Everything is bigger in Texas — and that’s definitely true of the demand for backyard chickens.
Every year, countless Texans are turning their backyards into chicken habitats. And they’re reaping the rewards: eggs, meat and a wonderful hobby.
As wonderful as it is, chicken-keeping isn’t a hobby you can just jump into unprepared. Especially in Texas, where the climate and state law have a lot to say about how to go about raising chickens.
This post gives you practical steps toward raising chickens in Texas. Read on for everything you need to know.
Step 1: Review Your Local Chicken Laws
Each of the 254 counties in Texas has unique laws relating to raising chickens. And within those counties, some cities make their own rules.
For instance, Austin, Texas, a city well-known for its sustainable food movement, the local laws permit raising chickens free-range but with some enclosures, such as fences, to prevent them from entering the neighbors’ yards.
Similarly, in Houston, the law allows you to keep up to 30 chickens on your property as long as you keep them 100 feet away from the neighboring properties, including homes, churches, schools and businesses.
But some Texas cities don’t allow raising chickens within the city limits — whether the law explicitly forbids it or makes it virtually impossible. For instance, Grand Prairie, Texas, requires you to keep chickens 150 feet from the neighboring houses, which is difficult to achieve within the city area. Unfortunately, you cannot keep chicken in Plano and Wylie, Texas, either.
We can’t cover all the counties and cities in the Lone Star State, but you can easily review your local chicken laws by using our Texas chicken laws page.
Make sure you’re legally able to raise chickens in your county, city and neighborhood. Then move on to Step 2:
Step 2: Select a Coop Design
You can choose a basic coop size depending on the species and the number of chickens you are willing to raise. Later, you can choose to buy a premade coop or build your own.
Building your coop is relatively affordable and simple. Just keep the following in mind:
- It should have a nest box to accommodate the number of hens you plan to have
- It should provide 3 to 4 square feet of floor space per hen.
- It should be spacious enough to allow you to collect eggs and clean it.
If that sounds like it might be outside of your carpentry abilities, that’s OK. There are plenty of pre-designed coops available with online retailers and physical stores in Texas.
Step 3: Plan Your Run (or Lack Thereof)
With your coop designed or chosen, you now need to consider the outdoor space your chickens will use.
The other option? Don’t have an enclosed run. Let your chickens roam in your yard.
That’s certainly the simpler option. But you need to check your local chicken laws to make sure it’s allowed.
If you do want to have an enclosed run for your chickens, plan for 10 to 15 square feet per chicken.
And design it so that it keeps predators and pests out as much as possible. Usually, covering the run with chicken wire is sufficient to keep Texas predators out, but you may have to take more extreme precautions if you start losing hens.
Step 4: Consider the Texas Climate
Texas is a big state. That means different areas have different climates.
Consider your specific city’s weather. Is it hot and dry? Humid? Fairly cold in the winter?
Then, make sure you have what it takes to keep your chickens healthy in those conditions.
For example, if you live in North Texas, where winters can get surprisingly chilly, you may want to consider adding electricity to your coop. That way, you can use a mild heat source on particularly chilly nights.
If you live in a very hot part of Texas (which is most of the state), consider adding windows to your coop to encourage ventilation.
Step 5: Choose Your Chicken Breeds
With your coop and run finalized, it’s time to pick a breed (or breeds) that can withstand local conditions. And lay plenty of eggs.
Generally, Mediterranean chicken breeds are more suited to Texas conditions. These include:
Anconas are well-known as one of the best chicken breeds to raise in Texas. This breed greatly resembles the classic Leghorn chickens in shape and size, but their back slopes from the shoulder to the tail, creating a slight angle where these sections meet.
Also, this chicken is known for superior flight capabilities. It also makes a great pet chicken thanks to its docile nature.
Anconas are also known for their good egg-laying ability. They lay slightly smaller eggs than commercial eggs — but much larger than the bantam breeds.
This breed is also heat-hardy and can survive in relatively harsh weather conditions without a problem.
The Egyptian fayoumi chicken is a good breed if you wish to start a small backyard flock in Texas. This breed is known for laying 180 to 210 white eggs each year.
Also, it thrives in high temperatures, making it a great breed for those hot Texas summers.
You should consider raising Catalanas if you want both eggs and meat.
This breed thrives in hot climate regions and can lay up to 200 eggs yearly. It thrives in a free-range environment and grows to be full-bodied, making it a solid choice as a meat chicken.
The leghorn is also a solid dual-purpose chicken breed to raise in Texas.
This breed is known for laying up to 320 eggs annually, as well as its enormous size — with a large head, heavy frame and broad breasts.
Also, it flourishes in humid and tropical climates.
Step 6: Decide: Do You Want a Rooster?
If you’d like to breed your chickens, you will need a rooster. However, if your sole purpose is to keep chickens for fresh eggs, a rooster won’t be necessary
That’s because hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster— the difference is whether those eggs are fertilized.
Roosters can be aggressive. And when a small predator comes sniffing around, that can be a very good thing.
But be careful: While most Texas cities allow chickens, far fewer allow roosters. Check your local laws.
Step 7: Stock Up on Chicken Essentials
To keep your flock of birds thriving, you need to stock up on chicken-raising essentials.
For instance, if you are planning to raise young chicks to mature chickens, you will require various supplies, including a brooder box, a heat source, starter feed and bedding materials.
For adult and adolescent chickens, you’ll need to put the following on your shopping list:
- Commercial feed
- Water containers
- Calcium supplement (oyster shells)
- A roost (a simple branch inside the coop works great)
Step 8: Buy Your Flock
You now have your coop and chicken essentials and know the chicken breed(s) you plan to raise.
But where do you get these chickens?
Generally, it’s best to find a reputable brooder by asking your friends or looking at available online reviews — this will ensure you get healthy chickens at a reasonable price.
But don’t discount mail-order chicken catalogs and online retailers. Just be sure to do your research.
Step 9: Make a Chore Chart
After buying your flock of birds, you need to give them proper attention and care to ensure they thrive.
To keep up with everything you’ll need to do, make a chore chart.
From feeding them, supplying them with water, disinfecting their coop, to vaccinating them, you make a detailed plan to give your flock all the attention it requires. .
Step 10: Reap the Rewards
The steps above are everything you need to raise chickens in Texas.
If you opted for a layer chicken breed, you’ll have eggs to feed your family and possibly sell in no time.
If you chose a dual-purpose chicken breed, you can expect delicious, antibiotic-free meat before long, too.
This is the fun part. Just get out there and enjoy your new flock every day. Get to know the breeds you’ve chosen, and do what it takes to keep them healthy.
You’re well on your way to a lifelong passion. Have fun!