One method to ensure a regular supply of fresh food is to keep chickens in your backyard. Despite the time and money it takes to care for poultry, it can help you live more sustainably by reducing waste, producing fertilizers, and aiding in composting, as well as offering calm and allowing you to connect with nature.
If you’re working at home and thinking of growing chickens, here’s what you should know.
Select a Breed
Chicken breeds are divided into four categories:
- Heritage breed: Has a modest growth rate and can live an active outdoor lifestyle for a long time.
- Egg-laying breed: Because of their brief production lifespan, they produce a significant number of eggs.
- Meat breed: Rapidly grows and is bred for meat consumption.
- Dual-purpose breed: Both egg-laying and meat-producing birds
It’s also crucial to decide how many chickens you want to keep. Inside the coop (a chicken’s pen or cage), a medium-sized chicken requires at least three square feet of floor space and eight to ten square feet outside. Birds need room to expand their wings and wander about the yard.
Buying Your Chicken
It’s time to buy the chicken after you’ve decided on the breed. You have the following options to pick from:
- Hatching eggs: If you’re new to raising chickens, you should avoid hatching eggs. However, if you know the incubation process (which is very simple), you can pick this alternative.
- Chicks: This is the most popular and frequently the best option for beginners. The most common options are one-day-old chicks.
- Pullets: These birds are typically sold at the time of lay when they are six to four months old. Because they’ll be laying eggs soon, pullets will likely cost you more in terms of feed, care, and time.
- Adults: Adult birds are usually moved out before they grow too old since they eat more.
Set Up the Chicken Coop
When it comes to housing, chickens aren’t particularly fussy. A simple, modified wooden coop will suffice. Nevertheless, there are still some things to bear in mind when building a chicken coop:
- Construct a weather-resistant coop. It needs to keep poultry safe from extreme temperatures, strong winds, and heavy rains.
- Make sure you have adequate room. This prevents the chickens from pecking the other when they are crammed together.
- Make sure you have enough ventilation. In a coop, temperature control is critical. An ideal atmosphere is ensured by good airflow within the coop.
- Nesting boxes should be available. One box is required for every three chickens. Adding a few extra boxes will also help the chickens choose their favorite area.
- Arrange the roosts. Roosts are communal sleeping areas for hens. Some chickens, on the other hand, prefer to rest alone on different perches.
- Make sure there’s a safe place for them to roam outside. Whether your chickens are kept in a coop or roam freely, they require access to open areas outside of it.
- Make your coop predator-proof. Even though your chickens are safe during the day, they may be in danger at night. You can encircle your pen with chicken wire or cover it without obstructing visibility.
Caring for Chicks
It’ll only be a matter of time until your chickens begin to lay eggs. You must properly care for chicks if you opt to raise them instead of harvesting eggs.
You must begin with brooding boxes. It must be tall enough to prevent chicks from jumping out and large enough to accommodate the chicks, water, and food dishes. The cold can quickly kill the chicks; thus, your brooding box must be draft-proof.
Make sure your chicks have soft bedding (you can try pine shavings). If your brooder box is slick, use paper towels underneath the bedding so the chicks can have a good hold and stand up straight. This will eliminate any future issues with standing or walking.
Chicks require a lot of warmth. They don’t grow feathers until they’re six to seven weeks old that will keep them warm. Brooder heat lamps, light bulbs, or an “electric hen” plate can all be used.
Based on the chicks’ behavior inside the brooding box, you’ll be able to tell if the temperature is correct. Huddling indicates that the temperature is too chilly, spreading out to the edges suggests that the temperature is too hot, and being evenly spaced from one another indicates that the temperature is just perfect.
Create a Nutrition Plan
The diets of chickens and chicks are very different. Both medicated and non-medicated options are available. You should feed them according to their stage of development.
Giving them improper food can cause them to lose weight and interfere with their capacity to grow and produce eggs. Molting, or the process of losing feathers, is another possibility. In addition, vitamins and immunizations can be given as needed, and make sure your birds or chicks have enough clean water to drink.
Cleaning the area where you keep your chickens is the bare minimum. Keeping their surroundings clean will reduce their chances of developing health issues. When handling chickens, use the appropriate household disinfectants and sanitize the materials you use.