Imagine having access to your own eggs, fresh, every day. When you have your own backyard chickens, you will have access to all the eggs you can eat and you will know exactly what your chickens ate to make those eggs. Chickens are also great upcyclers, they will eat almost all your kitchen scraps - vegetables, fruit, bread, rice… basically anything but chicken!
Many counties have restrictions on livestock, so check to make sure that backyard chickens are legal in your neighborhood before you start. Courtesy to neighbors is also important protocol. Chickens are noisy animals so you want to bu sure that you place your coop out of neighbors ear shot.
If you want to start with baby chicks, you can buy them online. There are lots of websites that sell different breeds of chicken. If you want a real egg laying machine, check out the Rhode Island Red, but there are also more exotic breeds like the Poodle Chicken… enough said.
If you start with chicks, you’ll want to keep them in a box with a warming lamp for about the first 6 weeks and they will only eat chick started feed until they get old enough to be on their own in the coop.
For the coop and enclosure, make sure you have:
- A raised area with a "nest" where the chickens can feel safe sleeping and laying their eggs. They like to sleep off the ground because the ground is where their natural predators roam.
- A way to access the eggs, either a door or a roof that opens so you can get to the eggs each day. Make sure when you harvest the eggs that the chickens aren't sitting on them! That will make them feel nervous to lay in that nest again. Wait until they are roaming the enclosure and can't see you.
If you have a fully secure enclosure then you don’t have to clip their wings. If your enclosure is just fenced, you will have to clip the chickens wings every few weeks. They are birds and they can fly!
For some great coop designs and more information on caring for your chickens, check out Backyardchickens.com and don’t forget to ask your friends for creative omelet recipes!
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