How To Raise Healthy Chickens
Do You Know How To Raise Healthy Chickens?
Let's take a minute and talk about how to raise healthy chickens. Have you ever thought about buying some chickens so that you can have your very own fresh eggs and you can reduce your dependence on someone else for your food? If so, you are not alone.
Chickens are a good way to become more self sustaining. They are fairly easy to care for, they don't need a lot of room and are not prone to getting sick as long as they are properly cared for. A healthy chicken will provide you with all the eggs you can eat and meat if you are so inclined.
History Of Raising Chickens
More and more people are deciding to become more self reliant and are making the decision to raise a small flock of chickens to provide eggs and meat. Keeping birds for these purposes used to be something that was done routinely but it fell out of favor over the years.
Zoning laws in many areas have made it all but impossible to keep poultry in some areas. Raising chickens in urban areas has expolded in popularity and a lot of people are looking into it again because it is such a fabulous way to get back to being more self sufficiient.
There are a lot of benefits to to raising your very own flock of hens right in your own yard. The most important benefit is that it allows you to become less dependent on others for your food. You know what your hens and roosters eat and you know that they aren't contaminated in any way. They are easy to manage and they don't need a lot of space. They can be very friendly and are safe to keep in your backyard around your kids.
Where Do You Find Chicks?
There are different paths you can take to acquire your own flock of egg laying or even dual purpose chickens.
- You can look into buying hens in your area from local farmers.
- You can order day old chicks from a reliable hatchery.
- You can buy an incubator so you can purchase eggs and begin incubating chickens for yourself.
- If you already have a hen and a rooster, you can raise chicks from your very own stock.
Should You Keep A Rooster?
The advantage of keeping a rooster or two around is that even your flock becomes sefl-sustaining. You can plan to have a new batch of pullets every year so that you keep getting larger quantities of fresh eggs. You can cull chickens that are not producing as well and have room for your new pullets. Your roosters will make sure the eggs the hens lay are fertilized and you can either have a hen sit on them or you can use an incubator. The bottom line is that as long as you choose the correct breed of chicken to meet your needs, you won't ever have to purchase another chicken again.
How To Raise Healthy Chickens
Advantages of Having Your Own Chicken Flock
There are several advantages to raising chickens in your backyard.
* Keeping dual purpose chickens can make you more self sufficient.
* You will always have a fresh supply of eggs and meat for your family.
* Egg laying chickens can help pay for their upkeep with eggs and meat.
* You know exactly what they are eating and drinking so you know you are getting healthy eggs.
* Chicken droppings are also great fertilizer for your lawn and garden and the chickens keep your lawn scratched up and better aerated.
* A flock of chickens will greatly reduce your bug population.
* Overall, chickesn are low maintenance and are safe to have around your kids.
Learning How To Raise Healthy Chickens Is Not Hard
Chicken 101 Basics
Chickens are not high maintenance animals to keep around and you can easily learn how to raise healthy chickens. Remember that they are very social animals so you should never have just one. If you decide that you want to care for free range chickens, you will be astounded at how much fun it can be to watch them run around. While they are easy to take care of, they do require some basic care from you so you will have to commit to that.
Before you actually purchase any chicks or chickens, be sure that you are allowed to keep them where you live. Some areas allow you to have hens but not roosters so just be very clear on what you can and cannot have in your back yard. There also may be a limit on the exact number of birds you can have at any one time and you will be required to keep their area clean so that it doesn't smell. Chickens, while not very loud, do make noise and your neighbors will turn you in if you are not allowed to have them. You don't want to buy them and then have to find homes for them.
Chicken Pen - Why Do You Need One?
You may intend to allow your chickens to free range but there may be a time when you need a chicken pen.
A chicken pen can be used to confine your chickens for a number of reasons.
- Sick chicken.
- Vet is coming out.
These are just four reasons you may need to corral your chickens. Any sick chicken should be isolated from the flock immediately in a separate chicken pen. This allows the vet to visit and for you to treat the chicken as needed.
All chickens should be wormed at least once a year. The wormer is mixed in with the water and your chickens drink it. Sounds easy enough . . . right? Unfortunately, you chickens will not go near that waterer with a ten foot pole. To get your chickens to actually drink the wormer, they will need to be confined with the waterer for however many days it says on the wormer. This will be their only source of water for that time period.
Predators can decimate your chicken flock very quickly. While you may want your flock to roam, they need to be locked up at night in a chicken pen to help protect them.
Having a chicken pen so that you can confine and / or separate your birds from each other is something that is a must for anyone that has chickens.
Common Foot Problems In Chickens
There are some common foot problems in chickens that you may encounter with your flock. Keeping backyard chickens can by fun and is typically easy. Chickens as a general rule tend to be hearty and healthy animals to have around.
Remember, the best way to have healthy chickens is to living spaces that are clean, shelter that is dry and draft free, quality food and fresh water. That being said, there are a few common foot problems in chickens that you may run across at some point.
Foot problems in chickens are not uncommon at all. Chickens only have two legs and two feet. These types of problems are usually very obvious since they will affect the ability of your chicken to get around. The biggest problem is that once one foot is sore, the other one will soon be sore as well since it will be doing the bulk of the work supporting the chicken.
What causes the common foot problems in chickens?
- Many foot problems in chickens are the result of some genetic defect. The only thing you can do about this is not allow this hen or rooster to have chicks.
- Some foot problems may be the result of a chicken that has grown too fast. Because the weight of the chicken increased too quickly, there was too much pressure put on the still developing feet. The result is foot problems that may last a lifetime.
- Sometimes foot problems in chickens can be caused by nutritional deficiencies and poor living conditions. Be very careful where you acquire new chicks or chickens. It is very important that you can verify that they were raised in a healthy environment before you get them. Also, check the legs for things like scaly leg mites. They dig under the leg scales and make your chickens lame. You definitely do not want to introduce these nasty critters to your flock.
- Old hens tend to develop arthritis which is very painful. I have several old ladies that are 9+ years old. I have segregated them from the rest of the chicken flock in their own small run so that they don’t have to move around as much. I also have low, thick perches for them to sit on as well as several low platforms so that they don’t have to grip with their feet anymore. They are very happy in their retirement home. One of my very old roosters has recently joined him and everyone is doing well.
Chicken Pen Basics
A chicken pen doesn't have be fancy or expensive. You can easily construct one yourself that will do the trick. If you are not handy, then you can buy one that is affordable and functional.
Free DIY Chicken Coop Video
Build A Chicken Coop That Is Dry For Raising Healthy Chickens
Chicken Coop And Other Considerations
Once you are sure that you can actually keep chickens in your backyard, figure out where to build a chicken coop. You can opt to build your own coop or get a kit that you can assemble. The area you pick should be sunny but should also have shade for those hot summer days.
Some other things to consider:
- Is it easy to put food and water in this area? It will be a hassle for you if it isn't.
- Is it well ventilated? You chickens will be hot in the summer, cold in the winter and the fumes will build up.
- Is it dry? Your hens will get sick if it isn't dry.
- Is it predator free? You will lose a lot of chickens to dogs, cats, raccoons, etc. so take extra precautions in this area.
The size of your chicken coop will really need to depend on how many chickens you have. As a general rule of thumb, bigger the better. If the chicken coop is too small, you will risk having chickens that are not healthy. Allow enough room for nesting boxes and perches. You also need to be able to easily access this area to collect eggs and clean.
You can either build nesting boxes or buy them so the chickens can lay their eggs. Put clean pine shavings in them, not straw and change it frequently. If you raise the nesting boxes off the floor, they will stay cleaner, the hens will like them better and it will be easier for you to access them. If your chickens don't like the nesting boxes you provide, they will find other less desirable places to lay them.
You will need to decide if you want a fenced in pen area or if your yard is fenced, you can allow them to free range. Your chickens will be very healthy if you allow them to free range but be prepared to lose some of your chickens. Large hawks and dogs are common predators of these birds during the day. At the very least, your chickens need to be put up at night to protect them from night ranging predators.
Your chickens will also need an area to take dust baths, especially when it is hot out. This process helps keep them parasite free and you can help this process by providing diatomaceous earth for them. This type of soil kills pests naturally because it is a mineral dust that is mined from quarries that kills the insects when they come in contact with it.
Getting Started - How To Raise Healthy Chickens
I should have done a lot of research on how to raise healthy chickens before I ever bought any chicks but I didn't. I made a lot of mistakes at first and my first batch of chicks paid the price. When I decided to buy some chicks, I did what most people do and bought them online. The great thing about getting chicks is that they will be raised by you and will know you so they will be more social than adult birds you might buy.
There are a lot of places that you can buy healthy chicks online and sometimes in the spring you can buy them from feed stores. I personally prefer to buy them online because you can pick the types of chicks that you want. You just really never know what you are getting when you buy from a feed store. I have also tried to incubate my own eggs once but not one of them hatched so I just stick to buying chicks.
You can request only female birds but they are never 100% accurate and I always end up with a rooster or two. Because I have a few rooster, I have had some luck getting eggs to hatch whenever one or two of my hens got broody. But for some reason most of my chicks were roosters so I only raise one or two chicks every year just for fun. When I get too many roosters, I find a home for them.
Most hatcheries will only ship chicks when the temperature is right. In other words, they won't ship when it is too hot or too cold. I prefer to get my chicks as early in the spring as I can because it allows them more time to get big and they are healthy enough to withstand winter.
When your baby chicks arrive, in order for them to grow up to be healthy chickens, they have to be kept clean, warm and free of drafts when they are young. I start by putting them in a raised hutch of sorts so that I can more easily regulate the temperature. As they get bigger, I gradually increase the size of the pen that I keep them in until they are old enough and big enough to be kept outside. I never put new chicks in with the older chickens because many of them will be killed. Clean, warm and dry chicks should be fine. Cold, wet and dirty chicks will almost always die. You will still probably lose a chick or two, especially if you don't have much experience. There are a lot of books that you can get to help you keep them alive and healthy.
Your chicks should start laying eggs when they are 6 or 7 months old and usually lay until they are 4 or 5 years old. You can expect your hens to live to be 9 to 10 years old with proper care. I have a lot of old hens running around that lay an egg occasionally and some don't lay at all, but I enjoy having them around and they still eat bugs no matter how old they get.
Learn How To Keep Happy, Healthy Egg Laying Chickens In Your Own Backyard
In this concise, easy to read, step by step guide to keeping chickens you'll discover…
~ The 10 most commonly kept breeds of chicken including; their suitability for egg laying and/or meat production, their basic requirements and adaptability to your specific climate, and perhaps most importantly if you have children - their different temperaments and personalities.
~ A brief history of chicken keeping and how to determine whether keeping chickens in your own backyard is really the right option for you.
~ A complete run down on what chickens need to really thrive, the costs involved (they're much lower than you might think), and how much time you're really going to need to dedicate to the new additions to your family.
Chicken Coops & Housing…
I designed this lens to provide general information on chickens and chicken care for anyone looking for it. But, you should know that I do this for a living and this website generates some revenue through affiliate marketing. If you click a link and purchase something from that link, I will make a percentage off that sale. Debbie Vornholt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.