IF YOU’VE BEEN CONTEMPLATING RAISING CHICKENS OF YOUR OWN, CONSIDER THIS:
-you may spend countless hours each week watching FARM TV in your backyard
-you may end up being labeled a “Crazy Chicken Lady”
-friends may tag you in every chicken social media post they see
-once you fall in love with your hens, this may lead to needing more chicks next year
-and since chickens are a gateway farm animal, you may next end up with a pig… goats… or sheep 😉
IF YOU’RE ALREADY READY TO PICK OUT YOUR FIRST CHICKS, CONSIDER THIS:
1- There are two main categories of chickens (standard and bantam). Not only are their eggs different sizes, but the chickens are completely different sizes too. Depending on your backyard/land, coop size, and egg needs, you’ll need to do a little research for what’s right for you.
2- Next up, it’s important you choose hens that are right for your region and weather. Just like I can’t stand the cold, there are some breeds that do better in certain areas.
3- Next, decide if these will only be pets and egg-layers… or if you’ll eventually be using them for meat also. This will help narrow down the breeds for you.
4- Not important, but next, we consider the look. There are certain breeds that lay rosy-brown eggs, some dark brown, some will lay white, some green or blue. And the chickens themselves are a wide range of colors and “designs.”
5- And then, no joke, we researched whether our favorite breeds were great with families/good with kids. If personality is important to you, give that a read too. Here’s a great reference guide on Country Living’s site –> https://www.countryliving.com/life/kids-pets/g2250/chicken-breeds-for-kids/
A great visual chart from the Manatee Chicken Hatchery:
Another great visual chart, from The Honest Worm:
IF YOU’RE READY TO GET GOING, START WITH THIS:
-a brooder (a safe, draft-free container with a layer of pine shavings, for housing)
-heat lamp(s), to keep their body temperatures warm enough
-constant clean water and source of starter/grower feed
-and of course, some love
All of these, found at our local Tractor Supply:
WHEN YOUR HENS ARE OF-LAYING-AGE:
1- Always provide a great feed. (A good protein and fiber content is important. And if organic is a must for you, now is the most important time to provide that.)
2- Provide fresh greens and scraps. (Grass, pulled weeds, herbs, and quite a few of your fruit and veggie scraps can be given to your chickens… and are a great way to add nutrition to the eggs that they’re laying.)
3- Let your hens free-range. (Not only is it fun watching them chase bugs. But that pest control they’re providing you will also benefit your eggs.)
An easy guide to the scraps that are healthy for your chickens and the foods that are dangerous, from Hobby Farms:
NEED EXTRA SUPPORT?
-We’ve gotten lots of great information from Fresh Eggs Daily ‘s instagram page and blog… plus, her book “Fresh Eggs Daily”
-And not only do we get wonderful information from Tilly’s Nest, we also own her book “A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens.”
–The Chicken Chick is another great blogger plus author. Her book is “The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens.”
-“The Chicken Health Handbook” is a needed addition to a chicken owner’s library.
-“The Joy of Keeping Chickens” is an ultimate guide to raising, caring for, and even making some profit off your flock
-And if you want continuing support… and a family, I can’t say enough about signing up your kids for your local 4-H. The poultry club can be a wealth of information of what equipment you need, what to expect, learning about different breeds, learning about and preparing for sickness or first aid, choosing the right feed and safe table scraps, and even how to participate in chicken shows!
And just some pictures for inspiration (and for fun!)….
Gotcha hooked, right? Now go get yourself your own backyard flock!