How To Raise Backyard Chickens

Spring chicksSo, you want to raise chickens? Get ready to embark on an exciting journey. Raising your own chickens is great for many reasons. First, nothing compares to fresh, great-tasting eggs for breakfast. And raising your own chickens ensures that you have chemical free, exceptionally clean and healthy chicken. Plus, chickens make for fun, family friendly pets with personality (seriously).

Raising backyard chickens

The first step in raising your own chickens is checking with your local authorities. Search for the local chicken laws and ordinances in your town or city. Also, check online for chicken forums regarding laws in your area. The first step is getting approval. Once your hometown approves you’re well on your way to raising backyard chickens.

Where to get chicks

The next step is quite easy. Most feed stores carry baby chicks in the spring. Call locally or check online for hatching eggs or chickens for sale. Hatching chicks from eggs can be a little trickier. Start by purchasing or making a small incubator that has a controlled temperature, humidity and ventilation. The eggs will take about a week after they are laid to hatch in an regulated incubator.

How to care for a chick

Chicks should be safely kept in a small cardboard box or animal cage, like you would use for rabbits. Use pine shavings or corn cob bedding as the flooring (never use newspaper, it does not absorb well). Keep the temperature at 90 to 100 degrees for the first week, and then decrease by five degrees weekly. Use a 100-watt bulb in one corner the box or cage. You can purchase chick starter at any feed store. As the chicks get older, you can start to section off an area in your backyard for them to play and explore. However, make sure to catch them when it is time to come in.

Tending to the chickens

After the first 60 days, you can move your chicks into a coop. This is where they will spend most of their adult life. A good rule of thumb is to fence off two to three square feet per chicken inside, then four to five square feet outside for them to run around. Again, use pine shavings for the flooring. Chickens typically eat chicken layer feed or pellets. As a treat, you can feed your adult chickens vegetables, bread and chicken scratch.

A backyard of chickens will help to reduce your impact on the environment, cutting out the need for pesticides and fertilizers in your home garden. And the best cooks know that the most flavorful and nutritious eggs are those from chickens grown in home-built coops. As you can see, raising your own chickens has many benefits!

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Jessica McNeal is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed animal lover. In an effort to go green, Jessica has started maintaining a healthy chicken coop. She recently purchased chicken leg bands in order to keep track of her flock.

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