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Essential Supplies for Keeping Chickens

Updated on June 19, 2013

Backyard Chicken

A backyard chicken
A backyard chicken | Source

Raising Hens

Keeping chickens isn’t as difficult as it is for larger farm animals; take my word for it because we have goats and horses on our property too. From a time standpoint our chickens take up a very small fraction of our day. We can have them taken care of each morning in five minutes or less and we won’t have to do anything with them the rest of the day. The goats take two or three times as long and the horses even longer than them.

The best part of having chickens is the fresh eggs that you will get from them. An added bonus is that they love to forage for bugs and can actually help keep them from negatively affecting your plants. We have also grown to appreciate their little personalities because each one of our hens acts just a little bit differently, kind of like smaller and feathered versions of us.

The biggest drawback for chicken owners is that they have a tendency to leave their droppings in the places that you prefer to walk and that can be a bit messy.

One thing to consider when getting chickens is that they are very susceptible to pesticides so you should be incredibly careful when spraying any weed or bug killer near them. Unfortunately even a small amount of pesticides can affect them fatally.

Poultry Breeds

Corn Feed

Many people start with baby chickens called peeps. These little balls of fluff usually fit in your hand with room to spare and make cute little peep noises. Feeding them is simple, you just need to get starter feed from the place you got them and you are all set. Depending on how many birds you get you might want to get the fifty pound bag they sell. After a few weeks they will begin scratching in their cage and they will waste a bunch of their food anyway so a larger bag might be a good investment.

The starter food is important because it is full of ground up pieces of corn; corn is the main ingredient in any chicken feed. Since they are so small normal sizes of feed are too big for their beaks to pick up.

As they get older, and bigger, the feed does as well and will look more like corn that we will actually recognize.

Feed bags are usually sold in fifty pound bags and how long it will last depends on how many chickens you have and if they get out of the coup at all. If they are allowed out, to roam and scratch for food, they won’t eat as much feed since they are getting bugs to supplement their diets.

Buff Orpington

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Buff Orpington chicksBuff Orpington chicksBuff Orpington chicks
Buff Orpington chicks
Buff Orpington chicks | Source
Buff Orpington chicks
Buff Orpington chicks | Source
Buff Orpington chicks
Buff Orpington chicks | Source

Chicken's House

Have you ever built a chicken coup?

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Chicken Hen Houses

Their house, or coup, is very important because this is their safety place and it will protect them from any predators that might want to get to them. Building a sturdy coup for them is something that you will want to take very seriously. Take it from experience it is not fun to come out in the morning and see what happens to a chicken that a predator gets to.

Chicken Coup

A colorful chicken coup
A colorful chicken coup | Source

Poultry Wire

Any hardware store will sell rolls of chicken wire for you to use when building the coup. We built our coup out of 2x4’s and sheets of plywood on the bottom few feet of the structure. The plywood helped stabilize the wood framing and gave them an area where nothing from the outside could see inside. We then wrapped the upper portions in chicken wire and stapled it in place.

After a few months we swore that we could see evidence of something trying to get in through the edges of the chicken wire so we made the decision to add an extra layer of wire to double their protection. Since then we haven’t had any further problems.

Chicken wire is super cheap so I would double it like we did. It doesn’t take much more time and the peace of mind will more than offset the extra labor.

Breeding Box

When building the coup don’t overlook some kind of boxes to allow the chickens to go into and lay their eggs. They will want to make a nest to lay the eggs in so these one foot square boxes are perfect for them.

If possible build them a few feet off of the ground too. Chickens have terrible eyesight when the sun goes down and getting off of the ground is one of the first things they will desire to do before it gets too dark to see. We occasionally have a chicken or two that will jump up to a fence instead of going where they are supposed to. When we pick them up to put them in their home they usually squawk a little bit because they can’t see it is us picking them up.

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    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      kittyjj - They are very cute and, so far, the friendliest ones we have brought home in a while.

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 4 years ago from San Jose, California

      The baby chicks are so adorable! Too bad that we can't have chickens due to the lack of outdoor space.

      Thank you for sharing such an interesting hub!

      Voted up and interesting!

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      Marcy - I have seen stories on the news about codes getting changed to allow people in the city limits to get chickens so having them is becoming more popular. Ours are pets too with names and everything, we even have funerals when one goes to the big chicken coup in the sky.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I have a friend who lives in a very exclusive part of our city, and has put a chicken coop in their yard (the goal is to get the eggs). Whenever I visit, I check their progress - they're referring to them as 'pets,' and since there's no rooster, the neighbors haven't had a reason to complain yet.

      You're right - it's far easier than people realize to raise your own chickens, even in the city.

      Voted up and up!

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      bdegiulio - Ours are pets too since they have names, even though I can't tell a few of them apart. Thanks for voting and sharing.

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      teaches12345 - The fresh eggs are wonderful, thanks for the comments.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great Hub. My sister has chickens and they have become like pets to her. I do know that she has also had issues with predators and has had to fortify their coup. There is nothing like freshly laid eggs. Great photos and video. Voting up and sharing....

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      If I could keep some, I would be following this hub advice. There's is nothing like fresh eggs for breakfast. Love your photo posts too

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Nettlemere - We just discovered one laying under an oleander bush, she had 16 eggs she was sitting on.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      We had one who always went and laid her eggs in the guinea pig pen for some reason and another always picked a feed bin in the barn, but I bet there were others we never found.

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Nettlemere - Haven't had an issue with mites on our birds but they do lay in weird spots sometimes. We know they are laying somewhere when the egg count falls off in the coup.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      I'm a fan of keeping chickens too - they are surprisingly full of personality and it's funny where they choose to lay eggs sometimes. The main downside I found was trying to keep the leg mites under control.