Raising "backyard" chickens is becoming increasingly popular for people living in urban settings. Not only do you get fresh eggs, but it allows you to have some family fun while doing so! Below are tips on starting your own chicken flock and providing veterinary care for the flock.
Why should I raise chickens?
There are many advantages to raising chickens. The convenience of always having fresh eggs available is the main one. Raising chickens is also very enjoyable, as is raising any pet. Dr. Stephanie Hirsbrunner, from Country View Veterinary Service in Oregon, Wis., says that many first-time chicken owners are amazed to discover the personality and intelligence that chickens have!
What are the laws & regulations when raising backyard chickens in Wisconsin?
According to Dr. Hirsbrunner, the laws regarding raising chickens in urban areas vary with each city. Prospective chicken owners should check their zoning regulations and ordinances to find out if raising chickens is allowed.
Information regarding chicken coops ("houses"), butchering, and whether or not you can let your chickens roam free can also be found in your city's regulations. State law requires a premise ID for all owners. A premise ID is a registration number, free of charge, which will be assigned to your chicken flock. It is a valuable tool for animal heath officials when responding to animal disease outbreaks. To obtain a premise ID number and learn more, contact the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium.
When raising backyard chickens, don't forget about your neighbors! Dr. Hirsbrunner explains that roosters (mature male chickens) can be loud! Dirty coops are unsanitary and can be smelly, so keep coops clean.
How often should I have a veterinarian inspect my chicken flock?
Dr. Hirsbrunner recommends having your chicken flock monitored yearly. By allowing your veterinarian to evaluate the flock, their environment, and feed rations he/she can make suggestions for your flock. Regular health exams will also allow your veterinarian to be informed of the health status of your flock and asses sick chickens more efficiently.
If you think your chickens are ill or have any health issues, contact your veterinarian.
What are common mistakes while raising chickens and how can they be prevented?
Dr. Hirsbrunner stresses that the coop design for your chickens is extremely important. The coop should be able to keep predators out and your chickens comfortable. Make sure the coop is properly insulated and well ventilated. Poor coop design can lead to the occurrence of diseases-and no one wants that!
Since your chickens most likely have access to dirt, they are exposed to many intestinal parasites. Dr. Hirsbrunner recommends fecal samples from the flock be tested for intestinal parasites at least twice a year.
Sanitation is very important when raising chickens because even healthy chickens can transmit diseases. A major disease chickens can transmit is Salmonella. Salmonella are bacteria that pass from infected feces to people or other animals and is usually passed to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Take precautions to boost your family's safety. Always thoroughly wash your hands after handling chickens or the eggs.
Who should I contact if I'm interested in raising chickens?
You should contact your WVMA veterinarian to advise you on chicken health. Dr. Hirsbrunner stresses, "It is always important to establish a relationship with a veterinarian before a chicken gets sick."
Your veterinarian can also provide you with credible websites and breeders that can help with purchasing chicks, feeding chickens and selecting proper housing.
Contact your WVMA veterinarian to embark on your backyard chicken adventure!