The Pros and Cons of Owning Chickens in the Suburbs

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Luke is an appraiser in Texas. He and his wife keep chickens and thoroughly enjoy those fresh, organic eggs.

Pros and Cons of Keeping Chickens as Pets in Your Backyard

During the first few years of my marriage, my wife and I have been a part of many different co-ops and have tried to eat organic as much as possible. One of these co-ops was a farm where we received fresh milk and eggs, and the difference is staggering from what you'd find in a grocery store.

Our first home was very nice but had a very small backyard. Once we had kids, my wife and I were looking for a new place with a bigger back yard, but my wife had a secret poultry agenda. She wanted chickens and a coop to keep them in for her birthday and our anniversary, which occur in the same month. She did all the research to find out which breeds work best with younger children and what kind of henhouse to buy for them.

We now happily own chickens, and this is what we've learned.

Which Make Better Pets: Roosters or Hens?

When buying baby chicks, there's always the chance that you buy a baby rooster. We knew that we didn't want an angry mini-dinosaur running around acting like he owns the place, so my wife found a farm that charged a bit more but guaranteed hens. This is not a necessity for everyone, but for us, it really helped out.

The Positives of Owning Chickens

  • Fresh, organic eggs: This is the number one reason to own these birds. Fresh eggs from healthy birds are so delicious that you'll never be the same again. They do need some washing beforehand, but if you desire to crack one into your pan, then you won't be disappointed.
  • Fertilizer: Chicken poop is high in nitrogen, which is a good way to fertilize a garden or yard. I've heard of people using it in their compost as well.
  • Insect control: My chickens love to chase and eat any bug they can get their beaks on. Depending on how many birds you own, this could really help with your insect problems.
  • Companionship: Chickens have the potential to be very friendly animals. We have one hen named Iris that will come and sit in our lap and want to be petted. Our other two, Petunia and Marigold, are still warming up to the family. I'd recommend buying some dried mealworms; chickens go crazy for those little guys.
  • Responsibility: If you have children, it can be a good lesson in responsibility. My son loves our three ladies, and my wife and I try to get him involved in taking care of these animals. He feeds them, makes sure that they have water, and loves to give them the mealworm treats.

The Negatives of Owning Chickens

  • Mess: Their coop and nesting box has to be cleaned almost daily. They poop a lot, and it is gross.
  • Daily care: Like any animal, they need to be taken care of, and it's a daily thing. We try to feed them some appropriate leftovers and scraps, but it's mostly chicken feed for the gals.
  • They need to be protected: I'm pretty sure that if left to their own devices, our dogs would gobble up our chickens with no hesitation. If the ladies are out free-ranging in the backyard, the dogs cannot be let outside. If they even see them from the window, they will bark and jump like absolute wild animals. It's probably the biggest negative for my family right now because we thought that our dogs would be friendly and gentle instead of bloodthirsty.
  • They're sensitive to insect and weed control: Spraying for weeds and bugs with traditional products can be dangerous for your birds. This is frustrating for me because if I want my lawn short, I'd have to mow these weeds down every week. We're hoping that the chickens develop a taste for mosquitoes and junebugs too.
  • They're vulnerable to predation: In Texas, we have birds of prey in the sky, and as a kid, I have seen them nab chickens in broad daylight. If you let your chickens free-range, then that is a real risk that you are taking. There are also stray dogs, cats, raccoons, and even rats that can go after your birds.

Are You Ready for Chicken Ownership?

After my wife and I considered all these pros and cons, we determined the positives outweighed the negatives and decided to be chicken owners. They're a fun and productive animal to have on your property, and while they may not be for everyone, the eggs are still delicious.

Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on April 26, 2019:

I have ended up with so many chickens because people got on the trendy backyard chicken bandwagon without looking into it first.

Cons of a Chicken Chunnel

Chicken Chunnels Can Destroy Your Lawn

  • Chickens have a nasty habit of scratching at anything around them. Even though this practice helps them find food, it can also destroy your lawn. This happens quite often if you fail to provide them with opportunities to roam and scratch the ground in other locations.

Chicken Chunnels Need Your Attention

  • Since chickens like to create dust and scatter loose soil around them, you’ll have to pay attention to their chunnels. Keeping an eye on your bird while inside these tunnels can be a tiresome task. Also, this task will involve making sure that the places destroyed by scratching the ground are leveled to look good.

Chicken Chunnels Require Your Commitment

  • If you are a busy person, you’ll find it difficult to keep up with your birds while they’re inside their chunnels. To make it worse, you will have to determine the right time to move these tunnels from place to place. This is another time-consuming exercise that you will find somehow challenging.

Chicken Chunnels May Interfere with the growth of Certain Plants

  • Although these tunnels accommodate more birds, they can also have a great impact on the growth of certain plants. As mentioned earlier, chickens scratch the ground and in doing so, they end up uprooting some crops. So, there is a possibility of causing plants such as grass not to grow again for quite some time. This can change the entire outlook of your lawn or yard.

Chicken Chunnels Make it Difficult to Collect Manure

  • Unlike when your chickens are in their coops, collecting droppings can prove an exercise in futility if they’re in tunnels. Furthermore, some tunnels are too small to enable you to access the droppings. Additionally, your birds are on the constant move, meaning that they will scatter their droppings all over their designated space. This denies you a chance to effectively collect manure

Chicken Chunnels Will Interfere with Egg Collection

  • Given that your birds will be moving up and down the tunnels, you may not account for the eggs laid. This can be quite frustrating especially when you don’t have time to monitor your chickens while roaming.

Chicken Chunnels Encourage Your Birds to Eat Harmful Plants

  • Now that your chickens are only limited to forage in specific areas, they may resort to consuming dangerous plants or harmful chemicals. If you are not careful, such plants or chemicals may affect their health and cause death.

PROS of Raising Chickens:

Let’s discuss about the positive sides at first

1. Chickens can give you a great business if you are really willing to do it. You will get eggs all over the year and also meat is always a demanding product of chicken.
2. Some breeds of chicken lays one egg a day.

That means you will get 5-7 eggs a week from a single hen. But some of the chicken breeds lay 3-4 eggs a week. So it fully depends on the breed you are raising. And if the raising is for homely purpose you will be getting good quality eggs rather buying it from a local store.

3. Chickens are very friendly towards human being. Very rarely it is seen that hens attack humans. So when you will be in mental stress you can choose to spent time with them and they will surely give you a great relief. Just try to spend half an hour with them to get some good company.

4. Chickens are a very good source of fertilizer. The excretory products released by the chickens can be used as fertilizer for plants.

Chicken poops are now widely used as fertilizer everywhere.
5. Raising backyard chickens prevents overuse of antibiotics while producing foods. Actually a lot of antibiotics are used in various poultry farms to increase productions.

But in case of backyard chickens antibiotics are not used as a result the health benefits increases in the food products.

Pros and Cons of Backyard Chickens

Ever thought about having backyard chickens? Having chickens is a great way to reconnect yourself to the natural food supply. However, before letting these birds inhabit your property, consider the impacts they can have on you, your family, and your property.

Colleen Wallace wanted to become more conscious about the source of her food. She eats healthy and figured backyard chickens would be a great idea. She built a chicken coop in the backyard and bought a few chickens. Soon, the birds began laying eggs, and her family had a healthy supply.

“I wanted to know where our food came from and wanted to teach my kids the art of real food not just the fluorescent lights and marketing of a grocery store,” she said.

The fun didn’t last. Soon the chickens were tearing up her yard and making a mess everywhere. The chicken experiment lasted two years, but Wallace and her husband finally had enough. The chickens had turned the backyard into a wasteland, and her boys were getting old enough that they needed the backyard.

The family sold the chickens and removed the coop. Wallace says she not opposed to backyard chicken and understands everyone’s situation is different. People just need to be aware of the pros and cons of backyard chickens before letting the birds inhabit their property.

Reasons Against Raising Backyard Chickens:


No unified regulations exist for backyard chickens. Because it is a land-use issue, counties and cities are responsible for regulating and enforcing backyard chickens. Those vary from location to location. Over the last few years, major cities across the country have legalized backyard chickens. The same is true for smaller and mid-sized cities. You will need to check with your zoning administrator or land-use planning office. They can update you on the current laws.

It’s not cheap to raise chickens. In fact, it’s more expensive to raise backyard chickens than purchasing eggs at the store. Chickens cost between $3 and $30 a chick, depending on the breed. The cost of a coop varies. You can build a DIY one for a few hundred dollars, or it can cost several thousand dollars to have a professional build one. The chickens will not get enough food in your backyard alone so it will cost around $15 a month for feed. You can add $10-$20 a month in upkeep and maintenance costs.

Anyone who has ever been around a farm knows that chickens make noise. While the hens will not make as much noise as the rooster, they still are noisy. The noise varies depending on the breed, but chickens produce around 60-70 decibels of noise. That’s similar to a human conversation, but not as much as the 90 decibels of a dog bark.

Chickens produce a large amount of waste, and all that waste can cause your backyard to stink. For Wallace, the key is keeping the right ratio of chickens, especially if they are allowed to roam freely in the yard. The denser the chicken population, the greater the chance that the waste will become intolerable. A lot also depends on the weather. Rain and heat have a major impact on the smell. “The smell can be strong, especially in summer,” Wallace said.

Chickens aren’t very smart and can be easy targets for dogs, foxes, cats and other predators. They are not able to fly and cannot fight back against a predator’s attack. There is always the chance that you will lose some chickens due to predators, which can be tough.

“We’ve had a few hawk attacks and had a hard time with a loss, especially our kids, but it’s a good learning lesson for the kids,” Wallace said.

Yard Maintenance

Wallace wanted to let the chickens forage on natural bugs and other food, so they were allowed to freely roam the yard. That meant the grass, bushes and other landscaping was fair game.

“We loved having backyard chickens but ultimately wanted them to have more space,” Wallace said. “If we wouldn’t have let them free range it may have worked but we wanted the eggs to have a nutrient-dense bug and grass diet instead of just feed.”

Like everything, chickens have a lifespan, and within that cycle, there is the maximum production value of the animal. As chickens age, they produce fewer eggs. Most chickens produce eggs for between five to seven years of life. The change can vary among the breeds, and breeds that are designed to lay eggs tend to lay eggs longer. You have to decide the value of a chicken that is not producing toward the end of its life, and that can be a hard choice. However, unlike commercial eggs producers, money is not the only reason for backyard chickens.

Reasons for Raising Backyard Chickens:

Like Wallace, many people find raising backyard chickens educational. In generations past, families often had a connection to the family farm. That is often not the case today. Backyard chickens are a great way to reconnect with the food supply and learn how food is made. You also learn about the cycle of life and death.


Often backyard chickens become part of the family. It is a lot different than the family farm. You can look at your window and see the chickens or hear them when the window is open. Wallace said she misses her “girls.” They were part of the family and provided entertainment. The boys would watch the chickens roam around the yard and laugh at their interactions. “It was fun,” she said.

Quality Food Supply

Most of the time, we have no idea about the origins of our food. Often, food is produced on the other side of the country or even the other side of the globe. Backyard chickens reconnect you to the food supply. You gather eggs from the backyard, and those eggs are your supply. It’s a true farm-to-table experience.

Improved Nutrition

Eggs that are free range and not raised in a production facility are healthier. Chickens in your backyard eat bugs along with the supplements you feed them. Production birds are feed almost exclusively grain. According to studies, birds that are given access to pasture have one-third less cholesterol and a quarter of the saturated fats. They also have seven times the amount of beta-carotene and three times more vitamin E.

A chicken produces one-pound of manure a month. That’s a lot of waste, but it can be used as a benefit. Backyard chickens can provide manure for composting, and that can help nourish a garden. It’s easy to make a composting bin, and within months, you have material that will enrich the soil.

Low-maintenance Animal

Backyard chickens do require a lot of attention and daily upkeep. Unlike the family dog, backyard chickens do not need to be socialized or walked. A backyard chicken will eat and lay eggs as long as it has a good home and enough food.

Can You Raise Ducks and Chickens Together?

If you’re reading this article, you might still be scratching your head, saying, “Hm. Both chickens and ducks have their pros and cons – can I just raise both species?”

You can raise both chickens and ducks.

However, the answer to this question becomes a bit murkier when you are trying to decide whether they can be raised in the same living area.

Generally speaking, keeping chickens and ducks together can be a challenge if you aren’t aware of the two very distinct housing requirements of both.

It’s not recommended that you keep ducks and chickens in the same sleeping quarters.

Ducks need a lot of water, and will add a lot of moisture and humidity to the air with their playful, water-loving behavior.

Chickens can’t be kept in such wet conditions, so you will need to add extra ventilation to the coop.

If you are trying to keep the two species together during the winter, exercise extreme caution – if you don’t have the appropriate set-up in your coop, you may see some serious health problems in your chickens as a result.

Otherwise, chickens and ducks are both relatively easy to raise, with clear pros and cons for each species.

Consider which one will work best with your climate, homestead set up, and lifestyle, and start researching the best breeds for your needs today!

Watch the video: Should You Get Chickens? The Worst Part of Owning Chickens

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