There’s nothing quite like the taste of a farm-fresh egg. Luckily, keeping chickens isn’t hard, and when the correct steps are taken, almost anyone can raise their own healthy chickens and collect fresh eggs for eating, selling, or giving away.
Choose the Right Breed for You
There are hundreds of different chicken breeds, each with different personalities and care needs. Some chickens were also bred more for egg-laying, while others were bred for meat production. You’ll first want to choose a chicken that suits your needs, whether it’s for laying eggs, raising for meat, or somewhere in between. Popular chicken breeds include Wyandottes, Rhode Island reds, Easter egger chickens, and Orpingtons. These breeds aren’t overly demanding, have even temperaments, and produce a good amount of eggs.
Offer Your Chickens Enough Space
Chickens don’t require too much space, but it’s important to offer them enough room that they feel comfortable. In a chicken coop, chickens should be given about 2 or 2 square feet of space each. You can browse through different chicken coops on Direct2Pet to find a size that suits the number of chickens you want to have. Many coops come with a run attached, so chickens can move about during the day and return to their nesting boxes at night. Keep in mind that 2 or 3 square feet per chicken is the minimum space requirement, and your chickens will always appreciate more room to roam.
Keep Your Chickens Safe
Chickens tend to be hardy animals, but they still need protection from predators such as foxes or hawks as well as from inclement weather. Even chickens that are free-range will need a safe place to spend the night, so it’s important to invest in a quality chicken coop or hutch. Coops should be sturdy and shouldn’t have any areas where weasels or foxes can sneak in. The coop should also have a strong, waterproof roof, particularly if you live in an area that gets a good deal of snow. If there’s an outdoor part attached to the coop, it should be covered in sturdy wire.
Offer a Variety of Foods
Although chickens can be fed a base diet of chicken meal or grain, it’s important to offer a variety of foods so that they receive the correct vitamins and nutrients they need to grow and produce eggs. Chickens can be fed kitchen scraps such as vegetable trimmings and ground eggshells as well as yogurt, berries, fruits, and leafy greens. Chickens can also be allowed to collect insects, which will offer a good amount of protein.
Give Chickens a Break During the Winter
Chickens tend to produce fewer eggs during the winter months and may stop laying altogether during that time. Some people attempt to urge continued egg-laying by using artificial lights to simulate a summertime schedule. However, chickens will be healthier and may live longer when they are allowed to take a natural break from egg-laying.
Use a Routine to Keep Things Clean
Chickens can be messy, and messes can lead to pests and illnesses. Each day, it’s a good idea to remove any soiled straw and replace it with fresh bedding. Chicken manure should be scooped away and messes should be cleaned up as soon as possible. Keeping on top of cleaning makes it easier to keep everything looking and feeling fresh.
Install an Automatic Waterer
Chickens require a good amount of water, and it can sometimes be difficult to get to the chickens to offer them water as frequently as they need. An automatic watering system can help with this. These systems can also help to keep water cleaner and fresher. Some automatic watering systems even feature a heater. This is perfect for chickens that are kept in colder zones where water might freeze.
Remove the Eggs Once a Day
As a general rule, it’s best to remove any fresh eggs from the nesting boxes as soon as possible. If you feed your chickens in the morning, check for eggs that might have been laid and take them away. Chickens will sometimes hide eggs, so you may have to search in corners or out of the way places. If the eggs aren’t removed once a day, the chickens might eat them.
Lisa Eclesworth is a notable and influential lifestyle writer. She is a mom of two and a successful homemaker. She loves to cook and create beautiful projects with her family. She writes informative and fun articles that her readers love and enjoy. You can directly connect with her on email – firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website www.lisaeclesworth.com