Raising Backyard Chickens - Beginners guide to feeding and raising chickens in your home yard

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Similarly, our dogs seem to accept them as part of the family and never even threaten. We supplement our chickens with bird seed, especially sunflower seeds, in the winter when insects are wiped out by the cold. We never feed commercial chicken feed. Their yolks are the loveliest orange and the taste of a fresh chicken egg will never let you go back to commercially raised eggs again. I should also add that our hens are Buff Orpingtons, a very large docile breed that lay eggs very consistently even through winter months. We have two roosters, a Buff and our newest, a Brahma, a comical guy with feathers on his feet.

Growing up we had chickens and ducks. As well as cows, pigs, giant veggie gardens, and a small orchard — the good life :. Having a lot of chickens or any animal for that matter is stinky and messy. But, they are actually very fun to be around. Much better tempered then geese or turkeys.

My town does allow backyard hens and I have every intention of purchasing Sussex hens next spring. My father kept them … in a huge sort of fenced yard, with trees and grass and a big Nissan hut of a chicken house. I was terrified of the chickens. He used to make me feed them … he would open the door of their house in the morning, and the warm, not-so-sweet-smelling fug of straw and chickens would hit me … and I would hope upon hope that they would all wander their noisy, pecking way out quickly, and without touching me, so I could quickly collect the eggs and escape the pen!

Egg Box. Simple solution that allows collection of eggs without going into the coop or pen. Delicious eggs, and no mingling with the little pecker heads, lol. Problem solved if all you want are eggs. Shipping chicks. I wonder how much stress that puts on them, and how long it takes to arrive? There you will find a full description of the book and where to pre-order. It will be available in late September. For some reason there are parentheses around the link I just sent. Be sure to remove them if you paste the link.

My parents have friends that raise quite a few chickens in the country and they are constantly giving away eggs. They make absolutely fantastic stock. That said, I have some year old hens who are still laying. Free range and organic feed and not using supplemental lighting all winter gives them a much longer egg-laying life span. They can. They can be fed sawdust and double milled grain husks with a bit of the grain left in it. They can be fed diseased offal and heat-sludged human waste through a tube. Real chickens, from high quality lines, will eat meat, grass, vegetables, bugs, fruit, eggs, etc….

They eat like us, essentially, with some preparation differences usually. Corn, soy, and wheat mess up the natural omega fats ratio in their bodies, and alter the proper pH in their bodies, leading to disease, including improper digestion and therefore poor metabolism. But many birds have been bred to eat that junk, and consequently they are also bred to have very short lives, if they survive to butcher. My children literally gag from them, though they love pastured eggs. Pastured birds get the natural grain from the tops of the grasses, in a quantity and season that makes sense, and the bugs, soil, and scraps of meat and vegetation make delicious, healthy eggs.

Their bodies are likewise amazingly delicious. I only know about the delicious meat from having it in Cuba where the chickens received no feed at all- just pasture. I have had old layers that were pastured, too, and they were excellent as stock , as were their eggs before they were butchered. I have to feed my chickens a bit because their pasture is not great due to a three-month growing season where I live, so they are not top quality, but very close.

I feed them weeds from the garden, a variety of indigenous grasses, legumes- fresh and dried, some organic cracked grain only a little , and occassionally some scraps from the table, though those are reserved in general for our pig. They have a free-for-all on insects all day, every day. We used to have chickens when I grew up. We fed them some grains, but mostly kitchen scraps and oyster or sea shells.

Raising Chickens 101: How to Get Started

The eggs were fantastic, huge eggs with an orange yolk. Reading this makes me want to have chickens again. Here is my coop. We just had 4 new chicks hatch! I love my birds. Nothing like going outside to get fresh eggs everyday! They are meat birds and just moved out of their brooder into our chicken tractor. They are pretty messy when confined to one spot, but the chicken tractor removes that issue. We have considered getting laying hens but there are three farms on our road that sell their fresh, pastured eggs from an honour-system egg stand.

We love our backyard ladies, and have had chickens for 6 years now. Landscaping has already been mentioned, as well as being able to go out of town easily. But also you have to be prepared to be more of a farmer than a pet-owner. Also, dealing with predators is a big issue where we live, especially with raccoons. Hubby and I once had to fend off a raccoon with rakes and a hoe at am in our bathrobes:. My wife and I just picked up 4 chicks yesterday. This article kinda pushed me over the edge! We are in the middle of building a coop off of plans purchased on the internet.

It will have wheels on one side so it will be easy to move around our yard. We are also making a self-feeder and self-waterer that will be part of the coop.


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That way, when we move the coop, everything moves with it. The food and water will be able to be re-filled without having to open the coop up. I have visions of being late for work, trying to feed the hens, and then chasing them around the yard once they escape. We have to train the dog to protect the hens, as opposed to hunting them. They are about 3 weeks old and seem to have done well on their first night in our house.

We went with a rubbermaid bin and a red-bulb light. The temperature was 87 degrees inside the bin all night. When we checked on them, they were comfortably laying down sleeping. Luckily, the coop we are building, will have white roof panels, which should block out a good deal of overhead sun and provide a nice area for them.

My wife thinks I am nuts but I am looking at getting the BioPod to use for grub composting. The chickens apparently love grubs and they are a good source of fat and protein. Between the chickens, the grubs, and our worm bin, we should have very little food waste going in to the the trashcan. We are very excited to add to our family. We are even more excited to get some tasty eggs in a few months! We now have a converted greenhouse with 6 newly arrived hens at the bottom of the garden.

What the hell happened there? Me and my wife started raising chickens about a year ago. It is not as bad as it seems plus you know where your eggs are coming from. It is really interesting how many people are getting into raising chickens. Even in Vancouver B. City hall even set aside a few thousand dollars for a sort of lost or abandoned chicken chicken home.

People cannot keep roosters though. Great post. I really feel that more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits that raising backyard chickens can give. First they are fun, second the healthy benefits compared to grocery bought eggs and chickens are endless.. Thanks so much. The chickens must be fed a ration in addition to the foraging they can do on my land. I am currently working with a poultry nutrition expert in Barcelona I am in Florida to come up with a balanced diet.

The problem is protein, which is currently supplied with soybeans to almost all chickens in this country.

We started with dried mealworms and maggots, but they are too expensive and, coming from China, are dubious as to their content. But that is a legume. My family and I raise backyard chickens. We started out about 3 years ago and now have 12 chickens. Am a zambian who is interested to start chicken farming. Iam staunch poultry keeper for almost 15 years now. I raise both layers and indigenous chicken. I have a back yard flock of layers and 40 indigenous chicken. Iam staunch poultry keeper combining both layers and indigenous chicken here in the southern highlands of Tanzania.

Hope to have as much as birds to trade at any given time…. I currently have 16 hens we also had several roosters, but they went into the freezer. They also get freeze dried crickets and mealworms they were getting live red wigglers until my daughter bleached the worms by accident , table scraps, and organic fruits and veggies just for them, from time to time. Once we get our fence up this spring, I hope to let them free range a bit.

We have too many dogs, coyotes, and other predators that walk across our acre lot. And since I have no roosters anymore, no one to protect them from hawks, etc. So the covered run will do for now! Chickens are seriously easy. Can anyone help me? My local farm and feed store where I currently purchase my eggs suggested I feed a mix they sell of corn and soy.

You can buy grain mixes, or single varieties of seeds and grain from feed mills or local farms to feed your chickens directly. If possible, free ranging letting them roam in a yard to hunt for most of their own food, like bugs, greens, even mice is the best way to go, provided they have plenty available to eat in the yard. I do plan to let my chickens free range, but I also want to supply a good source of food for them, too. Thank you for this very informative post.

Backyard chicken raising provides you with a healthy source of organic chicken eggs and meat. However, there are also the disadvantages of raising a chicken so think carefully before planning to raise a backyard chicken. Thank you for that awesome article! Is there a chance to give me some more indications? Thank you! What a great and informative blog. We keep the ultimate back yard chicken the silkie hen, we have these in many clours along with Polish chickens too on our small holding in somerset, UK.

They are awsome little birds, love them. Great work XX. I figure we average 15 eggs a day the chickens like to hide the eggs in pasture-raised model, so we lose quite a bit, plus a few of them crack a few eggs daily and so we pretty much use up all of the eggs and give the remainder to family, as well as doing about eggs a week for deviled eggs at church donation.

I should mention I have about 50 acres of lush grassland in California. My eggs are orange and look incredible when poached for eggs benedict. If I had to include any time for delivery it is just a waste of time. People in the US are finally starting to see the added value of actually eating good food, or at least they realize it is going to cost substantially more than store bought crap by x. So the only reason we even do this right now is because we love eggs and are utilizing a resource we own. The opportunity cost in farming would be better spent on organic lamb or natural pork per man hour vs chickens on the 50 acres we own.

I bought chickens several years ago as an experiment. Mainly to see if the chickens would eat ticks in the yard. What I found is that not only ate ticks, but make my kids more involved with outdoor chores. From collecting food waste to deef the chickens later in the day, to collect fresh eggs every day from the coop. We found ourselves spending more time outside. And also many friends visited us on a regular basis, just so they could just sit outside, walk around the yard, and look at the chickens!

Even cars driving by would slow down to take pictures at the chickens. I also loved how the grass grew. It is a win-win. Latest Posts.

A beginner’s guide to raising backyard chickens.

View More Articles. New To Keto? Planks Push-ups Pull-ups Squats. Autumn Recipe Inspiration: 14 Comfort Dishes. Katie 8 years ago. Paleo Josh 8 years ago. Free Range or not: My uncle who is a farmer was explaining how act in cages or with space. What are you thoughts? QOTSA 8 years ago. Tiffany 8 years ago. NoSurf 8 years ago. Bev 8 years ago. My girls roam like cattle every day.

Makes terrific eggs. Dana 8 years ago. Imogen 8 years ago. Has your uncle ever seen free-roaming chickens??? Audry 8 years ago. That was lots of great feed back. I wanted to see what other had to say. Jeanmarie 6 years ago. Richard Rogers 8 years ago. Kate Reznikov 7 years ago.

Dada 8 years ago. Primal Toad 8 years ago. Victoria 8 years ago. Darren 8 years ago. Omnomnivore 8 years ago. Jen 6 years ago. Crunchy Pickle 8 years ago. Robin 8 years ago. Reena 8 years ago. CJW 8 years ago. Are you guys serious?!!?!!? You pay that much for eggs? For a dozen? My bro lives in Wrigleyville… Are the yolks of the eggs you buy orange? If so, then its maybe worth it. PrimalToad just started following your blog! Primal Toad: Yep. Lynna 8 years ago. Kevin 8 years ago. Consider me lucky too. Fyre 8 years ago. FoCo Girl 8 years ago. Stuart 8 years ago. Jay 8 years ago.

Emily 8 years ago. Mike 8 years ago. Tricia 8 years ago. Philippa 8 years ago. David 8 years ago. Isis 8 years ago. Is this true? Otherwise I will have to consider fencing off a non-grass area if I get some chickens.. Charlotte 8 years ago. Other than that, chickens are awesome. Sandra Brigham 8 years ago. Ally 8 years ago.

Misabi 8 years ago. Yeah, I would not even try with any breed of terrier or border collie. Fern 8 years ago. Dave 8 years ago. Peggy The Primal Parent 8 years ago. Heather 8 years ago. Alison Golden 8 years ago. JohnT 8 years ago. Mariah 8 years ago. Pamela 8 years ago. Sarah 8 years ago.

Oh man, Heather is totally right. Gary Deagle 8 years ago. Very cool. Now if only I had a backyard. I need an article for how to raise a condo chicken! Dana Carpender 8 years ago. Great compost from the poopy straw from the coop, of course. Tim Huntley 8 years ago. Rhonda 8 years ago.

Christopher Peck 8 years ago. Andi 8 years ago. Primal Palate 8 years ago. Some have speckles on them. EvansMama 8 years ago. And lastly chickens smell! Chicken coops and poop smells. Thanks for the tip! And the advice. Maybe in the future when we move. Andrea 8 years ago. Thanks for the real-world advice! Erik 8 years ago. Marie 8 years ago. Sharon Bush 8 years ago. Anne 8 years ago. In my first-ring urban-feeling suburb, city codes say we can have chickens but no roosters.

Brianna 8 years ago. Hal 8 years ago. And you will be surprised how quickly eggs pile up! Three is a good start! Casey 8 years ago. This year, we raised some Cornish Cross meat chickens as well. John 8 years ago. Primal Phil 8 years ago. Great information in this article as usual Mark, thanks!! Laurel 8 years ago. Go for it. Jennifer 8 years ago. Kara 8 years ago. Penny 8 years ago. Kevin Greer 8 years ago.

Tara 8 years ago. GenlteMama 8 years ago. Lynda 8 years ago. Unfortunately I am unable to have chickens. My yard is too small according to the legal stuff. Joel 8 years ago. My family just got everything set up and purchased some ducks. I highly recommend ducks over chickens for a few reasons.

Nice to hear about the poop option as well…. Jesse 8 years ago. Keoni Galt 8 years ago. For those concerned about the smell, I use this stuff called EM My Grandma raises chickens! Peter themensdomain 8 years ago. Lynette 8 years ago. I thought that might be fun. Carrol 8 years ago.

Know the law.

Sanctus Real 8 years ago. EBchill 8 years ago. Jeff 8 years ago. Sometimes I feel this blog controls my life :P. PrimalGrandma 8 years ago. The hens were another story— But I really enjoyed reading about the roosters. Dawn 8 years ago. The Real Food Mama 8 years ago. Ingvildr 8 years ago. Ann Coleman 8 years ago. Wes 8 years ago. Bantam chickens are good for eggs and require less space, too, than standard breed chickens.

Okay, carry on. Natascha 8 years ago. Lauren 8 years ago. George Mounce 8 years ago. Amber 8 years ago. Cyndi 8 years ago. Laurie D. Also, externally fed waterers and feeders mean not having to go in for that either. The only time we need to touch or be next to our chickens is when we gather them for butchering. Brian 8 years ago. Lyndy 8 years ago.

Ellen Ussery 8 years ago. You can check out our website in the meantime. Trey 8 years ago. How do they not get away? I plan on also growing a garden. I was going to put 3 ft of chicken wire around my garden just to keep neighborhood animals out. But I did hear that chickens do great things in the garden. I was planning on putting them in the garden for an hour or so every so often. But will they fly out? However, it does get cold very randomly and sporadically btwn October — February. Which breeds would be good for my climate? I was planning on freezing their water feeders to keep them cool as well.

Just from a quick google search, I found that there are lots of people building chicken tractors! I would just make sure that when you build it, you make it easy to move. My hens come to my door because my backyard is fenced in. They have a coop that they sleep in and lay eggs in, but free range in the yard during the day. If you do not have a fence, you will need to keep them in your tractor all day. Just make sure it is big enough for them to be happy. Chickens can be great for gardens. And they can be destructive. Since you have the fence issue, I would construct a tall fence around your garden.

I have had a chicken scale a 6 foot wall. Also, let them into your garden about an hour before dusk. Keep a close eye on them too. They LOVE tomatoes. They will eat any goodies they find. I always put a frozen water bottle into the water like a giant ice cube to keep it cool. Leghorns do really well in warm weather.

So do Minorcas and Buttercups. Typically the medium weight birds 5 pounds or so do better than the heavy breeds 7 pounds in warm weather. Love your little chickies! I have a 3 month old pullet who started sneezing. No runny nose, or cough. How much apple cider vinegar should be added to the water? I add about 1 tablespoon per gallon about.

Honestly, I just splash it in. Our chickens have stopped laying and are digging a huge hole. They are 1 yr. They could be going through their yearly molt. Is their coop clean, have you been giving them treats, are they able to roam and stretch their wings? As for the hole, they may be making themselves an awesome dust bath!

What breed would you recommend for large eggs? I also hear some chickens can be meaner than others, Thanks for all your great info. My red sex link and black sex link lay huge eggs, the black sex link especially. But some of my hens are more friendly than others. Love your website! Thank you for all your wonderfully helpful info. I hope we talk soon. So I have about 26 layers of mixed breeds and 2 roosters of the same breed. Will the 2 roosters breed with any of the hens when mature? One of my boys asked me this question and I did not know how to answer that.

I had chickens growing up, but we never let them hatch eggs. I do not know the process on this. It is something that we would like to try at some point. And the other question he asked is what will the chicks typically look like? So the roosters are the Barred Rock and the hens are any where from the same to the Americana, black sex link, black australorp, isa brown, rhode island red, and buff orpingtons.

If you can refer me to a site or have information for me on this I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you. Have another question. When my husband built the coop, he made it so that the chickens have a little door that I open and it is a ramp for them to walk down to the outside so that I can close it when I clean the coop so they cant come in.

He says I should leave that door down all the time for them even though they probably wont go outside, but I do have 1 female duck that lives with the girls. They do have a fence all around them and on top so nothing can get in to get them. I loved reading your article.. My one question is do they need a light in the coop?

We had one in there to keep them warm the last two weeks but now its 60 at night. Their only 5 and 6 weeks old. Please sign up via this link! We have chickens that have lost their butt feathers. We see no sign of mites. Why could this be?? I hate this One of my chicks has a hurt foot. It is black and blue. What should I do?

Navigating the Keeping Chickens site

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. I may receive a commission if you purchase something mentioned on this page. See more details here. There are two different types of feed — grower and layer. The growing chicks get the grower feed and as soon as they start laying they switch over to the layer feed. The chicks need more protein than the grown hens and the grown hens need a lot more calcium to support all of the egg-laying they are going to do!

Chickens also love to eat real food. Most kitchen scraps can be thrown out for your hens to enjoy. My hens, in particular, love tomatoes, grapes, blueberries, bread, and apples. Keep in mind that foods like onions, garlic, and cabbage may change the flavor of the eggs they are laying. Also, use common sense here. Don't give your chicken anything YOU wouldn't eat. If it smells and looks gross, throw it away. Your chickens won't want it either. I have had hens that seemed to have a little cold. A chicken sneeze is kind of cute!

If you have a hen who seems ill, it is a good idea to separate her from the flock in her own little chicken hospital complete with lots of water with a little apple cider vinegar mixed in. I have also heard of people putting some crushed garlic into the water to help kick a cold.

There are lots of resources out there to help sick hens and I will refer to them in an upcoming post! Bottom line, if the cold is contagious, it is best to try to keep the rest of the flock healthy. Aren't chickens smelly? Well, they can be. That is, if you don't keep their coop clean.

Being a responsible chicken keeper means making sure that their living space is clean. If cleaning the coop isn't a priority for you, their house will start to smell.

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A beginner’s guide to raising backyard chickens. - Farmcraft

So clean that coop!! Where can I get chickens? Your local feed store typically carries several breeds of chicks for you to choose from! If you buy one-day old chicks to raise they must be vaccinated against Mareks disease. Other recommended or required vaccinations include:. Chickens are social birds so you should have more than two birds: three or four is a good minimum number.

Council regulations and your available space will limit most residential chicken owners to a maximum of ten birds. Avoid the all too natural tendency to fall in love with your girls and want lots and lots of them. Chickens need their own space and overcrowding will cause problems so think carefully about how much available space you have.

Back to Top. Although they are reasonably hardy, chickens need to be protected from weather extremes and have a safe and dry place to sleep and nest. Although no permit is required to build or erect a coop in most Australian residential areas chicken coops must comply with Council regulations and be escape proof. Chickens tend to roost close together to keep warm but overcrowding will lead to some very unhappy and unhealthy chooks.

According to Dr. This means that wire netting on the walls and roof of the run should be at least 1mm thick and have aperture sizes no larger than 10mm. To prevent this you can put netting on the floor, place the coop on a hard surface such as concrete, or add an extra netting apron over the ground stretching out from the wall or dug into the ground. Shredded cardboard also works well. Good quality straw is another good option but avoid hay, which can become mouldy very quickly. Shredded paper is O. Many experts recommend a good quality commercial feed pellet as the easiest way to ensure your hens are getting all their daily needs for proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins.

Choose your breed.

As egg production requires a lot of minerals and vitamins some calcium and vitamin supplementation may be necessary if your hens are producing a plentiful supply of eggs. Avoid certain foods such as uncooked rice, rhubarb, avocado, chocolate, onion, garlic, citrus fruits or lawn mower clippings as these can cause problems. Seek expert advice if you notice any hens that are listless, not eating or displaying other worrying signs. Collecting your fresh delicious eggs each day will be a job you or your children will love doing both for the excitement of discovering new eggs sometimes hidden in surprising places and the interactions with your hens.

A well designed coop such as the Somerzby range of coops will provide easy access to the nesting boxes making this job really simple. If you let your girls out to roam during the day make sure that they are all tucked up safe and sound in the hen house for the night and that the hen house door is securely latched to prevent predators gaining access. When you first get some chickens there might be an initial establishing of the pecking order in the first week or so but behaviours such as over-zealous pecking, eating eggs, and going off their food need some action.

The Somerzby range of hen coops are designed to provide safe and comfortable roosting and nesting spaces for your hens. And although their singing abilities are not so great and your chickens will never be another Bee Gees or Crowded House they can make a surprising range of sounds. You can also pour your own life story out to your girls and receive sympathising clucks in response. One of the great advantages of keeping chickens in your backyard is that they can help control pests in your garden.

Your girls will even leave behind some fantastic manure at the same time. It costs very little to keep chickens fed and healthy. Chickens are great food waste disposal experts and will happily forage for insects in your garden. Chickens are a great way to teach your children how to look after chickens, it also teaches them where their food comes from. Having one living in your backyard will teach them about real food, and also instill a level of self-sufficiency into the family by providing you with fresh, organic eggs.

Using these eggs in the kitchen when cooking with your children is a particularly easy way to build an appreciation for where their food comes from. This self-sufficiency means that you get to determine how the chicken is treated throughout the laying process and you can teach your children about nurturing animals.

There are more than different breeds of chickens and the variety of colourings and plumage is quite extraordinary. However, you look at chickens they are great little birds deserving of love and affection and a place in your heart and backyard. And Somerzby have a great range of chook runs and chook houses to make keeping your home range chooks so easy and so much fun. Chickens have long been an addition to many family homes, not only do they provide eggs for their families, reduce food waste and fertilize the garden, they are the perfect pet for educating your children on nature, responsibility and health.

Their coops require cleaning just once per week a lot less than the twice per day required for a kitty litter tray and love to socialize with other chicken friends. They can help reduce waste by being fed food scraps from the dinner table and are great soil fertilizers. They will even take care of any pest problems you have too!