Raising chickens 101

Raising Chickens 101: A Homesteader's Guide

Feb 26, 2023Karl Guzman

馃搵Table of Contents聽聽聽聽聽

  • Considerations
  • 馃Food and Water
  • 馃彔Shelter聽
  • 馃拪Illness聽
  • 馃悡Roosters聽
  • Week 1: Brooding Period
  • Weeks 2-3: Feathering Period
  • Weeks 4-5: Transition Period
  • Weeks 6-8: Integration Period
  • Weeks 9-20: Egg Laying Period
  • Weeks 21-72: Production Period
  • Conclusion

馃悾 Raising chickens can be a fun and rewarding experience for homesteaders and farmers. Chickens provide a source of fresh eggs, meat, and fertilizer for your garden. Plus, they can make great pets! Before you get started, it's important to know the basics of raising chickens.


馃 Fun fact:聽According to the USDA, the average American consumes about 279 eggs per year, making eggs a staple in many households聽馃


Considerations

Before you start raising chickens, there are a few things to consider. First, determine how many chickens you want to keep. For each chicken, you'll need at least 2-4 square feet of coop space. If you're keeping 10 chickens or more, your coop should be at least 20-40 square feet.


Food and Water聽馃

To keep your chickens healthy, you'll need to provide them with a balanced diet. A good chicken feed should contain around 16% protein. You can supplement their diet with kitchen scraps, garden waste, and other foods. Make sure your chickens always have access to fresh water. A simple waterer or a chicken nipple system can work well.


Shelter聽馃彔

Your chicken coop should be safe and secure from predators. Make sure to use strong materials and provide locks for the doors. Your coop should also have enough ventilation for fresh air to flow through, but not so much that it causes a draft. Lastly, make sure to provide nesting boxes for every 3-4 hens.


Illness聽馃拪

Just like any other animal, chickens can get sick. If you notice a chicken is sick, it's important to isolate it from the rest of the flock to prevent the spread of disease. If a chicken is too sick to recover, you may need to聽call it. You can either eat or compost the chicken.


Roosters聽馃悡

If you plan on breeding your chickens, you'll need a rooster. However, if you don't need a rooster, you can always eat it. Roosters can be aggressive and territorial, so handle them with care. And if you have annoying chickens, remember: you can always eat them too if it's getting out of hand...聽

Week 1: Brooding Period

During the first week, your chicks will need to be kept in a brooder box with a heat lamp to regulate their temperature. They will also need food and water, which should be changed daily. Make sure to monitor the temperature and adjust the heat lamp as needed.

Weeks 2-3: Feathering Period

As your chicks grow, they will begin to develop feathers and become more active. You can start introducing them to small amounts of fresh greens and vegetables at this stage.

Weeks 4-5: Transition Period

At around four to five weeks old, your chicks will begin to outgrow their brooder box and will need to be moved to a larger space, such as a chicken tractor or a larger coop. They should still be kept separate from adult chickens at this stage.

Weeks 6-8: Integration Period

By six to eight weeks old, your chicks should be fully feathered and ready to integrate with adult chickens. Slowly introduce them to the flock, monitoring them closely for any signs of aggression or bullying.

Weeks 9-20: Egg Laying Period

At around 18-20 weeks old, your hens will start laying eggs. They will need a high-quality layer feed and plenty of calcium to produce strong eggshells.

Weeks 21-72: Production Period

Your hens will continue to lay eggs for up to three years, depending on the breed and individual bird. During this time, you'll need to regularly collect eggs and maintain the coop to ensure a healthy environment.

After the production period, your hens may become less productive and you may choose to harvest them for meat or compost them. By following this timeline, you can successfully raise chickens and enjoy the benefits of fresh eggs and meat.


Conclusion

Raising chickens can be a fun and rewarding experience. By providing your chickens with food, water, and shelter, you can enjoy fresh eggs and a source of protein right in your own backyard. Just remember to take care of your chickens, and they'll take care of you.聽馃悾

Sources:聽

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). (2021). Egg consumption per capita. Retrieved from https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/gallery/chart-detail/?chartId=58361

Penn State Extension. (n.d.). Raising chickens: A complete guide for beginners. Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/raising-chickens-a-complete-guide-for-beginners

University of Maryland Extension. (n.d.). Feeding chickens. Retrieved from https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/feeding-chickens

University of Arkansas Extension. (2016). Watering backyard chickens. Retrieved from https://www.uaex.edu/publications/PDF/FSA-1032.pdf

The Spruce. (2020). How to build a chicken coop. Retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-build-a-chicken-coop-3016872

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. (2019). Housing and equipment for poultry. Retrieved from https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/4150

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