Raising Chickens at Home

A comprehensive guide like this one to purchasing, growing, feeding, and housing chicken is a good thing to have if you've decided to try raising chickens at home.

| January/February 1973

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    Raising chickens at home is apt to entail hatching and raising chicks at home.
    ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Three-day-old chicks in a battery type chick starter. Chicks are maintained in this battery for the six weeks in which heat is required in a temperate climate.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Broodering chicks on wire is becoming increasingly popular. Sanitation is easier to maintain and cleaning of the brooder house is far less work than in the changing of litter.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    These hens have never touched the ground. They were grown on wire and were transferred to these individual laying cages as pullets. Records of egg production are readily maintained and non-producers may be readily eliminated.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Raising chickens on wire. This is a typical ""frier"" producing set-up. These chicks have lived on wire from the time they were hatched and are much less susceptible to disease than those kept in litter.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • Chicken feeders
    Three types of chicken feeders. (1) Low, flat feeder used for starting chicks. This may be constructed at any length, yet enough space must be provided so that all chicks may eat at once. (2) When chicks are four weeks old this type of feeder may be used. Not the revolving center piece over the feeder. This will keep the chicks out of the feeder. (3) A double-decked feeder is ideal when the grain-mash method of feeding is used. Mash should be placed in the upper feeder, with grain in the lower. Each mature chicken should have at least six inches of feeder space, and the feeder can be built to any size with this thought in mind.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    An excellent type of poultry feeder. Note that the feeder is set up off the floor on a wire platform. This keeps the chicks from scratching in the droppings and is the answer to clean feeding.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • Chicken waterer setup
    Three types of chicken waterers. (1) Quart jar type used for baby chicks. (2) Manually-filled waterer, placed on a mesh platform so as to keep droppings and litter out of the waterer. Note the bottle suspended above the waterer. This will keep both water and waterer free from droppings. (3) Automatic waterer, most practical for chickens. In cold climates this type of waterer may be jacketed with an electric heating device to keep the pipes from freezing.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • Chicken house 2
    Chicken House #2This brooder house may be used for either chickens or turkeys. Note the side door to facilitate cleaning and the small front door that may be closed during the first few days of brooding so that both the hen and her brood may be shut in the house. It might also be advisable to close this door during cold, damp weather, or at night should climatic conditions warrant. Note the slats in the opening, so placed that the hen is confined to the structure, while the chickens may pass in and out of the house.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • Chicken house 1
    Chicken House #1An excellent, yet easily constructed colony chicken house. This structure may be used as a brooder house as well as a laying house and is most practical for the small operator. Three feet of space should be allowed each mature hen, and a chicken run may be constructed adjoining the house so that the animals may have ample exercise space and sunlight.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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  • 019-067-01
  • 019-069-01
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  • Chicken feeders
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  • Chicken waterer setup
  • Chicken house 2
  • Chicken house 1

Back in 1949—before factory farming and the "pump 'em full of chemicals" school of agriculture blitzed the country—a fellow named Jack Widmer wrote a little book called PRACTICAL ANIMAL HUSBANDRY. Now that manual wasn't what you'd call completely exhaustive, the writing style wasn't the best, and a few of the ideas it advanced—such as confining laying hens in cages—were later refined into the kind of automated farming that so many of us are fighting against these days.

Still, PRACTICAL ANIMAL HUSBANDRY contained a good deal of basic information that today's "homesteaders" all too often need and don't know where to find. I'm pleased, then, that the publisher of the book, Charles Scribner's Sons, has granted me permission to reprint excerpts from this out-of-print manual. I think that many of my readers will find the following information both interesting and informative. —MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Excerpts from PRACTICAL ANIMAL HUSBANDRY by Jack Widmer were reprinted by permission of Charles Scribner's Sons. Copyright 1949 by Charles Scribner's Sons.

The Good Life

Much—too much perhaps—already has been written about "the good life." Scores of books have told the long and often dreary tale of the joys of country living. Some have been clever and humorous dissertations of country experiences; of how the well went dry, how the goat sickened and died, and the dozens of problems that befall the amateur in his attempts to live off the land. Others, written with a perfectly straight face, have been devoted to scholarly studies of the joys of spreading a good table; how to thrill your friends with breast of guinea hen, home grown and home prepared. Chapters have been devoted to the philosophy of the tiller of the soil, of his nearness to his Creator as he toils with blistered hands among the peas and carrots often produced at fantastic costs.



Both extremes are of course ridiculous. The "Egg and I" sort of thing has thwarted the ambitions of many a couple who, with reasonable intelligence, learned advice, and a bit of luck might have attained the joys of country living. The more serious and often impractical works have sent countless couples into the hinterlands with high hopes, strong backs and unlimited energy, only to discover that although the back-to-the-soil movement has its moments they are few and far between for those of little practical knowledge and experience.

Yet despite the obvious pitfalls that confront the amateur, thousands have made a financial success of agriculture, and are living a life so far superior to their urban cousins as to make a laughing matter of comparison. Many have specialized in one form or another of agriculture, and have established reputations as turkey raisers, cattle breeders, etc., etc. However in their enthusiasm for their specialty some have overlooked one of the most important phases of country living . . . the maintenance of a barnyard flock that produces a high standard of personal living for the tiller of the soil.






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