I am often asked is: Just how easy is to keep chickens in your garden?
The question is framed in terms of the commitment of time and effort needed. Mostly it is about being tied down. About needing to be available each early morning, being home by dusk, and not going away for the whole weekend.
And factored into the question is the assumption of extra time needed to maintain the look of the garden after any mess the chickens make.
Estimates vary from
a consuming all-day, every-day passion shown in the 2017 Chicken People movie,
a book offering backyard chicken management in five minutes a day.
Of course if you add key words like pet chickens and designed into a beautiful garden for some part-time free-ranging, then that changes everything.
My definitions of these key words are along the following lines.
pet chicken means: one that comes when it is called and who wants to be picked up.
designed into a beautiful garden means: the placement of the chicken coop, chicken tunnel, and pet enclosure is to complement the overall look of the backyard by staging and showcasing your beautiful chickens in your groomed, attractively styled and tidy garden. So the chickens are incorporated into the garden as a feature, as much as a shaped lemon tree or a bed of pruned roses.
part-time free-ranging means: while the chickens have a generous and pleasant home enclosure, they are regularly let out to free-range for a wander. And they accompany you while gardening. Their instincts are to follow you around, as the honorary rooster, full of admiration, and hoping for treats.
The answer to your question is about three and a half hours a week.
This is based on an ideal time commitment of 3 visits a day, and a weekly program.
Daily: morning, afternoon and dusk lock up.
Weekly plan: for health, security and free-ranging.
I support all the ‘hacks’ (short cuts) that allow you to cope if you often get home after dark, hate mornings, and / or go away some weekends. The great gadget improvements all help. But a pet chicken relationship needs a consistent time commitment.
No you cannot have pet chickens free-ranging in a beautiful garden in 5 minutes a day.
But it is simpler than you think. And Chicken TV, or watching chickens, is better than the other channels. Chickens love routine and they enrich your life by merging their rhythms and routines with yours.