Raising Chickens In The Backyard For The Beginner

Raising chickens for beginners

Chickens are great for people that are looking to get back to nature. My family and I love nature and we love living in small town USA in the heart of central Florida. Chickens can be great pets, supply you with an ample supply of eggs, can be a great source of meat when need be, and can add a little extra income to the family if you decide to sell the eggs.

At our home we have nine chickens at the present time. They range from two months old to five months old. We started this batch of chickens from when they were one week old. We built our own coop and chicken run from scratch and it cost us about $150.00 and then I put on another chicken run to give the hens more room to move around when we are not home. This cost about another $50.00. So for $200.00 we have a large hen house and two chicken runs for them to play around in.

Disclaimer: I am not a chicken expert; my family and I am novice at raising chickens.

Raising chicken from babies

When we purchase our chicks I waited until I could purchase then when they were sexed. This means that there is a very good chance that I will not be purchasing a rooster. Where I live my neighbors probably would not enjoy hearing a rooster at sun up or any other time of the day. I have been fortunate so far that I have not brought home a rooster yet. Where I purchase my chicks I always ask to make sure that they feel confident that there are no roosters in the mix.

Chickens first few weeks

For the first three to four weeks after they come home we keep the chicks in a large rubber made storage container, depending how many you bring home will determine how large of a container you will need. They are way too young to put in the coop when they first arrive at home. While in the storage container I have a bed of pine shavings or shredded newspaper about two to three inches thick for them to run around on and to sleep on at night. Being here in Florida we do not need any heat lamp for them to stay warm but depending where you live you may need to purchase one to help keep them warm till they are a couple months old.

Chicken feed

For the first three months chickens need what is called chicken starter food or sometimes called starter crumbles. I personally purchase starter crumbles that has additional nutrients mixed in for healthier chickens. Most starter crumbles contain about twenty percent protein. Starter crumbles can be purchased in both medicated and unmediated varieties; I personally use the medicated formula. Chickens can get an intestinal disease very easily that can be deadly and this is where the medicated feed comes in to help protect the chicks from catching this deadly disease.

When chicks get about eight weeks old then I switch them to grower chicken feed which contains less protein usually around 16 – 18 percent protein. I will keep them on this till they reach about 18 weeks old, this chicken feed is not medicated.

When the chickens reach about 18 plus weeks old I will switch them to layer feed. Layer feed is 16 – 18 percent protein but it also contains calcium the calcium is for helping with eggshell production.

I may catch some flak from some of you readers out there but I do give my girls cracked corn with their feed, about a 50/50 mixture. I have done this with all my hens from the time they reach about four weeks old till present. We also give them treats like meal worms and food scraps from the dinner table. We are not production farmers and we do have good solid and healthy chickens that are spoiled.

Chicken treats

You will see all over the internet about giving your chickens treats. Some people are in favor of giving them treats and others will say that it is not good for their diet. In our home we do give treats to our girls. Treats can range from various items but we give ours insects that we come across in the yard or we give them dried meal worms that we purchase at our feed supplier.

Chicken eggs

There is a question that I get asked all the time, “do I need to have a rooster in order to have eggs”? The answer is simple – NO! If you are wanting to increase your flock by having baby chicks from eggs then you will need to have a rooster, but No rooster is needed for just having eggs. The first time that I went to cook an egg from one of my chickens I could not believe how much richer and tastier it was than the eggs that I use to purchase at the store. You will really love the eggs that your girls will leave you when you start raising your own chickens.

You’re yard

If your families are the type that have a manicured lawn you may think twice about having chickens. Chickens will destroy a yard in no time if they are left free to run around. Chickens love to dig, just like dogs. Chickens will scratch and dig everywhere looking for insects they love to take dust baths. Now don’t let this discourage you from raising chickens, there are ways to keep them contained from ripping apart your lawn.

Now if you are like us and don’t care as much about our backyard as we do our front then chickens can be your best friend. You see chickens eat anything and everything, our back yard has a tremendous amount of weeds, ants and other insects. Our girls feel like they are in heaven when we let them out to run around, they love eating the weeds, and digging up any hills but we do have to be careful because they will eat other things that are not has healthy for them like trash.

My babies

Many of you may think that I am a little crazy but you will see if you decide to raise chickens you will get attached to them like your own children. You will find yourself naming them and talking to them just like your children and of course you will spoil them.

Raising chickens is not rocket science but it does take a little trial and error before you figure out what is best for your girls. Just like having children, you can read books and get advice from people but the best way to find out what to do is just jump right in and go for it. Here are some good resources for getting started raising your first flock of chickens.

       

 

 

Tom

I have always had an enthusiasm for homesteading and for living off the grid even though I live in a combination of country and urban setting. Living in Central Florida north of the big cities we have the best of both worlds, country and the conveniences that a person would have living in a large urban city. I personally have had a concern about our weakening economy and how it effects each and every-one of us. The second thing that I have a concern about is how most of the world view’s our country and what may happen one day here in the United States. My Life Experiences I was raised by parents that grew up during the great depression, they passed onto me what life was like and how people had to live during this time period. My family were farmers, gardeners, and homesteaders, they were raised this way and they passed onto me these qualities. I also have family members that live totally off the grid. They live in the North Woods of Minnesota which is a great location for living off the grid. The Southern Homesteader is a passion of mine, I love passing on and sharing information about cooking, news, being self-sufficient, living off the grid, canning, food storage, budgeting, and much more. Since this blog is a passion of mine I am constantly adding and tweaking this site to be a better resource for you. More About Me I grew up in Northern Illinois farm fields. After spending most of my life in large corporate business I decided to relocate to a small town on the nature coast of Central Florida. This is where I met my wife and between us we have 4 wonderful daughters. We have a small homestead where we raise our chicken and live freely. We also have a bug-out place in the mountains of North Carolina that we call our retreat. We spend time there getting things prepared for all our family members when SHTF. I am blessed with a wonderful family and the knowledge that God has given me so I can pass this along to you the readers. I will never tell what you what to do or what to purchase, I just am offering my opinion. I want to take this time to thank each and every one of you. Always feel free to contact me and drop me a note. I will do my best to respond to your emails in a timely manner. Thank you again, Tom Johnson