Although keeping chickens isn’t as complicated as you’d think, there can be an overwhelming amount of information to bear in mind when setting up your flock. Many people are keen to start up their own chicken raising operation at home but don’t know where to start, or think it will be too much hassle. The good news is that it is nowhere near as challenging as you might think, and very little ongoing maintenance is required once your flock is established.
Here, you’ll find some helpful tips so that you can set up your own coop in your backyard and start raising your own chickens so that you can enjoy fresh eggs every day.
Check The Law
Before you buy any chickens, you need to check out the laws in your local area. Some homeowner’s associations and local authorities ban chicken keeping or may restrict the number of chickens you are permitted to have. Often roosters are also banned due to noise considerations.
Set Up A Brooder
Until you are an experienced chicken breeder you should avoid incubating eggs as this is quite an advanced skill. If you’re raising your brood from freshly hatched chicks you need to make a brooder for them to grow in. A cardboard box will do filled with pine shavings or corn cob bedding, a waterer, a feeder and a heat lamp. Make sure you keep your brooder in a safe area away from predators and ensure they are given fresh water and food.
Different chicken breeds have different kinds of qualities so you will need to do your research to find the breed that best fits with your setup. You could get your chicks from either a local or online hatchery or a hardware store, or even a farm store in spring. It’s a good idea to choose sexed chicks so you can be sure of getting females. Don’t be tempted to get too many chicks since they grow to be quite large and you will need to have enough space.
Care For The Chicks
It’s surprisingly easy to care for your chicks. Simply refresh their water regularly and use a high quality chick food. If it is warm outside, you can take the chicks outdoors to let them play in the yard but ensure that they are kept secure.
Set Up A Permanent House
When your chicks have been in their brooder for around 6 weeks, it’s time to move them to a coop. You can either buy one ready made or make one yourself. You need to put bedding in around 3 locations in the coop. Straw is ideal for the nesting boxes while cob is good for the hen house and sand in its run.
Feeding And Ranging
If you decide to allow your chickens to roam freely you need to keep them safe from any predators. Alternatively, you could try penned ranging with a large pen in which the chickens roam in the day before being shut up in their coop at night. Quality chicken feed is important and organic feeds are the best.
Once your flock has become established and started to lay, you don’t need to do much more. Simply keep stocking up the coop with fresh food and water and clean it out regularly. Remember to collect the eggs regularly and check your chickens to ensure they have no injuries or diseases. Chickens lay well for around 2 years but then it’s up to you to decide whether to allow them to live out their lives in peace in your coop or whether to butcher them.