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With backyard homesteading on the rise, chickens have become one of the most popular livestock to have! This is due to their versatility, size, and ability to produce a sustainable protein source.
When I was first starting out, I really wondered, how easy is it to raise chickens? Well, the answer came with a shrug from my friends and family.
We struggled to really learn how to raise chickens economically for us as a family. You see the tragic secret that is me is I hate eggs. This made chickens a hard sell when I first asked for them.
Is it worth it to raise chickens?
The worth of raising chickens really depends on your values. If you are solely doing this as a means to save money, there are ways to do this. You will sacrifice some of the better attributes by doing so but it can be done.
Chickens are omnivores. That is the saddest truth of the agriculture industry when you see ‘vegetarian fed’ in the stores. Chickens are not vegetarians.
Chickens can be completely raised on free-ranging and scraps. I mean look at Miami, they have a massive chicken problem and cannot keep them contained. Nobody is feeding these chickens and yet they are thriving.
There are not many chickens that can’t and won’t eat. I even caught ours eating an opossum carcass once!
I have my compost inside the chicken coop now. I just give them the scraps and let them go wild. I add bedding as needed. Once they are finished turning the compost and it is ready to cure, we just start over.
The garden feeds the chickens and the chickens feed us. We all win!
How do you raise chickens at home?
The best thing to do is build your coop first. I do not care if you buy chicks or adults. Buy your coop or build it first. This makes sure that by the time you have those cute chicks, there is somewhere they can go when they are no longer little and cute.
I make sure my coop is very well predator-proofed. I do not use chicken wire but instead a heavier grade.
Chickens need an ample supply of water. This is crucial to their survival. They also prefer to have roosts as well.
If free-ranging, you may want to consider a rooster or goose. These will help protect your flock from predators.
Chickens are mostly limited work if I am honest with you. We feed them, we water them, and we collect the eggs. Truthfully, I just enjoy sitting with them most of the time.
Do chickens need heat in the winter?
I have seen so many fires caused by people heating their chicken coops that it is ridiculous. Your chickens do not need a heater. They are fine.
That being said, they are only fine if you have the right setup. We wrap our coops in greenhouse plastic in the winter and leave one side that does not get wind open for airflow.
I would not risk a heat lamp because they can often catch bedding on fire. If you must have heat for your chickens, a chick brooder plate works well with less risk of fire.
How many chickens do you need for a dozen eggs a week?
The amount you would need for a dozen is very dependent on breeds.
Different breeds of chickens produce different amounts of eggs a day. Breeds like the Rhode Island Red produce better than a breed like a silkie. This is due to selective breeding.
A rule I like to follow is two chickens per every member of my household (I include dogs in this number). This ensures we have eggs for breakfast and for baking.
Though the amount and quality you feed them also play a role in how many eggs you will receive and if you are only free-ranging and feeding scraps, you may need more birds to keep up with your family’s demand.
Purchasing seeds from True Leaf Market may be a great idea to grow your own feed. They sell plenty of varieties where you could grow a cheap garden solely to feed your flock.
What do I need for chickens?
The most important thing you can have is a clean source of water. Will they drink from muddy puddles? Yes. Should you leave them the option for freshwater? Yes.
For the most part, chickens are the easiest livestock to own. You need a coop, you need feeders and waterers, but there is no need for anything fancy.
They are pretty easy to start up and you can even just put them in an outdoor dog run with a roof on it.
Chickens happen to be one of my favorite livestock due to their versatility and easy care needs
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