Backyard Chickens 101: Getting Started With Laying Hens

Backyard Chickens 101: Getting Started With Laying Hens

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Backyard chickens have skyrocketed in reputation. Keeping laying hens is a superb solution to fortify our relationship with our meals and a really perfect exercise for individuals cooped up at home due to the pandemic.

Laying hens make nice companions for kids, who will possible wish to title the birds and convey them tasty treats. Chickens require comparatively little each day upkeep and only a bit of information to get began.

Preparations for Your Laying Hens

Clean Water

Chickens want common entry to water. In reality, lack of water can create a dramatic drop in egg manufacturing and is dangerous to their well being.

Provide the hens with recent water each day and clear the canister to make sure it’s free from particles or dust. If your chickens kick dust into it, elevate it on a block or platform to maintain the water clear.

Chicken Feed

Their food regimen consists primarily of seeds, vegetation, and animal protein. Many hen keepers present a pellet or free feed, which prices roughly $20 for a 50-pound bag or a bit extra for natural feeds.

A hen eats a couple of pound and a half of feed per week. They are inclined to eat extra within the winter than in the summertime as a result of they burn extra energy to remain heat in chilly climate. Consider shopping for natural feed, which needs to be freed from pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetically-modified components.

Although hen feed is an effective staple, it’s ultimate to offer as a lot fodder as potential by offering entry to the outside. Let your hens forage for a few of their meals. Consider fermenting or at least germinating the feed to spice up its digestibility. Ensure that your chickens get sufficient calcium and grit by offering crushed oyster shells, granite grit, and even ground-up eggshells in a separate container from the feed.

Many family food scraps are appropriate for chickens, however keep away from dried beans, moldy meals, extremely processed meals, citrus, and raw potatoes. Hens sometimes have sufficient widespread sense to keep away from dangerous meals — apart from junk meals, so hold that away from them.

The Chicken Coop

Most hen keepers have an enclosed coop to guard the hens from the weather and predators at evening. A coop ought to include nest bins, perches, bedding, and a lightweight for the winter months (to assist hold egg manufacturing up).

If you might be useful and have some supplies on-hand, think about developing a DIY coop from reclaimed materials. Other choices embrace looking out Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for a used henhouse or shopping for a equipment from a neighborhood farm provide retailer.

Boy feeding hen and chicks in yard
While hen feed is an effective staple, be sure you present entry to the outside so your hens can forage for a few of their meals.

Sizing the Chicken Coop

It’s advisable to have a minimum of 2 to three sq. ft within the coop per fowl and a minimum of 8 to 10 sq. ft of out of doors area every. Avoid overcrowding as a result of it could actually encourage illness and aggressive habits like feather selecting. Provide as a lot out of doors area as potential so the hens can forage for meals and discover. In the autumn after the backyard season has ended, let the chickens assist clear out your backyard beds of undesirable seeds, bugs, and broken produce whereas spreading manure that augments the soil.

When sizing the coop, think about what number of chickens you need or are in a position to look after. Keep in thoughts that there could also be native ordinances that limit the variety of chickens you possibly can have in your yard. In many areas, there’s a restrict of roughly six hens, and roosters are prohibited. Also, the best hen to rooster ratio is 12 to 1. Beware of getting too many roosters because it can lead to harm to the hens.

The variety of eggs you get will depend upon the age of the hens, their general well being, the breed, and different elements. Some will lay an egg a day whereas others will present one or two per week. A typical hen supplies two eggs each three days. In northern areas, egg manufacturing can drop considerably within the winter months with out synthetic gentle within the coop. Laying hens are best for the primary couple of years, though some consultants say a lot older chickens can nonetheless present a plentiful provide.

Keeping Out Predators

It’s extremely advisable to assemble a coop that locks the chickens up securely for the evening.

Dogs, foxes, coyotes, hawks, skunks, possums, minks, cats, rats, owls, and raccoons can eat the eggs, feed, and even the chickens. Store the feed securely to keep away from luring undesirable wildlife close to the coop. One benefit of getting roosters is that they will help defend the flock.

Coop Bedding

Line the coop and the nest bins with bedding materials, comparable to wood shavings or straw.

Used bedding can be composted for a season or two after which utilized to backyard beds to enhance the soil. Keep the bedding dry to keep away from moisture and odor points. Change the bedding as wanted, relying on the kind and thickness.

Starting Your Chicken Flock

Selecting a Breed

Consider what breed of laying hen you need, relying in your local weather, desired egg colour, measurement, and amount, fowl temperament, noise stage, and look.  There are a wide range of methods to get began.

You can get fertilized eggs and hatch them utilizing an egg incubator or perhaps a broody hen. You might purchase child chicks and lift them in a brooder with a lamp for warmth. Likewise, you possibly can buy pullets which might be sufficiently old to dwell with out a brooder. Keep in thoughts that child chicks want starter feed, a model of hen feed that’s greater in protein. Pullets will sometimes begin laying eggs between 16 and 24 weeks of age.

Buying the Chicks

There are a number of methods to purchase chickens, together with by way of a neighborhood ironmongery store, farm provide retailer, Facebook market, a hatchery, Craigslist, mail order, or native farm. The worth varies extensively relying on the breed and age of the fowl. Buying fertilized eggs may be the most cost effective solution to get began if you have already got an incubator and brooder or a devoted broody hen.

Once you will have all of the fundamentals coated, there are lots of different enjoyable issues to discover, together with easy methods to enhance egg manufacturing and sourcing native feed. Stay tuned for future articles with useful concepts and recommendations on yard chickens.

This put up was initially revealed on August 17, 2020.