Disadvantages: Keeping Chickens (Wondering About the Pros & Cons of Owning Chickens? There Are Some Disadvantages! Here’s a Look at the Drawbacks of Raising Hens & Other Chickens)

What Is the Downside of Having Chickens?

Though raising backyard chickens has become trendy in recent years, there are some downsides to consider before taking the plunge.

Here are a few things to think about:

Cost

The initial cost of purchasing a chicken coop (Amazon), feed, chickens, and all the other poultry supplies you’ll need can add up quickly. It can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 to get started with a small flock of chickens.

How I Built My Chicken Coops & Runs

I know close to nothing about building anything. However, I’ve successfully built all of my chicken coops myself by using the Easy Coops’ chicken coop plans.

The coops might not be the most beautiful coops, and might look too minimalist for some, but they’re made to keep your chickens safe from predators, harsh hot and cold weather, and common airborne illnesses. A well-built coop reduces your hens’ stress, which will ultimately increase egg-production.

Smelly Poop

If you’ve never had backyard chickens before, get ready for a lot of poop everywhere they go. If you’re not a fan of that, chickens are probably not for you.

Plus, their droppings can be incredibly smelly. And if not cleaned up regularly, can attract flies and other bugs.

Noise

While hens don’t crow like roosters, they can still be a little noisy. Hens cluck and cackle when they’re happy, when they’re laying an egg, or when they’re nervous. And if you have a rooster in your flock, he will crow several times each day – usually at dawn and dusk.

Chances are that the noise won’t bother you at all. But if you live in a neighborhood with houses close to your coop, your chickens’ noise might bother that one grouchy neighbor.

Space

When it comes to raising chickens, one of the disadvantages is that some breeds require quite a bit of space (a broiler chicken will need more space than a bantam chicken).

Chickens need room to roam and explore, and if they don’t have enough space, they can become stressed and anxious. This can lead to health problems and even death.

Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, chickens produce a lot of waste. So if they don’t have enough space to move around, this waste can build up and create an unhealthy environment if not cleaned

Predators

Chickens are prey animals, and their natural predators include dogs, cats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, weasels, eagles, and owls. These predators can kill chickens for food or simply because they see the chicken as a threat.

So, depending on where you live, protecting your chickens from predators can be time-consuming.

And, although rare for a more experienced chicken keeper, no matter how much you try to protect your chickens, you just can’t protect your chickens against all predators 100% of the time.

Chicks

Chicks are fairly easy to take care of, but you still have to be prepared to spend some time each day caring for your chicks.

Here are a few things you’ll have to do when you first get baby chicks:

  • You have to make sure each chick has access to fresh water and food at all times.
  • You have to make sure the brooder is clean and free of debris.
  • You have to monitor the temperature and humidity levels closely.
  • You have to keep an eye out for signs of health issues such as coccidiosis, pasty butt, spraddle leg, crooked toes, scissor beak, and more.
  • You have to make sure they are entertained. For example, you’ll want to give them something to peck at, like a piece of cardboard or a toy.

Also, when you purchase chicks, there is always the odd chance that you end up with a rooster by mistake. While this may not be ideal if you’re looking for egg layers, a rooster can actually be a valuable addition to your flock. However, roosters might not be allowed in your area.

Before you buy any chicks, maybe you want to call your local authorities to make sure that you’re able to have a rooster in your flock. If it’s not allowed, you’ll have to come up with a plan B or not bother with raising chickens at all.

Health Issues

Just like chicks, older chickens can suffer from a variety of health issues as they age. Issues like bumblefoot, mites, lice, worms, egg binding, prolapsed vent, impacted or sour crop, respiratory infections, and more health, pests, and parasite issues can afflict your flock members.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prevent these issues from happening in the first place and to detect them early on so that they don’t become a big problem.

Another thing that happens when you keep chickens as pets is that, as they age, some common problems include arthritis, heart disease, and kidney disease. While these conditions are not necessarily life-threatening, they can make it difficult for a chicken to get around and enjoy its life.

So it’ll be important to keep an eye on your older chickens and make sure they are getting the care they need.

Egg Production

What most people don’t know is that egg-laying hens typically start producing eggs when they’re between 5 and 6 months old, depending on their breed. The number of eggs they lay will usually peak in their first 2 years. Then, egg production declines gradually until they’re about 5 years old.

Some chickens can live up to 15 years old or more. This could mean deciding between paying for the feed and healthcare of a non-laying hen for years, or… figuring out another solution.

Is It Difficult To Keep Adult Chickens?

On a day-to-day basis, no. It’s easier to take care of 3 or 4 grown chickens than it is to take care of a dog. On most days, I only put in about 20 minutes of real work when taking care of the chickens and their coop.

Chickens are relatively low-maintenance animals and only require a few things in order to stay healthy and happy, such as:

  • A clean and spacious coop.
  • A good diet of chicken feed and fresh water.
  • Regular exercise.
  • A safe coop and run that protects them from predators.

The time and effort required to care for chickens vary depending on the number of chickens being cared for. A small flock of chickens can be easily managed without taking up too much time.

However, if you travel and are away from home, you’ll need someone to help you by taking over your little chicken farm.

Being Self-Sufficient

Raising chickens is great because you become a little more self-sufficient and the work is truly rewarding.

However, being 100% self-sufficient on your own land might not be for everyone. It’s a lot of learning, planning, hard work, and patience to get yourself set up.

But this sweet, down-to-earth couple have done just that. They’ve been self-sufficient on their little 1/4 acre land for over 40 years! And, now they’re showing other people how they save and make money by being self-sufficient in things like food, heating, and electricity.

You should definitely check them out because you might get ideas on how to save or make money from your own backyard!

Can Chickens Cause Health Problems?

On rare occasions, chickens can carry a variety of diseases that can be passed to humans (zoonotic diseases), including Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli.

Anyone who comes in contact with backyard chickens should take measures to protect themselves from these illnesses.

The best way to prevent illness is to practice good hygiene when handling poultry. This includes washing your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with them and cooking chicken meat thoroughly before eating it. This also includes making sure that any chicken coops are kept clean to control mice or other pests.

And if you want to be extra cautious, you can even wash your eggs with an egg cleanser (Amazon) to remove contaminants.

Those with weakened immune systems, such as young children or the elderly, are at especially high risk of becoming ill if they come in contact with backyard chickens.

Conclusion: What Are the Pros and Cons of Keeping Chickens?

Here are a few benefits and drawbacks you should be thinking about before you start raising chickens:

Pros

There are many benefits to keeping chickens, such as:

  • Chickens are low-maintenance birds.
  • Chickens also don’t need to be fed frequently, so they’re perfect for busy people who want to raise animals but have limited time to devote to their care.
  • Eggs are one of the main reasons people choose to keep chickens. Store-bought eggs often lack flavor compared to fresh eggs.
  • Also, eggs from backyard chickens are not only great tasting but are more nutritious.
  • Chicken eggs can also be a source of income.
  • You know that the eggs you’re eating are free-range, and not coming from hens in cages.

Cons

Chickens are entertaining for the whole family, so more and more people are owning backyard chickens these days. But there are some drawbacks to this trend:

  • For one thing, chickens can be noisy enough that it’ll annoy a neighbor. This is especially true if you have a loud and aggressive rooster.
  • The start-up costs can be quite intimidating for some.
  • Depending on the type of breed, they might need more space than you anticipated. And if they don’t have enough space they become stressed and ill.
  • Chickens can be messy creatures. For example, they poop a lot and if they get into your garden they can make a real mess of things.
  • Although uncommon, it’s a possibility that chickens can contract diseases and spread them to your other animals or even to you. However, there are ways to minimize your risks, such as separating your chickens from your house pets and washing your hands after handling chickens and their eggs.
  • And finally, even if you live in an urban area, there are still wild animals that can and will kill your chickens given the chance.

For me, the pros of keeping chickens outweigh the cons. However, it is important to do your research before deciding whether or not chickens are right for you!