How to Start Raising Backyard Chickens in 5 Simple Steps?
If you’re thinking of raising chickens, you should know that it can be a very rewarding project – just imagine fresh eggs and organic chicken meat. Your backyard flock will produce eggs that are fresh, healthy, nutritious, and great tasting.
You can collect them daily from your backyard, perfectly kept pest and weed free by your backyard chickens (without any chemicals).
And let’s not forget that the setup won’t cost you much, and keeping your flock is relatively inexpensive but will definitely be great fun for the whole family.
However, before you get started to raise your first batch of chickens successfully you should know about some basics.
- 1 1. Check your local chicken ordinance
- 2 2. For meat or for eggs
- 3 3. Chicks or hens
- 4 4. Shelters
- 5 5. A reliable chicken water feeder
1. Check your local chicken ordinance
Different cities or towns have different local laws on chicken raising. Therefore, check your city’s ordinance to be sure what is legal and illegal in your area as far as raising chickens is concerned.
Some cities might have coop restrictions and/or have limits on how many chickens you can raise at any given time. And don’t forget to talk to your neighbors or homeowner’s association about your planned poultry project.
2. For meat or for eggs
Your purpose for raising poultry will affect your choice of chicks. Different people have different reasons for raising chickens – some want to have fresh eggs everyday while others are simply keen on producing organic chicken meat.
Consequently, choosing the right breed is important, or you might not get that many eggs you were hoping for. When it comes to the best laying chickens, these breeds are among the favorite ones:
The Australorp (abbreviation of Australian Black Orpington) is a chicken breed originated in Australia. This is a large heavy chicken which is soft-feathered with white toenails, a black bead and black legs.
The Australorp has a kind of sweet temperament, is great with other birds and very human friendly as well as hardy and docile.
The New Hampshire breed was developed in the state of New Hampshire from the Rhode Island Red in the early 20th century. This is a robust bird, hardy in heat as well as cold, and they mature early and are placid and friendly. The plumage of mature birds has a rich chestnut red color.
The Plymouth Rock chicken breed originated in New England in the 19th century. It is a robust and very cold hardy bird, ideal for backyards.
They are friendly, intelligent, fast-growing and easy to handle. These chickens are also known to be both gentle and good with children.
Rhode Island Red Chickens
The Rhode Island Red breed was developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts (it is the state bird of Rhode Island). It is a quite favored choice for backyard flocks due to their laying abilities as well as hardiness.
They are easygoing birds with rust-colored feathers (sometimes with white streaks).
The Sussex chickens are said to have been first bred in Britain around the time of the Roman invasion and is a popular choice as a backyard chicken in many countries. In the US, the most common variety of the Sussex breed is the Speckled Sussex.
Its plumage is a colorful mix of mahogany and black with white tips. The Speckled Sussex chickens are cold hardy, intelligent, friendly, alert and easy to handle.
The Wyandotte breed is known to have been developed in New York State as well as Wisconsin in the late 19th century. These medium-sized chickens are robust, winter hardy and friendly with a great temperament.
This breed’s plumage appears in various beautiful color patterns, thus making it a quite popular show bird.
If the main purpose of raising your backyard flock is having fresh organic chicken for your family, here are some of the best breeds, which are known for meat production:
This is a fast-growing and meat producing bird. It will reach slaughter weight in about seven weeks. This chicken is the main bird processed in the US poultry industry. It is cold hardy and quite easy to raise.
The Jersey Giant breed originated in New Jersey in the 1870s. They were originally bred to replace turkeys, which were the primary poultry meat at that time. They are robust and cold hardy, calm and friendly, docile and good with pets as well as people.
Rhode Island Red
This bird is raised as a dual-purpose breed, for meat and eggs. It is a robust chicken, hardy in heat as well as cold. They are healthy great foragers and good pets and can easily adapt to any surroundings.
3. Chicks or hens
You can start by buying chicks and then raising them to adulthood. However, if you don’t want to wait for about six months before you can get your first eggs, buying pullets might be the better choice for you.
Since they are older but not yet full grown you might not need to wait that long before you can enjoy your first fresh eggs. Furthermore, chicks and pullets are not as expensive as hens.
The advantage of buying hens is that will get fresh eggs almost immediately. On the other hand though you will miss out on socializing and taming your chicks until they are full-grown hens.
When you have chicks that are at least two months old, you need to build an outdoor chicken coop in your backyard. To succeed with this project you have to think about a design to suit your needs, and you will also need a good chicken coop plan.
A good guide for a coop size is that you can keep three to five chickens in a coop that is approximately 4×8 feet. Just in case you’re not a DIY enthusiast and most likely not familiar with building a home for your chickens, don’t let this hold you back from starting your first backyard chicken project.
With the right plans and some advice in place it is much easier than you might think. Additionally, you and your family would miss out the fun when buying a ready made one.
5. A reliable chicken water feeder
Although chickens can go for several days without food, they can’t survive without water for even a day. This is because they easily get dehydrated.
That said, check that your chickens have an ample supply of water every day. Needless to say, chicken feeds should also be on your checklist.
Furthermore, always make sure that your chicken coop is clean as it will affect your chicken’s growth and how well they lay eggs.
Just one last word about a common misunderstanding. There is no need to have a rooster in order to get eggs. Your hens will be happy to lay eggs without one.
A Rooster is only necessary for the egg fertilization for hatching them into baby chicks. So, don’t forget to mention this crucial point when informing your neighbors about your plans to raise chickens in your backyard (no early-morning noise!).
However, if you don’t feel very confident about your DIY skills, here a some of the most popular pre-built chicken coops available at Amazon.com: