The Beginner's Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens
Raising chickens can be many things: therapeutic, rewarding, fun but for the beginners it may be a bit challenging.
In this step-by-step guide, we have put together everything you need to know to care for your birds from the beginning – from chick to chicken we can help you along the way.
Step 1: Choosing A Breed. While there are many different breeds of chickens, they all fall into the following four categories.
-Heritage Breeds: A natural breeding chicken that has a slow growth rate and can live a productive outdoor life.
-Egg Laying Breeds: These hens have been bred to produce large quantities of eggs through their short production lifetimes.
-Dual Purpose Breeds: These hens are the best of both worlds in terms of utility. They are eggs layers and meat birds.
-Meat Breeds: As the name suggest these breeds are bred for meat purposes. They grow very, very quickly.
Step 2: Getting Your Chickens. When you get chickens for the first time you have a few different choices:
-Hatching Eggs: These are fertilized eggs that you need to incubate. If you are new to keeping chickens, I wouldn't recommend that you hatch eggs unless you have experience from other animals.
-Chicks: This is the most used and wisest choice for novices. You can select which breed(s) you want and when you want them. You typically get chicks at one day old.
-Pullets: Pullets are birds aged between four to six months. The chicks have been reared to adulthood and are usually sold at point of lay, meaning the pullet is about to lay her first egg shortly.
-Adults: Adult hens are more difficult to come by as breeders like to move birds out before they get too old since they eat more. A common source of adult hens is animals shelters.
Step 3: Preparing The Chicken Coop. Chickens are not very demanding when it comes to houses, but there are a few crucial things you need for your flock to ensure their safety and wellbeing. Listed below is the bare minimum for creating your coop.
-The coop must be weather proof
-The coop must have enough space for your chickens
-Coop should have good ventilation
-Coop must have nesting boxes
-Roosts need should be fitted
-Coop must have outside roaming and pen area
-Coop must be predator proof
Step 4: Preparing for Chicks. Anytime with baby chicks is always an exciting time! However, there are several things you need to get and prepare before your chicks arrive.
Step 5: Common Chicken Problems. Unfortunately it’s likely that at some point during your chickens’ life they will have some sort of problem, whether that is broodiness, predators or bullying.
-Molting: Molting is the process of losing old and when out feather sea replacing them with new plumage.
-Predators: Even if you live in the middle of the city, there will be a chicken predator in your neighborhood. Foxes, coyotes, raccoons and the "pet" dog down the road will likely all want chicken dinner.
-Broodiness: You will know it when you see it! She will sit in the nest constantly, if anyone approaches her she will grumble, squeak, and puff herself up, she may give you an almighty peck too.
-Bullying: Bullying does occur to a small degree each day. Because of this, if a chicken goes out of her pecking order she gets a quick peck to the head to remind her of her status.
So there you have it – the complete guide to raising chicks and chickens.
You are encouraged to read and ask questions, especially if someone nearby has been raising chickens for a while. Sometimes things work better one way than another; don’t be afraid to change things around a bit – no one thing fits all situations.
We wish you much happiness and fun in your chicken raising endeavors!