How to Raise Chickens -
All about Raising Organic, Backyard Chickens
how to raise
own backyard. Information on chickens and bantams for raising
organic, urban chickens for eggs or meat.
Raising organic poultry
can be very
satisfying, and you don't have to live on a farm to be able to collect
your own eggs every day - you can raise backyard chickens too. As long
as your council allows the keeping of poultry, you can easily set up a
chicken coop in your backyard; thus backyard
Farming organic chickens in your own
backyard, is very satisfying. Just remember, most councils will not
allow you to keep a rooster, only hens, because of the racket they can
make and waking up your neighbors, which is fine, because you do not
need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs.
However, before you decide on what chicken
you want to keep, you should be looking at why
you want to keep them. Are you raising
chickens for meat
or just because you want to have a couple of fowls
scratching around in your garden keeping the slugs and snail population
under control? Based on your needs, you will then be able to identify
what chicken breeds
you should keep.
However, remember too that if you want
learn how to raise chickens that are free range in an urban garden
rather go for bantam
particularly a breed such as Pekins as they do very little damage by
comparison to other breeds that are far better suited to chicken coops.
However, raising organic chickens
really is the beginning of sustainable living; chickens will be able to
eat your table scraps and vegetable peelings, in addition to their
grains. They will happily lay eggs for your personal consumption, and
best of all, will provide you with some of the best type of manure for
you to add to your compost heap which, in turn, will benefit your
garden and vegetables no end.
How to Raise Organic Chickens and Basic Care
So, how to raise chickens successfully?
Chickens like routine, and should be
let out and put away at a set time every day.
They should be fed little and often.
Housing should be kept very clean, and
all manure should be scraped off the perches and floor of the coop
Fresh water should be given daily, and
chickens looked over to see any immediate apparent illnesses.
There is no need to keeping a cock bird
if you are raising chickens for eggs. Sometimes, they are more trouble
than they are worth.
How to Raise Chickens and
Choosing the Right Chicken Breeds for You
How to Raise Bantam
When space is limited,
to raise chickens in your backyard and you don't have dogs that will
your chickens, then go for bantams. They are small, make great pets and
will also keep the slugs and snails under control. However, if you are
looking for good-sized eggs on a daily basis, then bantams are not for
How to Raise
Chickens for Eggs
How to raise chickens
for eggs? These
are birds that are light in
body-weight and as a result often take off to roost in trees and tend
towards flightiness in general. Therefore, if you want to keep
egg-layers, they should really be kept in covered runs. Alternatively,
if you want to let them free-range, you will have to clip one wing.
Raise Chickens for Meat
How to raise chickens
for meat? Table
breeds are heavier and therefore
less flighty than egg-layers. They are also more docile and placid in
nature. There are also many dual-purpose birds which are both excellent
table birds and good layers. These are discussed under Chicken
Breeds . However, if you are going to raise table
birds, never name your chickens unless you want recrimination and tears
from the kids who refuse to eat "Rusty" or "Speckles" minus its
feathers while gracing the plate!
However, if you end up with too many
roosters, don't despair, as you can caponize
chickens, making your roosters good as surrogate
mothers for hatching eggs, and also better meat birds.
How to Raise Chickens -
How Many Chickens Do you Need?
How to raise chickens for your family's
needs? For those of you who are raising
organic chickens just for eggs, then 6 good layers will happily keep a
family of 4 in eggs, all year around. Beware however, that at certain
times of year there will be times when egg production will decrease.
This happens when the chickens loose their feathers during moulting in
late summer, early autumn, and in winter when there are reduced
How to Raise Chickens and
Buying your Chicks
Buying your chickens will basically
come down to 2 things; how much money do you have, and how much time
can you afford to wait before your chickens start to produce eggs or
will be slaughtered for their meat? How to raise chickens in the space
that you have?
The cheapest option is, without a
doubt, buying day-old chicks. However, although they are cheap, there
are some issues here that need to be discussed. First of all, buying
day-old chicks often comes with a high mortality rate. If you haven't
lost some on-route to delivery, you will often loose some more within
the next couple of days.
To prevent any further deaths you will
invest in an artificial brooder, or find a foster mother for them to
keep them warm.
Secondly, very few chicken breeds can
at that age. As a result, if you are after egg-layers, you really don't
want to end up with a lot of useless cock birds. And then what do you
do with them once you find that about 40 - 60% of your stock are male?
You will either have to cull them, or separate them off and sell them
at a later stage. However, you will have to off-set that against the
cost of their food, care and housing.
Lastly, when you buy day-old chicks,
you will have to feed, care and house them for at least 8 months or so,
before they start to lay.
For those of you who are raising
chickens for egg laying, it make more sense to buy pullets. A pullet is
a female that is at least 20 weeks of age and less than 1 year old.
Technically, she is capable of laying eggs within 4-6 weeks of
purchase, which is significantly less than time then the 8 months you
would need to wait if starting with day-old chicks.
The downside is of course in raising
pullets is the cost of
purchasing pullets. They are more expensive, but then they too have had
to be fed, vaccinated and cared for, for the last 8 months.
At the end of the day, you will have to
decide what is right for you, and your situation. However, the best
time to buy, whether it be day-old chicks or pullets is in the spring.
Your birds will be about a year old, and will be far happier coming to
a new home with good weather and access to new grass shoots and lots of
How to Raise Chickens and
How to raise chickens happily means
choosing good housing. Chicken coops can be simple homemade
arks to chicken palaces and everything in between. Chicken coops can be
bought or they can be made. We have a free
chicken coop plan for you which is 8 feet by 8
feet. And another chicken
house plan, courtesy of the Tennessee University.
In the end, it really comes down to space factors, aesthetics and money.
Whatever chicken coop
you choose it should give your
chickens 5 things:
1) Adequate protection from the
weather and predators such as foxes
2) A large enough coop to give them
space, but not too large where they won't benefit from each other's
warmth, especially in winter
3) The coop should be free from
draughts but still has good ventilation
4) The coop is positioned so that
the front of it faces the the rising sun but it's protected from the
5) Part of the run should be shaded.
Moveable Chicken Ark
courtesy of Van Tucky
If you are raising 12
chickens in a covered coop with an attached run then your coop should
be 5 x 7 feet and at least 1/5 of wall space should be allocated to
windows. If you are not going to provide any outdoor access, then you
could only house 6 chickens in this space.
However, unless you keep
your chicken production to small numbers, one coop will never be
enough. If you are going to breed chickens, you will need extra space
for mum and her chicks. Sometimes too, you will have a sick chicken
that needs to be separated from the rest.
How to Raise Chickens:
The Ark Chicken Coop for Backyard
How to raise chickens in the chicken ark is
great for small backyards. The ideal type of housing is one which
you can place directly over an area that you want to use in the future
for vegetables and then move to another area at a latter date. These
are known as movable arks and are ideal for a number of reasons.
When you have them in your veggie patch
the chickens can scratch around in the dirt, eat the grass and insects
and fertilize your soil at the same time, with very little effort from
you. Once you feel that they have spent enough time there, you can move
the ark into another position where the grass is better, and you can
start all over again. You only have to dig over that area where the
chickens have been, allow the manure and added compost to rot down, and
once planted out, you will have the most amazing vegetables.
In moving your chickens around a lot
you will minimize the chance of disease, they will always have access
to fresh grass, and involves very little housework when cleaning out,
as opposed to a permanently fixed hen house.
However, they still need to be cleaned
and disinfected, and this should be done every 6 weeks.
How to Raise Chickens
Fixed Hen Houses
How to raise chickens in fixed hen
houses is more difficult. They are useful if you are
large number of birds that will also have access to an outside run, or
is used for intensive chicken farming for a small number of birds.
However there are a number of things here too that need to be taken
These chicken houses take
a lot of time and
effort to keep clean. All the perches, walls and floors have to be
scraped removing the manure on a regular basis. Ventilation is an
issue, and if not provided your chickens will end up with respiratory
infections and other problems. The taller the walls, the better the
air-flow, and in general, you should be able to stand upright in the
chicken house. This also enables you to walk in without doubling over,
and makes cleaning and egg-collecting a lot easier. My ideal chicken
coop has the nesting boxes positioned whereby you can
collect the eggs
while standing outside the coop.
The floor of the hen house should be
covered in a material that is not moldy or damp or dusty so that it
causes any respiratory problems. The ideal coverings would be wheat or
oat straw, non-toxic wood shavings or shredded paper. This further
helps with insulation, absorbs any droppings and keeps the birds busy,
as they will enjoy scratching through it. This should be replaced twice
a year and the hen house should be thoroughly disinfected after it has
been cleaned, preferably with a high-pressure steam cleaner.
How to Raise Chickens -
How to raise chickens for egg laying.
For every 3 laying-hens there should be
1 nesting box 1 foot square, and 14 inches high. These should be placed
just off the ground and lined with straw or hay. They will need to be
cleaned out regularly; at least once a month, dusted for parasites, and
any broken eggs should be removed immediately. This is very important
as once a hen gets into the habit of eating eggs, it will be almost
impossible to stop.
How to Raise Chickens -
Perches should run the length of your
hen house and be about 2 inches thick. However, if you are keeping
bantams, then they should be 1 inch in thickness. If you are using
wood, all perches should have the top edges rounded off, and the wood
should be splinter-free. Each bird should be allocated 8 inches of
roosting space. Never place the perches more than 2 feet off the ground
for fear of injuring the birds, unless you are keeping a variety of
bird that has long plumage.
How to Raise Chickens -
19 gage wire with a 2 inch mesh is
more than adequate for fencing in chickens. However, for egg-layers who
are quite flighty, and to keep predators out, they should be built to 6
feet in height. At least a foot of wire should be buried underground to
prevent foxes from digging underneath. In some countries now, due to
bird flu, all chickens have to be fully fenced in, which means that the
top of your run should also be covered with further wire mesh or
The best way in dealing with fixed
chicken houses is to have 2 runs attached to the sides of the house.
While one is in use, the other is free. This is so that the ground can
recover and the grass can regrow, and it also helps to cut back on
parasites and diseases that occur through farming one lot of livestock
on the same piece of land, year after year.
How to raise chickens
means knowing what they eat. Chickens have different nutritional
needs at the different stages of their lives. Young chickens need more
protein when they are young as opposed to when they are around 12 - 18
weeks when they no longer have a growth spurt and are growing more
However, despite the fact
are foragers and will eat slugs and snails, insects,
table scraps and
the like, they also need protein for growth, tissue repair and to
develop an immunity against diseases. They also need fats and
carbohydrates for heat and energy, and a small amount of fiber aids in
sunflowers for your chickens. They love
the seeds when they are ready
for harvest and improve the quality not just of egg production, but
also the quality of the meat when eating.
Some people swear that
feeding each laying chicken an ounce of finely chopped meat, the size
as found in sausages, during the winter when the insects disappear will
ensure that there is little drop in egg production. Continue to feed in
this way throughout winter until the insects return.
Finally, a chicken needs
supplements and minerals
for optimal health, strong bones and good eggshell formation.
Get more information on feeding
How to Raise Baby Chickens
When raising baby chickens for the first 48 hours they should have no
food. After that, they should be fed a diet that is high in protein and
minced boiled eggs are an ideal food for them. On the first day of
feeding they will need to be fed every couple of hours. Baby
chickens should be fed little and often, about 4-5 times a
day at first.
Stay away from kitchen scraps until they are much
older, as they need the right protein levels at this stage to grow into
to Raising Baby Chicks for more
How to Raise Chickens on Commercial Feed
chickens needn't be a
fine balancing act where you fret and ponder at whether they are
getting the right nutrients. Buying commercial feed in the beginning is
probably the easiest way to go. You can purchase organic feed these
days, and it takes the guess work out of what to feed them, this is
normally in pellet form. However, make sure that you buy the
unmedicated, organic type of organic feed.
However, if you just feed
them pellets they will soon get
bored, just as you would get bored if you were given the same food day
in and day out. Chickens love kitchen scraps and veggie greens, as we
have already mentioned, and they also love eating corn.
Pellets and kitchen scraps are best given in the morning (a large
handful each, per
bird) and the corn in the afternoon. Wheat and maize are mixed in this
feed in a ratio of 1:4 respectively. A small handful for each bird
scattered on the ground will give the birds interest and exercise in
foraging for it, rather than placing it in a feeder.
How to Raise Chickens and Feeding Grit and Oyster Shell
Oyster shell should only be given to
the chickens once they start laying. If they are given the shell too
early, they could end up with egg-binding issues. Grit on the other
hand should be given from day one as this aids in their digestion. It
can either be left in yard all day for the chickens to peck at when
needed or sometimes, it is left as a thin layer in the nesting boxes
for the fowls to access. Each bird will consume about 1 tablespoon of
grit a month.
How to Raise Chickens and Providing a good Water Supply
Learning how to raise chickens must
include providing a good water supply. Your chickens are made up of 50%
therefore it stands to reason that your chickens will need a constant
supply of fresh water. Chickens also are unable to perspire, and in the
heat you will see your chickens with their wings and beaks open trying
to cool down. If your chickens don't have access to water in these
conditions, they will die.
to Feeding Chickens for more details and a complete guide to
feeding adult and baby chickens.
HOW TO RAISE CHICKENS AND
CHICKEN HEALTH CARE
Learning how to raise chickens that are
means taking care of their health needs straight away. If
you have a sick chicken try out natural
home remedies especially if you are raising organic chickens
or laying hens. We also have information on dealing with coccidiosis
. The only way
of staying on top
of your chickens' health is to make sure that you interface with them
daily and are observant to any changes, no matter how slight.
Early symptoms when treated usually
ensures a quick recovery for your birds. Therefore if you see a chicken
that is standing away from the flock look carefully for any tell-tale
signs. Are the eyes bright or do they look glazed? Are the wings
dropping? Are any stools loose with stained feathers around the vent?
Is there blood around the vent? Are they off their food? Do they have
ruffled feathers? Do they have breathing difficulties? Can you see any
bundles of worms in the run from parasitic infestation?
If in doubt at all regarding your
birds' health it is best to call the vet as soon as possible for
serious ailments that cannot be treated by yourself.
Chicken coops and chicken pens should be spotless. And every spring and
fall should be treated with fire to rid the area of parasites and
disease. See our page on chicken
pens for more information on this subject.
FAQ on Raising Chickens.
More Chicken Care Resources you May be Interested in Go
from How to Raise Chickens to Self Reliance
to FAQ in Raising Chickens
to Caponize Chickens
to Butchering Chickens
Go to Natural Remedies for Sick Chickens
to Chicken Breeds
to Backyard Chickens
to Aren't Chickens all the Same?
to Coccidiosis in Chickens
to Raising Bantam Chickens
to Chicken Coop Plans
to Chicken House Plans
to Free Farm Videos
to Farm Animals
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Donna Not rated yet
My 1 yr old Rhode Island Red hen became ill about April 24th - listless, sleeping a lot, not eating, comb turned almost bluish/black within a few days. …
Chickens in gardens Not rated yet
Is it safe to let chickens in vegetable gardens while vegetables are growing?
Pam, if you want to feed the chickens rather than yourselves …
Help with a Sick Chicken Not rated yet
I have just found your site, and as my fiance' and I are creating a small farm for ourselves, and, for older teens without parents or families, we need …
Worming Not rated yet
Do I have to worm my chickens? I have 3 that free range in the backyard. I have not wormed them and I believe that I should. Is this correct?
A Bug-Free Chicken Coop Not rated yet
To protect the poultry from mites and other insects while roosting, I constructed a roost hanger, as shown, with oil cups made of empty shoe-polish cans. …
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