When you raise chickens, you have to dedicate yourself to the task. Here are some basic tips to get you started!
How to Raise Chickens
Are you planning to bring some chickens onto your homestead so you can enjoy a few fresh eggs? There’s more to raising chickens than just sticking them in a chicken house and waiting for those eggs. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Provide Nest Boxes
Hens like to lay their eggs in cozy nest boxes. One box is usually sufficient for about 3-5 hens. The nest should be an enclosed box with an opening at the front. Fill it with straw. Laying hens will usually lay around mid-morning so either plan to collect eggs in the afternoon or more than once per day.
Provide Constant Access to Water
Chickens need to have access to fresh, clean water at all times. They can become dehydrated very quickly and their droppings are extremely moist so they need to have plenty of water available at all times in order to stay healthy.
Free Range or Contained?
You will need to decide if you want to let your chickens free range around your yard or if you will keep them contained. They need a small enclosed house for shelter, but many chicken owners provide a wired pen for foraging or they allow their chickens to free range in their yard.
If you choose to free range, your chickens will eat grass, weeds, and bugs and roam around your yard during the daytime hours then you will lock them into their house at night. If you free range your chickens, you can enjoy their own brand of weed control and pest control as they will eat plenty of bugs and weeds, but you will also need to deal with them eating your flowers and fruits and veggies as well as making messes.
Allowing your chickens to free range also reduces the amount of money you need to spend on regular chicken food, although you will still need to provide layer crumbles and other supplements.
If you choose to keep your chickens contained to an enclosed yard or pen, they will still be happy with an occasional treat of freshly-mowed grass and food scraps from your kitchen. The food scraps will save money on chicken feed and reduce your own trash bill.
What Food Scraps Can I Feed My Chickens?
When it comes to food scraps for your chickens, there are only a few things you shouldn’t give them. Don’t give them raw potato peelings as the uncooked peelings contain a substance that can be toxic. Chickens will not eat citrus fruits so skip the oranges and lemons. Don’t give your chickens food that is rotten or molded.
If you are cleaning out the fridge, you can give them the items that are past their freshness dates and stale, but dump the stuff that has turned moldy or rotted. Chickens will eat just about any type of food scraps. Be sure to save and crush up all of your egg shells to feed to your hens as the calcium will help them as they produce new eggs.
Enjoy those fresh eggs from your little flock and use some of these tips to get started.
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