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Raising your own chickens

Updated on April 20, 2011

photo by Simon Howden

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Raising your own chickens for food or for a pet.

Raising chickens for a pet or for food isn't that hard. It is mainly making sure your zone or city allows chickens(poultry) and getting the housing to start out with. 

Go to your city's website or go into a sheriffs office and ask if chickens are allowed in your area or in general. That is mainly what it is for the bit. Most city's have a website which makes it really easy to check for laws. There are even websites that tell you which cities allow and which don't.

For the housing, it's mainly a shed like building with either room in the building for the chickens to walk around or a fence around the coup for them to get into to walk around. It doesn't have to be a fancy building. My neighbor built a coup that's a box essentially thats three times the height of the chicken and big enough to fit twice as many birds as they have. It works but it would be hard to get into for egg collecting or bird collecting. Some people get mobile coup tractors to move around the yard. Personally, I have a coup that's large enough to stand in. With shelf like boards for the hens to broad in. I have a little door for the chickens and a big door for humans. There is a vent to allow a breeze or at least to keep it cool in the summer.

You should allow for about 2-3 square feet per bird depending on the breed. More if they are going to be more free range. 

Next is making sure to get the food and water supplies. You can go to a feed store or whatever sells these things in your area and buy a chicken feeder and waterer. If you have hawks like I do, You need to be sure to put a net over the fenced area for the chickens. The hawks will swoop down and take their heads off. Not fun. 

So, with your housing and supplies. Choose the breed you want. Egg layer, dual, or meat? There are multiple sources online to help you choose the breed that would be best for you. 

After choosing the breed, do you want to incubate the eggs or get chicks? Or maybe even get full grown chickens. If you get a rooster, prepare for some noise. They don't just crow at mornings or mornings and night. Its all. Day. Long. If that doesn't bother you than get a rooster, but be sure to choose a none violent breed. 

After you have these ordered from your hatchery or bought them from craigslist or a farm, its finally time to take care of your chickens! If you got eggs, hopefully you got an incubator. If you got chicks, you will need a brooder. Its not hard to make a make-shift brooder with a tupperware container and a heat lamp. It is advised to put bedding in or something to absorb their feces. With a food source and water source your chicks will grow quickly. Though they are smelly so keep it in an area that it won't matter. Then once they are big enough put them in their new home.

From there, you can look on the bag of chicken scratch or whatever you bought and it will tell you how much you need to give them of that specific type of food. Keep water always available and food. If you have multiple chickens and they run out, chickens are cannibalistic. 

If you plan on slaughtering your chickens there is also many sights for this also. For eggs, its not hard. After the chickens lay, go collect them. For a pet bird, congratulations you are most likely doing everything you need to do!

This is basically all you need to do to raise your chickens! Have fun with whatever you choose to do.

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