How to start raising backyard chickens

Filed in: Green Living.

Have you been playing with the idea of ​​keeping your own chickens for a while? Or maybe you were convinced by our recent article about The benefits that backyard chickens can provide..

After all, who does not want to wake up with fresh, organic eggs? And then there are the chickens themselves, extravagant and interesting creatures that will entertain you for hours at a time.

If you have never had chickens before, you may feel a little overwhelmed by the possibility of setting up. I mean, they're not your typical pet and they need more than a bowl of food, some cat food and a sand tray.

But, the initial configuration is worth it in the long term and this article aims to start keeping your own chickens in the yard of the house as simple as possible.

The basic things we will cover are: choosing a race, shelter and security, and the foundations of food.

Choose your chicks

There are literally hundreds of chicken breeds to choose from. You may want to consider several things when deciding which one is right for you, such as:

the number of eggs produced the temperament of the noise level of the breed, especially if it lives in an urban environment or has close neighbors how the race manages the confinement (especially if their chickens can not roam freely all day) the climate in which live, not all races can handle extreme temperatures

Try these breeds in size

If you are living in the city or have a smaller space, try a chicken "gallo", which is a quarter of the size of standard chickens. the Beijing Bantam He has a kind personality, making it ideal for children. But, being smaller, these chickens lay smaller eggs and are the target of predators.

If you are primarily looking for a pet, try the Orpington. These sweet ladies have a lovely personality and soft feathers, and will not tear up your garden. However, they often start to incubate eggs, which means they are excellent mothers, but not so much for egg lovers.

If egg production is your top priority, try the Rhode Island Red or the Sussex breed, which lays large eggs. They are also less destructive than other less productive varieties.

Take a look at this small practical table to help you decide which chicken works best for your home and family.

Buy versus rescue?

The cost of the chickens depends largely on the breed, but you can save by buying small chicks instead of adults … although you will have to wait up to six months to get eggs and you may need additional equipment, such as a breeding lamp for the heat.

Of course, rescuing the chickens is free and you will be saving a life … something that your new chick will always be grateful for. You just need to know that your egg production may be less than that of the chickens you buy.

There is a lot to weigh when it comes to choosing your chickens. Take time to think about your needs, budget and the environment in which the creatures will be kept.

How to house your chickens

Because your chickens are totally dependent on you to provide a safe and warm shelter, you must invest (or build) a pretty decent chicken coop and run.

The cooperative must support a feeder, water containers, hangers and nest boxes. Do not forget that it must be big enough so you can go in there to clean it, collect your eggs and control your birds!

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Size of the cooperative

Chickens are sociable creatures and do not like to be alone, so you can expect to have at least three or four birds.

As a general rule, the cooperative should have at least 2 square feet of space on the floor bantam chicken If they are free during the day. The largest breeds need 4 square feet each. But, like us, chickens do not like to be overcrowded, so be generous with your space.

Birds that are confined all day, or overcrowded, are much more likely to become unhealthy and unhealthy.

If you are buying a cooperative, it will usually be indicated in the instructions how many birds can be safely accommodated (although sometimes manufacturers can be a little miserable with space, if you can allow your girls more space, then do it).

A well-ventilated cooperative is important and if you can buy or build one with removable nest hangers and boxes for easy cleaning, it will lighten your workload in the long term.

For those who want to try to build a chicken coop, be sure to get ready chicken plans and do not skimp on the materials. These plans They are excellent for beginners and provide the complete list of supplies, tools and material dimensions required.

Hangers

Chickens like to sit when they sleep, so make sure the hangers are wide enough to accommodate this: between 1.5 and 2 inches is ideal. Scientific research has shown that square hangers with rounded edges are better for the well-being of their ladies.

The research also shows that you must add material to the perches to soften them, which also provides more grip for your chickens. The internal cycling tubes work well, as does the solid insulation tape. Both can be easily cleaned or replaced as needed.

The perches should be long enough so that the birds can be grouped if they wish (and often do), but also sufficiently separated to give them space, especially for those birds that are in the "highest order" of the rest of the world. (Did you know that it was the orderly social structure of the chickens that gave rise to the phrase "hierarchical order", in 1921?

Larger breeds have difficulty jumping from high perches, so the height at which they are placed will depend on their breed. If you plan to have mixed breeds or if you want your cooperative to be prepared for the future, create a series of hangers of different heights to accommodate everyone.

Nest boxes

Next, you must provide nest boxes below the height of the hangers; A nest box is needed for every three chickens. But, even if you only have three chickens, you should have at least Two nest boxes.

Fill them with straw, cut cardboard or other suitable nesting material: take a look at agricultural supply stores to see what is safe and appropriate. The hay is never adequate since it gets wet and causes fungal spores that are dangerous for your new chicks. Do not forget to add straw to the floor of the cooperative as well.

Be sure to change this material frequently, especially if you are using something like shredded paper that is not very absorbent.

Chickens race

The race is often the weakest link when it comes to predators. Do not underestimate the ability of a hungry fox or even a bored dog to dig and chew its way into a chicken coop.

When choosing a race, you must take into account the number of chickens you will have. And then, leave room for a few more, keeping chickens is addictive! While there are no strict and fast rules for the amount of space chickens need in their careers, you should build them as big as you can, within reason.

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They should have ample space to run, scratch, feed and escape from other chickens that peck them. Remember, a spacious race will lead to happy chickens, which means they will lay more eggs and Plus nutritious eggs Paying for a decent career will now pay off in the long term.

And, if you see coops and run with wheels, then consider buying or building one of those. The wheels allow them to move easily to a new floor, which gives your chickens fresh grass to graze and even more insects to peck.

Let the chickens run free

If you can let your chickens out for a few hours every day (when you're there to supervise and protect them, of course) then do it. This is especially important if your career is on the smaller side.

This free reach activity means that they can search for food, pick weeds for you and entertain themselves. It also leads to the healthiest and happiest hens.

If your garden is your pride and joy, try fencing your favorite areas as chickens will peck everything in their path!

Feed your chickens

Like us, chickens will need to be fed every day. For three chickens, you're seeing a cost of around $ 15 to $ 20 one month, although this is a very general estimate. You can expect to pay more for higher quality foods.

That said, it's definitely worth getting a good quality feed from the local farm supply store and going to organic if possible. Most animal feed is genetically modified now, which is not something you want for your chickens, especially because it will enter your own food supply through your eggs.

Buying in bulk is an excellent way to help reduce costs without compromising quality. Why not partner with other chicken enthusiasts in your area and distribute the cost of the food among you?

The chickens also eat table remains, but can not be fed only with waste. And, you have to be very careful with the remains that you feed them. However, it is an excellent way to obtain additional nutrients in your chicks and reduce your own food waste. Try them on foods like fruit and vegetable peels, bread, cooked rice, oats, pasta and more. Take a look at this list of all the goodies you can feed your chicks and here they are Some toxic treats to avoid feeding them. Also, here is How to grow your own chicken food to save money..

Do not forget to equip your cooperative with a drinker for every three chickens or something and keep it with fresh, clean water. You should also add a feed channel or two to your shopping list, enough time for all chickens to feed at the same time. If you have time, why not consider doing one of these do-it-yourself feeders Instead of saving money and recycling?

There is a lot to think about when raising backyard chickens, but you can also get many rewards by opening up your garden. If you have not already done so, be sure to check these reasons to keep chickens, which also includes some important points to consider before making the jump.

Reference: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/how-to-get-started-raising-backyard-chickens/, by Jayne Leonard

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