Getting Ready for Your Chickens
After talking with your local government offices and obtaining any necessary permits, you are ready to move forward with preparing your property for your chickens. By preparing adequately, raising chickens in your backyard will be educational fun for the entire family.
1. Your first step before moving forward, is making sure you have the necessary financial resources for backyard chicken farming. Without reviewing the costs associated with raising a flock, you may find yourself incapable of fully taking care of your chickens. There are standard expenses like, housing materials, food and bedding but there are incidental costs as well; like medicine if they get sick.
2. Do you have the room? For a flock of 5-10 chickens, you need a minimum of two feet per chicken as well as an outside area for foraging. If your space is too small, your chickens may become ill.
3. Most people start with chicks, so you need the right materials to house and take care of them. For the first few months, your chickens need to be indoors, where it is warm. Many people keep chicks in the house for four months. I normally keep our chicks inside for only 3-4 weeks since we always buy chicks during warmer weather.
If you do put you chicks outside when they are younger, you need a properly built enclosure and pen so the chicks can’t get out, and predators can’t get in. We use chain-link fencing lined with the smallest chicken wire we can find and place sheets of metal at the bottom of the pen. We cover the top of the pen with berry netting which provides extra protection from predators. Where we live, we have many predators like hawks, opossums and cats and dogs.
You need to buy your pen, building and all supplies before bringing in your chicks. You can buy a prebuilt chicken house or build one. We built our coop using plans from Building A Chicken Coop.
4. Next, decide what you want to raise chickens for. Do you want chickens for meat or for egg production? Whatever your choice, you need a suitable breed. Chickens are bred for specific roles and the breed will affect how you raise them. Learning what chickens are best for your wanted results is important.
Area feed stores may carry various chicks in the spring. Look for chicks and older chickens on Craigslist and in local want ads. There are also, several online chicken hatcheries that ship chicks like efowl.com. They carry various breeds, including rare breeds like the Sussex.
5. Care will vary among the different breeds of chickens. Most only need the basics; food, water, clean bedding, etc., however, exotic breeds, like the long tail Yokohama chickens, need special care and attention to their feathers.
6. While care is minimal for most chickens, you will need to set aside at least an hour each day for feeding and watering, collecting eggs and cleaning bedding.