Farm Life, Uncategorized

Start Your Clucking Empire: A Mama Farmer’s Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens

So you’ve watched way too many Reels about owning your own chickens and have decided it’s time to get your own. Let me tell you, had there been Reels around when we started this whole chicken farm at our house, I’m sure it would have made us do it, too. Fortunately for me, I have a husband who loves farm life, so he convinced me via bringing to Tractor Supply and then showing me how we can get them mailed to us.

So now, every spring, it’s like Christmas when Meyer Hatchery sends us a box of chirping fluff balls. And let me tell you, nothing beats the thrill of a call from the post office saying, “Your peeping parcel is here!”

So where to start? Let’s get the basics. Please note that I am giving advice that I have learned, I’m self-taught and we live in New England.

Essential Gear for Beginner Chicken Owners

Here’s a quick, no-fuss list of what you need to build your own backyard coop.

  1. Coop: First things first, your feathery friends need a home. You can start looking on Facebook Market place, buy plans online to build your own, or surprisingly, you can order them right off Amazon: I’m serious, click here! You want enough room for 1 box for every 2-3 chickens.
  2. Feeding/Watering: Chickens, like us, love their food and water. Invest in a good feeder and a waterer. If you live where the winters get cold, you’ll also want to get a water heater– unless you enjoy cracking ice at dawn. I prefer feeders you can hang, so they don’t get wood chips or poop in their food or water, but you do what works for you.
  3. Bedding: Get some straw or pine shavings. Chickens aren’t picky, but they do appreciate a cozy bed. Your local Blue Seal or Tractor Supply will have what you’re looking for and is likely the best you’ll find for pricing.
  4. Feed: Start with a high-quality starter feed, and then transition to layer feed as they mature. You can give your chicken veggie scraps later, but not while they’re chicks. Your local Blue Seal or Tractor Supply is best.
  5. Warmers: You can add a heat lamp or panel heater for those chilly New England winters. But remember, we’re warming chickens, not roasting them. And it’s not necessary, chickens are hearty and if your coop is insulated well enough, you don’t need to add the extra heating source.
  6. Predator-proofing: Unless you want a fox-led chicken heist, secure that coop! Latches, fencing, and keeping an eye on them is your best bet. We allow our chickens to free roam our property, so we have a goose to protect them, but that may not work for you. Chicken wire is a great start to fencing in your gals.

Where are the eggs?

Now, for the golden question: when do the eggs start coming? If you go with a breed like Plymouth Rock, prepare your egg baskets around the 5-6 month mark. Expect around 4-5 eggs per week per chicken. All breeds are different so do your research on what breed you’d like to have. Egg color, size, and chicken temperament are all different.

What now?

Raising chickens is fun. It’s not just about the fresh eggs (though they are a bonus); it’s about connecting with these quirky creatures. So, embrace the peeps and poops, the early morning wake-up calls, and the endless supply of eggs. Welcome to the flock-tastic world of chicken farming!

And remember, if your partner starts looking at chicken catalogs more than usual, brace yourself – your flock is about to expand!

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