So you want to start raising chickens. Maybe it’s because of the smaller environmental footprint, maybe you just want amazing eggs in the morning, but where do you start? With all the information available on the web, it can be a bit confusing to know how to start raising chickens, so we decided to tell you everything you need to know in five easy-to-follow steps.
Step 1 – Check the law and urban rules:
The last thing you want is to start building your coop only to realize you’re not allowed to. Check your state and city laws. Check your homeowner’s association. If you live in the country this will likely not be an issue. However, if you live in a suburban area there might be limitations. How do you do it? It’s not hard, ask at your local city office to get a copy of their “ordinances” regarding raising backyard chickens, or just do some basic Googling for “can I have chickens in [your city]”. Keeping the copy would be of great help in dealing with neighbors.
Step 2 – Choose your chicken breed:
Once you have the legal information you’ll have the information you need to start selecting the breed and amount of chickens you want to raise. Chickens come in lots of shapes, sizes and behaviors. Do you want them to be steady eggs producers? Are you keeping them in small spaces? How about getting a breed for show? Once you select a breed you’ll be able to calculate how many you’d like to start with. Keep in mind that once you choose a breed and are ready to buy them you’ll need a reputable vendor, which isn’t always easy to find. Need a hand? Check out our top 5 chicken breeds with information on our favorite breeds and where to buy them.
Step 3 – Set up a brooder:
Once you get your baby chicks they’ll need to be in a special environment to grow and develop before being in a coop. You can easily get this environment with a brooder. A brooder is a simple and controlled set up with clean bedding, a heating lamp, fresh water and a feeder. It’s quite easy to put together and you can find all the equipment you need right here, just keep in mind a few things:
- Dedicate at least 2 to 3 square feet per baby chick.
- Avoid square corners to prevent baby chicks to get trapped there.
- Replace water and clean daily.
Once you have your baby chicks in the coop you want to set up the brooder temperature at 90 degrees Fahrenehit and reduce 5 degrees until they’re ready to be outside full time. Start interacting with them right away. Raising chickens can also be about the fun! Plus the more you get familiar with them now, the tamer they’ll be with you later. Keep an eye on them to make sure they’re happy and healthy. If you see anything out of the ordinary contact the business where you bought the chicks, as they’re usually more than happy to help with common concerns when raising chicks! Make sure you know which vet to take them if you need to.
Step 4 – Set up a coop:
After about six weeks your baby chicks will be ready to move to their permanent housing! Building a coop doesn’t have to be expensive, however, don’t try to build one without a plan. Coops for raising chickens can be complex and last thing you need is for your investment to go to waste. We wrote a comprehensive article about chicken coops that details everything you need to know like where to find plans, how to build your own and several options for you to buy them ready so check it out!
Once you have them in the coop you should keep them there for about a week for them to learn that the coop is their home. That way they’ll go back by themselves at night time. After that, you can let them roam around your yard and forage.
Step 5 – Start your raising chickens routine!
Congratulations, you’re now raising chickens! Once you reach this step you’ll find out there’s not a lot of work left for you to do. Keep them well fed and with clean water. Clean up the coop often and keep an eye on them. Once they’re between 16-24 weeks old they’ll start to produce eggs so don’t forget to take them every day. You can get to know how to feed them right here. Besides that, chickens don’t require much time, just keep them well fed, clean and healthy, and get your rewards!
There are a few things that you’ll need to keep in mind, First of all, it’s ok if you lose a chicken or a baby chick. For example, if you order them some of them may not make it. Once they’re growing and even when they’re fully grown they might get sick or killed by a predator. Keep in mind that these things happen and don’t beat yourself up is something goes wrong. It’s a learning process.
Here at eFowl it’s easy to find everything you need to learn and to start, from live baby chicks to high quality food, so don’t forget to check what you can get from our shop and join our newsletter to stay informed!