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12 Big Tips for Raising Backyard Chickens

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Having raised chickens since childhood, finding the best ways to tend to them is a rewarding and sometimes challenging hobby of mine.

Raising backyard chickens can be fun and rewarding!

Raising backyard chickens can be fun and rewarding!

Tips for Rearing Healthy Backyard Chickens

Has the idea of raising chickens in your backyard piqued your interest? You are not alone. Like a lot of others, you are considering a fun hobby which will provide you with healthier and better-tasting eggs and meat than you will find in most supermarkets.

But before jumping in feet first, there are some things you need to take a look at to avoid a foul experience for both you and your new chickens. Be sure to set up properly before bringing your birds home to roost. You need to be ready for their arrival to a new surrounding; moving from one location to another can be stressful. Being ready ahead of time can help save a lot of anxiety on the part of both you and your new chickens.

New Hampshire Hahn

New Hampshire Hahn

Raising Chickens: The Basics


The food you will give your chickens will depend on the kind of chicken that you have. As a rule, feed your chickens a diet that is "complete." It should contain foods that your chickens will need, like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and if you can afford it, vitamins. There are two kinds of feeds: conventional and organic. Either can be purchased online or at your local agricultural poultry store.

Waterer and Feeder

Purchase a waterer and feeder that are suspended a few inches above ground level. This helps to keep your chickens from jumping on top of the feeders and getting their dirty feet all over the container. An automatic refill feature is also included in some models, which is very reliable during times when you want to fly the coop for a couple of days.

A Place to Sleep

No matter how absurd it seems, you have to provide them with the proper bedding to keep them warm and comfortable. This doesn't mean that you have to buy them sheets from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Proper bedding can be a pile of clean hay or old used newspapers. If you wanted it to be extra special, there is bedding that can be bought online or in poultry stores.

Bedding is best inside the coop where it can provide chickens a soft surface to roam around in. Bedding is also good for your flock since it absorbs the odor and droppings. You don't want a foul-smelling coop, right? Another advantage of the bedding is that it helps save the eggs from cracking, making it an area where eggs are safe to land.

There are a lot of bedding varieties, but whatever you choose, always make it a point that it is at least two inches thick and is truly absorbent.

Dust Baths

If you see your chickens digging a shallow hole and creating a mess with dirt, they are dust bathing! Chickens enjoy bathing in dust. These dust baths are beneficial to the chicken. Did you know that when chickens take dust baths, they are actually protecting themselves from parasites and other creatures that live inside their legs and feathers? For them to be healthy, it is necessary to have dust baths.

The perfect spot to do their thing is a dry area in your chicken run that has patches of fresh ground and dirt. If your area is entirely cement, worry not, because there are artificial dust baths available in agricultural stores.

Everything You Need to Know About Raising Backyard Chickens

  1. The pros and cons of raising backyard chickens.
  2. Local chicken laws that apply to you.
  3. How to choose the right chicken breed.
  4. How to build a chicken coop.
  5. How to buy chicks.
  6. What to do when the chicks arrive.
  7. How to introduce new birds to the flock.
  8. How and what to feed your chickens.
  9. How to prepare for summer and winter extremes.
  10. How to keep your chickens healthy.
  11. How to prevent the spread of bird flu.
  12. Dealing with the death of your backyard chickens.
Chicks Feeding

Chicks Feeding

1. The Pros and Cons of Raising Backyard Chickens

There are a lot of reasons why someone would or wouldn't want chickens in their backyard. Here are some of the more common debates on having backyard chickens:

The Benefits of Raising Chickens:

  • The Cost Is Incredibly Cheap Compared to Other Animals
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When we say cheap, not only does the chicken itself count but also the maintenance involved. Compared to keeping a dog or a cat for a pet, it is much cheaper to take care of several chickens. Mainly this is because they are not choosy when it comes to food. You can feed them scraps and table leftovers and they will happily gobble it up. With as little as $2 a day, you can buy a lot of chicken feed.

  • You Can Get Something From Them

In terms of eggs, it is seldom that you encounter a hen that can't lay eggs. Eggs are a good source of iron, which is good for the brain. You could either sell these eggs or keep them in your fridge.

As meat, every part of a chicken can be eaten. In cases of those who don't want to eat their pets or sell them off, you can even raise them as pets and for exhibition purposes.

  • They Are Low-Maintenance

Unlike dogs who need everyday grooming and cats who need your undivided attention, chickens need none of those tedious daily necessities. You don't have to bring them to your vet to get shots and vaccines regularly. All you have to do is feed them and supply clean water every day. Their coops only need to be cleaned at least once a week or twice every month depending on the number of chickens that you own.

  • They Give You Free Fertilizer and Pest Control

These are two more things that chicken raisers love about owning chickens. When you allow your chickens to roam around your backyard, it is in their nature to peck on whatever catches their interest and satisfies their hunger. Chickens love anything that comes from the ground, especially the things that are moving. They eat insects, bugs, worms and the like. For them, these are special treats. Furthermore, it is in their nature to eradicate their internal wastes anywhere they please. Their poop is considered natural fertilizer and can be utilized to grow plants and root crops in a healthy state.

The Drawbacks of Raising Chickens:

  • They Are Not the Best Guard Pets to Have

While chickens can coo and make familiar sounds, it is not in their nature to bite or chase anyone they see who looks suspicious. All they can do is grow, eat, and lay eggs. They are also not the ideal pets you would want if you need an emotional response like a waggling of the tail or the purr of a cat.

  • Chickens Are Messy

Their poop smells terrible, and that smell can reach certain areas in your house. If you're the type of person who doesn't want to go through sometimes long hours of cleaning, chickens aren't really the pets for you.

  • One for All, All for One, Including Diseases

In terms of chicken health, this is a con. When one chicken catches a virus, normally all the others get it too. If one dies because of a viral infection, it is expected that many other chickens living with that infected chicken are also at risk.