Raising Chickens in Your Backyard
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Raising Chickens in Your Backyard

Here are the basics to keeping chickens in your back yard. Find information on egg laying chickesn, meat chickens or the ornate chickens. Keeping chickens can be a rewarding healthy activity for the whole family!

They are fluffy, they are cute and baby chicks are often irresistible.Have you ever wanted to raise chickens in your backyard?Five years ago our family answered "yes" to that question and we became chicken farmers. Raising chickens has been a truly rewarding experience for us and we have the benefit of healthy organic eggs we collect in our back yard. Chickens are an easy and fun animal to keep. If you have no experience with raising chickens here are a few "getting started" tips.

First decide why you want to raise chickens.Maybe you're interested in eggs as we were.Many people raise chickens for the meat and some raise them simply because they are fun to have around.If your interest is in eggs you will want to do your research and pick a breed known for egg production.We like the Isa Brown Breed as they lay giant brown eggs that are sturdy shelled.If your interest is in raising chicken to eat you will want to research a breed known for its meat, I recommend White Mountain broilers.If it is color and enjoyment you seek you may look into the ornamental breeds and trust me there is a breed for everyone.From the twisted fluffy feathers of a Frizzle to the 3-foot long tail of the Silver Phoenix chickens can be outrageously ornamental.Find the breed that's right for you at the "which chicken" breed selector.

Once you have decided on why your going to raise chickens you will need to get an area ready for them.If your bringing home day old chicks you will need to keep them under a heat lamp until they feather out, usually within a few weeks.A great system is a deep tote, kiddy pool, or larger animal watering stock tank with the heat lamps suspended above it.If the chicks huddle under the light it is too cool for them and the light should be lowered, if they scatter away it is to hot and the light should be raised.Once they are feathered out they can live almost anywhere.In some areas it is allowable to let them roam free. If you have neighbors you will probably want a chicken coop of some sort to contain them.Chickens are not picky, but a coop should be properly insulated if you live in colder winter climates.They also have chicken habits like picking and scratching at the ground so having an outdoors run/area is also nice.Happy chickens are healthy chickens. Click here for some coop examples.

Egg layers will typically start laying around 6-9 months of age.It is helpful to have a nesting box in the coop for them.Instinct will urge them to sit in the boxes when they lay eggs and it makes egg collection much easier.

Feed and water will be your next consideration.There are many types of feeders/waterout there and you will be able to choose the system that fits you best.Specifically research what type of diet your breed will need.Keep in mind new chicks need electrolytes added to their water and may need to be on a starter feed for a couple weeks.You will want to familiarize yourself with the care of your breed and possible illnesses they may get so you will know how to keep your birds healthy.

We have found backyard chickens to be rewarding.They have shown our children responsibility as well as given then fun pets.I find throwing feed to the chickens and watching them peck to be relaxing, almost therapeutic on my stressful days.As a family we have enjoyed harvesting eggs and knowing we are eating organic eggs (we make sure the ingredients in our chicken feed fit our standards). Still on the fence about raising chickens, check out the 10 reasons to keep chickens.

For more questions, try this helpful F.A.Q. page.

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Comments (3)

Good article with good references. I have raised chickens back in the days but it was on a farm and not in my backyard. We raised them for their eggs which we sold at a local farmer's market. On the other hand, the daughter of a good friend is raising chickens now as her 4-H project.

I did this in my backyard when I was a teenager. I hatched them myself in an incubator. Excellent factoid, and good job linking to that great chicken site, I bookmarked it. I'll go there first when take this up again. It will be Rhode Island Reds for me though!