Raising chickens is a blast. Check out some tips to get started!
First things first, a question most people who want to get in to raising chickens is: Do you need a rooster to get eggs? The answer is, no. Chickens lay an egg almost daily. Chicks come from roosters fertilizing the egg. I’m so happy to clear that up for you! 🙂
Raising chickens in your backyard is amazing! They eat your food scraps, serve as your natural pest control company (So thoughtful! We hardly ever have spiders in the house now that we have chickens), their poop heats up your compost, they are walking food storage (eggs, and meat if you ever need it), and it’s like christmas everyday of the year when you collect eggs!
Let’s break it down, what do you need when raising chickens?
1. Chicks! – check your local farm store or search online. There are a few different sites that sell chicks and ship them to you. We bought ours for about $3.50-$4.50 at IFA. The price differs with the breed you choose. There are so many breeds to choose from! Do you want variety? Chickens with funky do’s, furry feat, colored eggs, heavy egg layers? There are so many to choose from!
2. Bring them home – you’ll need a box to put them in, a heat lamp, chick feed, water dish, and newspapers to line the bottom of your box. They start to stink so feel free to keep them in the garage or a shed out doors. As long as they have their heat lamp they’ll be fine, but make sure they are in a sheltered area away from predators and a roof over head. When they are tiny keep the heat lamp close to the chicks. If they are tightly huddled under the lamp all the time you should probably lower it. If they are usually staying away from the heat lamps direct ray then you should probably raise the lamp up a little.
3. Feed – chick feed until the chickens are about 8-12 weeks old. After that you can mix in chick feed with laying pellets. Then just laying pellets and free ranging. Raising chickens is so easy because they put themselves to bed every night (which is awesome!) If you want your chickens to be able to peck around in the yard I would recommend letting them out a couple hours before sundown. That way, they have time to do some pest control in your yard, but not enough time to make a mess of your patio/deck. How much you feed your chickens is really up to you. Play it by ear. You’ll know if they need more or could do with a little less.
4. Transfer from the box to the coop – at about 8-12 weeks. Once the chicks have all their feathers they can be out in the cold without a lamp down to 50 degrees F. If it’s getting colder than that in the coop then just stick your heat lamp out there and turn it on on cold nights. Take the lamp out when the weather warms up!
Raising chickens can be a little smelly if you’re down wind. Be sure to buy a bag of cedar chips to put on the floor of your coop. It makes the coop smell nice and absorbs the moisture from their “messes.”
5. Eggs – your chickens will start laying eggs at about 6 months old. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later, just depends. Soon, they will start laying and it’ll be like Easter! every day! When our family comes to visit us my Dad (63) and my brother (35) are always out checking the nesting box for eggs! 🙂
Best of luck with raising chickens! Once you have them you might never want to live without them again!
Why do you want to start raising chickens? Do you have any other questions about raising chickens in your back yard? If you have chickens, what do you love about them?