Today’s guest writer is my very own sister! I asked her to write the basics about having your own chickens. I have seen the benefits of her raising chickens as I was the one eating the delicious eggs! My sister is very educated on this topic and I am excited for her to share her experience with you!
Greetings! My name is Angela Cini and I am here to share knowledge I have about raising backyard chickens. Consider it a hobby that guarantees the freshest and fluffiest nutritious eggs that you get to collect daily just steps away from your kitchen! For the bakers out there…..once you have your own fresh eggs to bake with you will never want to use store bought eggs again.
Ordinances: The first steps one should take is to check with your city or township ordinances. We’ve all heard stories where a homeowner invests money in building the Taj Mahal of chicken coops to find out chickens are banned where they live. Baawwwk! Don’t let that be you!
The Coop: Some chicken enthusiasts design and build their own coop to fit their needs. This can take alot of time and thought. The other method is to find a pre-built coop (or kit) which comes with the higher cost. You will find that there are more and more stores carrying coops. I recommend Tractor Supply Company or CC Only for the prebuilt coops. You can order online and have it delivered to your doorstep. I personally built my own. It was twofold to give wood and materials that were found under my porch a new purpose in life! (the things found under my 1901 farmhouse porch is a story in itself).
Security from Predators: Once you have selected the special spot to put your coop be sure to dig a foot into the ground and make a border around the coop area with cement blocks and chicken wire. Bury this underground so that diggers cannot get to your flock. I’ve experienced the loss of The Golden Girls (my last 3 hens) and stress the importance of having a very secure safe coop!
When it comes to selecting the breed of chicken to raise you will want to look for the types known for their productive egg laying. (unless you are looking to raise for eating which I haven’t gotten into). I have ISA Brown hens. They are a hybrid of Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns They lay an egg a day and they keep good production even during the cold winter months. There are many more breeds to choose from and alot has to do with what is available for purchase. You have two options. 1. purchase eggs and incubate them yourself till the chicks hatch. 2. Order chicks from your local feed store and they will let you know the hatch date. Pick them up once they hatch and brood them at home indoors with a heat lamp. I highly recommend Uncle Lukes in Troy, Michigan. The people there are super knowledgable, friendly and know what customer service is all about!
The Feed: Chickens require alot of protein when they are young and still developing their combs, feathers and egg production skills. It takes approximately 4 months before they begin laying eggs. Once they are laying eggs you can start to introduce diatomaceous earth into their diet which helps to make their shells harder. When it comes to feed I support a local grain company Armada Grain . The girls like both the crumbles and the pellets!
The Eggs: Your hens will pretty much lay an egg every day. They will make funny noises when they are doing the deed of laying that one egg. I will never forget the first few times I went to collect the eggs for the day, I opened the nesting box lid and got bawked at as one of the hens wasn’t done yet! Another thing I learned is that the eggs are very warm when they are first layed.
The Poop: Everyone knows how great manure is for a garden! Well, once a week I clean out the coop and make use of the chicken waste. I am doing something new and that is to put play sand in the coop. It makes it easier to use a pooper scooper to sift through and gather the poop for my garden. I’m already seeing the growth spurts in my vegetables!
I hope I have shared enough information to help you get started if you take interest to being a chicken enthusiast. The hens will get to know you and your sounds. When I come out in the morning they hear my kitchen door and immediately start clucking to say good morning. In the evening I allow them to run around the yard to find bugs, worms and peck at weeds. Once the sun starts to set it is amazing to see how the hens run up their ladder into the coop to go to bed. You don’t have to trick them with treats or read them bedtime stories! They are easy pets that have rewards for all!
Thank you for letting me share,