Raising chickens can be a great way to become more self-sufficient. The most common reason why people want backyard chickens is for the fresh eggs. But besides having fresh eggs every morning, there are many other reasons to raise a flock of your own. Chickens are easy and fairly inexpensive to raise, and you’d be surprised to find out that they are friendly pets with lots of personality. Chickens produce some of the best fertilizer and are always willing to help provide chemical free bug and weed control.
Chickens have a group mentality and are very sociable, so plan to have at least 2-3 birds in your flock. You should always check with your city’s law and ordinances before getting chickens. Most local feed stores will have day old chicks in the spring time, or you can purchase eggs online to hatch on your own.
The first 60 days of a chick’s life are very important. You must be dedicated to keeping a clean and safe home for the chicks until they are ready to be put into a coop. The more time you spend playing with the chicks, the friendlier they will be towards people. Letting your chicks explore the outside is also very important, just make sure they are constantly supervised as they are an easy prey. A few staple items are needed:
- A young chick broader- A cardboard box works great, just make sure you get a bigger box when the chicks start growing (This happens quick!)
- Flooring- Shredded newspaper is easy. This must be changed frequently, never allow it to become too wet.
- Temperature- 90-100 degrees the first week, decreases 5 degrees each week. A 100 watt bulb pointing in one corner of the box works well.
- Food and water- Chicks need a starter feed or mash for the first 6-8 weeks. Plenty of fresh water is also required.
After the first 60 days, general care of your chickens is pretty straight forward. Once your chickens get their feathers they are ready to be moved outside. The design of your coop will vary depending on what you plan on doing with your chickens. Plan on having at least 2-3 square feet per chicken inside your coop. You will also want to make sure the coop is protected from both predators and the elements. If you are raising your chickens for eggs, you will want to make sure you are feeding them a laying blend of scratch or pellets and that they get their veggies too! Chickens love garden scraps, breads, and don’t forget the bugs! Most chickens can also lay around 4-6 eggs a week.
Chickens are such unique birds with personalities and amusing antics that will be sure to make you laugh. They offer you a wonderful “pets with benefits” experience, from fresh eggs to help in your gardens.