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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Raising Chickens

What do you need to raise chickens? – The Basics of raising chickens.
Before the days of Walmart, raising Chickens was a pretty normal thing to see. Even in the city people would keep chickens as a way to have fresh eggs and control bug problems.
With more people turning towards organic foods and backyard gardens, raising chickens is starting to increase in popularity again. From knowing where your food came from to making sure your family has fresh food during an emergency there are a number of reasons that people are deciding to raise chickens.
Free Range Chickens Roaming in a field

Benefits of raising your own chickens:

  1. Fresh Eggs – Up to 200 a year per Hen
  2. Fresh Organic food free of pesticides and chemicals.
  3. Chickens are a great way to keep bugs from infesting your garden
  4. They produce good nitrogen-rich manure that, when mixed with your compost is great for plants.
  5. Great for weed control.

How to get started:

While there are a couple breeds of chickens that produce eggs and meat, most chickens are bred either for their meat or for their eggs.
For the beginner we recommend either buying a couple of young female chickens that have just started to lay eggs or a few baby chicks that have already hatched. You could also buy fertilized eggs and keep them in an incubator until they hatch, but baby chicks are easier when you’re just starting out.

What to feed your chickens:

The taste of your chickens meat and eggs has a lot to do with proper feeding and watering.
Water – Each hen will drink approximately 2 cups of water per day. It’s very important to always have a fresh supply of water for your chickens.
Food – Chickens need 3 basic things:
Grains – Wheat, corn & oats.
Greens – Greens can be made up of grass, weeds and other fresh vegetables from your garden.
Protein – During the summer months most of the protein that your chickens need can come from bugs. If supplementation is needed you can use soybeans, fish meal, worms, milk and or meat.
Homemade Chicken Feed Recipe:
You can purchase chicken feed from just about any feed store, but making it yourself can save money and ensure that you know what your chickens are eating.
2 Parts corn meal
3 Parts soft white wheat
3 parts hard red winter wheat
1 Parts oat groats
2 Parts sunflower seeds
1 Parts split peas
1 Parts lentils
1 Parts sesame seeds
1 part quinoa
1/2 Parts flax seed
1/2 part kelp

Chicken Coop

Homemade Chicken CoopHand built chicken coopA chicken coop doesn’t have to be overly complicated or expensive. In fact a decent coop can be made with materials that you probably already have.
The basic Chicken coop is made up of some wood, a couple feet of chicken wire and either wood shavings or straw for easy cleanup.
Also, if you have the room we suggest enclosing a large area so your chickens can roam free and feed off the bugs and grass.

Resources for Raising Chickens

Books:
Chicken Coops: