Keeping a few chickens in your garden can be a very rewarding experience. By keeping garden chickens you will get fresh eggs on a regular basis, free relaxation and therapy sessions (chickens make very good listeners) and some quirky, funny, feathered characters that will keep you entertained for hours on end (better than most soaps).
The term “garden chickens” can be a bit of an oxymoron. Your chickens will love to free range in your garden if it is safe for them to do so but there is not much that they will not eat, dig up or trample on – so you may wish to fence off any plants you value first. Even when free ranging in a completely fenced in area predators can still be a problem and so it is advisable to only free range when you are able to be out there with them. For those times / areas when it isn’t safe for them to free range a coop with an attached run can allow them to be outside in the fresh air but also give them a bit of protection from predators looking for an easy meal. The traditional poultry ark design which has a built-in run is a good solution for many people with a few garden chickens and is one of the easiest chicken coops to build.
If you are new to keeping chickens, then before you get them you many need to check if there are any local rules about keeping chickens in your garden (or you will risk losing them if a neighbour complains). There may be limits on how many chickens you can have, whether or not a rooster is allowed (a rooster is likely to increase the possibility of noise), and the distance of the coop from your neighbours property. Usually if there are any rules they are to protect neighbours from possible noise and smell disturbances. Generally hens are pretty quiet with a little gentle clucking as they go about their business, but they can get a bit more raucous if they get excited, and they do like to ‘announce’ when they have laid an egg 🙂