Get Started With Chickens

| 4/4/2011 1:45:02 PM

baby chicken 

If you’re new to raising chickens, you might be a little intimidated setting up house for your new flock. After all, this is a big step. Chickens aren’t pets: They’re livestock. That word seems to carry a sense of import not bestowed on our humble cats and dogs. And rightly so — these girls have a job to do! In a few months your little fluff balls will be producing eggs so rich in omega-3s and energizing, wholesome protein you won’t be able to remember a time in your life without hens in the backyard.

But before you can start learning how to make your own Hollandaise sauce, you need to learn how to raise those birds. Here’s my recipe for the perfect chick-brooding environment. Follow these basic rules of warmth, safety, care and feeding, and you’ll be home free.

Preparing a Safe Brooder 

Chicks need a warm, clean, draft-free place to start off in the world: a large container that allows enough room for the birds to walk, scratch and get the space they need to stretch their wings. You can create a brooder out of something as basic as a cardboard box or as complicated as a large stock tank. I know someone who once used her downstairs shower to raise laying hens, lining the bottom with newspaper and then washing it down between regular cleanings.

adult chickens 

George Roberson
4/28/2011 11:06:32 PM

I have raised chickens for the last two years. I buy my chicks from the local feed store, bring them home, keep them penned for the first month or so. I have never used lights or incubator on my chicks. I do handle them a lot so they become used to me. I do make sure they have been medicated before I get them, because after a month or so of being cooped up, they are turned loose. One of the advantages of living in the country is letting the chickens out, free ranging them, and allowing them to return to the coop each day to lay and to roost. Not a big problem with varmits or stray animals now, most have been taken care of. We are pretty fortunate in this area, not too many folks turns their unwanted pets loose here. I get fantastic brown eggs, with no chemicals. Once the hens get used to freeranging, my feed bill normally drops by two thirds. I do have a couple of roosters, and have some hens that like to nest. Good results with letting the chickens breed naturally. If I start to get too many rooster or when a chicken starts to become unproductive, then I have a steady supply of folks willing to take them off my hands. Pretty good for someone who doesn't eat chicken or eggs, lol, but I find that the chickens do have a personality of their own. Good, cheap way to get into raising your own food animals, though. A great benefit is that the bug, flea and tick problem has disappeared around the house. Plus, the droppings and old hay make good compost for the garden

4/14/2011 8:46:30 AM

If your chicks were immunized for coccidiosis, for example, be certain NOT to give them medicated feed or you will negate the immunitive effects of the vaccine. Also, give them lettuce and other veggies with their chick starter. Make sure the 250 watt bulb you use is colored red or you will create problems- try living your life with a 250 watt clear bulb blasting you in the face 24/7. Make sure the brooder is sufficiently sized to allow each of the personal space and the ability to stretch their wings. For bedding pine shavings work the best. After five or six weeks or after the guys are fully feathered they can be moved to the coop and you should keep them confined to the coop for a couple of days so they know this is home. Be sure to include a supply of grit along side the food. Chickens have no teeth so the grit is deposited in the gut and used to break down food. For an innovative way to feed adult birds check out Grandpas Feeder (not for chicks)

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