Jul 292013
 

How To Chicken Farm In Your Backyard

chicken farming

 

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.

 Free Range Chickens - Fences don't stop us!
Free Range Chickens – Fences don’t stop us!

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.

Unexpected Problems

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.

Conclusion

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!

 

 Chicken Fencing Tips

Jul 172013
 

Poultry – Consider Raising Bantam Chickens

Raising bantam chickens is something you consider if you are thinking about keeping a flock of chickens in your backyard.  They are one of the best backyard chicken breeds to raise if you want to raise chickens that are smaller in size.

Size Matters With Backyard ChickensBantam Chicken

The great thing about raising bantam chickens is that they are a lot smaller than other chicken breeds which means they need less room than your average chicken.  You can usually keep 2 or 3 bantams in the same space that you would need for one larger chicken. Because they are smaller, they also cost less to feed.

Be warned though, because while all chickens can “fly” to some degree, the bantam chicken can fly a lot better due to it’s small size. So, unless you want your small chickens to be roaming about, they will need a fully enclosed pen.

While the smaller size of the Bantam makes them a popular choice to keep in your backyard, it can be a drawback too.  Because these small fowl only weigh a fraction of what a larger fowl bird does, they are much easier for smaller predators, like crows and other small birds to take. It is essential that they have a safe enclosure to keep them safe from these types of animals that would kill them.

Mix and Match Your Flock

They come in a variety of colors and fancy feathers.  They are very curious and friendly which is a major consideration if you want backyard chickens that will interact with your family. You can add a few bantams to your flock of larger chickens too without any problems.  Raising bantam chickens can provide great variety in your backyard flock.

The bottom line is that before you buy any chickens for your backyard, know what you want them for. If you want a lot of eggs, then the bantam chicken is probably not for you.  If you are looking for a lively, fun backyard pet, then raising bantam chickens is a great idea!

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Worming Chickens – Is It Necessary?

 

Jun 192013
 

Chick Care

Once upon a time, a family walked into a local Tractor Supply and heard the musical sound of chicks chirping.

Like millions of people before them, they were filled with wonder at the site of row after row of shiny metal water troughs filled with chicks of many different breeds and colors.

The chicks were so cute and cuddly!  They decided to take some home with them right then and there.

They purchased everything they thought they would need (except a chicken house) for their 14  baby chicks and happily hauled everything home.

I wish I could say that the story had a completely happy ending but it doesn’t.  Like any spur of the moment purchase that millions of people make every single year, they were ill prepared to take care of the chicks they took home that day and many of the chicks paid the price.

The young chicks were small enough to keep in a small rubber made container for about a week and then were moved to a horse water trough.  The chicks continued to grow rapidly and quickly outgrew the bin they were living in.  This is a great family that is very responsible but also very busy and they didn’t realize how quickly the chicks would grow.

They quickly found out that chick care in a space that is too small is a lot of work.   The chicks kept spilling their water and their living area was wet a lot of the time.  The chicks eventually starting hopping out of the water trough they were living in and wandering around outside which was not good.

The search for an affordable chicken coop started in earnest since is was obvious the chicks had outgrown the area they were living in.  But, chicken coops that are pre-made can be very expensive when you need one large enough for 14 chicks.    Eventually, a coop that was built for 6 chicks was selected for their 14 chicks.

The chicken coop was bought and when it arrived, it was assembled quickly.  While the chicken coop was cute, it was cheaply made, poorly designed and is kind of flimsy. It would not take much for a predator to break into the chicken coop and kill all of the chickens.  It is also not going to last for years and years.

The chicks – now almost full grown pullets, were moved into their new quarters. They were happy to have the run of the yard during the day and adapted very quickly to their new living arrangements.

But, they were stuffed into a too small chicken coop at night.  The chicken run was too small for all of the chickens to stand in at one time so they were allowed to roam at will during the day which really wasn’t safe for them.  There is a lot of acreage around and there are a lot of predators looking for an easy meal.

The family took a vacation and had a friend watch all the animals for the week. Unfortunately, one pullet disappeared the second night they were gone.  Then five turned up missing about four days into their trip.  No one was ever able to figure out what happened to the six missing chickens.  There were not signs of any struggles – they simply vanished.

There are five remaining hens and they seem to be doing well.  There is now plenty of room in the chicken coop since it was designed for six chickens.  The last five girls stay close to the house and never venture off too far and so far so good.  The story ends well for the five remaining girls and they are very happy.

Remember, chickens make great pets to have around the yard but they do need some care.  Young chicks are very cute and chick care is pretty easy if you are prepared.   They need to have room to grow and they need to be protected from predators.  It can be very hard to resist buying those cute little chicks when you see them.

Before you buy any chicks, ask yourself:

  • Do I have time to take care of these chicks?
  • Do I have the money to buy what is needed for the care of chicks?
  • Do I have a safe place to keep them protected from predators?
  • Do I know someone that will watch them if I have to leave for a few days?

If you are determined to buy chicks, then make sure you are set up properly to take care of them BEFORE you bring them home.  A little preparation will go a long way towards making this adventure stress free and ensuring you lose less chicks.

Chicken coops are not cheap to buy.  Most of the ready made kits are expensive and are cheaply made. They will not last for years and years which means you will have to replace them all the time.

A better alternative is to find a great design and build one yourself. You can build it to meet your needs and the needs of your chickens. It also costs a lot less to build one yourself and it will last forever if you use quality building materials.

Check out these chicken coop plans. You can take a look at everything for $4.95 for 21 days and if you don’t like it, you won’t pay a penny more. These are great designs and are easy to follow.

 

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.

Oct 122010
 

Raising egg laying hens is a great family project that everyone in can enjoy. Most people keep hens in their backyard for the fresh eggs they provide.  Chicken egg laying problems can be very upsetting for families that depend on their eggs. But it is a fact that if you are going to keep chickens, you are going to experience chicken egg laying problems at one point or another.

Chicken egg laying problems can cause panic in new chicken owners and can frustrate chicken owners who really need maximum egg production every day from their hens. Usually you will find that chicken egg laying problems aren’t the result of anything actually being wrong with your egg laying hens.  Chicken egg laying problems tend to be a natural reaction to a variety of conditions.

One of the most common causes of chicken egg laying problems is the diminished number of daylight hours that occurs in the fall.  When there are not enough daylight hours, your hens will naturally start laying fewer eggs.  This isn’t really a chicken laying problem and is more a rhythm of nature kind of occurrence.

I allow my hens to take a break during the shorter winter months because I just use the eggs for me, my family and some friends.  It gives my hens a rest and I worm my hens during this time.  I have to toss any eggs I get when I worm my flock so less eggs or even no eggs during this period of time is not really a problem for me personally.

If you really need your egg laying hens to increase their egg production back to summer levels, then you will need to provide around fourteen hours of “daylight” to get them to kick back into optimum egg production. 

As far as chicken egg laying problems go, this one is easy enough to solve.  Just hang a heat lamp or two in your chicken house to increase the amount of “daylight” your egg laying hens get every day.  The heat lamps will also make the hen house warmer which is another important factor in egg production.  It’s also important to note that the colder the exterior temperature, the fewer eggs you will get from your hens.  It’s best to put the light on a timer so that it doesn’t run all the time.

Your hens will probably take a few days to a week or more to adjust to the new “daylight” hours but once they do, your egg laying should ramp back up again.  Lack of enough daylight hours is just one of many chicken egg laying problems that you may encounter with your egg laying hens.

This is but one of many causes of chicken egg laying problems.  There can be many other reasons that your chickens are not laying eggs. To learn more about the common reasons why your hens are not laying eggs, CLICK HERE.


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