There are many benefits to raising chickens. If you raise laying hens, you can have fresh eggs year round. If you raise other types of chickens you can have safer, chemical-free meat. And the best news is raising your own chickens is fun and easy.
Now, it is true you can run into problems when you raise your own chickens. Disease, predators, and hot weather mortality are just a few of the issues that you will have to be on the lookout for. But, if you are prepared to meet these challenges, overcoming them is much easier than you might imagine.
Your chickens need the same things you need: food, water, and shelter. These are the three main concerns you will have address, day in and day out. Other concerns, such as disease and predators, can often be prevented.
On the basic level of raising chickens, one of the first issues you have to address is providing them with a chicken coop or hen house.
Anyone with basic handyman skills can build a chicken coop or hen house using simple tools. A great way to begin is to search for hen house or chicken coop plans online. Once you have your blueprints in hand, you can build your coop in no time.
One reason we suggest you buy chicken coop plans rather than just hammering some boards together is that good quality chicken coop plans will already have, as part of their construction, answers to the most important issues of protecting your investment. For example, chickens must have at least 3 square feet per bird inside the coop. Anything less than that and the birds will suffer and perhaps die. You must have adequate ventilation and insulation. Your chicken coop must have at least one long roost, and perhaps more, depending on how many birds you are housing. And these are just a few of the issues you have to address.
When you buy chicken coop plans, these problems have already been addressed. Why make it hard on yourself when you do not have to?
After you have your chicken coop built and your birds housed, you must feed and water them. Many chicken owners will feed their animals commercially produced chicken feed. This is a great idea as long as you get the proper feed for your bird’s age and purpose.
Young chicks will need special chick feed while laying hens will need feed that has added calcium. You can purchase chicken feed at your local farmer’s co-op or feed store. The information on the bag will tell you what age bird it is designed to feed. If you have any questions, ask the store for assistance. Getting the proper feed for your chickens is important, and this one step will help stave off many diseases often found in chickens.
As mentioned above, if you buy an chicken coop plan, the problem of where to place the feeder, how long to make it, and how to maintain it, will already be addressed in the plans. If you do not have quality design blueprints to work from, you will have to figure this out on your own. It is very important that you have enough feeding stations to handle the number of birds you have in the coop. If not, the smaller birds may starve as the bigger birds keep them away from the food.
In Part Two of series on Basics of Raising Chickens, we will look at watering issues and how to protect your birds from predators.