Last week, Fulton County Extension Agent Grantly Ricketts led a class at the Camp Truitt 4-H Education Center to inform south Fulton residents about the requirements and benefits of the hobby. About 20 residents attended, including Tamara Jones of College Park. “I wanted to know more about the laws regarding raising chickens in the city and who to go to with questions I might have in the process,” she said.
Ricketts said while there are many misconceptions about raising chickens, caring for a flock and reaping the benefits of fresh eggs does not have to be a difficult task.
“First, it’s important to know and understand the zoning regulations in the county you live in to see how many birds you can have, if you need a permit and what kinds of birds are allowed,” he said.
In Fulton County, residents do not need a permit to keep chickens, including roosters, but a coop must be at least 50 feet away from a neighbor’s property.
Ricketts said it is always a good idea to be a considerate neighbor. “Even though ordinances allow roosters, those interested in raising a flock may not want to have a loud rooster that wakes the whole neighborhood up,” he said.
Before purchasing baby chicks, researching different breeds of chickens is necessary.
Ricketts said many breeds are good egg layers, others are better for eating and some breeds are right for both purposes, but all need the right environment.
“A good temperature for a poultry house is 70 degrees, but most backyard chicken coops do not need a heating and cooling system in Georgia,” Ricketts said.
Chickens are vulnerable to predators and should be protected with a fence from the ground to a height climbing animals cannot scale, or enclosed with a roof.
The floor should be coated with pine shavings, rice hulls, peanut shells or ground corncobs, all of which are absorbent and suitable for bedding materials.
Daily, fresh water and commercial feed will nourish the chickens, which begin laying eggs when they are about 6 months old; some breeds will lay five or more eggs per week.