The price of eggs & hhicken is skyrocketing! I have always loved learning how to be self sustainable and learning How to Raise Backyard Chickens is on that list. My kids love having chickens! Not only are they fun to watch but they learn all kinds of life lessons. Here are some tips to help you Raise your own Backyard Chickens.
Backyard chickens need a coop to roost in. You can choose a large chicken coop to keep them enclosed at all times, or a smaller coop for them to roost in only at night and allow your chickens to be free range. There are places that sell plans online for you to make your own chicken coop, or you can buy a Chicken Coop on Amazon. Seriously! What don't they have?
A coop is going to keep your chickens safe, give them, shelter, and a place to lay their eggs.
Once you have the coop, you need chickens. Check your local Tractor Supply or farm store. They will tell you when they will have chicks in stock, or if they have them now. Buying chicks is the most affordable way to go, and the best way for you to know the age of the chickens you are buying. When you buy chicks you may get a rooster in the bunch....we will talk about that in a minute.
Now you have a co0p, & chickens they need to eat. Feeding backyard chickens is simple. When you start out with chicks they require a special chick feed to help them grow strong. You can find this at the local feed store, or you can even order it online.
Once the chickens are older you are going to want to get them on a blend for laying hens, assuming you are raising them for eggs. Again, purchased at a local feed store or order it online.
Even chickens love a special treat every once in a while. Chickens love to peck at fruits and veggies with the exception of avocados, citrus, and onions. These should never be given to chickens.
What goes in must come out. Chickens are a living animal and they poop. Sometimes a lot. So, what do you do with it. Well let's talk about how much we are dealing with....45 pounds per hen, per year. Yes, that seems like a lot, but don't panic yet.
If your chickens end up grazing in your yard for part of the day a lot of this goes toward fertilizing your grass naturally which is a good thing. The rest of the chicken manure can be used in a compost, used to fertilize your garden or plants, people even pay for it on craigslist for their organic gardens.
Chicken manure is a very efficient fertilizer, so it can actually save you money by helping your garden. I love how everything kinda works together.
I love fresh eggs. The quality can't be beat. Once you have your first fresh, from the chicken egg you will never want to buy store bought again.
A few things you should know are...
- Chickens start laying at about 6 months of age
- They need a comfortable nest box, lined with hay or other animal bedding material.
- You do not need a rooster for them to lay an egg.
- Each hen will lay 1 egg a day.
- The younger the hen the smaller the egg.
- Check the nest box, and check it often. You don't want to leave eggs in the nest box too long. They could get dirty, or spoil.
- The fresh eggs keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Roosters. ~sigh~ I have never had good luck with roosters. EVERY rooster I have had ends up becoming aggressive. There are ways to train them. YEP, calling the Rooster Whisperer. I personally don't want to be terrorized by a rooster every time I walk outside.
A rooster is born preprogrammed to do his rooster duties. At a certain age (around 4-6 months) he matures and his instincts take over, and their drive is very strong to do what nature has intended for them to do. They protect the hens from predators (AKA: You and everything else in the world). They "fertilize" the chickens. They strut their stuff and crow to let everyone know there is a rooster around.
Roosters do have their benefits and their place in the world, but if you have a small flock of backyard chickens you may want to consider sending your rooster to live on a farm. 😉
Last but not least. Even in your backyard you need to worry about predators. Depending on the part of the country you live in many things love a good chicken dinner. Be sure to be vigilant about putting your chickens to roost in a safe environment at night. I will spare you the gory stories, but be prepared to loose a chicken.
I hope these tips help you raise your own backyard chickens. They are a great step into becoming a little more self sustainable.