Raising Chickens: The Basics & How to get started
If you are thinking about raising chickens, be sure to do a bit (A LOT) of research BEFORE you commit. The more information you have will not only help your future flock but also make the entire experience even more enjoyable.
Like most animals, domestic chickens do require a fair amount of work to keep the flock happy and healthy. However with a little pre-planning hopefully we can help to reduce the amount of labor involved, in-turn letting you spend more time simply enjoying your flock.
The benefits of backyard chickens
Raising chickens can be very enjoyable on a farm / homestead or even in your backyard AND they can greatly benefit many ways in & around the home.
The most common reason is of course farm fresh eggs daily, backyard eggs have been said to taste fresher (because they literally are), improving all of your meals made in and around the home. Personally I feel once you have had a fresh egg, you may never look at a store bought egg the same way again.
In addition chickens can help in a lot of ways around the house; Bug Control, Garden Fertilizing, fresh eggs, simply watching chickens doing chicken things.
Eggshells, along with the poop from chickens can be added to any compost pile and help improve the quality of your compost.
For baby chickens it is very important to have a reliable heating source during the first several weeks of growth if you have chicks without a broody hen. Safety should always take priority and never place a heat lamp in a chicken coop.
Clean Bedding Material
Various materials can be used for lining of the chick brooders. As your birds grow they will accumulate more and more waste. wood chips do a great job of absorbing water and waste making cleanup an easy task if kept up with regularly. The most common is pine shavings for low-cost and easy cleanup. Available in both large and fine shavings untreated pine is the most popular choice for chicken brooders.
Clean Water Source
Access to freshwater is also important. With many different diy chick brooder water setups or a purchased chick watering container simply ensuring readily available clean water is accessible to a young flock.
Adequate Room to Grow
Chicks may be slow when you first get them home but they grow incredibly fast. Providing an adequate amount of space for your birds to grow in plays an important role to a healthy flock. We have used tarter livestock tanks for our setups with an addition of a wire topper once the chicks have a few feathers and are capable of jumping out of the brooder.