I have been receiving some requests for a blog post on our chickens and how easy/hard it has been raising them so far. I am gonna keep things super simp and talk about what we do and things I've learned.
I was raised with chickens, so I wasn't really that intimidated doing it on my own for the first time and my dad was right there ready to answer questions. If this isn't the case for you, do not be intimidated to dive into the backyard chicken game! It is actually quite easy and so so fun.
Okay, so first, ya gotta find some chicks. Springtime is the best time for this. You can easily find them on craigslist or a tractor supply/feed store. They always have a ton in April. Once you have your babies, you will have to keep them under a heat lamp for about two months. They will eat chick starter during this time and drink lots and lots of water! Chickens are very thirsty and it's crucial when they are young to drink to prevent dehydration. Move them to their coop when you think they will be warm enough at night .. a good way to know this is if they have all of their feathers yet. At that point, you need to decide if you want them to free range or keep them confined. My dad said a free range bird is the best layer, so we knew we wanted our chickens to be free during the day and only use the coop for nighttime. It is important to lock them up at night in a secure coop, so that way they are not killed by predators. (coyotes, weasels)
Two things you should know: chickens are hungry and they poop a lot! Now that ours are free range, they do not rely on poultry feed as much, so typically I only have to fill their feeder once or twice a week. I also feed them our food scraps because they will literally eat anything. This saves us a ton on feed. As for water, I generally fill it up once a day. Like I said before, chickens are thirsty. It cracks me up how they run after me when they know I am refilling their water and they guzzle it down like they've never had a drink before in their life. They are so silly and cute.
For the coop, we typically clean it out once a week. This is a task that your kiddo can get involved in and a chore they will love. Wolfgang can now clean the coop with very little assistance. It gives him a purpose and something to feel proud of and good about. (why having animals is such an amazing thing for children, I think). Anyway, we scoop the old hay from their nesting boxes into a trash bag and replace it with fresh hay. They love piling up on it at night for sleep.
Some other things: Chickens will adjust to living with you and your family. They run scared for the first few months, but they'll be eating out of your hands before you know it. Speaking of hands ... always wash them after handling the chickens and anything that has been in contact with their feces. We wash our hands like a million times a day now and it's a little annoying, but ya just gotta.
As for EGGS ... chickens typically start laying at around six months old. Ours should be laying by the end of summer and I cannot wait! We have a variety of breeds, so there should be a really pretty mix of color.
Okay, I think that's it. There are so many resources online about raising backyard chickens. Like, so many. If you are wondering whether or not you should own chickens, I say go for it. It's so fun. :)