Mar 232012
 

Start Raising Backyard Chickens

Start raising backyard chickens

I was surfing the internet this morning and ran across a great article on how to start raising backyard chickens.  This article provides some excellent tips for anyone that is thinking about raising backyard chickens.  Check it out below.

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by guest blogger Jean Nick, author and sustainability expert

When I was perhaps 10 years old, a lone Rhode Island Red hen wandered out of the woods and into the yard. We figured, given that she was a long way from anywhere, she must have fallen off a passing truck. My mother never turned away a needy animal, so Henny Penny joined the menagerie, spending her nights snug in an old rabbit hutch given to us by a neighbor.

Come spring, her mind turned–as hen’s minds are wont to do–to motherhood and she went broody, sitting glassy-eyed and inert on her nest eggs (which were in fact, milk-glass eggs my mother unearthed and tucked in so Henny Penny wouldn’t notice we were taking her egg each day and hide a nest somewhere else). Lacking a rooster on the place, she wasn’t going to get anywhere even sitting on her own eggs, so after a few weeks my mother couldn’t stand such hopeful and doomed devotion any longer. She had my Dad stop at a local hatchery and bring home a pair of lovely fluffy New Hampshire Red hen chicks, which she tucked under Henny Penny that night–much to the delight of everyone involved the next morning. And that was the start of my first brood of chickens.

==>  CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Find out what it takes to keep your chickens alive. Click the link below and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. Get your FREE report on the 7 deadly mistakes when keeping chickens at home.

Feb 132012
 

Chicken Fencing Basics

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Keeping chickens in your backyard is so much fun.  While they are cute and make great pets, they have zero ability to protect themselves. Installing the correct type of chicken fencing is ESSENTIAL if you want to keep your chickens alive. Chickens, while normally very hearty animals, are not able to protect themselves from chicken predators that see your hens as their next meal!  They are pretty low maintenance animals but they do need a secure place to sleep, lay their eggs and scratch around during the day.

Poultry Fencing

There are a variety of chicken fences that you can use to protect your chickens in their chicken run. The most common type of fencing that you will find is poultry fencing. The biggest advantage of poultry fencing is that the mesh has very small openings so it is difficult for predators to reach through and grab your chickens. One the other hand, it is not as strong as some of the other wiring that is available.  I’ve seen poultry fencing that was stretched and /or chewed through by determined chicken predators like raccoons.

Welded Mesh Fencing

Another type of chicken fencing that I love to use is welded mesh fence. I have found this fencing to be much sturdier and it stands up to attacks by predators much better. This type of fencing is strong and I think it looks good.  It is also long lasting.  But, it will need to be stretched securely and

Chain Link Fencing

I would have never thought to use chain link fencing to keep my chickens safe but it actually works very well.  It is too strong for any type of animal to stretch or chew threw and it is long lasting.  You can buy it is convenient panels that you just have to secure together so it is easy to use and no stretching is required.  You do have to be careful to properly secure the panels together so that there are no large gaps that could allow a small predator to get through. If you have chicks, you will need to install some type of small mesh wiring along the bottom to keep them contained until they get too big to run through the holes. Although, of you use it to fence off a chicken run and it isn’t covered on the top, this type of fencing does little to stop cats or animals that are adept at climbing from entering your yard.

Other Considerations

I protect my chicken flock by installing chicken fencing in layers. I use the welded mesh fence on the interior framing of my runs and place a second layer of poultry fencing on the outside framing. This may sound like overkill but I have lost a lot of chickens over the years and I hate going out in the mornings to find chickens maimed, dead or missing.  I recommend installing a wire apron along the bottom to make sure that predators can’t dig under the wiring.

Chicken fencing is not complicated to install but be sure that you install the correct type of fence for your chickens because their lives depend on it!

Learn how to build a predator safe chicken coop for your chickens.

Jun 292010
 

I have a chicken flock of about 40 hens and roosters and I have three chicken coops.  They usually tend to congregate in one chicken coop which is fine but I have extra hen houses for several reasons.

– If things get too crowded or they have to be locked up for extended periods of time due to bad weather, I can separate them – whether they like it or not!

– If there is a lot of bickering or fighting, I can pull out the offending chicken and put her somewhere else.

– If I notice that the roosters are damaging the hens too badly, I will pull all of the roosters out of the flock for a few weeks until the hens have a chance to recover.  I try to only keep 4 roosters at a time to help minimize the damage.

– I can use an extra chicken house and chicken run to raise chicks in.  Sometimes none of my hens are broody and I will incubate the eggs inside.  Since they don’t have a mom to watch over them, they have to be separated from the flock until they are older.

These are just a few of the reasons why it is a great idea to have more than one chicken coop or hen house.  The more hens and roosters you have, the greater the chances are that you will need more than one chicken coop.

To get some fantastic chicken coop blueprints, check this out.



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Jun 232010
 

chicken breeds Did You Buy The Right Breed Of Chicken For Egg Laying?

Your chickens have become old enough that they are beginning to lay eggs but you might wonder “How many eggs are normal“.  Look back to when your your chicks initially were picked up and brought home.  They were so tiny and irresistible and funny that it was tough to envision them ever being big enough to lay eggs for you. It is truly amazing that these birds can lay eggs so consistently.

As your chickens get older, you may get a little worried because they weren’t laying eggs like they used to.  As egg product decreases, many people obsessed that they are unhealthy or that they are doing something wrong.  Usually, there is nothing wrong with chickens and is normal.  There are a lot of things that can put your chickens off laying whether it is for a short time or in some cases, forever. I found out that there’s not an easy response to that question since how many eggs are normal for your laying chickens will depend upon a number of things.

5 Egg Laying Essentials

* The breed of chicken matters.  Chicken egg laying is almost completely dependent on the breed of chickens that you invested in.  Anyone that is relying on the fact that you are going to get one egg every single day from every single chicken is going to be disappointed.  A large percentage of chicken breeds will not lay eggs regularly and prolifically for you.  If you are concerned about getting a large number of eggs, it is advisable to pick the breed of chicken you because that is not what they were bred to do.

* How old are your chickens? What is assumed to be to be customary “chicken egg laying” for your hens will also depend on the age of your chickens.  Remember, the majority of hens will be the most prolific egg layers through their first year or two of laying.  As your hens become older, they will lay smaller amounts of eggs and they won’t lay eggs as regularly as they did when your chickens were more youthful.  But the flip side of this is that older hens usually produce larger, better quality eggs.  Older hens are also not as  prone to contracting diseases than more youthful hens.

* What season is it? Winter, summer, etc.  Chicken egg laying is dependent on the time of year and the weather.  Most chickens should produce more eggs more consistently during warmer weather and the longer days that come with summer and fall.  During the cold winter months and in periods of unbearable heat, don’t be alarmed if you find that you do not get any eggs at all.

During these times, you will find that egg production will normally be irregular and you will only get an egg if you are really, really lucky  As long as your hens still look healthy and happy, it is perfectly normal and there is usually nothing wrong with your flock.

* Are your chickens moulting?  Any time you note that your chickens are molting (losing a lot of feathers) your egg production will drop.  How do you know if your chickens are moulting?  If you start noticing a lot of feathers on the ground, they are moulting.  Moulting is hard on your hens and can cause your chickens to produce a smaller amount of eggs than is typical for your flock.  Don’t worry though because as soon as they are done moulting, your hens will start to lay again.

* Are your chicken healthy?  The number of eggs your chickens lay will be almost completely dependent on how hale and hearty your chickens are.  If you notice that your chickens show an abrubt decline in laying, then something may be up with them. Carefully inspect the legs and feet of your chickens carefully for scales that are raised or swollen as mites may just be your problem.  You have to get rid of the mites or your chickens will not be able to lay very many eggs.

* Give them enough room. Even if you only purchased breeds that are specifially bred to be laying chickens, they will not produce if they are kept confined in an area which is overly crowded or an area that is not kept properly ventilated and is not clean. You might have to build more chicken coops and chicken runs so that you can split up your flock.

These are some of the common reasons why your chicken egg laying may decline.  Most of the items discussed really can’t be fixed and you just have to live with lower production.

Click on the links to find out more on chicken health and common chicken health problems.

 

Jun 012010
 

keeping chickens

Raising Chickens In Your Backyard

So, you have decided to take the leap and get some chicks to keep in your backyard or barn or wherever.  Keeping chickens can be a lot of fun if you are properly prepared, you have enough space, some extra money and a little extra time.  I decided to start keeping chickens a few years ago and I have never regretted it.  There is nothing better at the the end of the day to sit in a chair out back and watch them run around catching bugs, digging in the yard and generally just being happy little critters. However, like anyone that jumps in feet first without doing their research, I made a lot of mistakes at first.  I don’t want anyone to go through the troubles that I had when I got my first chicks.  So let’s discuss some of the things you need to consider before you ever buy your first chick. We are going to discuss the following things:

  • Are you allowed to keep chickens in your area?
  • Do you have enough money to get started?
  • Chicken coops – Design and Installation
  • Chicken coop location.
  • Do you have any storage space?

Do Local Regulations Allow For Chickens?

Make sure that your area allows you to keep chickens in your backyard.   Some areas have very strict rules and regulations that forbid you to have chickens at all.  I know of a situation in a neighboring subdivision where a new family moved in and brought their six hens with them. In most areas around me this is allowed, however, the neighbors all quickly objected and it was discovered that this particular subdivision had rules against having any chickens. This poor family was forced to find a new home for their beloved family pets.  Do not let this happen to you.  Be aware that keeping chickens can be done in a lot of areas, but that doesn’t mean your neighbors will like it.

Financial Considerationsbuild a chicken coop

While having a few chickens is not extremely expensive, money is required especially in the initial start up.  Chickens are not picky about where they live but you will have to be able to provide a secure coop of some sort to house them in. You will also have to look at the chicken coop and run that you build.  Functionality is also very important so that you can easily care for your hens without too much trouble.  A poorly designed coop will look bad and will be a pain to work in when you have to gather eggs and clean it. Are you handy with a hammer and nails?  The cheapest way to build your chicken coop is to do it yourself.  I tend to be a pack rat and I have lots of scrap wood in my barn which made it very low cost to build the actual coop.  But, if you are not handy or just don’t have the time, you will need to hire someone to build it which will add to the cost.

Chicken Coop Location & Design

The size of your chicken coop will depend on how many hens you are going to keep and how large of a building you can afford to construct.   Even a small number of chickens have minimum space requirements.  Most of the pre-built chicken coops that I have seen online are way too small for the number of chickens they say they will hold.  If your flock is confined to an area that is too small, they will fight, it will be smellier than is should be, it will be harder to clean and the health of your flock will suffer. Remember that you will have to have electricity and water located close to your hen house.  Trust me.  There is nothing worse than having to keep a very long hose run across your yard and driveway so that you don’t have to carry the very heavy water containers from the water faucet to the coop!  Same goes for your electrical needs.  Extension cords work in a pinch but are not really intended to be run across a large area of your yard year round.  It is a huge safety concern.  So either build the coop close to water and electric or budget to install it. Drainage, sunlight and shade are also very important considerations when deciding where to build the hen house or coop.  A low area will hold too much water and flood the area which can lead to illness and just generally nasty conditions.  Too much sunlight and your chicks will suffer through the summer.  You may be forced to invest in screens or shades to provide enough shade for them to survive.  If you have a shady, well drained area, you should consider placing it in that area.

Storage

You will also need some space to store all of the things you need for keeping your chickens.  Keep in mind that you will have to keep, cedar bedding, lighting equipment for winter on hand and anything else that you might need.  If you don’t have a storage area, you will need to build one.  Convenience is always something to consider.  It will be a real pain if you keep your supplies in the garage and the chicken coop is not located close to your garage.

Conclusion

This is just a brief overview of some of the things you need to consider before you think about keeping chickens.  One thing I didn’t talk about above is time.  Make sure you have the time to commit to taking care of them.  You need to be able to check on them every day and clean the coop once a week.  Do not make the mistakes that I did. I didn’t do my homework and I lost a lot of chicks in my first attempt. My biggest regret is that I didn’t take the time to properly research the various chicken coop designs available. I went cheap and small at first.  It didn’t last very long at all (2 years) and it was way too small for the number of girls I ended up with.  A friend of mine bought a pre made coop online in June of 2013 and it is already falling apart so be sure and read the reviews before you purchase.  You don’t have to buy or build the most expensive hen house but it does need to meet your basic needs.  Talk to local people who own chickens now and visit some online forums to get an idea of some of the issues these people have faced.  It is easier to avoid these problems to begin with than to go back and try to fix them at a later date. Check out this resource for more information on building a chicken coop. Bookmark & Share

Jun 012010
 

Before considering raising day old chicks, you will need to think about chicken brooders to ensure the survival of your babies.  Chicken brooders don’t have to be complex or expensive to build.

The primary use of chicken brooders is to ensure your young chicks maintain their body temperature and to keep them safe.  Separating them from the main flock allows your baby chicks to socialize with animals the same size and age and they will be able to eat and drink without being stressed by bigger chickens or other animals.

Chicken Brooder Tips:

  • Plastic or Cardboard? 
  • Location, Location!
  • Keep Me Warm!
  • I’m hungry – Feed me!
  • I’ve Fallen And I’m Dirty

Plastic or Cardboard?  Chicken brooders can be purchased or simply constructed from something you have inside your shed. Keeping in mind that you just need something with walls that are high enough to prevent your chicks from hopping out and to protect them from drafts.  Two of the simplest chicken brooders that you’re going to ever get are simple plastic tubs and cardboard boxes.

Location, Location!  As soon as you have decided which sort of container you are planning to use, make a decision about where to place your chicken brooder.  Keep in mind that you are going to need to use an electrical outlet so plan take that into consideration. 

Keep Me Warm!  You have to buy a light with a 250 watt bulb to help keep all of your chicks warm.  It is required to be placed {directly over the top of the chicken brooder.  Getting the correct temperature in the box will require you to acquire a consistent thermometer and fiddle the heat source.  It may have to be raised or lowered based on the temperature.  Your chicks will not thrive if you cannot ensure that the temperature in the brooder is not too hot or too cold so keep a close eye on the temperature inside the container.  Always be sure that there is at least one area of the brooder which is away from heat source on the off chance that your baby chicks become too warm.  For that first week, the temperature inside the brooder is required to be set at roughly 99 degrees F after which it needs to be lowered once the chicks age.

I’m hungry – Feed me!  Your new baby chicks will need constant access to food and water.  A feeder and water container will be needed that is the appropriate size for newly hatched chicks.  You’ll need to purchase special chick feed as it is smaller in size so that they can more easily consume it.  They won’t be able to handle the larger chicken size pellets.

I’ve Fallen And I’m Dirty!   It is important to keep your chicks clean and their living environment clean.  Dirty chicks are likely to become ill and die. I always use wood shavings in the bottom of my chicken brooders because they are economical to use and they are incredibly absorbent.  They are also simple to scoop out and replace as needed.

Raising baby chicks is usually a enjoyable project for the entire family and if they are handled a great deal while young, your chickens will socialize with you when they are full grown.  To get more detailed information on how to raise baby chicks, click here.  

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