Raising backyard chickens is easier than you may think – but there are still some things you should know.
Raising chickens is more than providing you and your family a reliable, delicious food source. It’s also an exciting way to bring entertainment to your day – these little guys can be quite social.
It may seem daunting, the idea of raising your own chickens, but it’s actually an easy and very rewarding experience. To help you get a little more comfortable as a beginner chicken master, here are five things every backyard chicken raiser should know:
- Know which chickens are best for your needs – and your space.
Depending on where you’re located also becomes an important factor. Rhode Island Reds, for example, are popular in northern climates because they can stand being in a bit cooler climates. They also provide both eggs and meat. If you’re hoping to keep the chickens long-term as pets and just enjoy their eggs, you may be better suited to White Leghorns, which lay plenty of eggs each season.
- Raising chickens is easier and less expensive than getting a dog.
We’re serious. Most of the expenses for backyard chickens are one-time only, such as a coop, fencing, and a feeder. Once you have these essentials, the process is easy and the only expense you’ll need is the feed and perhaps a few treats and toys. Having the right chicken feeder also makes the raising process so much easier as you won’t need to deal with waste and intrusive vermin (those pesky squirrels, etc.)
- Decide if you prefer raising from chicks or adult chickens.
If you want to start from the very beginning and with less cost, you could raise some chicks – but you’ll have to wait longer (six months or more) before you can enjoy some of those delicious eggs. The perk though is these chickens will be raised from the start together and will be more likely to get along without bullying. Adult chickens bought from different sources may fight and it will take longer to get them accustomed to their new digs.
- There are predators everywhere – it’s important to protect your coop.
Having a coop that protects your chickens from predators is important, especially if your backyard isn’t fully fenced in. Even the neighbourhood cat can become a nuisance to your flock. Make sure your coop is fully fenced in from top to bottom (some predators can dig, so be sure to go beneath the ground if you think this will be a problem). Grandfather feeders are also a wise choice and they keep your chicken feed protected and less of a temptation to predators who can often smell it from miles away.
- What your chickens eat is also important – and how much!
Laying chickens require more calcium in their diets than typical chickens. You should also look into choosing a feed that covers all of their nutritional needs while also providing a source of grit to aid in digestion. You can also hang heads of cabbage or throw a watermelon into the coop to give them some extra nutrition as well as a fun source of entertainment.