Secrets of Raising Backyard Chickens

by Daisy on 12/31/2008

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Of all the animals I’ve ever owned (which really only covers dogs, rabbits, and fish), chickens are the easiest. All they ask is a house and something to eat and they give you eggs. However, there are a few things you should know before rushing out and buying your own little flock:

1. Chickens require food and shelter, and not much else. But since it’s becoming kind of a FAD, there are lots of ‘must-haves’ on the shelves that are really not necessary. For a discussion of the equipment you need and more importantly what you DON’T need, check out How to Raise Backyard Laying Chickens.

2. Chickens are easy, but a bit gross, depending on your tolerance for poo. The world is their toilet. This is the largest consideration with chicken ownership. Check out Dookie!!! to learn about the negative and positive sides of chicken manure (there are positives, ha!)

3. Chickens sometimes escape, but thankfully, they don’t seem to GO anywhere. I usually find them about ten feet from the fence they just jumped. To curb this tendency (to protect the foolish fowls from local dogs etc.), a chicken owner needs to be prepared to clip some wings. Find out what that entails in Clipping Chicken Wings.

4. Eggs start arriving at about 20 weeks, and it is SO EXCITING

5. Chickens lay year round, except when the days get really short. If you want to eat fresh eggs in the dead of winter, you’ll have to have them shipped in from Florida. And each breed lays at a different rate and has a different heat and cold tolerance, so ask about it before you buy.

6. If they look like they’re going bald, they aren’t dying. I know, I was surprised too. Check out Bad Feather Day to see what you’re in for.

7. Chicken coops can be CUTE!!! For another look at mine, go here

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

ecologystudent August 26, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Re # 5: Actually, all you have to do is run a light bulb out to the chicken coop. They do best with 14 hours of light a day, so you can set a timer so that the light comes on an appropriated amount of time before dawn and goes off when the sun comes up. No need to ship eggs.

Shanna November 22, 2009 at 3:27 am

I’m from the other side of the tracks….. ‘white trash’ if you will. But a different breed of it….. you know; the intelligent, conspiracy theorizing, fine cooking, vegetarian type. Still white trash nonetheless, as I am missing some teeth from years and years of Methadone use, yell at my husband outside, and wear thongs in the winter time.
Anyways….. I hate yuppy-ism. HATE it. I hate the entire suburban mentality….. that branded and snobby type of consumerism; Martha Stewart, Paula Dean and the like (hell, even Oprah really). Can’t stand the whole nightmare….. pretty and expensive Angora sweaters, tummy tucks, and designer compost bins.
My point….. you guys are slightly different than the rest. There is plenty of suburban yuppiness on this site (which is what it is made to be I suppose) but there is also something else…. something REAL.
More power to you gals : )

Ciaran February 1, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Really tempted to buy a few chickens to lay eggs and sell the egg. But I’m only starting off but I’m wondering is there a certain breed that lays chicks and another breed that lays eggs that we eat? I’m confused! Thanks

Daisy February 1, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Ciaran–In order to have chicks you have to have several hens plus a rooster. If and when one of the hens starts to sit on a clutch (a group) of eggs, (called “going broody”) she will have to sit on the eggs for 21 days until, hopefully, some or all of the eggs hatch as chicks. When you just want the eggs but no chicks, collect them every day and don’t leave the same eggs for the hen to sit on. If you only want eggs, you don’t need a rooster, but if you want chicks, you do. All chicks hatch from eggs from hens with access to a rooster. It doesn’t matter which breed, all breeds work this way. Some breeds of chicken are more likely to go broody and be good mothers. Do a search for hens that go broody. In my flock, it’s the Buff Orpington, but there are other breeds that make good mothers, too.

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