You may have read the benefits of raising healthy, free range laying hens-those eggs can be pricey, so raising your own chickens is a great option. You don’t need a great deal of space to keep chickens; a few square feet per chicken in the coop, double that for a run, and you have plenty of space! Owning your own chickens could be a very achievable dream.
Where To Get Your Chickens
One of the best places to look for chickens will be local farms-you can find these on craigslist, and even facebook marketplace. You will find plenty of people selling chickens of all different ages that are suitable for your needs. Animal rescues will come across chickens for rehoming, as well, so keep your eye out.
Wherever you choose to buy your chickens, you should always look them over first to ensure they are healthy. You especially don’t want to take an unhealthy bird home if you have others in the coop already. Look to make sure their eyes and nostrils are clear, that the scales on their legs are smooth, their feet aren’t crooked or infected on the bottom, and that their beak is straight and closes. You also want to check feathers, and look for any mites that may be living under the downy. Having a safe place to quarantine for 2-3 weeks before introducing to an established flock is recommended to prevent the spread of any illnesses.
Where To Keep Your Chickens
You will need to be aware that your chickens will look like a tasty treat for any local foxes or vermin. With that in mind, you will need to make sure that no predators will be able to get inside your chicken coop. Make sure there are no gaps in the structure; when using wire for the run, a most suggest hardwire mesh, because chicken wire is flimsy and easy for owls, raccoons, and other predators to tear through.
You can build build a structure from scratch, or you could repurpose an existing shed that you may have. Consider the number of hens you will be homing; the more space you can provide for them, the better the quality of life they will have. Cramming lots of birds into a small space can lead to poor health and some very unhappy animals- this can stress them out causing illness. They also won’t lay when stressed.
What To Feed Your Chickens
You will want to make sure that your birds are healthy by providing natural ingredients in their core feed (find more information from companies such as naturafeed). The average hen will need around 100g per day. Be sure to feed morning and night in a sturdy feeder that won’t be knocked over easily, check water pans or waterers (keep them clean!), and don’t forget the treats-aka table scraps! Chickens love cold cabbage, watermelon, and other garden goodies on hot summer days!
Cleaning Out The Coop
Depending on your setup, you will need to make sure to give the coop a full clean out every two weeks or so to protect against red mites. You can choose to don a deep litter method, which is what I do. You still need to keep droppings cleaned up from inside and nest boxes cleaned out, but instead of deep cleaning every few weeks, just add more litter. This is great in the winter to provide warmth.
To keep your hens healthy, you will need to allow them lots of free time out of the run. Don’t keep them cooped up all of the time-let them roam in your yard, and enjoy watching them! They’re funny. If you have happy chickens, you will have healthy chickens!
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