Raising backyard chickens can be a daunting task at first. You have to take care of the hatched chickens, while also making sure your hens are healthy enough to lay eggs.
While its a length process, learning how to raise them properly will lead to a myriad of rewards. So, we'll show you the effective way on keeping your chickens healthy.
As a chicken owner, it's your responsibility to keep them well fed and hydrated. Keep reading to find out how you can make your baby chicks turn into happy adults.
First, you need to prepare before raising chickens:
Chickens are social animals, meaning that you should have at least 4-6 chickens in the coop. They will need space so make sure to get at least 2 sq ft of coop floor for each bird. The more space they have, the happier the chickens will be. Overcrowding can lead to feather picking and disease.
Your birds will need space to spread their wings. So give them a 20x5 foot chicken run or the entire backyard. Either way, the space needs to be fenced so your chickens can stay in and predators can stay out. Add T-bars or chicken wire fencing to add it to your lists of equipment.
Remember, all of this costs money. On average, it will cost you around $300-$400 to create a 20x5 run and create and furnish a coop. If you can’t do this by yourself, get the help of skilled labor.
Providing care for baby chicks isn't complicated, nor is it an elaborate process. Start by giving your baby chicks clean water and a red brooder lamp (that's on at all times). Doing this keeps the coop's temperature 92°F and around 2 inches above the ground. (this also reduces cannibalism and feather picking amongst the chicks).
When the baby chicks start to gain feathers, lower the temperature by at least 5 degrees a week. Follow this procedure until they are about 6 weeks old, then you have to feed your fish grower mash so they can remain healthy.
Instead of paying for chickens for every year, save money by hatching your own eggs. Make sure you check the zoning regulations: some areas will allow you to have hens, not roosters. Your hens can lay eggs perfectly without a rooster.
And you'll need a broody hen. Broody hens can sit on eggs until it hatches completely - and you'll have 1-2 who can sit tight on the nest and will attempt to peck you if you plan on removing your eggs. Bantam chickens are known for being broody, and bantam hens can help hatch other eggs.
Alternatively, you can hatch extra chicks with an incubator. On average, the eggs take about 20 days to hatch. You also have to watch the incubator as well; chicks that are left alone long after they’ve hatched tend to die of picking and dehydration.
Young chicks will need an ample amount of food and water at all times. Start by spreading pine shavings (4-inch layer) on the floor. After that, place several pieces of newspaper over it. Scatter a multitude of chick feed on paper and have multiple feeding troughs throughout the pen. Take out a layer of paper each day, and long before the last layer is removed.
Use red bulbs. Injuries aren’t shown through a red light. If you use white light, the chickens will be compelled to peck each other.
Ensure that your waterings remain cleaned daily to prevent from having the chicks drown. Have one gallon of water per hundred chicks in your coop.
All eggs have an “egg shell” which has a coating layer that protects it from bacteria. Don’t wash your eggs, but wipe them with a clean cloth instead.
If the eggs have manure on them, use a damp cloth to wipe it off. You can submerge a dirty egg in water and clean it with a vegetable brush. Use warm water because cold water can cause the egg to shrink and obtain bacteria.
You will need a rooster if you want baby chicks. Have a ratio of 10-12 hands for each rooster in your coop. While you can buy an incubator and manage the development of the eggs, its easier to let your hens take care of the hatching process.
If you plan on getting an incubator, get one that has an automatic egg turning feature. Chicken eggs have to be turned 4-5 times a day. The eggs need to be at a 99 - 102°F, and the humidity levels should be at least 55-60%. The chicken eggs will begin to hatch after around 21 days.
Adult chickens live to be 4-7 years old and tend to grow eggs during that time. Every year, they take a few months off from laying eggs. This also happens during the winter, since there’s no daylight to start the egg hatching. They’ll start to hatch during the spring.
Raising chickens for eggs takes a lot of effort on your end. You'll have to watch over them, care for them, and prevent the chickens from pecking each other. If you're successful, then you'll have healthy eggs that are ready to be cooked.
Do you have any questions on how to raise chickens for eggs?
Tell us in the comments below.