day compared with a chicken who produces only 1.5 ounces.
  2.  Noise - Let's travel back to kindergarten for a moment and remember when we were learning about animals and the sounds they make. Chickens go 'Cluck, Cluck' and its the rooster who makes the big 'Cock-a-doodle-doo' Now roosters are NOT part of urban chicken raising. They are definitely the noise maker and no neighbour (or owner) wants to be awoken to their sound. Hens, however, do make a little noise after laying an egg, for about two minutes or so. It has been measured at around 63 decibels which is about the level of two people talking compared with a barking dog which has been measured at about 75 decibels.
  3. Unwanted predators, pests or rodents - I will quote directly from for this one "Predators and rodents are already living in urban areas. Bird feeders, pet food, gardens, fish ponds, bird baths, trash put out the night before, all attract raccoons, foxes, rodents and flies. Most modern chicken pens are designed to keep predators away." Having chickens will not bring what is not already in the area. Most hen keepers will take multiple steps to ensure their ladies are kept safe from these predators.
Those are the top three that I have been questioned about and that I myself worried about prior to learning about the feasibility of raising chickens in one's backyard. Most of my information came from the websites below. Here's hoping we can put some of these misconceptions to rest.

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