Raising Chickens in your Backyard
By Michael Stanley
Ever think about raising some backyard chickens? It may sound a little overwhelming but doesn’t require that much more care than a dog or cat plus you get the benefit of fresh eggs. It can be a real educational experience for your kids too. If you live in the city limits you may want to check local ordinances before investing in a family flock.
Before purchasing your baby chicks you want to make sure you provide a safe home for them which includes acoop to offer shelter and a fenced in area safe from predators. The size of the coop will depend on how many birds you want to raise, generally you want about a square foot per bird. Baby chicks should be kept in a brooder for the first 3-4 weeks to keep them warm. A cardboard or plywood box 2’ x 3’ will house 25 baby chicks. Keep the chicks warm by hanging a heat lamp over the chicks. You want to maintain a temperature of 90-95 degrees and gradually reduce the temperature as they grow feathers.
Begin feeding them with Start & Grow chick feed for the first 18 weeks then switch to Layena Feed to ensure proper nutrition and healthy egg layers. One hen can produce 2 eggs every 3 days. You can also supplement their diet with Scratch Grains which will also encourage natural pecking and feeding instincts. Offering laying hens crushed oyster shells will provide extra calcium needed for strong egg shells. One thing to note is that you don’t have to have a rooster to have egg producing hens. So unless you want to hatch your own eggs, it is recommended to stick with hens.
Another advantage to raising chickens is the rich organic compost they produce which can be incorporated in your garden. Also they will feed on insects in your lawn and garden.
So if you are considering raising some chickens, do a little homework and give it a shot. You will be reaping the rewards of fresh eggs in no time.