Ever dreamed of keeping animals on a homestead? Perhaps just a few? As soon as they secure a reasonably sized plot of land, many homeowners imagine themselves caring for a number of animals. Raising chickens often becomes an image they nurture in their new home. In fact, chickens often become a regular feature when they finally take the plunge and buy animals. And why not! Chickens are an environmentally friendly way to control pests in your garden, they lay eggs and provide fertilizer. Chickens are also allowed to be kept in gardens in most municipalities.
Benefits of raising chickens
- Chickens lay eggs.
- Chickens are great pets.
- They clean your garden of weeds and rotting fruit.
- They are natural pest control as they eat many insects in the garden.
- Chickens create great fertilizer.
The difference between chickens and hens
The best way to understand the difference between a hen and a chicken is that a chicken is a broad term for the bird, whether it’s male or female, or young chicken; whereas, a hen is an adult female chicken. If a person is talking about a chicken, they could be referring to a hen, a rooster, a pullet, or a capon
How to raise chickens
A large enough garden or chicken coop to raise chickens in is the first thing you will need. Chickens are social animals so make sure to get more than one for them to be happy. Hens lay eggs and are also less noisy than roosters so rather just get hens in an urban environment to keep the neighbors happy and the noise levels down.
Predators are another issue for you to consider. Even in more urban environments, there may be predators around. Make sure your garden is safe for the chickens and that predators have no way of getting into the garden. If you can’t limit access to your garden a chicken coop is the best alternative. Even if your chickens have free access to your garden, make sure they have adequate shelter or an open coop to take shelter in. It is best if they sleep in a coop during the night.
When you are the one raising chickens at home you are entirely responsible for their well being. You will need to provide for the needs of your chickens. Chicken feed, water, and grit to help them digest their food should cover the basics. Shelter as discussed previously rounds out their needs. Also, make sure their environment is as natural as possible in your garden.
Cleaning the chicken coop, bedding, and even the chickens. Make this part of your weekly routine to avoid any issues. Chickens can also get injured or sick. Make sure to check on them daily and have any issues treated immediately. Remember to wash your hands after these tasks. Chickens and their bedding materials can carry diseases.
Which chickens do you choose
Some chickens are noisier than others, so choose a breed that is less noisy for urban areas. There are many chicken breeds to choose from. Smaller breeds are also better for gardens as they won’t dig up your plants, unearth seedlings and eat your vegetables. Larger breeds will be a problem when allowed free reign in your garden.
Hens are also better for urban gardens as we previously mentioned as they are less noisy than roosters. Hens also lay eggs without a rooster. Get at least two hens. Hens lay about six eggs per week.
A mobile run is a smaller version of a chicken coop that can be moved. If you are serious about raising chickens take note. A mobile run is handy if you need to protect your chickens, but you want them to move about your vegetable garden. You can move the run to different areas of the vegetable garden during the day and have the chickens sleep in a normal coop at night.
Choosing a chicken coop
A chicken coop should have everything to keep your hens happy. If you are serious about raising chickens then you need to know this. As chickens in nature sleep on tree branches, you will need at least two levels. Provide a ramp with cross braces for them to move easily between the two levels. Allow about one square meter per hen when you size the coop.
The floor on the lower level should be open dirt. Chickens need to take dust baths to control mites. You can also place chicken feed, grit, and water on the lower level. Make sure to keep the coop clean.
A nesting area should be a darker corner with some hay and you can add herbs that repel mites. Check for eggs daily and regularly replace the hay.
Because chickens naturally sleep on branches at night you need to provide a similar place for them to sleep in the coop. Wooden sticks as thick as broom handles are ideal. Fit these to the higher level of the coop. Make sure the chickens are protected from the cold, wind, and sun where they will be sleeping and nesting.
Make sure you design the coop with easy access for yourself. You will be checking for eggs daily so you need to get in and out easily. Also when the coop requires cleaning you will need access to all areas.
A final word on raising chickens
Keeping chickens is a rewarding pastime if you care for them properly. it also ensures you have fresh eggs on a regular basis, if you manage the chickens carefully. Your garden will have fewer pests and you will have fresh eggs as a bonus. Your new furry friends will be a welcome addition to your garden for years to come. And as a homeowner you has always wanted animals at home, this can be a very satisfying experience.