Raising chickens as a hobby can be an incredibly rewarding experience. In our farm, we first started buying and raising chicks when my daughter was six years old, in 2020. Ever since then, we completely fell in love with raising chicks, learning about chicken care, baby chicks, getting clear on what chicken breeds are best for egg production and hardy, outdoor living.
Now, we have two kids (a growing family), and a healthy growing flock that fully provides every single egg we ever need! We haven’t had to get eggs at the grocery story in years. And our adult hens are raising baby chicks of their own, without any help.
You, too, can create a natural environment and learn how to care for chickens. Chicken poop is scary to some, but the beautiful eggs you get make it completely worth the time and trouble.
Caring for chickens is no small task, however; they require proper nutrition and lots of attention in order to stay healthy. Knowing how to properly care for your chickens will ensure that you get the most out of your flock.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basics of caring for chickens: from feeding them correctly and providing clean water, to raising baby chicks and protecting them from predators. We will also include every single product we use in our chicken yard, and our best tips and recommendations for healthy chickens so you avoid the chicken problems that many newcomers run into (ourselves included!). Please note that the links to these products are Amazon affiliate links, and we may receive a small commission, which will go to making our chickens more spoiled. 😉 So, if you’re thinking about taking on chicken-keeping as a hobby – read on!
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Supplies & Setting Up Your Chicken Yard
When you decide to harbor, raise, and keep chickens, they will do the most annoying things to you – like try to climb up on you and seek out treats, peck shiny things, and generally be annoying.
Chickens are the cutest, friendliest, best ever! Here’s Rosie, our extremely friendly Australorp.
Preferably, you should have some enclosed acreage where your chickens can room free range. You don’t want them cooped up in a small space, but you don’t want them pooping on your doorstep, either – that gets gross. We fenced off about a quarter of an acre just for the chickens. It should be away from the backyard, because if they’re free-ranging they can be in everything and poop on everyone in their path. That does get disgusting. So, choose a parcel of your land (preferably you have some) where you can set up a chicken-only “yard.”
You can gate it off with a Beware of Tiny Raptors sign, like we did, and please everyone that appears at the gate. Here’s a link to get our sign.
Here’s ours. Did I mention how spoiled they are?
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Next, you’ll need to know what breeds to get. We like to raise ours from chicks – you’ll need a chicken starter with a heating lamp, bucket, and wood chips, and chick grit to feed them – easy to pick up at Tractor Supply, and you can raise them anywhere inside, even if your garage (just make sure it’s warm, chicks need heat).
Here are our top favorite chicken breeds:
- Easter Eggers
- Olive Eggers
- French Marans
Caring for chickens is fairly easy, once you know what to feed them, what to expect, and how to set them up for egg production. We get 15 eggs almost EVERY day from our 15 chickens! It’s glorious. Did I mention they taste better than anything in the stores?
There are a TON of chicken coops out there, and we have tried many – that didn’t withstand the weather, didn’t give the chickens enough air, and weren’t built intelligently.
All of that changed when we had one built by Hitchman Homestead (we chose their Texas Sized Coop with the run), we never dealt with the common coops issues again:
- Not being able to easily clean it out
- Seeing our chickens get diseases because the coop didn’t air out well
- Being able to hold 10+ adult chickens in one coop
- Having a run where they could stay safe from predators at night
- Easy access to eggs and broody chickens
Never. Again. The Hitchman Homestead custom-built coop solved all of this for us. Plus, we could have it painted in the same red our house color is in!
Seriously. And these coops are built to last for life.
Just look at how nice these coops are. Oh, and we got them to install a solar-powered chicken coop door opener so we never have to bother with opening or closing the doors again! It closes when the sunlight goes down, automatically.
Did I mention well-built and easy to remove, take apart, and clean? 😍
Feeding chickens is an important part of keeping them healthy and happy. A balanced diet should include a combination of grains, vegetables, and protein sources. Grains like corn, wheat, oats, barley or millet provide carbohydrates for energy. Vegetables like kale, spinach or cabbage are high in vitamins and minerals that chickens need to stay healthy. Protein sources can be from mealworms or insects found in the yard as well as commercial chicken feed which usually contains soybean meal or fishmeal for added protein. We prefer organic as much as possible.
When feeding chickens it’s important to consider their age and size when deciding how much food they need each day. Baby chicks will require more frequent meals than adult birds since they have higher nutritional needs due to their rapid growth rate. An average-sized hen will eat about 1/4 cup of feed per day while larger breeds may consume up to 1/2 cup per day depending on their activity level and body weight. It’s also important to make sure there is always fresh water available for your flock at all times so they don’t become dehydrated during hot weather months or if you are away from home for extended periods of time.
There are several ways you can save money when it comes to feeding your chickens including growing your own greens like lettuce and other leafy vegetables right in the coop. This way, you won’t have to buy expensive store bought produce every week, plus it’s a great way to reduce waste since any scraps left over from cooking can be used too. You can also look into buying bulk feed which often costs less than purchasing smaller bags individually; just make sure that whatever type of feed you choose has enough nutrients for your particular breed of bird(s). Finally, supplementing with kitchen scraps (like cooked pasta) is another cost effective option but remember not all foods are safe for chickens so do some research before offering anything new.
Properly feeding chickens is an important part of caring for them.
We like this organic feed from Tractor Supply – Nature’s Best. The chick starter is excellent for raising hearty, healthy chicks.
Now that you understand the basics, let’s look at how to provide water for your chickens.
Watering chickens is an essential part of their care. Without access to clean water, chickens can become dehydrated and suffer from a variety of health problems. It’s important to provide fresh water for your flock at all times.
The amount of water that each chicken needs will vary depending on the size and age of the bird, as well as environmental factors such as temperature and humidity levels. Generally speaking, you should aim to provide 1-2 liters (1/4 – 1/2 gallon) per day for every four birds in your flock. This means that if you have eight chickens, they should have access to 2-4 liters (1/2 – 1 gallon) of water daily.
It’s also important to make sure that the container used for watering is large enough so that all your birds can drink at once without having to compete with one another or crowd around a single source of water. The container should be placed in an area where it won’t get contaminated by droppings or other debris from the coop or run area; this will help keep the drinking water clean and safe for consumption by your feathered friends.
If possible, try using a gravity fed system which uses two containers – one filled with fresh drinking water which feeds into another empty container below it via a tube or hose. This way there is always plenty of fresh drinking available for them throughout the day without needing constant refilling by hand.
We like the galvanized steel waterers, like this one – they’re more expensive ($80+), but will last FOREVER.
Additionally, consider adding electrolytes like Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) or Sea Salt solution into their drinking supply during hot weather months; these are both great sources of hydration and minerals which can help keep them healthy during summertime heat waves.
Finally, remember to check on your flock’s waterer regularly; make sure it is not leaking anywhere and replace any dirty or stale looking liquid with new ones when needed. By taking good care when providing adequate amounts of clean drinking water for your chickens you will ensure they stay happy and healthy.
Properly hydrating chickens is essential to their health and growth, so make sure they always have access to clean water. Now let’s look at how to raise baby chicks.
Raising Baby Chicks
Raising baby chicks is a rewarding experience that can provide you with fresh eggs and the joy of caring for animals. Before bringing your new flock home, it’s important to prepare the necessary supplies.
A brooder box is essential for keeping your chicks safe and warm during their first few weeks of life. The size of the box should be large enough to accommodate all of your chicks, but small enough so they stay warm inside. Make sure there are no sharp edges or exposed nails in the box as these could injure them. Line the bottom with wood shavings or straw for bedding material, which will also help absorb moisture from droppings and keep them dry.
Food and water containers should be placed within easy reach of all chicks so they can access it easily without having to climb over each other or struggle too much. Place food on one side of the brooder box while water should go on the opposite side – this will prevent contamination from droppings getting into their drinking water supply. Make sure their water isn’t cold, warm water is best.
As baby chicks grow, they will need more space in order to move around freely without crowding each other out or becoming stressed due to lack of room; therefore make sure you have a larger area prepared such as an outdoor pen when they get older (around 6-8 weeks). This way they can explore outside while still being protected from predators such as hawks, cats etc..
It’s important to monitor your chick’s growth rate throughout their development stages: 0-3 days old (hatchlings), 3-6 days old (feathers start appearing), 6-14 days old (feathers become more prominent) 14+ days old (fully feathered). During these stages you’ll need to adjust temperature accordingly by raising/lowering heat lamps depending on how hot/cold it gets inside the brooder box at night time – if temperatures drop below 95F then use a heat lamp until temperatures rise again before turning off once more. You may also want consider adding some grit into their diet after 2 weeks since this helps aid digestion process better than just eating feed alone. Finally, make sure that any uneaten food is removed daily otherwise bacteria can build up quickly leading to potential health issues for chickens later on in life.
Raising baby chicks is a rewarding experience that requires dedication and patience. With the right care, they will grow into healthy chickens that can provide you with eggs and companionship. Now let’s look at how to keep them healthy.
Keeping Chickens Healthy
Chickens are a great addition to any backyard, providing fresh eggs and entertainment. But in order for them to stay healthy, they need the right environment. Here are some tips on how to keep your chickens healthy:
Shelter: Chickens need shelter from extreme weather conditions such as heat or cold. A coop should be well-ventilated and have enough space for all of your birds. Make sure that it is also predator proof so that other animals cannot get inside and harm your chickens.
Ventilation: Good ventilation helps reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses by allowing air circulation within the coop. Make sure there is adequate airflow throughout the entire structure with windows or vents at both ends of the building.
Space: Chickens need plenty of room to move around in their coop or run area without overcrowding each other which can lead to stress and illness among them. The rule of thumb is 4 square feet per bird inside the coop and 10 square feet per bird outside in an enclosed run area if possible; however, more space will always be better.
Cleanliness: Keeping a clean environment is essential for chicken health since dirt and debris can harbor bacteria which can cause disease among them if not cleaned regularly with disinfectants like vinegar or bleach solutions after every use (or once a week). Clean out nesting boxes often too as this will help prevent parasites from taking up residence in these areas where chickens lay their eggs.
Provide fresh food daily with high quality feed specifically designed for poultry along with grits/oyster shells for calcium needs. Additionally, ensure that there is plenty of clean water available at all times and change it out frequently to prevent contamination from droppings.
As a treat, supplement their diet occasionally with kitchen scraps like fruits and vegetables; however, do not overdo it with sugary foods. We feed our chickens last night’s leftovers daily! On Thanksgiving, I baked them a dairy-free, sugar free pie. It was extravagant and lovely.
@mccoyslittlefarm We made some pies for our chickens for Thanksgiving today ♥️ 🥧 They LOVED it #chickensoftiktok #chooksoftiktok ♬ Way Back Home – SHAUN
Of course, you do not have to go Full Diva like we do. By providing your chickens with the right diet, a safe and comfortable living space, and regular health checks, you can ensure that they remain healthy and happy. Now let’s look at how to protect them from predators.
Dealing With Predators
We’ve lost several chickens to hawks, foxes, and raccoons. When keeping chickens outdoors, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers posed by predators. Foxes and hawks are two of the most common predators that can threaten your flock. It is essential to take steps to protect your chickens from these animals.
One way to deter predators from entering chicken coops or runs is by using motion-activated lights or sound deterrents. Motion-activated lights will startle a predator when they enter an area and make them less likely to stay in the vicinity for long periods of time. Sound deterrents such as loud music or recorded animal noises can also be used as a form of protection against predators.
Another way you can help protect your chickens from predation is by making sure their coop and run are securely enclosed with strong fencing that has no gaps or holes where a predator could get through. Make sure all doors, windows, vents, and other openings are properly sealed off so there’s no chance for any unwanted visitors getting inside. Our coop from Hitchman Homestead does this perfectly.
Keep food sources away from areas where predators may have access such as compost piles or open fields near wooded areas since this could attract them into your yard more easily than if there were nothing available for them to eat nearby. Make sure you clean up any spilled feed around the coop regularly so it doesn’t draw in unwanted guests looking for an easy meal.
We like this owl decoy. Ever since getting it, we’ve never had problems with hawks!
Finally, consider investing in some kind of guard animal like a dog or donkey who will bark at intruders and alert you if something suspicious is happening around your property. This extra layer of security could be invaluable in protecting your flock from potential danger. Our German Shepherds keep the predators away!
FAQs in Relation to How to Care for Chickens
How do you take care of a chicken for beginners?
Taking care of chickens for beginners is not as difficult as it may seem. Start by providing a safe, secure and comfortable home for your chickens. Make sure the coop has enough space to move around, access to fresh water and food, and protection from predators. Provide your chickens with a balanced diet that includes grains, vegetables, fruits and protein sources such as mealworms or insects. Clean out the coop regularly to prevent parasites from taking hold in the environment. Lastly, provide plenty of opportunities for exercise like allowing them free range time outside their enclosure or providing them with toys inside their enclosure. With these steps you can ensure your chickens stay healthy and happy.
Are chickens easy to take care of?
Yes, chickens are relatively easy to take care of. They require a safe and secure environment with access to food and water. Regular cleaning of the coop is also important for keeping your birds healthy. With proper diet, housing, and healthcare they can live up to 10 years or more. Additionally, they provide eggs which can be used as a source of nutrition or sold for extra income. All in all, chickens make great pets that bring joy while providing sustenance.
Do and don’ts with chickens?
Provide a safe and secure home for your chickens. Ensure they have plenty of space to roam, as well as access to food, water, and shelter from the elements. Give them ample opportunities to exercise their natural behaviors such as dust bathing and scratching in the dirt. Reference our guide on how to set up at least a 1/4th acre for them to free range.
Overcrowd your chickens or keep them confined in small spaces for extended periods of time. Don’t feed them anything that could be harmful like chocolate or onions. Avoid handling them roughly or stressing them out unnecessarily; this can lead to health issues and even death.
Are chickens high or low maintenance?
Chickens are generally considered to be low maintenance animals. They require a safe, clean environment and access to food and water. With proper care, chickens can provide eggs for your family or even meat if you choose to raise them for that purpose. Additionally, they will help keep pests away from your garden and compost pile while providing fertilizer in the form of manure. With regular attention and minimal effort, chickens can make great additions to any hobby farm.
With the right knowledge and preparation, you can provide your chickens with a safe and healthy environment that will ensure they live long and happy lives. By following these tips on feeding, watering, raising baby chicks, keeping them healthy, and dealing with predators you can be sure to give your chickens the best care possible! Caring for chickens doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming – just remember to keep their needs in mind when providing them with food, water, shelter and love.
Are you ready to start investing in your own food and the earth (chickens add so much back to our earth and soil)? With this guide, you can get started with caring for chickens. You CAN do it!
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