If you’ve thought about how nice it would be to keep your own chickens, this Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens is a great place to begin learning what you need to know to get started. If you got started and ran into some problems, this article and much of the information on our site will help you figure out what went wrong and help you to make it right.
You must be sure it’s legal to own chickens where you live. Find out if roosters are allowed and if you must keep the chickens caged at all times. Find out how many chickens you are allowed to have. There is nothing worse than going to all the trouble of getting set up and getting chickens, only to find you’ve wasted your time and efforts and must get rid of them.
Providing a safe enclosure that protects from animals that might like to chase or catch chickens is next. This Guide to Raising Chickens and our more detailed articles will help you understand why chickens must be sheltered from predators, wind, rain and snow in stormy weather.
The chicken house or coop needs roosting perches high enough to help chickens feel safe at night. The coop should lock up tight keeping chickens in and other animals out.
Giving the chickens a good sized fenced yard around the coop allows them to get fresh air, exercise and sunshine while staying safe and contained during the day.
A tall fence is important as some chickens can fly up and over. It’s actually smaller chickens that can often fly higher, so you may need a covered chicken yard with a wire or solid roof. Small chickens and chicks may be spotted by hawks, so a covered yard will keep them safe.
By the way, I often get questions about building chicken coops. In order to best help you in this area I took the time to preview a couple coop plan resources.
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A Guide to Raising Chickens wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t talk about food, water and the containers you need to keep these supplies clean and fresh. Hanging feeders are best. You can adjust the height of the feeder as your chicks grow to adulthood, or raise the feeder at night to keep rodents out.
Chicken waterers are designed to be off the floor keeping shavings and droppings out, but in easy reach for thirsty chickens. Bricks or cinder blocks make good stable bases for most water containers, depending on the height of your chickens.
When chickens drink, some of the food they just ate will rinse into the drinking water. Over time bacteria will grow fouling the water, making it unsafe to drink. Containers should be scrubbed out every few days and filled with clean drinking water. Chickens eating processed dry feeds need lots of water to help them digest the food.
Next in our Guide to Raising Chickens is the chickens themselves. Many different breeds are available from local farm supplies and on line. Choosing one breed may be difficult. The larger the breed, the more room they need.
Over-crowding chickens is a common mistake, but chickens are a flock animal finding comfort in the company of other chickens. If you want chickens for eggs, you will probably want a standard sized breed, giving large to extra-large eggs.
Some breeds can lay one egg almost every day, while others will only about 200 per year. Production Bred laying hens need to be replaced every two years. These hens lay the most eggs. Heritage breeds live longer, but lay fewer eggs.
If you’re like me, you might get attached to your chickens and want the longer lived type. These hens can live and lay up to 10 years, though egg numbers decrease each year.
Our Guide to Raising Chickens has given you the 4 BASIC STEPS in getting started: Find out if you can legally own chickens in your area.
Provide housing, a chicken coop, that is spacious and keeps the chickens safe. Provide a yard outside the coop that protects from day-time predators. Supply the coop and yard with clean food and water in containers designed for chickens. Choose the breed that is right for you.
You might choose a breed because you really like the way they look and that’s fine. Just make sure you know ahead of time what to expect. With so many breeds to choose from you may want one or a few of each breed you like.
When starting out with chickens, this Guide to Raising Chickens can save you some extra work that you don’t have to do. Some people raise chicks, but there are other ways to go about having laying hens.
Some of the leading hatcheries or local farms offer Point of Lay hens. This means they have done all the work feeding and raising the chicks to adulthood and the girls are ready to start laying.
Of course you will pay much more for these, maybe $30 per hen, plus shipping, less if you buy direct, but you won’t have to get set up for raising chicks and do all the work of feeding and cleaning and keeping them safe and warm while they are small. Some hens need to be about 6 months old before they lay and that can be a long time waiting for eggs.
The most important rule in raising and keeping chickens is this: TAKE GOOD CARE OF THEM. If you do you’ll have a good experience.
The next rule is to: LEARN AND CONTINUE LEARNING ALL YOU CAN ABOUT CHICKENS. This will make caring for chickens easy, with less frustration. DON’T IGNORE UNUSUAL BEHAVIOR. Often a chicken acting out of the ordinary is communicating, in the only it can, that there is a problem.
A problem affecting one chicken, most likely will affect the others eventually. DON’T GET LAZY. Establish a good routine for checking on chickens daily, making sure they have food and water, are let out each morning and locked up at night. A good routine will prevent many problems and alert you to any needed changes.
This Guide to Raising Chickens and related articles listed in our Site Map can help you immensely. Our website is filled with information easy to access. An hour or so each week reading up on mistakes others have made or problems they’ve had, and what the solutions are, can save you time, money and heartache.Return From Guide to Raising Chickens to All About Chickens