Learn about Raising Backyard Chickens on your own Homestead with this quick 10 Chapter tutorial! Another Installation of our Homestead Handbook – Homesteading advice from our house to yours!
Raising Backyard Chickens | Homestead Handbook
Including Types of Chickens, Chicken Coops Plans, and Raising Chicken for Meat & Eggs
Table of Contents:
Preface (See Below)
- Types of Chicken Breeds
- Choose a pure or mixed chicken
- Determine where and how to purchase
- Understanding a chickens language, personality, and characteristics
- Order of Hierarchy
- Providing Shelter
- Grow Your Chicken, Eggs, Meat and Garden with little land
- Proper Feed storage
- What to feed them
- Proper feed storage
- Prevention is Key
- Abstaining from diseases and parasites
- Poisoning and First Aid
- The Right Formation
- Controlling Environment
- Looking for ‘bad’ eggs
- Choosing a breed to show
- Training and Conditioning
- Maintaining your Meat Breeds
- Butchering, Cleaning and Storing Your Chicken
It is truly a satisfying and rewarding feeling to raise something from the beginning and watch it grow. For parents; it’s their children, for gardeners; it’s their plants and for farmers; it’s their animals. Anyone can be a ‘farmer’ these days, and one of the most common animals that get raised are chicken. In today’s economy, many are now learning about unnecessary additives and pesticides given to this animal. It is not initially eye-alarming to those who are unaware that jumbo sized eggs or chicken are, in fact, not a good thing. To feed more people and make a quick buck sooner than later, most breeders fatten up their stock swiftly to sell them and repeat the same process all again. They are given countless hormones to speed up their growth and size unnaturally to the point where some are no longer able to get up or walk anymore. Chicks are now able to become full-fledged adults in only a matter of days. All of these chemicals injected into their bodies can potentially harm even people who eat them over a period of years. It is very scary to think that compared to the chicken produced fifty years ago, the chicken produced today contain numerous chemicals that are now being linked to later causing the development of certain cancers and diseases. Some might believe that chicken sold with added antibiotics are a good thing, but the substance is just as bad as the added hormones and the other chemicals. Farmers inject antibiotics that protect the chicken from getting sick even when living in an unsanitary environment. However, the additive ultimately aids in rapid weight gain and further creates ‘super bacteria’ and is not won over by antibiotics. These days, it is advised that people eat meat, like chicken, and their byproducts, like eggs, 2-3 times a week. You increase your life years by reducing the amount of adverse hormones ingested by the body on a daily basis. This change is often impossible to do for many people, even for those that are already aware of the dangers of the food. Of course, there is the solvable option where one should purchase organic meat at another food market forgetting the fact it is overpriced. Then, there is the second growing option that many are now taking advantage of: raising the chicken themselves. Wouldn’t it be amazing to eat fresh eggs and meat you raised yourself without having to worry about any complications? It is certainly possible and easier than it is thought to be.
The idea of knowing and having complete control by knowing what you are eating in itself is very beneficial. For those who are looking to eat virtually chemical free, it is a great option to do and, of course, it is better for the body upon digestion. Your eggs will be coming fresh from the ‘oven’ that morning as opposed to one that has been around in the store for weeks at a time. There is a difference in taste and nutrients when comparing store bought versus home raised chicken or eggs. How can you tell if it is? Well eggs, in particular, are much richer in nutrients when you can see that the color of the yolk is deep orange in color, not the pale yellow often seen in comparison to stores. Home raised eggs are high in omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, assist in lowering cholesterol, saturated fats and are high in vitamins D, and E. Home raised chicken also have less body fat.
Whether you have acres upon acres of land for your animals or an average sized backyard to care for only a few, you will learn how raise hen in either type that you are working with. It’s pretty sweet to know that three chicken can equate to about a dozen eggs a week, and four hen can double this number and this is all without the help of a rooster in the mix for the hen. If you plan to own more, the numbers will look even better. Many people later decide to start selling their food, namely the eggs, to people interested and willing to buy it from them in their area because more are being produced than eaten.
Raising chicken is not something that is all work either. They are a funny addition in the family as a pet and as long as you keep them properly enclosed, you will not have to worry about them running away. It is great to know that they are friendly to children for those that have kids. The hen can keep kids easily entertained for quite some time during the few occasions you want them busy. Treasure hunts and egg gathering would be an easy feat when Easter time comes around. Interestingly enough, they are not that different from us in the sense they will make sure you know who they are by showing off their variant and vibrant personality. They enjoy to be groups, and chicken are known to make friends on their own. Before your very eyes, you will start to see cliques forming. If for any reason you decide to take in only a single chicken, don’t find it too ludicrous of they attempt to become best buddies with your feline. Chicken have also proved to be excellent at cleanup duty and have no issue finishing up any scraps no one ate or gobbling up those pesky bugs that seem to multiply tenfold during the summertime. You also will save on food expenses, talk about hitting two birds with a stone. Just a couple of bucks a month in food provisions as all, you would need to worry about spending. They are such incredible bargain backyard workers who won’t burn a gigantic hole in your wallet unlike a lot of other things – Hooray. Speaking of workers, did you also know they are such hard workers if you have a garden? Their manure is a fantastic fertilizer, and they love to dig and scratch where they can clear away any unwanted weeds or bugs just for you. Chickens require little time commitment (just about ten minutes daily) to change their drinking water, monitor, and feed them. Okay… I guess I shouldn’t fail to mention that once a month you should allot some time out of your schedule to clean the coop, shovel out some of that manure and bedding to replace them with new fresh new straw, and shredded material…But honestly, that is just about the only least enjoyable aspect in the spectrum as the overall care for chicken is simple! No need to take them for a stroll, groom them or worrying about needing to carry around any pooper scoopers for any accidents.
Unfortunately, there may still be several blocks to overcome during this adventure. This is especially so for those who live in urban areas. Doubts will arise upon the idea of realizing there are restrictions due to the little space they might have available, dealing with the not-so-understanding or caring neighbors, learning about the zoning ordinances and the concern many have about the noise or the odor. In order to overcome the battle with these potential concerns, I want to be able to equip you fully with the best information to brush off these matters as they come. In many cases, these barriers can be significantly reduced with a bit of effort on your part. This guide also covers tips and basic knowledge that should be learned in order to properly care for your chicken and determining which and how many you believe would best fit you based on your own personal needs or financial expenses. There are in-depth explanations provided as to where and how to purchase them anywhere you live, gathering the needed supplies and even learning how to speak their language.
Figuring out which coop will work for an individual is often a common headache for those with little space. It is pretty gratifying to know that size is actually not something that would ever really be an issue. You can seriously provide a suitable home for chicken in as little as 3-5 square feet. This can is achieved through certain methods such as container gardening, vertical gardening and raised bed planter gardening which will all later be covered in full detail. One, two or all three of these methods may be used without worry or complications. Many people who own hens will choose to use a fence to enclose them on their land but for those who are not really keen on the idea of fencing, there is still something for you too. Be aware though that within a group of chicken, whether in a wide or narrow space, they are prone to some altercations even among themselves. There are keys and signs to look for in order to prevent any fights or having the chicken potentially choosing prey on one another. Throughout the day and during the night, in particular, certain safety measures must be handled to avoid the mishap of having them eaten by other animals as well.
Possible and any upcoming weather concerns should also be looked into in order to give your hen a suitable shelter during bad conditions. In order to keep them in optimal condition, preventive measures also should be made into effect in order to keep their immune system up to fight any parasites, viruses or diseases. This in return also helps reduce the number of ‘bad eggs’ that cannot be eaten and should be disposed of. Good eggs must also be properly stored to prevent spoilage in the event they are not being eaten even when they are ready. Keeping your chicken healthy will also keep you and your family healthy, especially for those who decide to prep and eat both the egg and chicken. There is a completely different practice involved regarding the best guidelines to follow for those who need to clean, cook and store their meat and prevent any contamination. Many people who do decide to eat the chicken they raise don’t really have to wait too long either. Here’s a fun fact: the average chicken only needs to be fed for about two months until it is ready to be ingested.
Chickens have been around on Earth long before even humans have. Many of them have widely become very tame and now require the help human to fulfill their general needs to live and make babies. In a rather large sense, they are no different from any pet you choose to care of as they do require training, and this is also brushed over for those who would appreciate a few tips. There is a surplus of different breeds of chicken, all located in different areas for various reasons to fit the environment that they live in. Some may grow to be as frighteningly tall as your waist, and others may fit right in the palm of your hand. The colors and patterns are endlessly unique to a breed and range from just appearing a solid red or black in color or speckled and laced while being multicolored. Traits of a hen are so individual that even their feathers will appear and lay differently. Some have long feathers while others have short ones; some feathers are thick and dense while others have feathers that appear thin and delicate. It is important to understand which breed you decide to care for because their behavioral patterns also vary. Most chickens are very independent and will fetch or hunt for food alone. However, there are still those who will do absolutely nothing to get their next meal if it is not outright given to them because the sense is not there. The chickens who still possess an instinct will collect their eggs, rest on them until they hatch and will mate with the opposite sex. However, those lacking this will hold no mother instinct and will not mate. These chickens need humans to assist them with fertilization. Knowing exactly the breed you are looking for will help you tremendously be prepared as to what to expect while you are raising them. Don’t go it completely blind, trust me, it’ll make your life that much easier.
With all of that said and done, it is nice to be able to have variety choose from and pick a type that is best suited for you. Whether your goal is to have loads of tasty eggs, growing fleshy chicken in good time or simply enjoy the pleasure of a beautifully feathered companion as they scamper around all day, there is a type out there to perfectly fit you. The lifestyle you have may also equal what type relationship you may have with your chicken. For example, if you live in a rural area, I’m willing to bet the chicken will likely be roaming the land freely. You would have few if any, disturbances from other people. If you live in an area with less land available (which will probably be the majority of people), it is just as fine live in a close-knit fashion with your animals. No one can give you a perfect blueprint to care for your chickens. Nor can anyone tell you how many you should own, what breed to choose or how to keep them safe; this is purely up to you. The only thing a person can do to get you on the right foot when you’re starting out on this scary new journey is to give you suggestions and better inform you so you can weigh your options and make your own choices and be satisfied with it – that is my true objective. Hoping that all the hard effort you put in from here on out works for you and the lovely new addition(s) creates a new sense of bliss in your life.
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Originally posted on June 19, 2015 @ 1:00 AM