Q & A

Chicken Questions

Are roosters needed in order to get eggs?

No, each hen is hatched with a set number of eggs that she can produce through her lifetime and will lay eggs regardless if there is a rooster or not; they just will not be fertilized.


Do chickens fly?

Domestic chickens are not capable of long distance flight, although lighter birds are generally capable of flying for short distances, such as over fences or into trees (where they would naturally roost). Chickens may occasionally fly briefly to explore their surroundings, but generally do so only to flee perceived danger.


How many eggs will a hen lay in a week/year? When do they start to lay eggs?

A typical hen will start to lay eggs at about 6 months of age. The eggs will start out small, then get increasingly larger. During the first year of laying, the hen (if she is a good egg producer) will lay one egg, almost every day. The birds will then go through a “molt” in the late fall/ winter months and stop laying. Then they will start again in the early spring. You can encourage egg laying through the colder months by keeping a light on, inside the chicken coop. As the birds get older, they will start to lay fewer and fewer eggs. I had a chicken that was at least 5 years old, and she would give me 1 or 2 really big eggs a week.


Can I use the chicken manure in my garden?

Chicken manure is high in nitrogen, so it is considered “hot”. It will need to be composted before putting it directly onto your garden. once it has broken down, it then becomes perfect food for the garden.


How long do chickens live?

That depends on who you talk to–Most farmers who are in the egg producing business will say 2 years. Those who are in the meat producing business will say 6 months–Those who keep birds as pets (with names) or who are not interested in maximum production of eggs, will find that chickens can live up to 8 or 10 years.


What do chickens eat?

They will eat just about anything! There are commercial poultry foods available at local feed stores, or you can make your own mix. People feed chickens corn, oats, wheat, rye, soy, fresh greens from the garden (weeds as well), table scraps (they love spaghetti!), worms and other bugs. Variety is the key to good health, just like us!


Will having chickens in my backyard attract rodents?

It is food that attracts rodents, not the birds. If you have wild bird feeders in your back yard, you run the same risk. Keep all feed in metal garbage cans, with secure lids. Feed birds in small doses, so as not to have a large amount of food left over. If you feed your birds scraps/ protein, make sure it is eaten and not left in the bedding.


What do you do with chickens in the winter?

They can live quite happily, through the coldest winter, if they have an insulated coop or a light inside their coop. The smaller the coop, the easier it is for them to keep it warm. Birds can get frostbite. Birds with large combs tend to be more susceptible. Also, some breeds are just hardier than others.


Are chickens safe from cats and dogs?

The key to safe chickens is a sturdy, impenetrable coop. Raccoons should be more of a concern, they are such clever, determined critters. .Make sure the structure is secure (enclosed top, fencing buried below ground under the sides, secure latches on doors or other entryways), keep all birds locked in at night, letting them out into the run or “tractor” only during the day. Cats have always been interested in birds, but with a healthy respect for chickens–Dogs will chase the birds, if they are left to roam. If you let your birds out, please keep them under supervision at all times.


Are chickens dirty animals? Do they smell?

That will depend on the caretaker. Just like any other pet or animal, they need care–cleaning out the dirty bedding in the coop, keeping it dry and having a clean/dry area of sand or dirt for the birds to take dust bathes in. These practices will all help to keep your birds happy, healthy and odor free.


Do hens make a lot of noise?

Contrary to popular belief, a backyard hen is not a loud animal. In fact, hens make less noise than a barking dog or a typical song bird. Because hens are social animals, they will talk amongst themselves at a volume of 20-40 decibels, less than the same volume of human conversational speech at 60 decibels. Accounting for distance between hearer and hen, the level is even less. At most, a chicken will briefly make 70 decibels of noise once or twice in a day. Air conditioners are in the 50-75 decibel range. So some air conditioning units are noisier, and for longer, than the loudest chickens.

Ironically, residents of Escambia County may own a Moluccan Cockatoo, which is easily purchased from Petland. These birds can produce sounds at 135 decibels, equaling the second loudest crowd noise ever recorded at a college football stadium.

Hens never crow. However, a hen will announce the arrival of a freshly laid egg, which occurs once every 24 to 36 hours during daylight hours. Because roosters are known to be loud, the current proposed ordinance would prohibit roosters.

To put an even finer point on it, below is a reference of decibel levels typical to home environments. If the goal of suburban living is uninterrupted, blissful silence, we should consider banning things like human conversation, sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, alarm clocks, TVs and coffee grinders before considering banning backyard hens.

Sound levels of common noises
Noise Source   Sound
Noise Source
50 Refrigerator   65 – 80 alarm clock
50 – 60 electric toothbrush   70 TV audio
50 – 75 washing machine   70 – 80 coffee grinder
50 – 75 air conditioner   70 – 95 garbage disposal
50 – 80 electric shaver   75 – 85 flush toilet
55 coffee percolator   80 pop-up toaster
55 – 70 dishwasher   80 doorbell
60 human conversation   80 ringing telephone
60 sewing machine   80 whistling kettle
60 – 85 vacuum cleaner   80 – 90 food mixer, processor or blender
60 – 95 hair dryer  110  baby crying



4 thoughts on “Q & A

    1. Profile photo of Keith ConleyKeith Conley

      @Bennie Sides

      I’m uncertain about who will actually process chickens for you, but you may try contacting some of the local farms, such as Green Cedars Farm. I know there are many others localally, but Green Cedars Farm is the only one I’ve had personal contact with and I know for a fact that they process chickens, I just don’t know if they process chickens from outside of their farm.

  1. Profile photo of Jamelynn McDonaldJamelynn McDonald

    I was wondering if there are laws prohibiting at home slaughter of birds. If so, are there any companies in the area where you can drop off live birds and pick them up cleaned/dressed etc. I remember when Grandmama would go out to the coop and “prepare” sunday dinner. I know its not a nice topic but was just wondering about the current laws?

  2. Profile photo of Keith ConleyKeith Conley

    There is nothing in the County ordinance prohibiting raising birds for meat and processing them yourself. We believe this was on purpose, though it wasn’t requested when we were working on getting the ordinance passed. No complaints from me though!

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