If you're in the market for fresh, locally raised eggs, you can't get more local than your own backyard. Here are a few things to consider if you're thinking about a backyard coop.
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The first is to check local laws-not all municipalities allow backyard chickens. If you have a homeowners' association, check that as well-chickens may be legal in your city but not in your neighborhood. For example, chickens are okay in New York City, but not in many suburbs and not even in some small communities within city limits.
Next, start educating yourself on what chickens need in terms of space, feed, and care. Make sure you can keep your birds safe from predators like dogs, coyotes, and raccoons.
When you're ready, buy your baby chicks and raise them until they're ready to start producing eggs, usually at around five or six months. A healthy hen can produce 200 to 300 eggs a year until age two, when production slows down.
Backyard chickens have become so popular that your neighbors probably won't squawk when they see your birds, but if they do, a few dozen fresh eggs will probably change their mind.
Remember that hens can live eight or ten years, making this a long-term commitment. Talk to someone who's done it, so you understand the pros and cons before you take the leap.
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