Tips for Raising Chickens at Home
A special thank you to Janette Cruz Metz, owner of Ever Crafty, for encouraging her daughter, Lillie, to share her chick raising experience with us. They are currently raising 380 baby chicks, 27 chickens/hens, and one duck. Lillie is super proud of brood and we are excited to share tips from one of our local CSRA teens!
Tips for Raising Backyard Chickens
Are you wanting to raise chickens? I have a love for chickens and with my parents’ help have been raising them for six years. This is everything I have learned during those years.
If you are thinking of raising chickens to remember things like shelter, food, water, and heat lamps.
You need to have a shelter that is sturdy enough to resist storms and it needs to be predator proof. (Keep in mind that predators like coyotes dig under fences.) Your coop needs to be at least 2-3 square feet per chicken and the run needs to be at least 8-10 square feet per chicken to give them enough space to feel comfortable.
Check out our Chicken Coop Ideas Board on Pinterest.
Feed depends on your chickens’ age. If you are buying chicks, it is best to get chick feed, which is easier for them to eat and digest than pellets. If you are buying teenage or adult chickens, pellet feed works the best. Plastic feeders and waterers work best from experience as metal ones tend to rust easily and stop working. For water, another idea is a pecking water system but it requires more work setting up. Make sure that if you get chicks you buy heat lamps to keep them warm until they are about five to six weeks old. These are the main necessities for your chickens.
Check out this DIY Feeder System
What purpose do you want chickens for? If you want good egg layers, Buff Orpingtons, Leghorns, and Bardrocks are excellent. (Take notice that Buff Orpingtons are extremely friendly towards children, Leghorns are very skittish, and Bardrocks eat a LOT.) If you want to eat your chickens (meat birds) get Cornish chickens or broilers. Show birds (birds that compete in 4H activities or shows for the prettiest feathers ) are numerous: Silver Laced Wyandottes (which are skittish), Silkies (very loving), Orpingtons, etc. Two great online websites to buy the chickens/chicks are Cackle Hatchery or Murray McMurray. An agriculture store nearby might have some too (Country Boy Feed and Seed, Brown Seed and Feed.
Want to know more about chicken breeds? Check out this link from mypetchicken.com.
Okay, so you got chickens… now what? You will learn many things about raising chickens through experience but here are some helpful tips. Some of your chickens might try escaping by flying away. To solve this, you can clip their flight feathers (you can Youtube this). Don’t worry it does not hurt them, it’s like cutting our hair (although they may squirm about a bit). Or you can secure your coops and runs better with more posts and wire. In your chicken coops, make sure there are horizontal bars or rods for your chickens to perch on as it is better for them and they have an instinct to roost instead of sleeping on the ground. Your chickens will start laying around twenty-four weeks old. Each breed lays a different color egg so don’t be surprised! There are blue, green, speckled, brown, pink, and white eggs. Backyard eggs will naturally have a darker yellow yolk and a slightly richer taste than store eggs. A very important note- don’t get too many roosters! Too many will cause cockfights. For every three hens, you should have one rooster. These are tips I learned through experience.
Want more information about roosters? Check out this link from homesteadwishing.com.
To sum it up, before you get chickens, make sure you have all the equipment you need. When you’re buying the chickens make sure you know why you are getting chickens and get the right breed. After you get the chickens, you might have further questions. You can research information online that might solve them or visit a local Facebook group like the Hobby Farmers of the CSRA. Significant benefits from raising backyard chickens: you can have fresh eggs and chicken with no hormones or added antibiotics. What better can it get than that? I hope this advice equips you on your journey of raising chickens.