Raising Backyard Chickens: How, Why, and What You Need

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Raising-chickens

If you have ever wondered about backyard chickens, raising hens, or desired fresh delicious eggs,  you’ve come to the right place!

Come on a journey with my family and learn about four very special, little chickens we consider family.

My chickens have been called “spoiled princesses” who should wear little ring-sized tiaras. They are accustom to a daily breakfast of watercress and homemade fresh yogurt or leftover soaked oatmeal. They have a poultry palace I mean a really nice coop built with our very own hands.

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One thing I must divulge about chickens: they are very easy to care for. Its completely up to the individual owner how high or low maintenance you want your hens to be. They get along perfectly with a protected area to eat and sleep as well as clean housing conditions. But if you so choose, you too can also have little princess hens. If not, it’s understandable! You’re looking to have a life outside of chickens? I understand.

Real Food Crash Course

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Chickens have a pecking order where they actually peck each other into an order literally! The leader also known as the “boss womaneats first and sleeps in the best place and every chicken after her gets to follow in her foot steps. But the leader has an important role as she will also lead the flock and will if necessary protect her flock even to death. She is the “rooster” role if there is no rooster present.  And at our house there is no rooster. There are county ordinances (check with your county/city) when it comes to backyard chicken keeping and well, let’s just say I live in an area in the city where they are NOT welcome. Which is fine.  I wanna sleep past four in the morning anyways.

Our four girls are seven months old and have been laying eggs for just about a month and a half. Beautiful eggs in several shades of brown. You haven’t had an egg until its fresh from your own chicken in the backyard. Delicious eggs.

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You can buy chickens from local feed stores and local chicken farms or chicken forums such as: backyardchickens.com. People often sell or even give away free laying hens or pullets.  You might even choose to buy chicks which cost pennies on the dollar and raise them yourself. Personally, we opted for a local farm who raises chickens at four stages of life: chicks, non-laying pullets, laying pullets, and hens which are at least a year old.

Chickens lay eggs sporadically from the time they lay their first egg (5-8months) until one year of age. During this time their bodies are adjusting so you could get an egg a day, every other day, or go a week between eggs depending on the breed and bird. Other factors can effect their egg production such as: temperature/season, mood, and emotional state of mind.

Another factor to consider is what breed of chicken you want. Where do you live? Can they tolerate harsh winters or hot summers? Some do better in different climates.

Do you want chickens for meat birds? Do you want them for fresh eggs? Do you just want pets? These are the crucial questions to ask when contemplating the purchase of chickens. If you’re like us, we wanted chickens for fresh eggs but knew they would turn into pets that laid eggs. My kids love and I mean LOVE these birds.

If you ask any chicken owner, the best thing to do is let your girls scratch the dirt and grass looking for favorite treats and nourishing natural foods like bugs, worms, grass, and goodies. We know this as “free-roaming”. Supplement with a really high quality feed. Also always have water available in many different areas because chickens dehydrate very easily and that means sad sallow chickens not to mention no eggs.

Now, I’m NOT saying you have to do what we do. You can still spoil your chickens without watercress. I tend to go over board. I would say I fit in the “high maintenance” category.  I mean I started out wanting to be frugal and save money and trust me I have if you ask me. I use to drive an hour just to pick up very expensive free-roaming, non-GMO organic eggs from the farm.

I’d say this has totally been worth the commitment. Not to mention, the education my children are getting. Not just in the caring for and loving these animals but also knowing and teaching their friends where real eggs come from. Not the dairy aisle at the grocery store, but a chicken!

 

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Until next time, “BAWK BAWK“, and remember friends of a feather flock together!

Learn more about keeping backyard hens in my favorite resource  “Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens…Naturally”

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4 Comments

  • What do you feed your chickens? My father has chickens in the Caribbean and feeds them corn which I know is a big no no among other greens. Any suggestions? Am going to visit him in July and perhaps I can make some changes in their diet.

    • Hey Kimmie, We use a non-GMO layer feed produced by a company called, “Countryside Organics”. I believe they are located in Pennsylvania and ship the feed all over. Our hens enjoy the layer feed in the morning. In the later afternoon we feed them table scraps: veggies, fruits, leftover breakfast, etc. They also enjoy rolled oat- cooked or raw.

  • Chicken farming is my pleasure every day. Chicken raising is not difficult if we know how to cherish chickens every day. I always try to understand better knowledge of chicken breeding, treat some diseases in chickens and good health care.

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