Want to raise chickens of your own? Having an organic diet and a love for poultry can convince you to do so. Chickens are relatively easy to live with and raise, provided that you know how to take good care of them. Here’s how to raise your own chickens.
Check your city or town’s ordinances or local codes on their mandate on keeping poultry, specifically chickens, in your own home. Be sure to follow these ordinances. Start with a small and manageable number of chickens first, just to get a feel of caring for them first.
You also have two options: Raising adult chickens and raising chicks. Both provide their own share of challenges. You’ll be able to save a little by skipping the chick-raising paraphernalia that you need, but eventually, when your chickens start having young, you might need them anyway! So starting from chicks may not be such a bad idea.
Brooder. This is the plastic container where the chicks are contained for a while. They must stay in a single place so they will not get too cold. There should be 2 square feet per chick.
Heat Lamp. Chicks need to be warm all the time. A 250-watt infrared heat lamp with a guard should keep your chicks safe and warm.
Feeders and Waterers
Chick Thermometer. You need to keep track if your chicks have the same range of temperatures as they grow and mature.
Pine Shavings. Bedding of choice for young chicks.
Feed. Chicks require different nutrients as they grow. Check with your feed manufacturer on what feed is best for every developmental stage.
Supplements. Electrolyte powder in their water and diatomaceous earth in their food help keep chicks healthy and keep pests away.
Caring for Chicks
Set up the brooder before the chicks arrive. Spread the bedding, hang the lamp, have the thermometer ready to use. Make sure that you have fences or protection from other animals or children.
Put the waterers and feeders in a prime place not too near the lamp but close enough as to not get the chicks too cold. Put feed and water.
When the chicks arrive, gently take them out of their boxes and dip their beaks a little into the water. Turn the lamp on and leave them to get used to their new home.
Keep the chicks in a consistent temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit on their first week. Shave off five degrees per week as they grow older. In approximately six weeks, when the temperature inside the brooder matches the temperature outside, you can remove them from the brooder and away from the lamp.
The brooders should always be clean of feces and have dry bedding at all times.
Have a coop ready for your pullets when they’re big enough to have one.
Caring for Chickens
Keep the chickens in the coop for around two days or so to have them acclimatized to their new home.
When having a chicken coop made, make sure that you have at least you have 2 square feet for each chicken. The roomier, the better. Make sure that your chicken coop has nesting boxes for the hens and perches for night roosting, if you plan on keeping roosters.
Buy chicken feeders from your local feed manufacturer. These will keep your chicken feed and water clean.
For a small flock of chickens, you can buy pre-mixed all-purpose laying mash. Supplement this with scratch feed or whole corn. Chickens also love kitchen scraps like greens, peelings, pancakes, small pieces of cooked meat, bread, and even crushed oyster shells. You should also buy grit at the store, as this helps them digest their food better.
Keep the chicken coops clean and safe from predators. If your flock gets bigger, make sure that you expand your coop accordingly.