Where to buy chickens in Ann Arbor?

You have to get a permit first by filling out this permit form here: Ann Arbor Permit Form and remember the permit will require a $20 additional fee.

Are chickens filthy animals? Do they have bad odors?

That depends on the people who take care of the chickens.  As with every other dog or pet, they need care–regularly cleaning out the dirty bedding within the coop, clearing the droppings from underneath the roosts (preferably daily) and at least every few weeks doing a good deeper clean should keep your coop reasonably fresh. It is also important to keep things from getting too wet and muddy – particulary inside the coop (if mud is a problem, drainage could be an issue, sand and gravel are sometimes helpful in that respect).

Will rodents infect my area if there are chickens?

It is meals and scraps of food that primarily draws in rats, not really the actual chickens (although they will happily take eggs and chicks if they get a chance). People with wild bird feeders inside their back yard run exactly the same risk. Storing food in steel garbage containers along with secure lids makes it harder for them to help themselves. Unless you have a special feeder which only the chickens can open (I am not being funny,  they actually do exist) it is probably best to feed hens only what they will eat up and/or clean away any remaining feed so none is left out to attract rodents. Should you give food to your birds such as kitchen scraps and other treats, make sure it’s consumed (or cleared away).

What are the number of eggs a hen will lay in a week/year? Where do they lay the eggs?

An average hen will start to lay eggs at about 6 months old. The eggs of these pullets will usually start off quite small and you may also find some interesting shapes and textures, but she should soon get the hang of things and be laying her ‘normal’ egg regularly within a few weeks of starting laying. Her first year of laying will probably be her best and if you have a breed that is known to be a good egg laying breed you can probably expect to get 4-5 eggs (or more) each week. At around 18 months old chickens go through their first main molt and for a lot of breeds this means a break in egg laying whilst she is recuperating and growing her feathers back (roosters also molt). Colder weather can also negatively affect the number of eggs laid and it may not be until early spring that things get fully underway again. It is possible to encourage egg laying during the colder months by having a light on a timer to keep the number of ‘daylight hours’ similar to those in spring and some people also like to provide extra heat. As your hens age they will gradually lay fewer eggs.

What do I feed my chickens?

They’ll consume pretty much anything! They do need to have a good nutritional balance though to keep laying eggs. There are poultry layers feeds offered at farm / animal supply stores, or else you could make your personal blend. Hens will eat corn, oats, wheat, rye, soy, clean vegetables in the garden (weeds even), table scraps, an unlucky passing frog, mealworms and other insects. The local grocery stores as well as markets often have veggie leftovers available. If they are able to free range for some of the time they will be able to help themselves to some greens and bugs etc. but in winter when there may not be many greens available and also their living situation is that they are kept penned it can help to give them extra greens – for example a cabbage hung in their pen for them to peck at is a healthy treat and also fun for them 🙂

Should I purchase a Chicken Coop or make my own?

This depends on your budget and expertise. A really good diy’er once said to me that all he needed to build was a pencil behind his ear! If you are like me and need a bit more guidence than that a good set of plans, some materials, some tools and your hands may be enough to get you a coop.

There are also plenty of fairly easy to build coop kits available – they tend not to use the highest quality materials and are nearly always a lot smaller than they look in the photos, but usually are really quite serviceable and pretty good value as long as you bear that in mind.