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

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.

Aug 062010
 

chicken runMaking A Chicken Run

The dream of many people who decide to raise backyard chickens is to have then free range. But, the sad fact is that not everyone can raise free range chickens and having a chicken run is the only viable solution to keeping your chickens alive.

Making a chicken run may be necessary for a number of reasons:

  • You live in an area where your chickens are not allowed to roam.
  • You don’t have enough room to keep your chickens safe and off the road.
  • There are too many predators and you would lose too many chickens.
  • You don’t like chicken droppings all over your yard, porch, deck, etc.

Whatever the reason, making a chicken run doesn’t require you to be a rocket scientist nor does it have to break the bank.  The goal of making a run for your chickens is to give your chickens room to move around during the day and still keep them safe and contained.

When making a chicken run, the size will depend on how many chickens you have.  If you have a small flock of chickens, you will only need to make a space that is around 10 square feet.  But if you have a large flock of chickens, you will need to consider making one that is much larger so that your chickens are not overcrowded.  Overcrowded chickens are more stressed, more prone to disease and will not lay as well.

Before you start making your chicken run, you need to consider the following things.  small chicken run

  • It needs to be constructed to keep predators and pets out.  Sometimes predators will dig under your chicken run so take that into consideration and bury some of your fencing.
  • Use good quality lumber to build a chicken run that is strong and will be long lasting.  I used 4×4’s along the base when making a chicken run for my chickens and it made the structure very sturdy.
  • Consider using a hardwire mesh when making your chicken run.  It’s a great material because it’s tough, it can be bent to mold around the chicken run and predators can’t squeeze through it.
  • The hardware you purchase for doors and windows needs to also be animal proof.  Many dogs, racoons and foxes have the ablity to open latches on gates and get to your chickens.  So always buy latches that have pins or that you can put a clip through.
  • Consider intalling motion detector lights around your chicken coop as a predator proofing method when making your chicken run.  Most animals will run when a blinding light comes on.  If you can see your chicken coop from the house, you will also know when something is lurking around and threatening your chickens.

Raising chickens is a fun way to become more self reliant but it can be heartbreaking to go out in the morning and find dead or missing chickens.  Take the necessary precautions when making your chicken run so that your chickens live long and protected lives.

Check out these links if you need chicken run blueprints or just want some different ideas before you start making your chicken run.



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Jun 272010
 

I made the decision to buy some chicks a few years ago on a whim.  Now, I can’t image not having my chickens because they have given me a certain amount of self sufficiency that I really enjoy.

People ask me all the time if they pay for themselves and really, that isn’t what this is about for me.  I usually say I doubt it and I really don’t care.  This is more about my need to not be so dependent on others to feed me and my family. 

Chicken care and chick care are all about how to best take care of my family and my flock.  A broody hen is a great thing to me becaus she is ready to raise the next generation of chicks for me.

My chickens provide eggs, meat and new chicks for future egg layers and meat producers.  They also provide a lot of fertilizer for my garden in the form of chicken poop.  The chicken poop makes my vegetable garden healthier and it produces a lot more vegetables for me to feed to my family as well as sell to locals.

They also provide a lot of entertainment. I can spend hours watching baby chicks run and play as they discover the joys of being outside.  I also love to watch my hens and roosters peck and scratch around the yard.  Even when they manage to escape and cause havoc in the garden, I still have to chuckle at them.

So, to those of you considering raising chickens and making a profit, I wish you luck.  I’m sure it can be done but I’m just not that into that.  My initial goal wasn’t to be more self sufficient but it has transformed into that for me as the years passed.  I enjoy knowing that no matter what our government does or the state of the economy, I will be able to feed my family.

To learn how I figured out how to build my very first chicken coop without pulling my hair out, check this out.



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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
 

It used to be very common for people to raise chickens in their back yard, even if you lived in the city.  The hens provided fresh eggs and meat for their owners.  They also had the added benefit of providing bug control.

Chicken keeping fell out of favor for awhile but it is making a come back as people more and more want to know where their food is coming from.  They make great pets and are fairly easy to keep, even if you don’t have a lot of room.

Benefits of Raising Your Own Chickens

  • Constant supply of fresh eggs.
  • Fresh supply of meat if you choose to go that route.
  • Insect control in your yard.
  • Their poop makes great fertilizer for your lawn and garden.
  • They aerate your yard as they scratch and peck around.
  • You know exactly what you are eating since you provide the feed for them.

Raising chickens in your backyard can be a fun and exciting experience for the whole family.  Do your research so that you know what to expect and so that you are properly set up to care for your new flock of hens.

Visit this link to get more information on raising chickens . You can also sign up for a free newsletter by clicking here.

Find out how to avoid the 7 deadly mistakes when keeping chickens in your backyard and learn how to keep your chickens alive.  Click here or click the picture below and then scroll to the very bottom of the page to get your FREE report.

 



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Jun 012010
 

Fencing For Chickens – Why You Should Invest In Good Fencing!

Fencing for chickens is the best way to stay on good terms with your flock of hens.Fencing for chickens will protect your flock.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my chickens but one day I was at the end of my rope!

Why you might ask?Fencing for chickens will protect your flock.

I came home from work one day – not too long after my first chickens were finally old enough to free range – and discovered that ALL of my flower beds and my garden had been completely destroyed!

It seems that while they are out puttering around in my yard, they discovered the joys of scratching around in my garden and my flower beds.  The problem is that they can destroy these areas in a very short span of time which I  unfortunately discovered.  I obviously was not going to get rid of my chickens but when I finally got tired of my flock going where I didn’t want it to go, I started investing in some chicken fencing.

Fencing For Chicken Options

There are several options available when you go online and look for “fencing for chickens”.  The old standby that is still commonly used is the chicken or poultry fencing.  It is a mesh type fencing with small openings that can be ideal to help keep the little darlings out of areas you don’t want them in.  Just keep in mind that poultry fencing is not a good option for predator control as it can be pretty easily torn through.

Poultry Fencing or Chicken Wire

The basic problem with any type of fencing for chickens is that those girls (and boys) are smarter than most people give them credit for and they can fly pretty well too.  Most of my chickens were most appreciative of the fact that I was nice enough to provide fencing for them to land on and perch on.  So I found that when I used this fencing to basically cordon off my garden and flower beds it was very effective, as long as I also put it over the top as well as along the sides.  I also had to build frames to support the weight of the chickens as they walked over the top of the mesh trying to get to the flowers and veggies! It was a huge pain in the you know what, but well worth it to me.

 

Plastic Mesh Fencing

A friend of mine got creative when looking at fencing for chickens and used the plastic mesh fencing to try and contain her birds.  It comes in a variety of colors including orange, green and white.  I was skeptical about it working but, while it didn’t look great, it functioned surprisingly well. It’s a fairly tall fencing and is durable so it can be moved around if you want to.  It is easy to work with and can be stapled or hooked to posts, garages, your house, etc.  Again, the biggest problem is that smart chickens figure out how to fly over it or try to perch on it.  I personally didn’t find it very effective at keeping my chickens in or out of certain areas.

Chain Link Fencing

Chain link fencing actually worked very well too.  It is very durable and predators cannot tear through it.  The biggest problem with using chain link is its cost and it is harder to install.  But, you can go to Tractor Supply or just about any other hardware or feed store and by chain link panels to use as fencing for chickens.  These panels can then be secured together and assembled pretty quickly.  I recommend lining the inside of the wire with a layer of chicken wiring along the bottom as an added layer of protection.

2 inch x 4 inch Mesh 14 Gauge Galvanized Wire Fencing

This is another type of fencing that can also be successfully used as it is very strong and more affordable.  Chicks can also squeeze through these openings so it is a good idea to use some chicken wire along the bottom of the larger galvanized fencing to prevent escapes until they are bigger.

Electric Fencing

Electric Poultry Netting can be very effective at corralling your birds if they aren’t very good fliers.  It also helps to keep predators out of your chicken area which is great.  Because they get a mild shock if they touch it, they don’t land on it and very quickly learn to just stay the heck away from it.  Even some of my fliers now won’t fly over it because they touched it as they tried to escape.  Again, it doesn’t contain all of your birds but I have found it to be very good at containing all but the most escape minded hens.

Choosing fencing for chickens can be overwhelming but keep in mind that there is a wire type for just about any budget out there.  Each type of fencing has it’s advantages and disadvantages so my advice is to know what you want and how much you can spend.

Check out these options for Fencing For Chickens


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