Know How to Raise Backyard Chickens

With quirky antics and distinct personalities, chickens can provide hours of entertainment. Whether you want them as pets or for a ready supply of fresh eggs, it isn't hard to get started raising backyard chickens. If you are thinking of raising chickens but don't know the first things about them, we've got you covered.

Provide Them With a Safe Home to Roost

Chickens don't need a whole lot of care, but they do need a safe place to spend the night. That usually means a coop. Sheds and other outdoor buildings can be repurposed into chicken coops fairly easily. You can also build or buy a building just for your new birds. Perhaps the most important features of your coop is a sturdy floor and predator-proof door. This will keep the birds safe from critters that might be tempted by an easy snack. Raccoons, skunks, foxes and neighborhood cats will all kill a chicken if given the chance. Some other features you want to include are:

  • Proper ventilation
  • Nest boxes for laying eggs
  • An elevated perch
  • Access to dust for "bathing"
  • A place to scratch for bugs and seeds

Feed Them a High-Quality Diet

Layer pellets are available at almost any feed store. They have the protein, minerals and vitamins necessary to keep your chickens healthy and producing a steady supply of eggs. For truly happy chickens, however, you'll want to let them scratch for bugs. Beetles, grasshoppers and mosquitos are all fair game for a free-range chicken. Always provide free access to fresh water. Specially designed water bottles should be available at any poultry supply or feed store.

Find Birds That Suit Your Needs

Just like with dogs or cats, each breed of chicken has its own set of physical and behavioral traits. Certain breeds get very big while others stay small; some are good for egg production while others are better suited as meat birds; some do better than others in cold or hot climates. Take the time to learn about a few different breeds to find the best one.

Once you have narrowed your selection, turn to local feed stores, breeders or online hatcheries or marketplaces to find your birds. You can choose between chicks that are only a day or so old or juvenile birds. Buying started chickens takes a lot of work out of raising chicks to production age, but you will pay more for them.

Chickens make great pets that will provide a steady supply of fresh eggs. Whether you are out in the country or in an urban setting, with proper nutrition and a safe place to call home, chickens can thrive in almost any environment.