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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Raising Chickens

If you think you might want to raise chickens in your backyard, you'll want to read this first. We chatted with The Chicken Whisperer, Andy Schneider, radio personality, author, and editor of Chicken Whisperer magazine and he gave us the scoop on 10 things many people do not know about raising chickens.

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It Might Be Against the Law

Before investing in the birds, coop and feed, check your local ordinances. Many towns have laws against raising chickens. Some have laws only against keeping a rooster. If you think you need a rooster to get eggs, keep reading.

Building a chicken coop is an easy DIY project. Check out these 14 charming chicken coops for your backyard.

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You Don't Need a Rooster

One myth about raising chickens is that you need a rooster to get eggs. According to The Chicken Whisperer, Andy Schneider, that's not true. You only need a rooster if you want fertilized eggs. So, if your municipality prohibits the keeping of roosters, chin up. You can still start your backyard flock.

If you want to hide your chickens from view, build your own privacy fence in a weekend.

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You Need Predator Protection

Even if you live in an urban setting, Schneider says you need predator protection. "The reason you've never seen a raccoon before," he said, "is because you've never provided food them in your yard before." Now that you're raising chickens, consider how you'll keep them safe.

In addition to raccoons, opossum, fox and birds of prey, coyotes like chickens. Here are some effective ways to get rid of coyotes.

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Chickens Live All Over the World

"People are raising chickens on every continent in the world," said Schneider. Of course, if you live in an extreme climate, you'll want to research the breeds that are tolerant of your conditions.

If you live in a cold climate, here are 10 tips for winter composting.

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Chickens Can Make You Sick

What you read in the news is that under-cooked eggs can give you salmonella. But raising chickens in the backyard could expose you to the potentially dangerous illness in another way. "Salmonella is spread through the droppings," said Schneider, "and we are seeing an increase of it in backyard flocks." To prevent spreading, always wash your hands with soap after tending your birds or working in the dirt where you've spread the droppings. Building a compost bin for your chicken manure is an easy DIY project.

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Chicken Manure is a Good Thing

Besides a never-ending supply of eggs, raising chickens produces another great product—manure. After cleaning out your coop, add the manure to your compost bin or pile. Composted manure makes great fertilizer for your vegetable and flower gardens. If your birds are producing more than you can use, Schneider suggests bagging it and selling it to the neighbors. Did you know you can use excess chicken manure to green up your lawn?

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chicken Anna Sedneva/Shutterstock

Chickens Live Longer than You Think

According to Schneider, the longest living chicken lasted 22 years. Of course, that's an anomaly. The average lifespan of a chicken is 5 to 8 years, with healthy birds living about 10. You could raise your chickens in style with one of these 14 wonderful coops.

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Chickens Begin Laying Eggs Before You Know It

"Chickens begin laying at 20 weeks, on average," said Schneider. If you're raising chickens for egg production, he recommends White Leghorn, ISA Brown, or Bovans Brown breeds for consistency. Eggs fresh from the coop and unwashed don't need to be refrigerated because they have a protective coating on them that seals the pores in the shell!

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Chickens Lay Eggs for Years

Healthy backyard birds slow down their egg production at around 3 years old. But, according to Schneider, can lay fairly regularly up to five years. If you're raising chickens in your backyard, consider introducing a couple new ones each season to keep the eggs coming consistently. If you're unsure of how to dispose of your egg shells, the garbage disposal is not the solution.

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Brown Eggs are Not Better

Surprisingly, a lot of folks buy brown eggs at the market because they believe them to be healthier. Or, they say they taste better. According to Schneider, that is just not true. "The shell color doesn't matter," he said. So, if you're raising chickens that lay white, brown or even blue and green eggs, the nutritional value and flavor depend on the health of the chicken and its diet, not the color of the shell.

To house those beautiful birds, you want a beautiful coop. Check out these 14 different designs.