The practice of keeping chickens started during the time when people first started domesticating animals. Chickens are low maintenance, provide a great source for food and are fun to watch. It may have already occurred to you that you could keep chickens if you have a large backyard with ample space for the birds, however, you need more information before beginning.
Roosters and Hens
A rooster is not necessary for hens to survive and be productive. Having one is a simple matter of choice and hens are quite happy without them. Nevertheless, many people like having roosters around due to their many attractive characteristics such as brassy attitude, handsome good looks, noisy nature and aggressive behavior. Chickens are social creatures and like hanging around with one another. On cold days you will find them huddled together for warmth. A single chicken makes a good pet, but they are happier with other chickens to keep them company. A minimum of two or three is a great idea.
Wherever you have hens, you can expect predators. Chickens enjoy strutting around in a free-range environment, but unless you prepare a roost for them they can be picked off one at a time. In a country setting there are lots of predators to contend with, but city living means cats, dogs and rats will come looking for easy meals. The best place to raise and shelter chickens is a good hen house. You can find ready made chicken pens with fanciful designs that will add an attractive element to your backyard. Just make sure your chickens have access to dirt every day because they love taking dust baths and having a place to scratch and dig.
Size Does Matter
Chickens may not be territorial, but they do need space. It is not a good idea to crowd them or they will start pecking each other and that can lead to the demise of some. This is not because they are mean, but because of their protective nature. By allowing three square feet of space per chicken you can reduce the chance of one or more chickens getting beat up just because they get too close to another one or take a fancy to water droplets another one has an eye on. To keep them happy cooped up during colder days, hang vegetables or grass they love eating to keep them busy and satisfied.
Some people like starting with pullets to raise, but others get started with hens. Either way, the chickens must spend time inside the chicken house to help familiarize them with their new home. A week spent inside the chicken house will help them understand that this is where they should roost to keep them safe. Otherwise, being birds, they might start roosting in low hanging branches, on awnings, roofs or wherever they feel safe.
It is also important for anyone keeping chickens to know that chickens love leftovers from your table and will fight each other for it. The ideal diet though is chicken pellets with plenty of fresh, clean water.