Raising chickens looks like a simple task right?
I might say raising backyard chickens is like an addiction at the same time a never-ending battle.
There are a lot of guides on how to raise chickens for meat and eggs but here is what make this one more different.
Keep reading to be a master…
Are you a beginner in raising backyard chickens? This article is going to become your new bible and I recommend you follow it religiously.
Before we begin, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. Right?
Do you have what it takes to raise chickens?
Are you allowed to raise chickens in your area?We recommend you also read Everything about Campine Chicken Breed(Plus Interesting Facts)
Fantastic questions to toss your mind on to the ocean. According to most of us, there is no problem in raising backyard chickens. Backyard chickens are like normal pets such as cats and dogs.
However, if you are a suburban or urban dweller, you need to be aware of the available rules and regulations. Knowing these rules and regulations will save you from the arms of the municipal.
In other words…
Want to raise backyard chickens for meat and eggs without doing much?
I got you covered.
Let’s jump in.
What Do Chickens Eat?
This is the first thing to know about chickens. Fortunately, chickens are omnivores. They tend to eat anything that comes close to their beaks.
What if I told you there is a new strategy on how to raise healthy chickens that will give you up to 20 times the amount of meat and eggs?
Well, have a large yard. Simple answer.
When you leave your chickens to range in the yard, they will be able to get all types of natural occurring feeds. They tend to feed on insects, grubs, seeds, and vegetation that are rich in both vitamins as well as proteins.
Free-range chickens are great layers and meat producers. This is the only method on how to get organic meat from chickens. The meat is so mount-watering and tasty as compared to those that feed on artificial feeds.
Many people across Europe are becoming aware of their present lifestyles and they are on a watch out on what they eat. Therefore, raising backyard chickens is the best option since you will be able to know what your chicken eats.
As mentioned earlier, chickens do eat anything. You need to have a well-balanced diet for your chickens so that they remain healthy and productive.
What about changing the weather?
Well, feed your chickens with layers feeds whether in a warm or cold-weather climate. These chicken feeds have been formulated to provide nutrients for keeping them healthy and productive.
For those people intending to raise chickens for commercial purposes then use commercial feeds. They contain all the nutritious requirements.
Avoid giving your chickens onions, citrus fruits, uncooked beans, rhubarb, potato skin, and avocado. These food products are known to be poisonous to chickens.
The strong flavors from garlic can affect the taste of the chicken eggs. To be a great chicken hobbyist, you need to beware of what your chickens eat.
Well, it is a personal decision to choose whether or not to free-range your flocks. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of free-ranging your chickens.
Advantages of Free-Ranging Chickens include:
- The chickens require a little amount of food
- The birds are able to acquire natural feeds that are nutritious
- Make them less expensive to maintain since they tend to eat less of your food store
- Do not need much chicken coop space
- Maintaining chicken coop is easier and simple
Disadvantages of Free-Ranging Chickens include:
- They become susceptible to predators
- They tend to destroy backyard gardens since they are great foragers
- You will be unable to control and manage the eggs since they lay everywhere
Where Do Chickens Sleep?
Another amazing question to think about. Right?
Well, have you ever thought of browsing over the internet? There are millions of different types of chicken coop available.
Regardless of the type of chicken coop you choose, there are many factors you need to put into consideration before making the decision of buying a certain coop for your flocks.
These factors include:
Did you know chickens need sufficient space? Yes. This will make them more productive and also healthy. According to research each chicken needs about 4 square feet.
More space makes the flocks happier and it also makes it easy to clean as well as maintain the coop. A well-cleaned coop reduces the chances of poultry diseases.
Don’t let your flocks live in a cramped environment. You should note that 4 square feet is the minimum dimensions but higher measurements won’t hurt them.
- Chicken Roosts
Do you know chickens don’t sleep on the ground? Yes. They need to perch or roost so that they can remain calm throughout the night.
Therefore, you need to develop a chicken coop with strong roost bars that can hold most of your chickens at a go.
Raising chickens professionally does not mean you spend a lot of dollars. You can even introduce a few branches of trees in the coop for them to perch.
Ensure the birds have about 8 inches each and they are not close to the feeders as well as waterers. Why? A sleeping bird is a pooping bulldozer. Also, ensure they do not perch over each other.
- Space for Laying Eggs
Design a chicken coop that can accommodate nesting boxes. These are the areas where the hens will lay eggs every morning.
You will be expected to have a good number of nesting boxes. I recommend three hens per box. But you should note that hens tend to have their favorite boxes for laying eggs and therefore expect more fight from them.
Well, from my past experience, I recommend you have quite a number of nesting boxes to reduce the fight in the chicken coop.
- Secure Environment
Thinking about the best chicken coop? The number one factor to put into consideration is security. Chickens are food for other wild animals and this makes them susceptible to being prey by predators whether in the morning or at night.
Ensure to include chicken wires throughout the coop in order to close all the holes that are visible. Also, remember to use latches that cannot figure out by toddlers.
If the latches are tough to be open by toddlers just know even the raccoon cannot open it. I recommend you also shut using padlock in order to prevent ordinary thieves from the hood.
Also, check the type of floor used to design the chicken coop. The wood floor may require more modifications since we have some predators that may dig through and eat your flocks. I recommend you buy a coop that has the actual floor.
When developing your own coop, ensure there is no room for predators. You can also read one of my articles about the common chicken predators in the hood.
Choosing the Correct Breed of Chicken
There are quite a number of great chicken breeds in the recent century. This gives you a great opportunity to select the breed of chicken of your choice.
In case you are finding it hard to make a decision, you can read my article about chicken breeds chart to make an informed decision.
There is no actual figure about the exact number of chicken breeds we have in the world. Most of these birds are kept mainly for eggs, meat, ornaments and for fighting competition.
Here are some of the popular categories of chicken breeds:
Meat Chicken Breed
These are the type of chicken breeds that are typically kept for meat. The good thing about this breed is that they tend to grow very fast.
If you happen to be a chicken meat-lover or you want chicken breeds for commercial supply of chicken breed then this is the perfect category for you.
The birds have a reputation of adding weight at an alarming rate and within a few weeks, they will be ready for slaughter.
I have composed a great article about the best chicken breeds for meat and I guess you cannot afford reading it.
Egg Laying Chicken Breeds
These are typically hens that are bred for a large amount of egg production either for commercial use or household use. These birds tend to lay eggs into phases but there are some that lay eggs throughout the year.
Previously, I have succumbed to a lot of questions by new farmers about egg-laying chickens until I drafted the best chickens for eggs. This is a perfect article in case you love eggs or in need of eggs for commercial purposes.
Dual Purpose Breeds
These are chickens that are known for eggs and meat production. The birds have a longer lifespan and they tend to be productive throughout their lifetime.
They are great chicken breeds to raise in the backyard in case you love utility birds. The good thing about them is that they are great foragers and heavy birds.
These are chickens that mature at a slow rate and they tend to be productive if they are allowed to be free rangers. The chickens tend to have the longest lifespan. These epic birds adhere to all the guidelines of the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection.
Getting Your Chickens
Well, it is time to take action. Once you have decided about the chicken breed then it is high time to know where to get them and bring them on board.
You should know that there are several ways on how to get chickens. The choice is personal and each choice has its own repercussion.
You can opt for hatching eggs, chicks, started pellets or adult chickens. As mentioned earlier, each choice has its own merits and demerits.
When you differentiate them financially, I recommend chicks since they are affordable as compared to other choices.
Started pellets will be expensive since you will need to feed, care and maintain them until they mature. On the other hand, adult chickens that are in their prime stages are quite expensive.
Getting your first chickens, you need to ask yourself a lot of questions like how many chickens should I get? Where do I get my chicks? What should I look out for?
Once you are able to answer all those questions then implement your decision immediately. The speed of execution determines the success of a prolific farmer.
Raising Baby Chickens
The journey of raising chickens start from here. Order your chicks either from the online platform or the nearest farm store.
Make sure the ordered chicks come with everything that is required before placing them in the already built coop.
Also, ensure you have what it takes to raise them professionally or the chances of losing them all and the hard earn cash it too high.
I know this is freaking right? But don’t worry since it is good to state the facts right.
Well, here is a step by step guide on how to raise baby chickens in a professional way. The steps include:
It looks like a cardboard box. You need to ensure the box is tall enough to create room for chicks to jump out, have adequate space for holding food dish, water dish and chicks.
The brooding box needs to generate optimum warmth for the chicks since cold has the reputation of killing chicks.
The boxes come in different shapes and grades. This is a personal choice and it is a good start from where you can scratch easily.
Pine shavings offer the best beddings for the chicks. They are soft and less expensive. They are ready in many farm stores around the town.
In case your brooding box has a slick floor, I recommend you place some paper towels under them. This will give them the ability to grip and stand on their own.
Chicks require a lot of warmth, why?
During this period most of them do not have feathers to keep them warm until the age of about 6-7 weeks old.
You can either use an electric hen heat plate or lamp to generate warmth for the chicks. This way the chicks will not die because of cold.
There are different types of chick feeds and most of the time, it can be confusing about which type is the best. You should note that the feeds of chicks can be medicated or unmedicated.
Here are the recommendations on how to feed your chicks:
18-20% starter feed crumbles
18 weeks upward
16% layer feed
Every creator on this earth needs water to survive and the same applies to the chicks. Ensure you supply water to the chicks that are at Goldilocks’s temperature.
You will be expected to train your chicks by dipping their beaks in water until they learn how to take water by themselves.
You can add some recommended supplements in water to make them develop the habit of drinking water during the first few couples of days.
Do you know cleanliness being “next to godliness”? Now you know. Ensure your chicks stay in a very clean environment in order to make them stay healthy.
This implies that you need to clean the feeder, brooder, and waterer on a daily basis. Remove the poop occasional in order to avoid wetting the brooder.
Make sure the brooder full of chicks in somewhere safe free from predators. In case you are keeping them in your house, ensure other pets like cats and dogs do not reach them easily. You will need to have a separate room for them.
Going Outside for the First Time
Create a mini-chicken run for them in case you want to allow them to stay in the run for a couple of hours. The equipment should be secured in order to prevent them from potential predators.
How to Raise Chickens for Eggs and Meat
Managing adult chickens is quite easy as compared to chicks. This sounds like a great deal. Right?
Well, if the majority of your chickens are for eggs then you will need to cater to their needs in order to have a high production rate.
During the process of raising chickens, you will encounter a number of hiccups and this is the reason why I thought you should know the following:
Supply adequate clean water for your chickens, why? Water is the source of life for all living things on earth and chickens are no exception.
Egg-laying chickens take a lot of water and you will be expected to supply gallons of water daily in case you can quite a high number of birds at your disposal.
This is another key factor to put into consideration after water. Give your hens the required feeds and they will be prolific layers.
In case you give them the wrong chicken feeds then you will get a low supply of eggs or if you supply a low amount of feeds they expect bullying as well as fighting the coop.
The research shows that most people tend to live a busy life and they tend not to attend to the needs of their flocks.
I recommend that every morning, let your hens out, and clean their feeders and waterers. Remember to remove the poop in the coop so as to ensure they stay in a clean environment.
In the evening, all your flocks to go back into the coop then close them tightly after collecting all the eggs. A secured coop ensures the safety of your flock.
How Do You Increase Egg Production in Chickens?
You need to give your chickens what they need in order to get a high number of eggs per year. I have seen a lot of poultry farmers spending a lot of dollars in order to get most out of the flocks.
Does spending much money work? Keep nodding.
Here are some of the highlights that can help you increase the egg production rate in your hens without spending any dollar. They include:
Just like humans, hens need a clean space for them to lay eggs. In case your birds are not giving you enough eggs, ensure to clean their nesting box. Also, try to make sure the nesting boxes are enough to avoid overcrowding.
Food and Water
Water occurs free in nature thus ensure there is an adequate supply of water for your hens. You also need to supply sufficient food and if the situation allows let them roam in the yard. This will cut down on the cost of purchasing feeds as they will consume less. A well-fed hen has the ability to give up to 300 eggs per year.
Sun provides vitamin E which is essential for bone development. Therefore, it is recommended to take your hens out so that they can have adequate vitamin E from the sun. The sunlight heat also stimulates egg development in the hens.
This is the reason why many poultry farmers have been bothered by their hens laying fewer eggs during winter. This is because during winter there is less sunlight and shorter days.
How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
The egg-laying ability of your hen determines by the amount of time they spend in the daylight. The more time they spend on the daylight, the greater the ability they lay eggs for you.
During winter, the hens tend to go off lay since there are less sunlight and a shorter day. However, this is considered to be normal and immediately the spring starts they commence again to laying culture.
You should note that chickens tend to lay a good number of eggs during the first two to three years. From there they become old and the laying culture begins to stop day by day. This is the right time to prepare the pot for the meat.
What Causes Chickens to Stop Laying Eggs?
It is stressing to see your chickens not laying eggs at all. This is an early symptom to know your hens are ill. That is why it is recommended to keep track of the number of eggs your hen lay in a week.
There is a lot of reason behind the chickens stopping to lay eggs abruptly. Some of them include:
- Poor diet
- Lack of adequate daylight
- Hen breeds that are susceptible to brooding
- Introduction of new flocks
- Hens becoming old
- Wrong breeds of egg-laying chickens
How to Clean Chicken Coop
Here are steps on how to clean chicken coop efficiently and effectively. The steps include:
- Remove feeders, waterers, and nest boxes
- Remove old straw and compost it.
- Sweep thoroughly in the coop and remove any cobwebs
- Scrape off all the chicken droppings on the roosts and coop floor
- Use hosepipe water on the floor as you continue scrapping with a brush
- Rinse the floor again
- Soak all surfaces in vinegar and allow it to stay for some minutes in order to disinfect the surfaces.
- Hose it all down again.
- Leave the coop open for some hours in order to allow fresh air inside.
- Wash the feeders and waterer
- Replace the old beddings and nest boxes
Common Chicken Problems
Throughout the chicken raising journey, you will encounter some of the common problems and they are considered to be part and parcels for the journey.
These problems include:
Predators are found everywhere regardless of the country and the neighborhood. Some of the common predators that might eat your chickens are pet dogs, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. You need to have a top security coop in order to avoid the problem.
Peaking is also a common problem in the chicken coop. It mainly happens in case you do not supply adequate food for your flock or generally you have the most aggressive breeds of chicken. You need to separate docile birds from aggressive ones in order to avoid the problem.
This is that condition where your hen spends most of the time in the nesting box. During this period they tend to be very aggressive and they can injure you in case you want to clean the coop. It is the most natural way to hatch eggs. Is there a way on how to stop hens from going Broody? Yes.
Stopped Egg Laying
Most poultry hobbyists keep chickens typically for eggs and meat. When the hens stop laying eggs, most of us become worried. We already started some of the reasons why hens stop laying eggs earlier above.
This is the process where chickens tend to lose old, worn-out feathers and replacing them good looking new plumage. The process happens to both hens and roosters. During this period, the hens tend to lay no eggs at all but it usually a short period before they begin again.