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Backyard Chicken Keeping

Updated on January 13, 2015
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For years, Yvonne has been developing a sustainable homestead complete with chickens, food plants, on-site water, solar power and more.

Chickens, Coops, Hens and Eggs

A current trend is to move away from the sterile exotic lawn landscapes and move back towards useful, food producing yards. With that, the reappearance of chickens in the backyard naturally follows. All over North America, peeps are building coops and chicken tractors for hens that will lay healthy, "home grown" eggs.

And where can you find up-to-date information about building chicken coops and caring for baby chicks and hens? Why, on Hubpages, of course. I've searched for all sorts of chicken related information from how to build a chicken coop to backyard chickens.

We have also joined the ranks of those who keep chickens. We were given 6 baby Ameraucana pullets and you can follow their progress through our pages.

Our Ameraucana Pullets

We have added another aspect of permaculture to our property. A good friend gave us 6 Ameraucana pullets, which are hybrid (Auracana x American) chickens that will lay blue or green eggs. We have been researching the art of raising chickens and have found many references about building coops and about laying hens on Twitter.

We have decided to build a movable coop (some call a chicken tractor) for our little flock. When they are 6 weeks old, they will have feathers and can be moved into the outside coop. Since we have many predators, we will have to make their coop very secure.

The chicken tractor will be placed inside the fenced garden, in the back where a compost pile was started. There is some shade there, so the hens will be able to get out of the sun and they will fertilize and work the soil in that area. In a few months, we'll move the coop to another location.

Ameraucana Chicks from 3 weeks to.... - Click on the small photos to enlarge them & to read the captions.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The 1st day, the chicks were exhausted from the move & the new surroundings.  They are all supposed to be hens.The next morning they were perky and were eating and drinking & doing little chick things.2 chicks are different from the rest. They have white faces & are younger.At 4 weeks they are beginning to get some pin feathers and are eating more. They don't need the light on for warmth as much.These are the 2 youngest ones at 5 weeks. All have wing and tail feathers & are feathering out on their bodies, too.We put a perch in the cage & even the youngest is using it. We are a little concerned about this one because it is so colorful. Hope it's not a rooster.All 6 of them at 5 weeks. (1 has its head down.) We are working on a portable coop so they'll have more room and can eat grass, bugs and other good stuff.We finally finished the coop I it stopped raining. Here they are at 7 1/2 weeks exploring their new home.It doesn't look like much, but it is sturdy and was made with recycled materials. We will build a wooden house before they start laying to replace the summer cage. The run will be attached to that.The first day they were testing out the perches, but we were surprised when they didn't use them to roost at night. They huddled together in a corner, instead.
The 1st day, the chicks were exhausted from the move & the new surroundings.  They are all supposed to be hens.
The 1st day, the chicks were exhausted from the move & the new surroundings. They are all supposed to be hens.
The next morning they were perky and were eating and drinking & doing little chick things.
The next morning they were perky and were eating and drinking & doing little chick things.
2 chicks are different from the rest. They have white faces & are younger.
2 chicks are different from the rest. They have white faces & are younger.
At 4 weeks they are beginning to get some pin feathers and are eating more. They don't need the light on for warmth as much.
At 4 weeks they are beginning to get some pin feathers and are eating more. They don't need the light on for warmth as much.
These are the 2 youngest ones at 5 weeks. All have wing and tail feathers & are feathering out on their bodies, too.
These are the 2 youngest ones at 5 weeks. All have wing and tail feathers & are feathering out on their bodies, too.
We put a perch in the cage & even the youngest is using it. We are a little concerned about this one because it is so colorful. Hope it's not a rooster.
We put a perch in the cage & even the youngest is using it. We are a little concerned about this one because it is so colorful. Hope it's not a rooster.
All 6 of them at 5 weeks. (1 has its head down.) We are working on a portable coop so they'll have more room and can eat grass, bugs and other good stuff.
All 6 of them at 5 weeks. (1 has its head down.) We are working on a portable coop so they'll have more room and can eat grass, bugs and other good stuff.
We finally finished the coop I it stopped raining. Here they are at 7 1/2 weeks exploring their new home.
We finally finished the coop I it stopped raining. Here they are at 7 1/2 weeks exploring their new home.
It doesn't look like much, but it is sturdy and was made with recycled materials. We will build a wooden house before they start laying to replace the summer cage. The run will be attached to that.
It doesn't look like much, but it is sturdy and was made with recycled materials. We will build a wooden house before they start laying to replace the summer cage. The run will be attached to that.
The first day they were testing out the perches, but we were surprised when they didn't use them to roost at night. They huddled together in a corner, instead.
The first day they were testing out the perches, but we were surprised when they didn't use them to roost at night. They huddled together in a corner, instead.

Guide to Raising Chickens

Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens: Care / Feeding / Facilities
Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens: Care / Feeding / Facilities

Storey's guide to Raising Chickens covers care, feeding and facilities, plus other chicken related issues. It is a good book for beginners.

 

Path to Freedom - City Chickens

Chicken Coops

Chicken Coops: 45 Building Ideas for Housing Your Flock
Chicken Coops: 45 Building Ideas for Housing Your Flock

This book has dozens of designs for chicken coops, everything from chicken tractors and A-frames to large structures. If you'd like to build your own hen house, this is the book for you.

 

Automatic Waterer is a MUST

Filling water containers twice a day for 6 almost grown chickens is getting to be a pain, so we have gone automatic. By hooking the stainless steel water bowl to a garden house and securing it so that the chickens can't knock it over, our chicken chores have been cut in half. All we have to do now is check to make sure that it is functioning correctly and rinse it out when it gets dirty.

Almost 4 Months Old and One Crowed

Our 6 baby chicks have grown into strong healthy chickens. They were guaranteed to be pullets (hens), with a 10% chance of a rooster. As we watched them grow, 2 of the little darlings acted very rooster-like with mock battles and circling when they were very young.

Now that they are about 4 months old, the 2 red ones, that used to spar off as chicks are looking more and more suspicious. In fact, a week or so ago, I heard a strange sound. At first I thought that one of the distant neighbors' small dogs was howling in an odd way. After listening for a while, I heard the noise again and realized that one of the supposed hens was crowing, rather badly, I might add.

We were told by the experts that some hens do crow. An old man at the feed store told us that his father would kill any hen that crowed. That his father didn't want any mannish hen in his hen house. Gotta love country folk.

We're pretty sure that at least one (and maybe both) of the larger red chickens is a rooster. Killing one for Sunday dinner is not an option as they have become pets. If both of the red ones are roosters, we'll just have to come up with another plan so that they don't fight in the movable coop.

Oh, the trials and tribulations of keeping chickens. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the guest book below.

Backyard hens provide rich manure for the garden.

Hens in Movable Coop Behind Pumpkin Vine
Hens in Movable Coop Behind Pumpkin Vine

Our hens are mature and lay 2-3 colorful eggs each day. We eat as many as we can and still have enough for friends and family.

The pumpkin and squash in the foreground are large and lush because they are growing in the section of the garden where the chicken coop was located during winter. When we moved the coop, we shoveled the top layer of fresh manure and straw into a pile in a low part of the garden and turned over the remaining soil with a shovel.

Squash and pumpkins love manure rich compost in the soil. These are the largest and best producing plants that we have grown in a many years. Hooray, for the hens.

If you'd like to learn more about keeping chickens, here are some wonderful articles to read.

© 2009 Yvonne L. B.

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    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 8 years ago

      Very nice. There is nothing like a truly fresh egg :) 5*

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I've thought about raising chickens, but have never done it. Around here it is hard to keep the wild animals away from small livestock. (A real problem!) I think your chicks are adorable and look forward to watching them grow.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Great Twttrlist! My children chicksat the school chicks over a weekend when they were in school. Baby Chicks are so sweet! Looking forward to hearing more chick cheeps! :)

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I've always liked the ideas of keeping chickens but now we live in an apartment, that's out of the question. I really enjoyed this lens.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Fun Twitterlist. I just think baby chicks are so cute

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I love your chickens! I can't believe on of them crowed... but if its just one he may be an asset to the flock. none of ours have crowed yet, but we have 2 questionables.. the rest are supposed to be pullets.

    • profile image

      chicken-coup 7 years ago

      I love this page! =)

    • profile image

      backyardchickencoops 7 years ago

      Your right there is a lot of great information on twitter, raising chickens is great. I also enjoyed collecting the eggs when I was young too. That was a good idea by hooking-up a garden hose to their bowl. For more information on building a Chicken Coop.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have several roosters and they get along ok with just an occasional disagreement, of course they are free range and I have a lot of hens as well, lol!! I think it helps a little if they were reared together from chickhood, lol!!

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      @anonymous: You are so right. When I was growing up we had many free range chickens and 2-3 roosters and everyone got along fine... except for 1 rooster and my baby brother. We kept my baby brother. I wish I could let them run loose, but we have too many predators and they wouldn't last long, so we'll have to continue moving the chicken tractor around the yard.

    • Airinka profile image

      Airinka 7 years ago

      This lens is very funny!

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love seeing more people in the city raising chickens. Our rural area makes it harder to have a small flock of chickens, compared to the closest city.

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