What you need to keep backyard chickens is going to largely depend on what type of chickens you want to keep and how large of an operation you intend to have. If like a lot of people you’re a backyard hobbyist, the needs are fairly basic and it shouldn’t be too hard to maintain.
You might want to familiarize yourself with local laws to make sure that you can legally keep backyard chickens at your location. You don’t want to get set up only to find that your neighbors disapprove and now you’ve got a fight on your hands. Before you purchase anything for your endeavor, make sure that you can’t be told to pack it in when you just got it all set up.
Now that you’ve made the decision to keep backyard chickens, the first question you’ll need to ask yourself is why you want to keep chickens in the first place. Depending on whether you’re keeping backyard chickens for meat or for eggs should determine the breed of chicken that you invest in. If you’re just starting out, the best breeds are those that are not too aggressive or flighty.
The Ameraucana is a good breed of chicken to start with, as they are easily handled and not too aggressive. They are fairly good egg layers and will be a good breed with which to learn the ins and outs of keeping chickens.
The obvious needs of keeping backyard chickens would be feeders, waterers and a coop of some kind. There are many different types of feeders and waterers to choose from with many of them easily made with the right materials. Sometimes, the staff at your local feed store can help you decide on the best choice for your particular set up. The type of coop is going to be the most important decision you’ll make. Which one you decide on will depend on how much room you have and how many chickens you intend to keep. The general recommendation is 4 square feet indoors and 10 square feet outdoors per bird. How well your coop needs to be insulated will largely depend on the climate where you reside.
Another consideration in coop construction is one of predation of your backyard chickens. It’s not uncommon for wild predators to prey on domestic birds. Your coop should be constructed in such a way to prevent predators from gaining access to the coop and wiping out your investment.
There usually aren’t many supplies required to keep backyard chickens. Once you’ve decided on how many chickens you want to keep, choose a coop that is appropriate for the number of birds that you intend to have. Having appropriate space will reduce stress and the birds will be more likely to lay eggs. Your feed choice will depend on the age of the birds when you get them and again, your local feed store can make recommendations. The best way to start out is with a minimal number of birds until you determine what works best for you. Once you have your coop set up, you’ll learn the ins and outs and what you need to keep chickens.