Manual Raising Backyard Chickens From Eggs To Egg Layers

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Before buying new chicks this spring, here are six tips on how to start raising chickens.
Contents:
  1. How to Start Raising Backyard Chickens in 7 Simple Steps
  2. Everything You Could Ever Need to Know About Eggs
  3. Everything You Need to Know About Raising Backyard Chickens
  4. The Economics of Raising Chickens - SmartAsset

Ensure that the coop is free of small holes for predators to sneak in.


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The space should be free of unnecessary objects like woodpiles or equipment, as they attract predators. Chickens need to be fed and water changed daily. They need to be let out of the coop each morning and put into the coop at dusk each night to protect them from predators. Eggs should be picked up twice a day. The coop and pen should be cleaned out weekly to maintain sanitation and odor control.

Healthy birds will be active and alert with bright eyes. Chickens that are healthy and active will also talk and sing quietly throughout the day. As far as laying and eating habits, each chicken is different, so monitor each chicken to get a feel for her normal production and consumption. Healthy droppings will be firm and grayish brown, with white urine salts. Chickens raised in backyard settings generally stay healthy and are not easily susceptible to diseases. The easiest way to find disease in chickens is to know what a healthy bird looks like. When a chicken isn't acting normal, for instance if she doesn't run to the food as usual or she wheezes or sneezes, start investigating.

An important element to bird health is sanitation. In order to maintain a clean, healthy environment, the coop and outdoor area should be cleaned out weekly or as needed to control manure and odor build up. Feeders and waterers should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Dust baths should be available, as they help control mites. It is important that at least once a year, usually in the spring, a thorough cleaning is done on the coop and yard.

Also cleaning before introducing new birds to the area will limit the spread of disease.

A fall cleaning is also helpful with mite control over winter. During this cleaning, safety precautions must be taken in dealing with dust. Wear a dust mask and mist the walls surrounding the area to control dust movement. Inhalation of dried chicken manure can be harmful to humans.


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Rake and clean out the yard. All feeders should be removed and bedding completely cleared out.

How To Raise Chickens - The Benefits of Free-Range Eggs!

It is important to remove dust and cobwebs from corners of the coop. The inside of the coop needs to be disinfected — including troughs, perches and nests. To disinfect, use one-tablespoon chlorine bleach to one gallon boiling water. Learn how to prevent disease in your poultry with biosecurity.

How to Start Raising Backyard Chickens in 7 Simple Steps

Chicken manure is made up of feed residue, intestinal bacteria, digestive juices, mineral by-products from metabolic processes, and water. This leads to issues with humidity and odor. So what are the options for managing manure? Egg production drops each year when the hens molt replace their feathers in the early fall and as daylight hours are lost.

Everything You Could Ever Need to Know About Eggs

Once you decide the purpose you have in mind for them, it gives you a direction to go. When my family and I started keeping chickens we thought it would be great if we could raise egg layers and butcher our own meat chickens. I love all the choices. There is nothing like the sound of a rooster crowing in the morning…and several times throughout the day.

Many people believe roosters only crow in the morning, but that is a myth. Roosters usually take on the alpha role which helps keep things peaceful within the flock, otherwise the hens compete with each other to be in the top position. They will warn the hens of danger if a hawk flies overhead or anything that seems threatening is approaching.

Know the law.

You do not need a rooster in order for your hens to lay eggs. Egg laying is more dependent upon how much sunlight a chicken is exposed to. They have a gland called the pituitary gland that is behind the eyes. When it is stimulated by light it produces a hormone that signals the ovary to start egg production. You do need a rooster if you are wanting to hatch eggs. One time of a rooster mating with a hen will leave her fertile for up to four weeks. If you incubate the eggs from a hen that has mated or you allow her to sit on them, you should have chicks hatch within twenty-one days if all goes well.

Heritage chickens are hatched from a heritage egg that was fertilized by an American Poultry Association Standard breed that was established before the midth century. Heritage chickens mature slower than the hybrids and generally start laying eggs around five months of age. They sometimes go broody or get that motherly instinct and want to sit on the eggs to hatch them. The chicks hatched from a single heritage breed will have the same traits as the parents.

Everything You Need to Know About Raising Backyard Chickens

Though the heritage chickens usually lay fewer eggs than the hybrids, they lay them for a longer period of time. When raising backyard chickens, heritage breeds are usually favored over the hybrids by homesteaders. Hybrid chickens on average lay eggs a year making them a favorite with farmers or people into egg production to sell. So what exactly is a hybrid? Hybrid chickens are chickens that have been bred from more than one breed. The Cinnamon Queen will have traits from both breeds. Hybrids tend to develop faster than the heritage breeds and will often start laying eggs somewhat sooner.

Another advantage to the hybrid chicken is they are color sexable for the first generation.

The Economics of Raising Chickens - SmartAsset

Cockerel or male chicks are white whereas the pullets or female chicks have a reddish color. The hybrid chicken lays more eggs than the heritage breed, but their peak laying period is shorter. After months their egg production takes a drastic drop which leaves you needing to replace them. Some chickens are for egg laying only. Leghorn chickens are an example of this. The Leghorns are a smaller heritage breed that is favored by many because of their feed to egg conversion ratio.