Hi all! Today, I’m happy to be featuring a guest post from Jordan Walker! When it comes to animals, Jordan Walker is an expert. He tries to help other pet owners through writing useful information in the Coops And Cages blog. And now, he shares with us some tips on how to raise chickens in our very own backyard.
There are a lot of reasons behind the hype in raising chickens in the backyard. Whether it’s because of the eggs, chickens as pets or the compost pile, there will always be a lot of things to like about raising them.
Breeders should be committed with the work that comes along as this can be tiring. Chickens can poop a lot which means shoveling manure and turning it into a compost pile is an all-year round workload.
However, prospective breeders should remember that nothing comes easy. Raising chickens is not always a bed of roses because there are a number of factors to consider. Take note of the breed of chicken you want to raise and the number of the entire brood to be kept. Shelter, nesting boxes, food and water are also important players to effectively raise them.
Ideas for building chicken shelters
Chicken shelters and lighting temperature vary according to the age of the brood. Chicks need warmer temperature until they reach two months because they are more critical to temperature compared to adult chickens.
The first two months of baby chick’s lives are crucial and getting a heat lamp would make it easier for them to feel warm. Some breeders make use of an incubator to ensure that chicks receive adequate heat. To save on costs, a breeder can also buy a standard bulb to be placed inside the chicks’ shelter. Make sure a thermometer is placed as well to be able to adjust in case it gets too hot or cool.
After the chicks reach two months old, they can be transferred to an outdoor chicken coop with the standard size of 4’x4′ for about four chickens. Breeders should also have boxes that measure 12”x12”x12” for hens to lay their eggs in. You can expect to get several eggs per week, or even one each day during laying season.
On the other hand, a 10 square feet forage area is enough for large fowl chickens roam while bantams can make use of a 7.5 square feet chicken run. Meanwhile, breeders can also allow their chickens to roam freely. However, chickens also need to be confined especially during hot, sunny days. They can have heat stress, too!
Breeders can also include a dust bath along with stumps and other “furniture” inside their coops. Having perches will also help resolve stresses along with their other chicken related issues.
Perch ideas for raising chickens
Chickens have natural roosting instincts. Broods love to alight themselves to rest even in tree branches. Breeders can build 18 inches to 24 inches of head space to make sure they don’t bump their heads every time they fly up to rest.
The space allotted for perches depend on the chicken you have. Large fowl chickens need 12 inches of perch space while bantams can make use of a 9-inch perch space. Materials for building perches are available from local hardware stores.
On the other hand, breeders can save building costs by using natural wood. However, not all types of wood are healthy for chicken so it would be best to check first prior construction.
Food and water for chicken brood
Chickens are inexpensive to raise and do not require much of a breeder’s time to fully grow. However, breeders are responsible for what their chickens eat. This will determine the kind of eggs they lay and the kind of meat they have.
Baby chicks should be given starter feeds found in local poultry supply stores. This will help boost their immune system. It will also help them grow a lot faster and healthier.
Meanwhile, adult chickens can be fed with mostly anything you find in the kitchen. Breeders can give them kitchen scraps including vegetables, fruits, grains and even meat. This will help ensure that the eggs they lay and their meat does not contain chemicals or toxins given that you know what is being fed to them.
Water is also important so don’t forget to put a clean bowl filled with it. Like humans, chickens get thirsty too. Chickens, especially baby chicks, need adequate supply of water to keep them cool.
Other factors to consider in raising chickens
There are other important things that you need to consider after you have selected the chicken breed you are to raise, their number, the design of the coop and the type of food you’d give your chickens.
Prospective breeders in the country will have no problems in raising chickens in their backyards because it is widely accepted in the area. However, urban chicken breeders may face some issues with local legislation. That is why it would be best to ask the animal control department should you wish to have chickens raised the backyard of your house within an urban zone.
Another factor to consider is the unexpected death of chickens caused by preying animals. It would be horrific to see your chickens being nibbled by a hungry fox or have a missing one in the brood. Nevertheless, this should not keep you from raising a brood as there are more benefits that you can derive compared to its downside.
Author: Jordan Walker
Jordan is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages as well as a couple of other pet related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for ‘attempting’ to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @CoopsAndCages