Raising backyard chickens can be a thrilling and rewarding experience; it can also be a daunting experience. This is especially the case for beginners who may be attracted to the idea of raising backyard chickens but may not know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help all beginners get started on the right foot with raising their backyard chickens.
Step 1: Choose a Breed
Many people, especially beginners, think that all chickens are the same—this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are hundreds of different chicken breeds out there, and each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses. The type of breed that you choose will depend on what, exactly, you’re hoping to get out of raising backyard chickens. There are three main uses that chickens have for their owners: egg laying, meat production, and dual purpose (both egg laying and meat production). We’ve listed just a few of the many breeds that fall under those categories:
Step 2: Prepare a Space
Before you bring home your eggs or chicks, you must first prepare a space for them to live. This means building a coop and a roaming area that have adequate space and protection for your chickens. How much space you need will depend on the size of your chickens and how many you plan to raise. If you’re not sure where to start, then you can read over a few of our blog posts on the subject:
Step 3: Food and Water
You have the space, now you need the supplies—namely your chickens’ food and water. The best way to feed them is to provide them with a quality feeder and waterer. Keep those relatively full and your chickens should be able to manage their diets and how much they need to eat on their own. What you fill the feeder with is up to you. You can always get store-bought feed, or you can try creating your own feed. For beginners, however, it’s best to at least start out with store-bought so that your chickens are receiving the nutrients that they need.
Step 4: Receiving Your Chickens
When it comes to buying your chickens, you can get hatching eggs, chicks, pullets, or adults. Each type has their own advantages and disadvantages:
Hatching eggs are fertilized eggs that you will incubate and, eventually, hatch. While hatching your own chicks can be extremely rewarding, beginners may find themselves in over their heads.
Chicks are perhaps the best option for beginners, as it gives you the opportunity to raise chicks while avoiding the complications of the incubation period. Additionally, raising your flock from chick to adulthood will prevent future complications, such as fights, in your flock.
Pullets are chickens that are anywhere from 4 to 6 months in age. They’re just about to start laying eggs, so if you’re anxious to get freshly laid eggs on your table soon, then pullets are the way to go.
Adult hens can be hard to come by, though not impossible. While adult chickens are certainly lovable, keep in mind that you may not get as much production time out of them as you would with younger hens.
As you can see, there is a lot involved with raising backyard chickens. If you’re a beginner and looking for more tips, or if you’d like to start raising your backyard flock today, then contact Chickens for Backyards either online or by phone at 888-412-6715.