Backyard chicken keeping is increasing in popularity. There are many reasons for this. Perhaps it is to have a ready source of eggs and meat, or as a backyard help in pest control, or perhaps it is just because they are fun to watch. For me its is all these reasons. Whatever the reason, chickens can be a great source of enjoyment if properly managed and given appropriate care.
This article is all about raising chickens 🐓. Let me start by saying I live on a farm in the Midwest. I have raise chickens many times with different degrees of success but always plentiful with eggs 🥚. This particular article is about raising chickens for eggs not for meat. Even though the extra roosters will be sold online full grown or butchered. The primary focus of this article is raising them for eggs either for an individual family or to sell.
Picture of My Chickens
The article begins with information all about chickens the do and the don’t and the how to’s tips and information. Please note that the information quoted and used in the top part of this article can all be credited to the embedded PDFs and the YouTube video information provided.
The funny part is at the bottom of the article where I share my story of this particular seasons raising chickens.
I had done it before but it is been five years or more since I have raise chickens so you will get to see me redo the chicken coop where I got my chickens from how much I paid and the information about the experience raising them.
Keeping a backyard flock can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby, one that is increasing as more people recognize the many benefits of having a backyard flock. In addition to owning a pet that makes you the supplies for breakfast, by providing you with fresh eggs. you'll notice how fun it is to have chickens as pets. Before you know it, you'll quickly find a bunch of additional benefits as you embark on the journey of raising chickens.
Backyard Chickens Steps
- Check the laws and ordinances in your area.
- Set up your brooder.
- Pick your breed and get your chicks.
- Bring your babies home and take care of them.
- Set up permanent housing.
- Decide on feeding and ranging.
- Move your chickens into their coop and wait for eggs!
Tips To Raise A Flock Of Chickens
Why are some chickens so friendly and others not?
As prey animals, chickens are constantly fearful of potential predators.
To raise a flock of good chickens you need to overcome their fear by proving that you are not a predator, but rather are safe and comfortable to be around.
For a family I think 4 to 6 hens is a good amount to have for a backyard flock, or at least 5 hens a rooster (Chickens are social creatures.). Roosters also crow in not just the morning, but throughout the day. They're loud and I tend to hear them well. But they protect the girls really well. I have a lot of hawks and dogs where I live and they warn the others.
History Of Chicken
Feed Quality Is Important
• Feed quality will affect feed consumption. Ensure that the feed is not stale, rancid, or moldy.
• Immediately remove obviously moldy, rancid smelling or any other questionable feed. Such feed will, at best, not be eaten; and at worst, cause disease or nutritional deficiencies if consumed.
• Purchase feed as fresh as possible. Vitamins will start to degrade if finished feed is stored for prolonged periods. Plan your schedule so that new feed is purchased at least every 2 months.
• Always store feed away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. Protect from rodents.
The most important factors affecting food intake are the following:
Chicken breeds All over the world, more than 300 breeds of the domestic chicken species (Gallus domesticus) exist. We distinguish three main categories of chicken breeds: pure commercial breeds, hybrid breeds resulting from cross-breeding, and local breeds or land races. We can roughly divide commercial breeds according to their main production aim:
egg laying, mainly with lightweight laying breeds or layers
meat production, mainly by heavyweight breeds or broilers
both egg-laying and meat production by so-called dual-purpose breeds. Layer, broiler and dual purpose breeds can be distinguished according to their shape.
Egg-Laying Chicken Breeds
Hybrids, such as California White, Cherry Egger, Hy-line Brown, Golden Comet, and Indian River, are the most productive egg layers. But if you would rather raise heritage breeds, Rhode Island Reds and Whites, Leghorns, White-faced Black Spanish, Australorps, and Plymouth Rocks are good choices. Some chicken breeds lay white eggs, some lay brown eggs, but Ameraucaunas and Araucaunas lay eggs that are various shades of blue, green, and cream. The egg color does not affect the nutritional value of the eggs, but you may choose what breed, or breeds, you raise based on your own personal egg-color preference.
Another consideration for choosing what breeds you raise is egg size. The heritage breeds that lay the largest eggs are Jersey Giants, Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Australorps, and Orpingtons. A number of hybrid breeds actually lay mostly extra-large eggs. If this is your goal, check into Hy-line Browns, Cinnamon Queens, Brown Sex Links, ISA Browns, and Golden Comets.
One more thing to think about is how quickly you want your hens to start producing eggs. Hybrid breeds - Indian Rivers, ISA Browns, Cherry Eggers, Golden Comets, and Pearl Leghorns mature quickly and can begin laying eggs as early as 17 weeks old. Leghorns and Leghorn hybrids are nearly all quick to mature. Other heritage breeds, such as White-faced Black Spanish, Red Caps, Minorcas, and Anconas, can start giving you eggs as early as 21 weeks. Pullets of some breeds don't mature enough to lay eggs until more than 26 weeks old.
What Is A Strain Of Chickens?
Each strain of purebred chickens has all the traits that define its breed, but with additional unique traits that make the strain clearly distinguishable from other strains of the same breed and variety.
After the first generation in your own breeding program, the original strain name no longer applies.
Free-range chickens In the free-range system, chickens are free to roam the farm in search of food. Eggs are laid outside in simple nests and are mainly used to maintain chicken numbers. In many cases, up to 75% of the eggs have to be hatched because the mortality rate among baby chicks is high. Few eggs remain for consumption and the chickens themselves do not give much meat.
The advantages of this system are that little labor is needed and waste food can be used efficiently. Very low costs can offset low production levels so that keeping chickens around the house can be profitable if certain improvements are made.
The free-range system is most suitable if you have a lot of space, preferably covered with grass. At night, the chickens can be kept in any kind of shelter, as long as it is roomy, airy and clean. This will minimize the loss of chickens to illness or theft.
Advantages of the free-range system
Exercise in the open air keeps chickens healthy.
Feed, even if it is not well balanced, presents few problems.
Parasitic infections can be kept to a minimum if there is enough space.
Little or no labor input is needed.
The chickens help limit the amount of rubbish in a productive way.
The direct costs of the system are low.
Disadvantages of the free-range system
Free-range chickens are difficult to control.
The chickens, especially young chicks, are easy prey for predators.
Chickens may eat sown seed when looking for food.
A large percentage of the eggs can be lost if the laying hens are not accustomed to laying nests. Mortality rates are usually high.
Baby poultry cannot generate enough heat to sustain themselves. That is the reason the mother hen keeps the young under her wings. The process of getting chicks off to a good start is called brooding. The brooding period is roughly the first 3 to 4 weeks of a chick’s life. By then, most breeds are fully feathered and can generate enough heat on their own to get by.
Transition From The Brooder To Outdoors
Basic needs for brooding chicks are:
• Heat source, such as a 250 watt infrared light. Keep a temperature gradient from 110°F under the heat source to 84°F at edge of brooder ring. Decrease temperature about 5°F each week. However, if chicks appear too cold or hot, adjust accordingly.
• Clean water.
• Good quality chick starter feed.
• Clean litter (pine or cedar shavings are recommended).
• A circular confined area to keep the chicks from wandering away from the heat source.
Successfully transitioning young poultry from their brooder to permanent outdoor facilities requires following a few common-sense guidelines.
The chick water container should be small to prevent drowning. When you bring the chicks home and place them in the brooder, dip their beaks in the water gently so they know where to find the water. Make sure that the chick feed you give them has grit included in it. They will find the food on their own. After a couple of months, you should be able to move the chickens to the coop. If it's still very cold where you live, you might want to wait a little longer.
Once you move them to the coop (or tractor), give them dietary variety. Cracked corn in the winter will help them keep up their body temperature. Chicken feed, food scraps, insects, and grass all help feed them. You might also look into allowing your chickens to range freely in your yard (with proper precautions to protect from predators), since free-range eggs have lower cholesterol and saturated fats, as well as higher omega-3 fatty acids. Don't ever let them roam unsupervised and make sure that you close them up in the coop at night.
Housing Chickens are very adaptable and no single best way exists to house them. Creative architectural construction may even be considered in building a “designer” chicken house in order to enhance the backyard landscape. Regardless of ultimate design, the 2 following practical considerations should be observed.
The building must:
• Be large enough for proper air circulation (i.e., ventilation), but small enough to keep from getting too cold and drafty in winter;
• Allow 1.5 to 2.0 ft2 (0.14 to 0.19 m2 ) floor space per adult chicken;
• Provide easy access to feed and water
• Provide nesting areas for hens in egg production.
Nest boxes are essential furnishings of any hen house because she will seek a secluded place to lay her eggs. Properly constructed and maintained, nest boxes provide a clean environment for laid eggs and facilitate gathering them. Again, there are no hard and fast rules for nest box construction. Commercial boxes are available from various retail sources, or you may construct your own.
• Nest box height and width should be 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm); depth should be at least 12 inches (30 cm).
• One nest box is required for each four to five hens. Place nest boxes no less than 18 inches (46 cm) above the floor.
• A front panel, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) high, is necessary to provide seclusion and keep eggs from rolling out of the nest.
• Maintain at least 2 to 3 inches of clean dry shavings in each nest box to reduce egg breakage and to minimize number of soiled eggs.
• A perch may be attached to each box to facilitate access, running parallel to the front of the box and located 6 to 8 inches out.
Hens do not need roosters present to produce eggs. Increasing day length, not the presence of males, is what stimulates egg production. A rule of thumb is that four to five hens will supply two to four eggs per day during their production cycle. Pullets (young females) reach sexual maturity and are capable of laying eggs when about 5 to 7 months of age; however, this can vary considerably depending on breed and strain of chicken.
Use the following criteria to choose which eggs to hatch:
The eggs selected must, of course, be fertilized. This is rarely a problem if there is a cock present. On average, one cock is needed for every 10 hens. If a cock is not normally kept with the hens, he must be put in with the hens two weeks before the hatching period.
Use undamaged and clean eggs which are neither too small nor too large. The best results can be expected if you choose medium sized eggs from hens which lay well.
Collect the eggs regularly, e.g. three times a day. Let the eggs cool down as quickly as possible.
If necessary, keep the eggs for a few days, but preferably not for more than a week. If the eggs have to be kept for a week, they must be stored at a temperature of between 14 and 16 °C. Storing hatching eggs at temperatures below 12 – 14 °C is not advisable. If the temperature cannot be kept at the recommended level, a shorter storage period is necessary. Eggs can be kept for only three days at 20°C. Write the date of collection on the egg in pencil, to help you remember how long the egg can be stored.
Health care For good productivity and profitability, you should keep your chickens as healthy as possible. Sick chickens do not produce, and profits will be lost if you have to buy medicines or if your chickens die. Prevention is better than cure, so try to provide good housing, nutrition and health care for your chickens, and observe them daily for any abnormalities and disease symptoms. Some diseases can spread rapidly through a poultry flock so sick-looking birds should be housed separately and given extra care. Contact your veterinary or extension agent for information about common poultry diseases in your area and the availability of chicken vaccines.
To protect against Salmonella, wash eggs that have chicken feces on them in a sanitizer with ½ oz of chlorine per one gallon of warm water. If you are using the chicken waste in your garden compost, it needs to age 45-60 days before you put it on your vegetable beds in order to avoid possible Salmonella contamination.
Our Chicken Story
What I Started With:
Not used for 5 years and many years older than that this old chicken house had to have a redone floor, roof, nesting boxes, roosts, and some wire repair.
We ordered our chickens and began to fix up the building. Nothing was purchased to do the fixing because we used wood from old bookcases and dressers we had gathered. The metal roof we had saved after a storm blew them off. Total repair cost was about $12.00 for wood screws.
It had one partial wall dividing it in half for the nesting room. We upgraded it and changed the layout some.
I have ordered from other places but have always been very happy with Cackle Hatchery!BARGAIN SPECIALS
If you’re looking for the best deals available, you’ll find them in Cackle Hatchery’s “Cheep Cheap” selection. We offer our clients a number of chicken deals, weekly specials, discounts and sales every day of the week. This is just one page of our money-saving offerings, including our baby chicken bargain specials. These bargain specials are always available to order throughout the season as available. Be sure to check out the other categories of poultry for our everyday constantly changing discounted special offerings, too! We are sure you will find a great deal on just about any type of poultry you would like to purchase.
Straight Run - Males are Processed For Cooking