Today, organic is the trend and the way to a healthy future, so raising backyard chickens for the farm fresh eggs is becoming more and more popular. Whether the chicken and eggs are for your own enjoyment or they are a product you sell, raising chickens can be a cost effective and fruitful endeavor provided you know, how to build a chicken coop, what kind of chickens will do good in your area and climate and one more important thing…
Raising Backyard Chickens
Even before you try to figure out how to build a chicken coop, or what kind to raise, the first step you’ll want to take is to determine if you can raise them in your own backyard. Make sure you review your community covenants if you live in a development with a homeowner’s association and read your city/county ordinances carefully to determine if you can raise them legally.
And, as with anything new, it will be important to research. Start by determining which breed(s) of chicken will match your goals. For example if your primary goal is the eggs, you will want to consider breeds like the Delaware and Wyandotte. If you want to make sure they are docile you can consider the Sussex and Plymouth Rock too. If you like brown eggs, add the Australop to your list. There are over sixty breeds and hundreds of varieties to choose from.
If you live in a climate that requires a heartier bird in winter or a bird that can adapt to hot weather in the summer or you want white or colorful eggs or a bird that will rear chicks you will want to take those details into consideration during the selection process. Besides the obvious values of fresh chicken or great delicious tasting eggs, chickens can be great pets (consider the more docile breeds) and they can help with weed and bug control as well as provide great fertilizer.
Decide where you want to start; with baby chicks or mature egg layers. Baby chicks are adorable and a fun place to start but they can be expensive and require time, patience and attention to detail. They will need constant care and monitoring for the first 30-45 days. But they do grow up fast and will be laying eggs in 4 to 6 months so the time you put in will be well worth it. Mature layers will need a little TLC and time to adapt to their new surroundings.
Whether you are planning a safe home for chicks after that initial 30-45 day period or mature chickens you’ll want to research thoroughly how to build a chicken coop because you will need to make sure that each bird has at least 2 square feet of living space. This will keep cleaning more manageable and mishaps between the birds down. The chickens, whether they are the same or different breeds, will develop a natural pecking order over time.
Consider a rooster or two because of that natural pecking order. If you do not have roosters, a hen will step into the leadership role but their egg laying will wane. Roosters can be loud so your neighbors might complain but keeping your flock safe from predators is important too. They are natural leaders and protectors of their flock.
Learn which predators in your area might be tempted to visit; skunks, fox, coyotes, etc. and set traps for them. Learning how to build a chicken coop also requires making sure your chicken coop is not only functional but well constructed is also key to their safety. Rodents can be a problem too so protecting the perimeter with embedded chicken wire will help; 12 inches deep. Barb wire is a great protector as well from both predators and rodents.
The design and size of your coop is up to you and the size of your flock but make sure you consider the comfort of nesting beds, location of the roosts, ventilation and flooring; pine shavings are recommended.
As you can see there is lots to learn when trying to learn how to build a chicken coop including the following: Chickens tend to share nesting beds so you do not need one per but you will want them to be cushioned with straw (mite free) and cozy; approximately 14” x 14” by 12”. Locate the roosts, one for every chicken, for easy cleaning of droppings and/or consider the deep litter method which will require an elevated coop. Elevated coops are good for ventilation too. But elevated or not, proper air flow will keep your chickens healthy.
Portable coops called ‘Chicken Tractors’ are also an option. Moving your ‘Chicken Tractor’ every 3-4 days is great for the chickens; air flow and new food supply, as well as your lawn. It decreases the time required to clean your coop so enjoy a fertilized lawn, fewer bugs and insects and more time.
Feeding is relatively easy. Chicken feed is best; starter feed for babies and growler feed for older chickens, roosters and hens. Fresh water is very important and should be available at all times. Learn how to make inexpensive feeders and waterers on line that last and save money. Bowls are not recommended. Treats of berries, cabbage, carrots, corn, lettuce, oatmeal, sunflower seeds and meal worms are always appreciated.
Healthy chickens are happy chickens so remember safety and fresh air, food and water and you will benefit for years to come. Raising backyard chickens can be a fun, easy and profitable past time provided you take a little time in the beginning and learn the basics.