Raising Chickens At Home – The Quick n’ Dirty Guide

| August 13, 2013 |

raising chickens at home

Many factors cause people to turn to growing their own food these days.  Chief among them are a growing suspicion about GMO’s or engineered foods, and a need to keep costs down.  Additionally, living off of your own land and livestock is a great way to be independent should you ever need to self sustain (for example due to a natural disaster).  Planting a vegetable garden is by far the most popular way to accomplish this, but for the sake of variety many people are choosing to venture into raising livestock.  A very popular prospect these days is raising one’s own chickens for eggs.  This is a highly efficient and self-perpetuating system since hens can lay an egg every single day in most cases.  Let’s take a look at how you can get started raising your own chickens and living “off the grid.”

First of all, there are a few things to consider:  Before keeping chickens make sure the following things won’t be a problem for you and/or your family:

  • Building and maintaining a chicken coop – the size of which will depend on how many chickens you have.  There are many guides out there to help you build your own, which can be significantly less expensive than buying a structure pre-built.
  • Someone will need to feed and water the chickens daily.  Chickens eat a cheap, generic meal feed, but how long each bag lasts will, again, depend on how many chickens you’ll be keeping.
  • In the parts of the year with more daylight than night, your hens will be laying eggs every day, and sometimes twice per day – someone has to be available to collect these.

Sound alright?  Perfect!  Let’s get started.

Your first step will be to choose a breed.  Many breeds have pros and cons, and these usually come down to how often they lay their eggs (lay rate), how big their eggs are, and how flighty/easy to work with the breed is.  I’ve found Ameraucana and White Leghorn Pullets to be good egg layers and in general easy to work with.  Whatever breed you choose, be sure to read up on them specifically; the better you take care of your hens, the more comfortable they will be and the more eggs they will produce.

Once you choose and bring home a flock, most of your tasks fall to daily routine.  Each morning you will need to enter the coop and gently move each hen aside (if it is covering its egg) and remove the egg.  Most breeds will allow this without protest, any that won’t probably aren’t good for beginners.  Make sure at this time you’re also feeding and watering the hens, and letting them out in a pen to move around – this also makes it easier for you to remove eggs from the nests.

Another daily task will be to scoop manure, especially from the pen/run after the chickens have been outside.  It is essential to keep their living space clean, so don’t neglect this.  After basic care and maintenance, all you really have to worry about is safety.  There are very few places where there are zero predators that put your chickens in danger.  For this reason, always double check that your coop is secure and all chickens are inside at night, and do not leave them out without supervision.



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Category: Food And Water, How To Guides

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