To get started with chickens, a little research is needed. It’s a good idea to check your local laws to make sure keeping poultry is legal. For Austin, a chicken coop must be 50 feet from your nearest neighbor’s house, and the chickens must be properly housed and cared for, including following noise ordinances. For full details on Austin’s City Ordinance, please read Title 3.0, Animal Regulation. If you belong to a Homeowner’s Association, please check with them about additional restrictions.
These days, most research starts online. Browse our Frequently Asked Questions page for quick answers to most common questions. Next, consider signing up at www.yahoo,com, where you can join the austexpoultry forum, a discussion group that focuses on Central Texas poultry keeping. Conversations about managing your flock with our local climate can be invaluable, and the forum is a good place to buy and sell chickens and gather good advice.
When you’re ready to meet other chicken owners, come to an Austin Backyard Poultry Meetup. There is no cost to join, and there is always an informative program. It’s a great place to ask questions and talk to folks with lots of experience and ideas. Meetups offer both an online presence and monthly meetings at a local gathering spot.
The City Chicken has a good introduction to getting started, along with other topics pertinent to those of us in urban environments.
A magazine subscription can provide a steady dose of good information. Backyard Poultry is delivered to your mailbox 6 times per year. Their website offers a selection of previously printed articles, and back issues of the magazine can be purchased. Another publication is the former Fancy Fowl USA, now The Poultry Magazine, which has more emphasis on exhibition fowl and the poultry industry.
For a larger, more general, discussion group, try BackYardChickens.com, which boasts over 150,000 members strong. BYC is now the world’s largest online communtary for backyard chicken keepers. The site covers almost every aspect of chicken keeping that you can think of.
An interesting way to get a first-hand look at chicken keeping is to attend a Chicken Coop Tour. Austin has it’s Funky Chicken Coop Tour, where people open their backyards to the public and show visitors how to set up and manage a small flock. If you are interested in starting your own tour, see the articles Michelle Hernandez, founder and organizer of the Funky Chicken Coop Tour, wrote on Starting Your Own Coop Tour and Expanding a Coop Tour.
Choosing the breeds of chickens to raise is part of the fun. For those with iPhones, iPod Touches, or iPads, check out the Pickin’ Chicken Breed Selector by Mother Earth News for a mobile reference. Another good reference is the Chicken Breed Chart, which describes general traits that may fit best with your project. A wonderful photo gallery of chickens can be found at Feathersite. A large number of breeds, showing both the roosters and the hens, are displayed in full color. You’ll quickly learn to recognize the differences in many varieties of chickens.
Would you believe there’s an internet radio show devoted to backyard chickens? Listen in on Host Andy Schneider, better known as the Chicken Whisperer for his daily broadcast on Blog Talk Radio. Join the chat room, it is quite a hoot! Beginners and experienced chicken keepers can learn a lot from Andy. Earlier broadcasts can be downloaded, so load up that iPod or mp3 player!