I have never seen anything like the chicken craze that has been sweeping the country in the last few years. What used to be considered a rural thing to do has morphed into a sustainable activity that many are taking part in. If you’ve ever tasted an egg laid that very day, you’ll know why this is so popular. But if you’re new to the chicken world, it can be difficult to know how to choose chickens for your urban farm. What type is best? How many should I get? Do I need a rooster?
What type is best? This depends upon a number of factors. Do you want good egg production? Do you want meat birds? Do you live in a cold climate, or a very hot climate? Do you want to show the chickens at a 4-H show? Decide which characteristic is the most important and then do a quick Internet search (“best chicken breeds for egg laying,” “recommended chicken breeds for hot climates,” and “top 10 show chicken breeds.”).
How many should I get? This also depends upon a number of factors. How many chickens are allowable in your city/town? Look up the zoning law for your area. Do you have a Home Owners Association that has rules about raising chickens or how many you can have? Do you want to keep the chickens in the coop, give them a small chicken run, or let them free range over the entire yard? How big is your property? For a first-time chicken owner, my recommendation (after answering the above questions) is to start small with 2-3 chickens. You can always add more later.
Do I need a rooster? That depends on if you want to hatch your own chickens. You don’t need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs; they will lay them all by themselves. If you want the eggs to be fertilized (perfectly fine to eat, by the way) and/or you would like to have baby chicks hatching in the coop, then you’ll need a rooster. Keep in mind that the rooster-to-hen ratio is 1:10 — too many roosters will lead to the boys fighting over the girls in the locker room. Some things never change.