7 Tips for Beginners: Keeping Chickens at Home
If you have been reading the online news feeds recently, you know exactly what is happening all over the world concerning food prices. Everything from a head of lettuce to a dozen of eggs has risen in cost, almost overnight. Something is amiss! The time to make a green stand against the food hyperinflation has come to pass and you are on the right site to find out one way to deflate a soaring price index, at least for poultry.
Fight Rising Food Prices by Keeping Chickens
Can raising chickens help cut the costs of your food? Maybe… some backyard chicken keepers have shown healthy savings (though some also claim they haven’t… but don’t do it for that reason). We can guarantee, though, that the eggs you get from the chickens that you keep will be well worth the money spent… much more than any eggs you’ll buy at the grocery store.
1. Location of Chicken Coop
First things first. You will need to run a physical scan of the outdoor environment to try to decipher where will be the optimum location for your brand new flock of feathery friends. The back yard, if you have one, usually is a great location for practical and aesthetic reasons. The area for the chicken coop and chicken run should be high and dry, and within a proximity near enough to keep an eye and an ear out for the chickens.
2. Chicken Coop
As soon as you have picked out the perfect location, it is time to move onto chicken coop selection. Housing a flock of chickens is not that difficult, nor is it very expensive. What a chicken coop really is revolves around security, protection from the elements, and freedom to move. A chicken coop is probably the most inexpensive piece of housing you will ever buy (next to a doghouse!). There is no reason to go overboard here since the chicken coop will be used for, well, raising chickens. A great tip is to construct the chicken coop yourself and with the help of a blueprint!
3. The Chicken Run
A chicken needs to get out of the coop from time to time, and run. This is in no way, shape, or form, relatied to the movie Chicken Run and it is not about training the flock for some weird race! It is all about allowing the chickens to do what they love to do: scratch around for bugs and little pieces of buried food.
4. Feeding Chickens
Chickens, like all other animals, require a balanced, healthy diet. It used to be fine to just toss whatever was not eaten at the dinner table and let the chickens fend for themselves. Those days are gone, as that was never a great way to supply adequate variety and nutrition to a chicken’s needs. Chickens require a correct balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. This is where a quick trip to the feed store will come in quite handy. Mash or pellets will do great for mature chickens, but the chicks will need a specialized diet of essential nutrients that can be found in the above-mentioned feed store.
Chickens love fresh, clean water and it is your responsibility to provide a supply, constantly. Let’s not forget water! A plastic water container will be perfect for the entire flock with only minimal effort needed to replenish and make accessible for the chickens. The most important factor is that chickens should always have free and unfettered access to fresh water!
5. Breed Selection
Now that you have the location, the chicken coop, the feeding and watering taken care of, it is now time for the fun part: chicken breed selection! An all-time beginner chicken breed favorite is the durable Rhode Island Red. No other breed has the stamina, the beauty, and the egg-laying power than this North American breed. (Editor’s note: for a look at other good breeds for a home chicken flock, check out Community Chickens’ list).
6. Flock Totals
How many chickens do you think you will need or can handle? That is a very good question and the tip that we have for you right now is, as many as you like! If you can adequately handle a half-dozen yard birds, then you can easily take care of a couple dozens. Chickens have a propensity to populate, so you will not have to shell out wads of cash. Just let nature take it’s wonderful course and before you know it you will have a barnyard full of lovely chickens! (Editor’s note: Before letting your flock grow to dozens, make sure you know the legal number of chickens you can keep in your locality. Also keep in mind that in urban and suburban settings, the neighbors may not appreciate a rooster crowing at daybreak!).
7. Scrambled or Hard Boiled?
We have saved the last tip as the best. Do you like your fresh eggs scrambled or hard-boiled? We tend to take out eggs over medium but that’s just our way!