How To Raise Chickens

Raising chickens can be a great experience, get you back to basics and give you free eggs for the rest of your life.

In these high-tech modern times, it might seem like a funny idea to raise your own chickens when you can just walk down to the corner market and pick up a dozen eggs and a nice sized roaster, already plucked and beheaded. High-tech modern times, however, are what causes a need to move back to the basics. Many folks are now growing their own gardens and raising livestock simply to get back to the simple times, to take a step back from the rush and madness of modern times. Raising your own chickens can provide not only a chance to get back in touch with the simple things in life, it can provide you with more eggs than you can ever eat at a huge discount and a chance to make a profit while you're at it. Raising chickens does not take a lot of work and can provide a great educational experience for your children, too.

All you need to get started raising chickens is a place to keep them. You may want to keep your chickens in a pen, these can be made easily using some wooden stakes and chicken wire. You'll want to include some sort of shelter for the chickens inside the pen to protect them from bad weather. This can be as simple as a large box made from plywood, or you can get creative and build a miniature southern-style mansion, complete with columns and archways. You can find instructions for chicken pens in your local library. Many people choose to raise their chickens free-range. Free-range chickens are those that are not kept in a pen, but allowed the run of your yard. Free-range chickens are easiest to care for since they feed mainly on bugs and grasses in the yard and do not eat as much feed. You can feed four free-range chickens for about eleven cents a day. Free-range chickens should have some sort of shelter also, to provide for escape from rain and winds.

There are three types of chickens you can consider when purchasing your chicks. Chicks are very inexpensive unless you start getting into the fancier varieties. There are bantams, which are small chickens, egg layers and larger breeds, which are raised for meat. Decide what you will be using your chickens for before you purchase them. Are you just looking for eggs or do you want some nice roasters? Bantams are good if you just want to have a few chickens running around your yard for posterity's sake. You can raise a variety of chickens together, but remember, the bigger the chicken, the bigger the mess. A few of the biggest chickens will turn your yard into a barren wasteland. If it moves they eat it, if it's green they eat it, if it's brown they scratch it.

If you are raising chickens for the eggs just for your family, four chickens is plenty. Four chickens can produce about twenty eight eggs per week, that's a lot of eggs! Roosters are not needed for egg production and can be a huge annoyance as well. Roosters can be loud, aggressive and dangerous. You may remember stories of the rooster waking up at 5 a.m. and crowing everyone awake, this is pure fairy tale! Some roosters will rise at 2 a.m. and continue to crow every fifteen minutes until the next night. Roosters can be raised for their feathers, however. Rooster feathers are used for fly tying and you can make a nice profit with them. A typical rooster chick costs about $1.50, his feathers can sell for about $14.00 wholesale and it only takes about 90 days for a rooster to mature. When you are purchasing your chickens, you may not have a choice of male of female birds. If you are buying chicks, be prepared to destroy the ones you do not want or sell them as they usually come as a lot of assorted genders.

Chickens do not lay their eggs in nests. Some chickens will lay their eggs in a particular spot but they can also drop them all over the yard. You should look for eggs daily as they will be destroyed or stolen by other animals. Eggs that are layed by free-range chickens can be interesting colors since they are affected by whatever the chickens eat. You will find all shades of brown and even green, white eggs are usually not seen in free-range chickens. Your eggs will be larger and healthier than any eggs you can buy at your local supermarket, and best of all, they will be practically free. You can sell your eggs for a profit, fresh eggs can sell for at least a dollar a dozen and are preferred by many people. If you sell your eggs, you will most likely build up a regular clientele. Each chicken can lay an average of seven eggs per week. Occasionally you will get some chickens who will not lay or not produce very well, this is to be expected. You will also get some that lay an extraordinary amount of eggs.

If you are going to raise birds for meat, be sure you know a butcher who you can bring them to when they are ready, unless you plan on doing it yourself. Killing and plucking a chicken can be an unpleasant experience. Chickens that are kept in pens will grow fatter and produce more meat, free-range chickens will be more lean and possible stringy.

Be sure to check your local zoning ordinances before purchasing your chickens. Some areas do not allow livestock to be raised in residential sections and you don't want to get all set up only to be told you have to get rid of your chickens. Neighbors are another consideration. If you have neighbors close to your house, you might want to consider the facts. Are they going to become annoyed at the crowing of your rooster? A few calls to the local authorities could have your rooster on a fast boat out of town.

Raising chickens is inexpensive and can earn you a nice profit if you do it right. Plan carefully and you will experience many hours of enjoyment and free omelets!

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