Monday, April 8, 2013

Crash Course on Raising Backyard Chickens

Artist: Albertus Verhoesen (1806–1881)
I've been dreaming of adding backyard chickens to our homestead for quite some time. As I mentioned previously, this is the year that the dream will become a reality. Having never had chickens before, I didn't know much about them other than what I have read on garden blogs. I didn't know how much work was involved, housing requirements, how to care for them, or protect them from predators. What I did know is they were a perfect companion to gardening, as they help generate compost, forage and eat bugs and other pests. Oh yes, and produce eggs. Plus they all have their own personalities and are fun entertainment.

I attacked this goal of learning about backyard chickens the same way I do with any project, by beginning with research. I knew chickens could be useful, but were they also affordable, reasonable and enjoyable? I had to look beyond the cuteness of fuzzy chicks and see if backyard chickens would work for us.

I began with reading books, visiting, and adding more chicken related blogs to my Reader list. I also talked with several people locally who have chickens especially about the predators and cold weather. Most are very proud of their flock and coop and are willing to share their experiences and advice. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became. I was surprised when my neighbor told me that the lumberyard just down the road from us sells chicken feed and pine shavings. That will be so much more convenient than driving a few towns over to the farm and feed store or tractor supply.

I discovered quickly that chicken owners are just as diverse as gardeners. There are numerous ways to raising chickens but there were a few standards that were repeated among several sources such as the recommended size of the coop size per chicken, how to predator proof, heath issues, and how to care for day-old chicks until they are ready to go outside. I have added several resource books to my library, such as:

I have read through most of these books and visit almost daily. I have so much more to learn but most can only be hands-on learning. I hope my chickens don't suffer in the process.


  1. They're pretty tough. You'll do fine.

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