It was not so long ago that raising chickens was something people did “out in the country” or at least in the outer suburbs. Today however you will find even the young and hip city dwellers learning how to raise chickens in their backyards, on the roof or even on a large balcony.
Raising chickens isn’t just a new fad that will force us all to find a way to deal with discarded chickens; it is a bona fide decision that families make for many reasons. Whether you just want a few pet chickens, fresh free range chickens and eggs or nutrient rich fertilizer for your flower or vegetable garden you can do it wherever you live.
Now that you know you’re not the only one looking to raise chickens, it’s time to talk about how to get there.
You might think the first step to raising chickens is to build a chicken coop but you first need to buy a few chickens. Of course you won’t be able to take them home right away, but knowing the age of your new chickens will help you determine the size of the coop you need to build as well as special arrangements that baby chicks will need before they move to the “big chicken” coop.
Another factor to consider when you buy your chickens is socialization. Chickens are very social creatures so you may do more harm than good if you plan to buy just one chicken. Get at least 4 birds to start your backyard chicken farm.
Once you know the types of chickens you will be raising and their current age you can start building a chicken coop. When you have identified your coop needs you can find a coop guide so you can build the chicken coop along with water containers and a feeder, because chickens need food and water to live.
As small as chickens are, they do have a few basic needs in addition to fresh air, food and water. They need nesting boxes which should be included in your coop plan. In fact you should plan to have at least one nesting box for every three hens you have.
Healthy chickens need exercise and whether you plan to keep them as pets or sustenance, you will want your chickens healthy. This means a chicken run, or if your backyard is fenced in you can give them free rein. You want your chickens to get exercise without putting them in the path of predators.
There are many different chicken coop designs from which you can choose if you know where to find them.
You may think that building a chicken coop is all the security your birds require but the fact is that there are plenty of critters out there—namely raccoons—who can easily open your basic chicken coop door latch and steal your chickens. Build something more than a basic latch and make sure it is secure every night. Along this same line you want to make sure that you have built your chicken coop securely and that there are no large gaps or spaces through which predators can crawl in and wreak havoc.
Feeding Your Chickens
It is important to note that while you can feed your chickens some basic food in a bag, you should give them a diet with variety. Chickens will eat bagged food but I recommend using it as a dietary supplement rather than a staple. Give them egg shells, fruit cores and rinds, berries, corn, meat scraps and even leftover chicken.
If you plan to eat the eggs or the chickens themselves you will basically be eating whatever you feed them so keep this in mind when you choose their diet.
Raising chickens is a rewarding task that allows you to control the quality of your food while learning to live off the land…if it is done properly.