Raising Chickens to Get Fresh Eggs and Fun Pets in Your Backyard

Have you ever had a real egg? They’re so delicious and nutritious. A real egg has a yolk that’s so orange and almost glowing. Real eggs are the best for baking and cooking. You’ll notice a big difference. If you want real eggs, you don’t have to go to a fancy store and pay $6 a dozen. You can get them right in your backyard from your own pet chickens.

Chickens make great pets because they’re fun to watch with their little antics and big personalities. It’s amazing how quickly you get attached to them. They’re also very kid-friendly and the kids will love to feed them, watch them and collect their eggs.

Do I need a rooster for my hens to lay eggs? Someone may be laughing while reading it, but this is the most commonly asked question we get, so no one should be embarrassed. The answer is no, unless you want chicks. If you’re just looking for eggs to eat and /or some nice yard pets, hens minus the rooster can provide you with plenty of farm fresh eggs without a single crow to wake you up in the morning.

So how to choose chicks? In the store, they separate chicks into three groups: cockerels, pullets, and a straight run. Stay away from the cockerels which are the roosters you don’t need. A straight run is a mixture of hens and roosters, but they’re mostly roosters. You’ll be lucky to get a couple of hens in there. Last but not least you’ll see the pullets. Those are all hens and also the most expensive ones compared to cockerels and straight run. It’s unlikely, but you could still get a rooster in there. If you walk into the store and require 10 pullets, there might be one rooster by accident.

Where can I buy chickens? There’s four places you can buy chickens. A big super store like Tractor Supply and Rural King, a smaller store which is a local feed store, and you can google that to find one in your area. The third is the flea market, but as a beginner you’d better stick with the super store and the local feed store. Lastly, you can buy online. They mail the baby chicks overnight when the babies are first hatched. They’re very delicate but they are able to get shipped. The nice part is there are more breeds to choose from when you order online.

How do I take care of baby chickens? They are very fragile when they’re little. Here are some tips and tricks that may be helpful to you.

The first thing you need to know is keeping the temperature for the baby chicks even and that is extremely important. It’s better to get a thermometer and a heat lamp. The babies need it to be 100 degrees for the first week, drop it five degrees every week until it’s about 75, 80 or maybe room temperature. At that point, this heat lamp would probably only come on at night when the little chickens need it. But what makes this very convenient is it’s automatic; you don’t have to worry about turning the light on or off. This heat lamp won’t turn a light on the little chickens but just warm them up. That’s really nice for the chickens because that way they’re not under the bright lights like 24/7, and they can actually get some good rest.

The next thing you need is a big container. You can use a tote, a water trough or even a cardboard box with high sides. Just make sure it has high sides because within a week or so the babies start fluttering their little wings and they jump out of there surprisingly easy. For the container, the first thing you need is to put sand in the bottom, which you can buy from any home improvement store, and then put a little cedar wood chips on the top of the sand layer. You have to make double, triple-sure the heat lamp only covers, only heats half of the container because in that way if the little chickens are too hot, they will move to the other side where there’s no heat lamp . There has to be a hot side and a cold side in the little tub. So that’s why you don’t use a teeny weeny little box, otherwise, the heat lamp just heats that up and that’s how you cook them. A thermostat is very practical and convenient. It helps you to determine the proper temperature and set the proper temperature for the baby chicks. Next you’ll need a little waterer. You don’t want a deep waterer because the little chickens will drown in it. You can buy a plastic bottom part from a feed store or online and find any jug to screw in, then an inexpensive but effective waterer for baby chicks is finished. Same method can be used to make chicken feeder as well.

Once grown, the chicks will move outside to the coop. But how will you know when they’re ready? That depends on where you live and what the climate is in your area. A good rule of thumb is to wait until they’re fully feathered. They won’t be a full-size chicken when they’re fully feathered. They’ll be about the size of a grapefruit, but fully feathered. Depending on where you live, you might still need the heat lamp at night, so you’ll have to move that out into the coop. One thing needs to be mentioned here is that you cannot put the babies that are the size of a grapefruit into a coop where already has hens and maybe a rooster. The problem with that is the older hens will definitely pick on the little baby chicks. So when we say move them out into a coop, it means putting them into an empty coop where you’re starting fresh with your first batch of chickens. A chicken coop has two parts. One is the enclosed weather-proof henhouse where they sleep and lay their eggs. The second part is the chicken run where they get exercise, sunshine, and fresh air.

A large henhouse is preferable because you won’t bump your head when entering to gather the eggs, feed them and clean up. Plus, hens can have plenty of room in deep , dark shade for hot summers so they don’t overheat. But you also need to remember that they need sunshine in the chicken run as well.

There are many different kinds of coops and henhouses of a variety of sizes, and you have to find one that fits good in your backyard. The most important thing is making sure your coop
is big enough so they can get away from each other. The number one mistake people make is over-crowding, having too many chickens in a small coop. They will start pecking on each other and then they will become stressed out.

Now you’re all set up and everything’s perfect. The chickens are growing. So, when are the delicious eggs coming? Just be patient. It could take up to 10 months for them to lay their first egg. Some will start laying as early as four months. Some will lay their first egg at 10 to 12 months. If your hens take 10 to 12 months to lay their first egg, it doesn’t mean that there’s a problem. It could just be late-maturing hens. They’re all different, just like people. What they need to lay eggs is a balanced diet with enough calories, plus peace and quiet. Also, make sure they have plenty of clean water at all times. Grit is very important because the chickens need it to digest their food. Chickens have to have grit at all times. It comes in a bag and you can just dump some on the ground or you can use a little grit pan. You have to make sure the nest boxes are nice and cozy for the hens. The boxes should not be too big otherwise two chickens will sometimes get in there at the same time and then they kind of break each other’s eggs; that does happen. Make sure your chickens have peace and quiet. They need this to lay their eggs. So think about this when you’re deciding where to put your coop in the yard. You’re going to love your backyard chickens. They’re so much fun and the healthy eggs are delicious.

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