Do you know people who raise chickens? If so, then you have probably already heard how raising chickens are fun and rewarding.
They’re not lying!
You might be here because they’ve finally convinced you.
So, how to keep chickens?
Well, let us help you get started on your chicken-raising journey!
Unfortunately, not every place allows you to keep chickens.
You need to check the rules in your area to know if you can keep chickens. Many places allow people to keep chickens, but some don’t. You want to make sure you’re allowed to before you start.
Also, the rules will serve as a guide on what you should and should not do.
How Many Chickens and What Breed(s)?
Next, you would want to decide how many chickens you want to keep.
Three is a good number to start. Starting with more might prove to be a little too overwhelming. On the other hand, chickens need company, so we don’t suggest keeping less than three at a time.
You would also want to decide now what breeds you want to keep.
There are dozens and dozens of different chicken breeds. Whatever your purpose for raising chickens, we believe there is a breed that will suit your needs.
Also, it is okay if you find yourself falling in love with more than one kind. You don’t have to pick just one! Mixed breed flocks are common in the chicken community!
Should You Keep Roosters?
You also want to decide if you will keep roosters.
Keeping roosters is not allowed in many areas. If it is allowed where you are, then you might want to consider it.
Many chicken handlers only keep hens even if they can keep roosters as they could be noisy and aggressive.
Hens can lay eggs even without a rooster. Unless you want to hatch and raise your own chicks, then you might want to skip on the roosters.
If you want a rooster on your land, we suggest you keep only one for now! Two roosters in a small flock will undoubtedly be a problem. [Mating Ratio: How Many Hens per Rooster]
Next, it’s time to prepare the place for the arrival of the chickens.
The Coop and the Run
It is ideal to have the coop and the run ready before your chickens arrive.
Here, you would have to decide if you want to build or buy.
Building a chicken coop and run could be advantageous in many ways. Not only could it be cost-effective, but you would be able to customize it as well.
However, we suggest you buy a coop and run if you’ve never been into DIY projects. Crafts could become more costly if you’re only a beginner at it.
Chickens need space. They need around 2-4 square feet of coop space, depending on the breed size. This measurement could go up if you plan to keep them in the coop always. We don’t suggest you do that if possible.
Also, whether you decide to build or buy, make sure it will not only keep your chickens inside. It should also protect them!
Make sure you also prepare the “little things” before your chickens arrive.
Roosts should at least be 6 inches off of the ground with 8-10 inches of space per chicken.
One 12x12x12 nest will be enough for around three to four chickens.
Some other things you would want to prepare are the feeders and waterers. We have talked about feeders, waterers, and other chicken things before. You might want to check those topics out.
Finding a Supplier
After all the preparations, you would want to start finding a good supplier. We have had several discussions of the best ones in different places. If you want, then you can check those out!
It is essential to find a good supplier, especially if you will not hatch and raise your own chicks. Ideally, you want to find one you can do business with for a long time.
The Adventure Begins
Now, we go to the everyday things.
Chickens like following a routine. Make sure to set one out, and you stick by it as much as possible. Don’t randomly change the order or schedule of things.
If you want a happy and healthy bird, we highly suggest buying them chicken feed.
There are different types of feed for the various needs of your chickens. These feeds have all the nutritional needs of your chickens already. It’s an easy way to give them what they need.
Also, you would want to introduce treats to your chickens, more on this topic in a bit. However, remember the diet of your chicken should be 90% feed and 10% treats.
Check out what Purina has to say about chicken feed and treats.
Cleaning is not the most exciting part of raising chickens, but it is undoubtedly a must.
You won’t always have to clean your chickens. Most of the time, they do a great job of caring for themselves in this area. Unfortunately, you can’t say the same for their living space.
There are many ways to make cleaning easier. Choosing the right bedding and using a poop tray are some things you might want to consider.
You don’t want a bored or stressed-out chicken. Trust us.
The problem is, many things can stress your chickens out. As we mentioned earlier, chickens need room to roam. Too little space could already stress them out.
Many handlers offer treats even if these things don’t have all the nutrition that chickens need. That is because treats are one way to entertain chickens.
Chicken toys are also one way to entertain them if you can’t offer much space. Yes, chickens play with toys. In addition to amusing them, watching them play with the toys will also entertain you.
Many diseases are easy to pass from one chicken to another. On the other hand, many of these things are curable if caught early on.
Every day, do a quick check on your chickens. Check for active eyes, clean feathers, and brightly colored wattles and combs. If your chicken starts acting sluggish, do a closer inspection immediately.
Finding a vet that takes chickens in could be challenging. Here’s a directory of poultry vets, in case.
Expecting the Unexpected
Now, let’s talk about some things that might surprise or worry you.
Pecking Order Battle
In every flock, chickens will likely establish a pecking order. You can think of this as them deciding who is the most dominant chicken – or the top chicken if you will.
Sometimes, establishing the pecking order is easy as no one wants to fight the most dominant chicken. Sometimes, you get two dominant chickens that want the top spot.
The two chickens will battle this out. Let this play out. You would only want to stop it if it keeps going on, and you think one or both of the chickens will get injured soon.
Why is My Chicken Not Laying Eggs?
Don’t be surprised if your pullets or hens don’t start laying eggs when they are “supposed” to. Most of the things you will read online (or even in books) are only approximations. Give your girl some time.
It would be surprising to get a rooster, especially if you’ve specifically bought females. It was probably not intentional. The sexing process is not always accurate. Tell the hatchery. They would most likely replace it.
Differences and Preferences
Don’t be surprised if your chicken acts differently from how it is “supposed” to. One chicken is different from another chicken. What you’ve read or heard is probably a general description of the breed. It doesn’t mean it applies to every chicken.
A hen that doesn’t seem to want to get out of her nest is probably broody. It does not mean she is sick. Depending on the situation, though, you might want to stop her.
Things to Consider
Here are some things you might want to consider before you go and start your chicken-raising journey.
Raising chickens will require some work. It will not be a breeze, especially when you start. It’s a matter of weighing the pros and cons. We think that chicken-raising will eventually be fun and rewarding, even if it doesn’t start that way. However, we are aware that it is not for everyone.
Keeping chickens is not that cheap. Again, weigh the pros and cons if you’re hesitant about shelling out a few bucks.
The Mental Toll
Hens are generally only productive for around two years. After that, you will have to decide if you’re willing to keep her. You probably know what the other option is.
If you’ve formed a bond with your girls, then this could be a stressful decision to make.
Here are some other things about chickens and raising them:
How to keep chickens? As you’ve seen, it’s easy!
Raising chickens might be a little challenging when you start, but that should not stop you. Almost everything is hard at first. Give it some time. We believe you can be one of the best chicken moms or dads in your area.
If ever you run into some chicken trouble, then you can always come back to us!
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.