Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › Are chickens a good idea for us?

Are chickens a good idea for us?

Kari S.
user 69458642
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 1
Hi all,

I'm new to this board and am strongly considering raising a few chickens in our backyard. The obvious perks are the eggs, teaching my 2-year old all the great lessons raising chickens can teach, getting the free manure for our organic garden and getting help with eliminating a very large number of oxalis weeds (which have taken over our yard and are impossible to eradicate by hand). In doing some basic research, it seems like the chicken tractor system would be my preferred method (cleaner, less stink and the chickens have direct access to the demon weeds I would like them to eat). However, I am concerned about a couple of things and haven't found good answers...

I have a 2-year old little boy who likes to dig in the dirt, drop things in dirt and then stick them in his mouth and/or eat whatever he finds on the ground. In general, I believe most naturally occurring bacteria in an organic yard is good for the immune system and I don't stress about it. If there is the risk of salmonella everywhere, though, that's a problem. How long does chicken poop remain "toxic"? Is this something I need to worry about or is the risk way overblown? How do you deal with chicken poop if you are using a chicken tractor?

I may become pregnant again in the next couple of years. What is the risk of raising chickens for pregnant women? Again, is this a very overblown concern or something I should take seriously? Very different perspectives on this on google...CDC recommends that homes with pregnant women and children under 5 shouldn't raise chickens...seems a little harsh?

We travel a fair amount and have very unstable work schedules. Is is difficult to find a chicken-sitter who can care for chickens when we're gone? Expensive?

We have racoons and opossums in our area. Do we need to worry about them digging under the tractor and tunneling in to feast on our chickens? What do others do to prevent this?

An another note, if anyone wants to bring their chickens by to dine on an infinite amount of fresh oxalis, they are more than welcome! (I have heard chickens love it and it makes their eggs especially delicious!)

I really appreciate any perspective/wisdom you might have to offer.

Thanks!

Kari

A former member
Post #: 280
Hi Kari and welcome!

Since you will be traveling a lot I suggest not getting any pets, including chickens. They are low maintenance, so if you have family or friends nearby who can simply check on them in the morning and evening then you should be fine, but in general I found it hard to manage since most people have no idea how to properly care for chickens.

There is a time for everything so maybe in the future when things settle down a bit?

____
To answer some of the questions
- You can split the yard so that the boy stays clear of the chicken poop. If raising chicks, in six months when the chicks are old enough to use the yard the boy will be old enough to understand.
- Predators can lift the tractor, but if it is heavy and sides made of hardware cloth then you should be fine. The coop should always be much more secure. If you travel then make the coop larger, with sufficient room to free-range so that they stay protected during the day.
- I do not know of anyone here who has gotten sick from chickens or their poop, but it could happen, just like anywhere else, especially for a person with a weak immune system (pregnancy, illness, etc).
A former member
Post #: 32
I was wondering if anyone was going to answer this unanswerable question. Good job! smile

Here are my 2 cents: chickens are living creatures and require some time and attention everyday.

Chickens themselves, not only the poop have bacteria, viruses and potentially parasites on them. All the literature suggests that everyone wash their hands after handling poultry.

That said, I do have a weak immune system, but do take care of 8 chickens here and I don't wear a bio-hazard suit or face mask even when cleaning the coop or handling the birds. I do use common sense: wash my hands, wear disposable gloves when doing hen exams or deep cleaning the coop. Oh, and I don't allow the birds in the house.

Regarding predators and safety: I will say it again... CHICKEN WIRE IS NOT FOR CHICKENS! Please use 1/2 hardware fabric.

Before I got chickens I bought and read cover to cover the book, Raising Chickens for Dummies. I recommend it.
Cynthia
bringer_o_treats
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 246
You've gotten some good answers already. Here's my additional two cents. Salmonella is around, like it or not; there are lots of ways to be exposed to it. You just have to use common sense and wash your hands. Humans have raised chickens for thousands of years, and I'm willing to bet that the responsibilty for their care fell to the women (pregnant or not) and their children. I'm not saying there's nothing to worry about, but the alarmists are basing their fears on experiences with worse-case scenarios. Backyard flocks are much healthier than factory chickens.

However, if you travel a lot, I agree that hens might not be a good idea. Intensive solarization might be something to try in your oxalis battle.
A former member
Post #: 134
I agree with the other responders here regarding the frequent travel issue---it just isn't fair to any pets to have to go to kennels or not be cared for by their primary family for the most part. It sounds like you have a lot of responsibilities already with a toddler and maybe another planned and the work schedule you have.
Laura B.
FarmerLaura
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 73
Having an irregular schedule or traveling does not automatically doom you to never having chickens. You just need to have your structure in place to make sure everything is taken care of. I just got back from a week vacation, and my dogs and chickens did just fine with the wonderful woman I had coming in once a day to care for them. Were they happy about not having me there? Probably not, but there is a huge difference between annoyances and being endangered.

The key is a reliable person who can care for your animals. And everyone should cultivate a relationship with someone who can step in for you. Even if you promise with your hand on your heart that you will never leave you home overnight, you still might need to help a family member or, for example, be hospitalized yourself. One of the corner stones of my personal grand scheme for living is "Planning will set you free!"
A former member
Post #: 74
Yay! Since nobody seemed to answer this question I can say yes, chickens love to eat oxalis and will eat it till it is eradicated. I had a good sized little patch of it and once they figured out that they liked it they couldn't stop eating it till it was permanently gone. Too bad chickens probably aren't a good fit for you. May I suggest lots of boiling water poured deep into their root system? You can also train your two year old to eat it, it tastes sour/sweet and is non toxic ;)

david
user 4148344
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 95
Go for it!!!!!
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