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Backyard chickens - worth it, how noisy & much work?

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#1 eve13

Posted 19 June 2017 - 06:21 AM

Wondering if people could share their chicken stories... my athletic husband eats like 6 eggs/day and we were  thinking chickens might be good... eat food scraps and kids play with.. but the only space for a good big henhouse is just outside our bedroom window.. so - how noisy are they and  how much work?
Max we can have is 6, and I know often produce  less that 1 egg/day ..

My folks had hens growing up but on farm so they ran around, so different from suburbia ..  and I not a massive fan of birds, so want prettier and productive ones (friendly with two kids under 4)

Tips? .

Edited by eve13, 19 June 2017 - 06:22 AM.

#2 FiveAus

Posted 19 June 2017 - 06:31 AM

I had some for a few years and loved them (I"m not a bird fan either but chooks are different). I could watch them for hours and I loved having fresh eggs. Then a fox got them and I've not had the heart to replace them.

The fresh laid eggs work out to be expensive. Once you've bought straw for their bedding and layer pellets to supplement the kitchen scraps, it kind of adds a fair bit to the cost of the chooks and their housing.

I had 16 of them so they were a lot of work, replacing their straw regularly or it stinks, cleaning up the chook poo every few days.

Ours were away from the house so I only ever heard the rooster we inadvertently bought. The girls could get pretty noisy when laying their eggs though.

I would have them again in a heartbeat if there were no foxes around, but be aware the store eggs are probably cheaper.

#3 all-of-us

Posted 19 June 2017 - 06:40 AM

Love chooks. If you want layers go for Ids browns 6 hens will get you 6 eggs per day.

Not noisy but get eggcited when they lay an egg.  

Purcase at point of lay, ensure there enclosure is dog/fox proof.  We use a roll away egg system and need no straw for nesting box and they roost so don't need beding.

#4 SummerStar

Posted 19 June 2017 - 06:56 AM

I found them hard work myself. They weren't noisy but they pooped all over the yard causing alot of mess. We didn't have a garden but if you did you would have to keep them separate because they will scratch and eat it.
I cleaned them out fully every week which was a massive chore in itself but in the summer months we still got mites that I had to treat.
We weren't even big egg eaters back then so for me, more work than it was worth.

Edited by SummerStar, 19 June 2017 - 07:08 AM.

#5 Pearson

Posted 19 June 2017 - 07:16 AM

We have 4. We sourced their coop and the fencing around their yard from kerbside collection. Our chickens get a lot of scraps, and when we are giving them all the scraps, food lasts a lot longer, a large bag from produce every 3 months, and we use timber shavings, again a large bag every 3 months.
Lice powder large container every 6 months.
They also love the small compost heap beside the chooks shed. Our chooks don't bother our garden beds either. The compost heap and the grass when they free range our yard a couple of times a weeks keep them happy.
They are noisy when laying or when the crows try to steal their eggs. (Yes they do!)
They are off the lay atm due to cold and the bloody crows bailing them up like a bunch of bullies. But we have crow prrofed their area.
The chicken coops you spetnd a few hundred on made of timber are generally crap quality too, see if you can source a small aviary.

#6 foxbread

Posted 19 June 2017 - 07:33 AM

Do you live somewhere where it rains a lot? I wouldn't have chickens right up against the house if it's likely to be damp for ages, they can get stinky. The other thing to consider is the end of their productive life - they won't keep giving you 6 eggs a day year-round for many years, but they do potentially live for many years. Would you continue to keep them as pets, or have the heart to dispose of them? We ended up living with non-layers for a few years, they were pets by then and fun to watch and interact with, but I don't know that I'd get chooks again...


Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:05 AM

Personally I wouldn't get chooks purely for the eggs. I know you mentioned eating the scraps and playing with the kids too, but honestly scraps should only make up 5% of their diet. They require a good quality laying pellet once they reach laying age, shell grit, worming tablets, bedding for nest boxes, possible vetcare. There ia alot of scraps they can't/shouldn't eat. At the moment I have no layers (they will start again after the solstice) so I have to buy eggs. The area under their perch where they sleep need raking up every few days. I don't have any roosters anymore, but one hen in particular is noisy, the others are quieter. They also need room and some grass to freerange.

#8 TheGreenSheep

Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:27 AM

I've had chooks for several years.

Reasons why I wouldn't get six of them in a suburban yard near a bedroom is in random order

Smell. When it's wet, they smell pooey. When it's really dry they smell dusty and pooey.

Noise. They're very chatty day and night. When they lay they squawk. When they hen peck and fuss the squawk.

Poop. They poop everywhere. They particularly love cement surfaces.

Dig. They will tear apart your garden. You need at least a quarter acre to supply ample space to keep them happy and your garden and lawn alive in harmony.

Dirt bombs. When they clean themselves they dirt bath. Then walk around and shake their booty, leaving dirt bombs all over the place.

Pests and vermin. They attract mice and rats, their food and eggs. Lice from visiting birds. Foxes even in built up suburbia. Attract snakes.

Eggs. They can get fussy, so if their annoyed by vermin they won't lay, if their malting they go off lay, in winter with less daylight they don't lay, they get older they don't lay as much and then stop altogether. Six chickens won't give six eggs per day. Other birds, crows, steal the eggs.

Feed. They cost money to feed seed too. Small birds are attracted to the feed and come and share lice with them.

Whilst I have seven myself, I'm on land and can't smell or see them, with auto waterers and a feeder, they're pretty self regulating, they devour our scraps, and they're very friendly and easy to make into pets. I'm getting one egg per day.
However they are work, they do require cleaning and get smelly.

#9 Blue Shoe

Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:57 AM

Agree with all the PP. We have chooks, not sure if i would do it all over again though. They're getting old and no eggs at all the past few months (bunch of freeloaders!) so basically they're just more mouths to feed. It's quite peaceful watching them potter around the yard, but they do make a mess.

Also, you'll need to check your council regulations - there's probably a set distance you must have them from the house and property boundaries.

#10 ekbaby

Posted 19 June 2017 - 09:11 AM

As above... there's no way I'd want their hen house right outside my bedroom window... it gets stinky! Obviously regular cleaning helps keep the smell down but even so, they poo a lot.

Our chickens are also quite noisy... they are all girls but when they lay in the morning they make a lot of noise, we let them out to free range and they will "remind" us when we have not done that... our bedroom is at least 20m from their coop but they still wake us up sometimes... our neighbours are further away and they say they don't get woken by them.

They are not really cost effective... my partner would love to get rid of our chickens :D and regularly jokes that their eggs are the most expensive around. But I like having them for the experience, we have no other pets and at least these ones are useful.

Ours don't eat many scraps... scraps alone don't provide a comprehensive diet for them... and ours turn their beaks up at a lot of scraps... and we don't want the chook run covered with uneaten food scraps as that would attract rats etc... so we just give them very small amounts of scraps, mostly commercial pellets and cracked corn as a treat.

#11 HRH Countrymel

Posted 19 June 2017 - 09:39 AM

Love my chickens but no way would I love them if they were directly under my bedroom window!

The henhouse is about 100m or more away from out bedroom window and they still wake us up with their "Hey! I'm awesome! I just laid an egg!!" carrying on!

Also stinky.
No matter how often you clean it out (and my girls are free rangers with a massive range) it stinks, on a hot day in Summer you WOULD NOT want a stinky hen house near your window!

Financially?  If we were honest - nah - it's not really 'saving' money, as the girls get lovely grain all year round in spite of taking extended breaks from laying in winter and (because I rescued three tiny Silkies, and all they want to do in life is be Mothers) GOING BROODY!

I love my chooks, they provide hours of entertainment, they provide beautiful bright yolked FRESH eggs.. but financially?  Nah...

#12 Mollycoddle

Posted 19 June 2017 - 10:08 AM

We've had them off and on for nearly ten years.  They only make a bit of noise in the morning usually when laying.  Mine eat a mixture of veggie scraps, some bread and scratch mix.  Laying goes off and on, slowing down in winter ( a few of mine are moulting at the moment) then picking up in the warmer weather.  I rake out my entire chook yard usually once a week in autumn when leaves from trees are falling and once a fortnight at other times.  I change the straw and muck out the shed every 3-4 weeks.

I have mine in quite a big yard (about 7 x 8 metres, about a third of my entire backyard) with the roosts in a tin garden shed which has had half the front panel cut out with mesh put across it.  We live in a suburban area, think right behind a set of shops and we still get foxes so I have to make sure I lock mine up every night as it only takes one night  being left out and they're gone.  Chooks will only take a few days to work out where they need to go to roost, especially if you have some already as new ones will follow the others.  For the first few nights you will have to herd them into the shed but they catch on quick, I got four silkies for my birthday last week and it took 2 nights for 3 of them to work it out and the 4th errant one another night or two after that.

I love my chooks and would never be without them, on days when I'm home I let them out to scratch around in the rest of the yard.  I've raised day-old chicks as well as on a few occasions gotten a clutch of fertilised eggs and hatched them under a broody hen, though then you have to get rid of any roosters that eventuate. I would avoid getting ducks though unless you're really fixed on duck eggs, they really need a fair-sized body of water to swim in and they will muddy up the drinking water within minutes of you changing it as they need to dip their food into water to be able to digest it.  They also crap everywhere lol.  I just got rid of a few recently, an Asian man took them as they use duck eggs a lot in their cooking.

Good luck, I highly recommend chooks!

Edited by Mollycoddle, 19 June 2017 - 01:13 PM.

#13 Mollycoddle

Posted 19 June 2017 - 10:17 AM


and we don't want the chook run covered with uneaten food scraps as that would attract rats etc...

If you rake the yard and dispose of uneaten scraps every few days you won't have a problem.  I notice a distinct increase in the number of eggs and quality of eggs I get when my chooks are eating a variety of kitchen scraps (no meat or sweet/processed things, only veggie scraps and grain/bread) as opposed to when they just get pellets or scratch mix.  They also do need to be able to free-range and forage at least a few times a week to get proper nutrition and stay happily occupied.

Edited by Mollycoddle, 19 June 2017 - 10:19 AM.

#14 Etcetera

Posted 19 June 2017 - 10:29 AM

Ditto to the no ducks. They smell. They're gorgeous but they can really stink.

I grew up with chickens and was scared of them!

I agree with Mollycoddle.
We've had chickens since we bought our house so about 9 years.
We have a corner of our yard sectioned off which I think is about 20m2, with plans to expand. They occasionally free range when supervised as we don't have great fences and we back onto bushland.

They aren't smelly except if we've had a lot of rain.
They can be noisy and I wouldn't have them next to my bedroom. There are also usually council rules regarding where you can have a coop so check that especially if your email neighbours might take exception.

We do get rats which in turn attract snakes. We haven't had a snake take a chicken. We have had a fox come and get a bunch of young hens though. We now have a better pen.
We also covered our pen with netting so birds can't  get in as we've had issues with crows.

We have two silkies and six assorted purebreds. They all have their own personalities. We hand raised all except two. We've had day old chicks several times which is a great learning experience.

We get a couple of eggs a day, usually 2-4 plus the silkies. I'm not a big egg eater but I bake a lot.
A bonus is people are willing to feed them I feel we go away in return for any eggs they lay.

We love our chickens!

#15 eve13

Posted 19 June 2017 - 04:43 PM

Thanks all.. my husband is quite keen and was going to make a large hen house but is now looking at ones preassembled called 'taj Mahel'.. so very large!

Only regulations are not 1m from neighbours.. the new size would be back to left from our bedroom (we back into a nature reserve and have a large block in Brisbane .. so snakes but not seen foxes).

I get it re costs.. I hope it might be more sustainable than throwing food out... lots to consider

#16 sueratbag

Posted 19 June 2017 - 05:44 PM

I have chooks and really like them, but don't know whether the eggs would work out as cheaper. Possibly not, but they are beautiful eggs. Laying varies with weather. Currently they are moulting, so not laying. In spring, we get a lot of eggs all at once, so give away plenty then.

Even in the suburbs, you need a fox proof enclosure. Remember that foxes dig, too. We also have netting across the top, as wild birds steal eggs, (as does our dog if we don't watch him.) We have a chook feeder that they have to put a foot on to open, as rats were stealing a lot of food. We live rurally, so rats are a part of life.

Apart from pellets and scraps, I have lucerne planted in their run, in an area about 30 cm wide, behind chicken wire 1 metre high (otherwise they'd dig out the plants.) As the lucerne grows through the wire, they pick it off. High protein, green, and free. I also grow giant sunflowers in the same area in spring, and as the flower heads dry and drop seeds, the chooks become very enthusiastic. Also free food.

I have fruit trees and a vegie garden. If you make a lightweight portable enclosure, you can move this to where you want the chooks to dig that day. (They go to their roost at night.) If you put it around the fruit trees, they scrabble around and dig and poo - good fertiliser. Codling moth has part of its life cycle underground as a pupa, and chooks dig these up and eat them. Very rare that I have these in the fruit now. And if I want a vegie bed cleared, I put the portable enclosure around it, and the chooks go to town on the last of the old vegies, and dig up the bed. They eat slugs and snails, too. So they can be a great bonus, esp if you like gardening. But they can also be a nuisance. Up to you whether the benefits outweigh the nuisance.

I think it's worth having them just to be able to laugh at them when they run. They look like their knicker elastic is broken and they're trying to run without their pants falling down.

#17 mumto4boys

Posted 19 June 2017 - 05:45 PM

Rent a Chook and City Chicks are just two of the companies that will rent you chickens and a coop for 6 weeks to see how you go before making a full commitment to chickens.

It might be worth having a look at the packages on their websites, even if only to read through the FAQ.

#18 LuckyMummy ♥♥

Posted 19 June 2017 - 06:57 PM

Our neighbours hve chickens. Very suburban area, 600sq my blocks of land.

Their chickens do smell if the wind is in the wrong direction. They definitely attract flies. In summer we have constant flies and in winter even now we get flies coming in our back door.

And I'm pretty sure they attract rats.

Other than that we don't notice them. Just consider the impact on your neighbours too :)

#19 kittn

Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:06 PM

 eve13, on 19 June 2017 - 04:43 PM, said:

Thanks all.. my husband is quite keen and was going to make a large hen house but is now looking at ones preassembled called 'taj Mahel'.. so very large!

Is that from a website called Backyard Chicken Coops? (Or something?)

When I was a newbie chook keeper I got one of these, not knowing any better.
It fell apart within a year. It was made of nasty, thin, warping wood and with the first decent rain we got, parts of the roofing twisted and came off. It leaked. It was hard to clean.
$450 down the drain.

#20 Jembo

Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:30 PM

We have chickens and live on a large block (over 2000m2).  They reside at the very back corner.  To be honest I wouldn't have them near my house. We usually have on average 9 ex battery hens.  They aren't overly noisey, but sometimes when laying an egg they do like to carry on.

In winter the pen gets muddy and a bit smelly and in summer flies hang out in there.  I don't find them a huge amount of work but we have a large pen for them to hang in, so only need to clean nesting boxes and given any old food a rake every so often.  We plant things to eat for them in the pen as well.

They can be annoying in the garden, always seem to dig where I do not want them, or come up and crap on the back door mat.  They like to follow everyone around the place.

Also need to remember sometimes they go off the lay, can you can get no eggs or months on end, so if eggs are the only reason for getting them, you may find it not worth it.

#21 Indi

Posted 19 June 2017 - 09:57 PM

Agree with everything TheGreenSheep said.

Get a worm farm for your scraps and buy the eggs.

#22 GlitterFarts

Posted 19 June 2017 - 11:07 PM

We are looking at finally getting chooks. For us, there are only 3 people in the family that eat eggs but we feel the cost will be comparable. We buy free range which cost  $5 a doz and we could go through 3-4 cartons a ftn if I allowed it. Hell, if I let them we would go through a minimum of about 6 eggs a day just the 3 of them!

We are allowed a total of 6 birds/poultry  (chooks, pheasants, ducks, etc) in my council area so will probably get 4-6 chooks.

They will be for eggs, kitchen and garden sustainability and the pot so we will look at replacing most of them once production drops off at about 3yrs and just keep a matriarch or two, lol. Hopefully a brooder so I can raise some quick meat stock.

#23 magnanimous

Posted 20 June 2017 - 06:21 AM

This is a great thread. I have long liked the idea of chickens but this thread is making me realise the reality is not so great! Smelly, loud, attract rats and foxes, need lots of cleaning up after and are expensive to feed. Thanks everyone- think I will keep happily buying lots of free range eggs. Our butcher sells some lovely ones which are expensive but hassle free.

#24 harmonic_wizz_fizz

Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:56 AM

I hope OP doesn't mind me hijacking with a question. Does anyone have chickens where it gets pretty hot, say 40+ for several days? If so, what do you do to keep them cool?


Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:23 AM

 harmonic_wizz_fizz, on 20 June 2017 - 07:56 AM, said:

I hope OP doesn't mind me hijacking with a question. Does anyone have chickens where it gets pretty hot, say 40+ for several days? If so, what do you do to keep them cool?

Yes, in Perth we can over have a few days with temps over 40 deg.

They stay where they are. They have a lovely shady run, we planted a passionfruit vine along one end and a grape vine up the other. In the run we built what I call a bus shelter (good to shelter from the rain too) and we planted lime and mandarin trees. I put out extra water containers, plus I fill empty milk bottle with water and freeze, pop these in the waterers and under trees, keeps them cool throughout the day. If someone is home, we spray down the vines and trees. Never the chooks as it can send them into shock. A handful of frozen corn or cut cold watermelon as a snack. Frozen water bottle in the nest boxes too.

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