Raising chickens for eggs can be a fun and rewarding hobby!
Not only will laying hens give you fresh eggs, but they also provide many other resources like free fertilizer, pest management, and recyclers, and they can be put to work turning a compost pile or preparing your garden for planting. They also provide endless entertainment!
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about raising chickens successfully and having a happy healthy flock.
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So you want to raise chickens, but where do you start? First and foremost make sure you can have chickens where you live and if their are any restrictions on having them.
Choosing The Right Breed For Your Flock
The next thing to decide when you are raising chickens is the right breed for your family, do some research on the right breed for your climate. If you live in a place that gets very cold winters, look at breeds that can handle the cold. Chicken breeds with smaller combs tend to handle the cold better.
New Hampshire Red
If you live in places that have long hot summers, you need to do some research on breeds that do well in that climate. Chicken breeds such as:
Barred Plymouth Rocks
Rhode Island Red
New Hampshire Red
Do You Need A Rooster To Get Eggs? The short answer? Nope! You do not need a rooster to get eggs, your flock will give you those beautiful nuggets without having a rooster around. However if you want to hatch chicks from your eggs you will need a rooster.
How Many Chickens Should A Beginner Get? Start small, a good starting point is two or three chickens. Figure out what you know you can take care of and start there. Later you can always add more chickens to your flock as you know you can care for them.
Choosing A Chicken Coop
The next step in raising chickens -before you ever get your first chicken is picking the perfect chicken coop for your needs. Now that you are armed with how many birds you can get, you are ready to decide on a coop. So let’s take a look at what it should have.
What Your Chicken Coop Needs To Have
If you live somewhere that gets hot make sure to situate your coop in the shade, or at the very least that they have areas in their yard that are shady so they can escape the heat of the day.
Chickens also like a place to dust bathe, and forage.
How Much Room Do Chickens Need? When you make the decision to raise chickens you’ll need to have enough space for them. Laying hens need about 2 feet of space per chicken in the coop, but the more room the merrier.
For the yard or run plan for about 4 feet per chicken you house in the run. You can manipulate that number a little if you plan a free range method for raising chickens but it’s a good rule of thumb to go by.
What Bedding To Use For Your Chicken Coop? The next thing you have to decide on when raising chickens is what bedding you want to use. Pine shavings, sand, dried leaves, crushed corn cobs, hemp bedding, wood chips, and straw can all be used in your chicken coop.
This is one of the places where you’ll need to figure out your own preferences and what works best for you. These are all great options for bedding in your chicken coop, my personal favorites are shavings or wood chips for my own coop.
I like to use straw in my nesting boxes for a soft place for them to lay their eggs, and shavings in the main part of the coop and run. Just don’t ever use cedar shavings in your coops.
How Many Nesting Boxes Do Your Laying Hens Need? This is where you’ll need to know how many chickens you are going to get, before you can dive into this part of raising chickens. A good guide is one nesting box per three hens.
When you are raising chickens you’ll need to train new laying hens to lay inside the nesting box using golf balls, Easter eggs, decoy eggs, or anything else that looks similar to an egg.
You will want to keep the nesting boxes as clean and dry as possible, remove any wet pieces and replace with clean dry bedding. During wet or muddy seasons you may need to clean them daily or every couple of days to keep your eggs clean.
Raising Chickens: What Your Chickens Need
What Do You Feed Chickens? Your local feed store can help direct you on what to feed your chickens, most will have an option of crumble or pellet food for you to pick from.
Another you need to decide before jumping into your raising chickens journey is if you want to raise your chickens on organic feed, soy free feed or just a regular run of the mill feed. We get our feed from a local Amish community, they grow all of the grains and then process it at their mill. It comes in whole grains (which makes it last longer) and our ladies love it!
You can use a self-feeding feeder or feed your chickens a set measurement of food by sprinkling it on the ground for them to scratch for. Another thing to think about is if you want to ferment your chicken feed. Avoid placing a self feeding feeder under where your chickens roost for the night, and store your feed in a dry pest free place. We like to store our chicken feed in big trash cans to keep rodents out of them.
Also, make sure that your feeder isn’t directly under the roosting area and in a covered place where the elements aren’t going to mess it up.
Raising chickens make great waste prevention, they will eat almost anything scrap wise- but not everything is good for them. Avoid feeding them things like citrus peels (this can reduce egg production), garlic and onions (this can flavor your eggs), bones, avocado peels or pits, and raw potato peels.
Chickens need access to clean water at all times, be forewarned if they can find a way to get stuff in their water they will do it. A good way to keep it clean is to set it on top of a flat object that raises it a little off the ground. This keeps it away from any shavings while still keeping it within reach of the chickens.
If you are raising chickens in a very hot climate check the water several times a day. We live in the south and have very hot and muggy summers, so we try to go out two to three times a day to make sure they are filled. If you can’t get out to check on your flock, opt for a very larger waterer or automatic waterer.
If the water containers look slimy wash them out, a simple spray nozzle will often work, if not a scrub brush should do the job. You should sanitize (I like to use this homemade all natural cleaner) the containers at least once a month to kill any bacteria that tries to get a foothold.
Caring For Chickens
The last step in raising chickens before you bring home your first chicks is knowing how to care for them. All in all chickens are pretty easy to take care of, but there will be some work involved.
Daily Chicken Raising Chores: Every day your chickens are going to need fresh feed and water, and gathering the eggs.
Weekly/Biweekly Chicken Raising Chores: Cleaning the nesting boxes, and or the coop as necessary. Cleaning out water containers.
Monthly Chicken Raising Chores: Cleaning out your chicken coop/yard.
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Raising chickens for eggs is a wonderful way to begin a journey on being more reliant on home grown, or home raised, and less reliant on the store. Plus farm fresh eggs from your own chickens just tastes way better than anything you can get at the store.
Raising chickens is a wonderful addition to a backyard or homestead, even if you aren’t looking to go all in on the homesteader life. Chickens are fun, and such a source of entertainment. There is nothing like the excitement of collecting your first egg from your very own chickens.
The Rosevine Cottage Girls are a mother and twin-daughter team. We intercede into the lives of men and women to speak truth into their lives and remind them of their worthwhile inspiring them to try new things and embrace the mess and turn it into their message. We’ve heard so many times from people in our life that they struggled with recognizing their worth. We’re here to tell you that you are priceless, even on your messiest day, and remind you that you have an impact on the world around you.