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RAISING CHICKENS 101: Beginner’s Guide

RAISING CHICKENS 101: Beginner’s Guide

For the past years and decades, raising chickens is not a problem for one that decides to raise one. Having been guided by our forefather's way of thinking, many were able to start their chicken farming.

This article will share the step-by-step preparation process for raising chickens.

Raising chickens bring excitement! In fact, it gives a feeling of pleasure knowing that you will be rewarded with free eggs and meat at the end of the day. It also allows children to value nature,  agriculture, and taking good care of animals.

Giving Black soldier fly larvae treats

2 Things to Consider Before Getting a Chicken

  • Check Your Local Town Ordinance

Every city and province has its policy concerning keeping chickens. For example, some limit the chickens to avoid noise that may disturb neighbors. In addition, every state has a Right to Farm law that protects qualified farmers and ranchers from nuisance lawsuits brought by newcomers who migrate into rural areas. So to ensure that there won’t be trouble in the future, check your local town ordinance.

  • Knowing Your Purpose in Raising a Chicken

People keep chickens for various reasons, including for eggs, meat, display, exhibition, or just because they like caring for and watching chicks grow. Some consider keeping hens a hobby, while others consider it a sustainable way of life. Knowing your purpose will help determine the breed of chickens you want to raise.

After checking all the legalities in your area, you may now start preparing your first chicken experience.

Here Are The Basic Steps On How To Start Raising Your Chickens

Choose your chicken breed.

And just like other animals, chicken has a different breed and qualities. For example, some chickens like to cuddle and love, some are flighty and anxious, some are excellent egg layers, some are for hot weather, and some are for cold weather. 

There will be different breeds available to choose from, so choosing a chicken breed is quite tricky, especially when you are a beginner. So knowing your purpose will help you decide which breed is best.

 

Chicken breeds

Prepare your chicken brooder (for newly hatched chickens)

A brooder is a clean, warm place to secure freshly hatched chicks. A brooder is usually made of cardboard or plywood formed into a box, built with a heat lamp, bedding, pine shavings, and food and water. Usually, we use this to sustain the early need of the baby chick that a mother hens responsibility.

If you have plenty of time, you can create your own, but if you are too busy, then much better to purchase a pre-built one. It’s pretty costly but hassle-free.

Chicken brooder

Set up your Chicken Coop

Being in the brooder is not forever for a chicken. So a chicken raiser who is new or not should choose wisely the best coop to keep their chickens happy. If your budget is tight, you can create your DIY chicken coop.

Chicken coop

A chicken coop or Hen’s house is where a female chicken is kept. It has a nest box for egg-laying and perches on which birds can sleep. A coop has an outdoor run and usually has scattered straw or wood chips to deal with chicken droppings and easy mess cleanup. The coop has also been well ventilated to help air out any smells inside.

Chickens, by nature, cannot defend themselves, especially when there is an attack from predators. So, the primary purpose of having a chicken coop is to protect chickens from weather, predators, and more. 

Choose the suitable feed and range.

Free-ranging is not a problem if you live in an area with no restrictions on raising chickens. A free-range chicken can forage bugs, grass, and herbs in its natural environment. In addition, free-range chickens eat a more varied diet than they would if raised in confinement. 

Giving them high-quality, nutritious organic feed and treats is essential because they assure us that we give them the proper nutrients they need. This also gives us our desired chicken quality, especially on eggs and meat.

GrubTerra dried black soldier fly larvae treats

Cleaning the messed

Chicken's cleanliness goes hand in hand; they enjoy being cleaned, so chickens are happier, healthier, more energetic, and more interactive. It is simple to keep your chicken coop clean. It only takes a few minutes each day to ensure your chooks have a clean environment.

Giving them a clean environment is not just comforting but also securing the place from the possible disease your flock may get from unwanted bacteria.

Now that you know the basic steps, it’s time to decide when you will start.

Whether you like it or not, a female chicken will lay eggs. So you must know the signs when your chickens are about to lay eggs.

What Are the Signs That Chickens Are Ready to Lay Eggs?

Raising chickens for egg production is both rewarding and challenging. The Hen will start to lay when daylight hours reach 14 hours per day during early spring and maximize the laying when daylight hours come to 16 hours per day. 

Typically, a new chicken keeper would be curious about when their flock's first egg will appear in the nest box, but once you’ve learned, you will quickly know and manipulate the egg-laying cycle to increase egg laying on your flock. 

So, here are some fundamental tips to assist you in preparing your chicken for its first egg-laying season.

Season of the Year

When determining when your chicken will lay eggs, the season is the first thing to consider. Egg production in chickens typically peaks in the spring and summer, then gradually declines in the fall and winter. This is because the hen has an internal instinct that tells them it's time to rest and conserve energy to stay warm and healthy during the winter.

The Hen's Age 

Another element to consider when your chicken is ready to lay eggs is the hen's age. A hen's laying age is generally between 20 and 24 weeks old. A hen that lays an egg before 20 weeks is highly discouraged because the egg size is small.

A hen begins to lay eggs when its body is ready, determined by various elements, including the chicken's breed, hormones, health, lighting, temperature, stress, and diet.

Physical Signs

Laying chickens begin to alter physically, indicating that they will soon be laying a fully matured egg with clean full feathers. In addition, their wattles and combs will expand and turn a dark red color. They will do squatting, eat more, and inspect the nesting box now and then.

How to Get Ready for a Hen to Lay Eggs

Preparing the Nesting Box

A nesting box is like the furniture to chickens that are so important because they spend their quiet time laying eggs. After laying eggs, they will simply hop off the nest and carry on with things like foraging or dust bathing. 

Every nesting box should only accommodate one Hen. However, there are times that there are two Hens, but the chance is that the eggs will get frequently broken. The ideal place to place your nesting box is inside the coop because chickens prefer a quiet place to lay eggs. 

You should put it on the ground but slightly higher than 24inches from the floor. If possible, place it in your coop area where it’s dark. You can use wood or plastic, depending on your preference. Plastic if you want long-lasting and durable wood to make your nesting box sturdy and pleasant to look outside.

Consider the Use of Artificial Light

Providing artificial lighting helps chickens to increase egg production. The amount of light is determined by their age and weight at the start of the week. Artificial lighting should be low, barely bright enough to read a bird-level newspaper, and applied early in the morning to allow birds to roost. Lights should be installed above feeders and waterers, and the hen coop should have a few dark spots.

Water that is both clean and fresh is readily available.

Because eggs are made up of 75% water, laying chickens must have constant access to fresh water. In addition, they require this hydration to lay eggs, as the entire egg-laying process is strenuous on a chicken's body.

Start Giving Layer Feeds and Calcium Supplement

Layer foods should be introduced to hens when they are 18 weeks old or when they lay their first egg. Layer feeds are lower in protein but higher in calcium, which aids in forming solid eggshells.

Now that you're ready, may you be armed with these words as you embark on your backyard chicken-raising adventure. But, first, let’s always aim for a sustainable life and a beautiful future.