How To Chicken Farm In Your Backyard
Learning how to chicken farm is not difficult. You do not need to own a hundred acres of land and have millions of dollars to invest if you decide to look into how to chicken farm. There are many families, just like yours that decide to buy baby chicks and raise them to provide eggs for their family.
Is It Legal To Keep Chickens?
So, where do you start in your quest to learn how to chicken farm? First, check your local ordinances and make absolutely sure that you are allowed to keep chickens in the area that you live. Some areas outright forbid keeping any type of farm animal at all. Other areas allow them with restrictions. Usually there will be a specific number of hens that you can keep and almost all areas have a rule that says “No roosters allowed”! I personally love roosters but your neighbors may not as they crow, not just when the sun rises, but all day long.
Do You Have A Budget?
Before you ever learn how to chicken farm, you need to decide if you can financially afford to keep poultry in your backyard. This endeavor can be low cost or you can spend a fortune, it is entirely up to you. You need to know how much money you can spend before you ever start. I have a friend who recently had a chicken coop and a large chicken run built. The only thing she had to actually buy was the wire and she had to pay someone to build everything, but she everything else that was needed in a barn. If you are handy and can build whatever you need and / or you have some materials already on hand, it will not cost nearly as much. But, if you have to buy everything or pay to have something built, it will obviously cost more. Then you have the cost of the chickens, the feeders, water dispensers as well. These things are one time purchases though so if you can afford to buy them, they should last a long, long time. Poultry feed will be the only other major expense that you will have on a monthly basis.
Do You Have The Time?
How much time do you have to devote to learning how to chicken farm? Baby chicks need a lot more care than full grown chickens. Flocks that are allowed to free range need a lot less care than birds that are kept confined. You need to decide before hand how much time you have to commit to taking care of your girls. The coop will need to be cleaned at a MINIMUM of once a month and that is a bare minimum with just a few chickens. Most chicken coops must be cleaned more often. The chickens will have to be let out of the coop in the morning and locked back up at night. They also need fresh food and water every day.
- Can you do that every single day of the year?
- What about when you go on vacation?
- What about if you get sick?
While chickens are pretty self-sufficient, they still need some daily attention.
Chicken Coop Basics
Once you have determined that you are allowed to have chickens where you live, you need to prepare for your chickens to arrive. DO NOT run out and buy a bunch of chicks and work backwards. Figure out the best location in your yard to place the chicken coop. You need a place that has good drainage and that is safe from predators. You may also consider it’s location to water, to your food storage location, how far it is from your home as well as a dozen other personal considerations. You also need to determine how many chickens you can have as this will impact the size of the chicken coop you need and the amount of money you need to spend. A large chicken coop will need more room than a small one and it will also cost more money. You should also buy all of your chicken supplies before your chicks arrive. To find out what supplies you need to have a chicken farm, click here.
Where to Buy Chicks
Chicks can be bought from a number of places. If you are serious about learning how to chicken farm, you need to figure out what kind of birds you want and find a reputable place to buy them. You can always order baby chicks online and have them shipped directly to your home. There are a lot of advantages to this. Click here to find out more about where to buy chicks. Or, depending on the time of year, you may be able to get some from a local feed store like Tractor Supply. The selection isn’t as great but the chicks will be alive when you pick them up. You can also check Craigs list in your area and find chicks that you can buy locally. There is really no right or wrong answer here as long as you get healthy, disease free chicks.
Room To Roam – Free Or Caged
You also must decide if you want to keep your chickens confined or you will allow them to free range. Free Range means that when you open up the chicken coop in the morning, the chickens are allowed to roam at will. The biggest danger here is that you will lose some of them to predators in the area. Keep an eye out and notice what types of animals come and go through your yard. If there are a lot of unwelcome visitors, you will need to securely fence your yard or keep your chickens confined. Some people decide to build a large chicken run and others decide to use what is called a chicken tractor. Either method will work if you should decide to not allow your chickens to free range.
There has been a lot of press lately about people deciding to learn how to chicken farm and then realizing that it is not for them. Make sure you know what you are getting into before you ever start learning how to chicken farm. You don’t want to figure out that keeping chickens is more trouble than it’s worth AFTER you have invested in chickens and their supplies. Not many people want to try and integrate full grown chickens into an existing flock so they can be hard to find homes for.
Free range chickens can also be destructive. They love nothing more than to scratch around in flower beds and gardens. Unfortunately, your plants do not always survive! They also leave a trail of chicken poop behind them as they wander around your yard, so keep that in mind.
Remember, chickens can live upwards of 10 years and they will not lay eggs once they get older. Many books say that they quit laying somewhere between 2 – 4 years old but I have had ladies lay up to 7 or 8 years old. No, these older hens do not lay every single day but they produce a few a week. I love their eggs but I don’t keep them solely for their eggs. I have a retirement home of sorts for my really, really old hens and a rooster to protect them from the younger chickens and they seem happy.
The bottom line is that a lot of chickens are ending up in animal shelters or just abandoned when the people that originally got them figure out that they are too much work or they cost too much. Learning how to chicken farm is not difficult and a little homework will help you determine before you get started if you even want to bother with keeping backyard chickens. I love my chickens and don’t mind the time I have to take to see to their needs. Unless you love the chickens, it is a whole lot easier to buy your eggs at a store or a local farmers market. You will pay more for the fresh eggs at a farmers market, but it will be less than if you become a chicken farmer!