I am the crazy chicken lady. I love anything to do with chickens and have learned so much along the way.
Curious About Getting Chicks?
If you are wanting to start a flock of backyard chickens but aren't quite sure how to do it, then you are in the right place. There are so many fun things to learn about chickens. This article covers the basics to get started.
Must-Haves to Get Started
Backyard chickens aren't as complicated as they may seem. They are fairly easy pets. If you're starting with chicks, here are some must-haves.
- A heat lamp or heat plate (Chicks need some type of heat source until they are fully feathered.)
- A brooder box (This doesn't have to be anything fancy. I have made boxes from 50-gallon rectangle totes, and they work perfectly.)
- Chick starter/grower feed and fresh water at all times (I prefer medicated feed to help prevent coccidia but it's all personal preference.)
- Wood shavings to keep at the bottom on a brooder box to help keep down smell (Beware that it does cause a lot of dust once the chicks start learning how to scratch and look for food.)
These are the main things to keep a group of chicks happy until they are fully feathered and ready to move outside. One fun thing to do is to wedge large sticks in their brooder box for them to roost on as they grow. They will love it.
You can keep the brooder box in a garage, barn, or even inside your home.
Benefits of Having Backyard Chickens
Who doesn't love getting up in the morning and cooking fresh eggs for breakfast? The fun part of chicken eggs is that different breeds can lay different colors. You can get varying shades of blue and green, white, tan, dark brown, and even shades of pink and purple sometimes!
They also eat a lot of bugs and can help keep those pests down in the summertime, so you can enjoy your backyard time.
Chickens are very easy to care for. As long as they have their basic needs (along with some love), they are pretty happy.
You will need to worm them periodically once they are older, and there are many chicken illnesses to watch out for, but we will cover all of that in other articles.
If you're getting started with chicks, the main thing to watch out for is coccidia, which causes blood in the poop. The chick will usually act extra sleepy and standoffish. If caught early enough, this is very treatable with medication. You can also use medicated chick feed to help prevent this.
What About a Coop?
Once they are big enough to transition outside, make sure you have a fully predator-safe coop!
Hardware cloth is the best you can get. Chicken wire is nowhere near strong enough to keep anything out and can be ripped easily by even small animals like raccoons or opossums. I personally let most of my chickens free range and then at night, they go into their very secure coop. I think that chickens are so much happier and healthier when they get to enjoy fresh grass, bugs, and sunshine, but with free range, you are taking a huge risk of losing some of your chickens to predators. You have to decide what works best for you.
There are SO MANY predators that come after chickens. Here are some of the most common
If possible, build your own coop. They have many coop kits to purchase, but the majority of them will not last long in the weather. The wood is fairly thin and breaks easily. You will get a better bang for your buck if you build your own.
Make your coop large enough to accommodate more birds than you are originally planning on having. Chances are you'll end up falling in love with chickens and wanting more!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Ray Lynn