Raising chickens has become an increasingly popular pastime, letting owners reap the benefits of fresh eggs and knowing what the chicken has been fed. Chickens also have much more personality than you might expect and can be fun to watch.
Fortunately, chickens are not very difficult animals to keep, but you will need to make sure you take the proper steps to ensure their well-being. Here are our tips for beginners who are interested in owning chickens:
Research Applicable Laws
Before investing any time or money into chickens, find out about local ordinances that govern whether you can have chickens where you live. If they’re allowed, you may still have some restrictions. For example, some communities won’t let you have roosters if you live close to other homes, and some require your chickens to be a certain number of feet away from your neighbors. Some also limit the number of chickens you can own.
Decide Where They’ll Live
Do you want your chicken to live in a coop, roam free in your yard, or perhaps a combination of the two? When they’re in your yard, watch them to make sure a hawk or another predator doesn’t harm them.
Build Or Buy a Coop
Coops come in an endless number of sizes and configurations, and you can buy one or make it yourself. In general, you’ll need three to four square feet for each chicken inside the coop and ten square feet for each chicken for the outside run. If possible, place it near a water source so it’s convenient to clean the coop and give the chickens water.
Choose Your Chickens
When buying your chickens, research the different breeds to determine which will likely do well in your area’s climate. If you want lots of eggs, some chicken breeds are considered good layers. These include Rhode Island Red and Black Australorp.
Buy Appropriate Chicken Feed
Chicken feed has several different types to suit chickens of different ages and dietary requirements. Chicks need starter rations, and if you have an older chick between 6-14 weeks old (called a pullet), it needs its own special feed. Some feed manufacturers sell a starter/grower feed that you can use from when a chick is hatched to when it’s old enough to lay eggs. Active egg-layers need extra calcium, so they’ll need a balanced layer feed or an “all flock” feed paired with a calcium supplement.
Practice Good Hygiene
Chickens are naturally messy creatures, so you’ll need to put in a bit of work to keep the coop clean. Change out any hay or bedding in the coop regularly, especially if the hay is damp. You may consider setting aside a pair of shoes or boots to wear when you’re around your chickens, leaving them outside when done. Use one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water when cleaning boots, shoes, and tools used around the chickens. Be sure to wash your hands after touching your chickens, and thoroughly wash your eggs before cooking with them.
Chickens can be wonderful addition to your household as a source of entertainment and delicious fresh eggs. Plan what you’ll need and what steps you need to complete before bringing your chickens home, and the process will proceed much more smoothly and stand a better chance of success.