Backyard chickens can make the perfect addition to any family and their eggs will likely make your store bought ones taste plain and bland. The first time you crack open a fresh egg from your chickens, you'll see the vibrant color of the yolk and taste the freshness of the egg — you'll never go back to store bought. Here are some simple tips on how to raise your backyard flock!
Do some research before buying chickens from your local supply store. There are certain breeds that are strictly meat chickens and don't lay eggs, so make sure you're getting the right breed for your backyard flock. Do some planning to make sure you have enough money to get started. You can buy a simple coop from the store to start out before getting one built, after all, a homemade coop could end up being more expensive when you factor in supply costs. You also want to make sure your coop is the right size for the amount of chickens you're planning on having. We wrote a post all about it if you want to check it out here.
Keep Things Dry
If you have backyard chickens, chances are, the coop won't be too far away from your home. No one wants to wake up to the smell of poop after a rainy night. If you want to keep the smell to a minimum, the best way is to keep things dry! Clean up the coop each day and make sure it has good ventilation.
Watch Out For Predators
You want to protect your chickens from raccoons, hawks, dogs, cats and any other predators that could come their way. The best way to do this is to keep the coop secure with covers for the windows and vents. Hardware cloth is perfect for this! Make sure all doors and nest boxes have a latch that can lock up to keep predators away. If you have a good foundation under the coop, it can keep predators from digging holes to get in. You can bury hardware cloth or, if you want to be extra secure, you can lay a concrete foundation. You'll also want to do some research on proper fencing to protect them.
Choosing Your Ideal Breed
One thing you never want to do is pick a chicken based on looks alone. If you have children, choose a breed that's calm, docile and friendly. We have posts all about backyard chicken breeds and breeds for beginners. However, you'll also want to keep weather and climate into consideration when choosing a breed. Some breeds can't handle the heat while others don't do well in cold weather.
All About Pullets
A lot of chicks are sold straight run, which means 50% hens and 50% roosters. This is perfect to start out so you don't have more roosters than hens. Roosters can be aggressive, so if you have a good ratio, it's easier to raise them and balance out their pecking order. You can read all about pecking orders here.
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