Keeping Chickens In Your Back Yard
Author, Dorinne Whynott, Owner of Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
Keeping chickens is not only fun for you and your kids, but also an excellent way of turning waste into food. Your hens will provide you with eggs, and the process of raising chickens can be a fulfilling and entertaining hobby. Keeping chickens can be very easy with the right knowledge, setup and equipment. In this article, we are going to share with you how to go about keeping chickens in your back yard.
Before doing anything, make sure to check with your town hall. Many cities and towns have strict ordinances about farm animals. So, make sure that your town allows you to keep them in your area.
Chickens require a secure, clean and comfortable coop to rest and nest in. They need proper protection from the extreme weather, vermin and predators like foxes, bears, bobcats, dogs and cats. Unless you have prior experience building structures, you should consider buying a chicken coop. A proper coop is vital for your chicken’s health, therefore buy a coop that’s built by professionals. To set up the chicken coop, you will need to allocate adequate space in your backyard or garden based on the number of birds you intend to keep. Set the coop in a location where they can wake up to sunlight, but is safe from predators. The coop’s flooring can be covered with wood shavings, chopped cardboard or straw. Remember to make space for water and food in the coop.
Provide a run
Chickens generally require adequate space to safely run outside of their coop. Provide your birds with a well fenced area where they can get plenty of exercise and sunshine. You’ll need a run that’s at least 4 sq ft per chicken. Make sure the run is secure from predators, and is free of gaps and cracks where your chickens could slip through.
Provide a good roost
A roost is basically an area that’s 2 ft off the ground. You can use a wide plank or bar as your roost. The roost is very important to chickens, since it allows them to sit off the ground. It also helps protect them when the floor or ground is wet.
Provide a nesting area
Chickens require a nest where they can lay eggs. You can have several boxes all around the coop. The nest boxes should be large enough for the chickens to comfortably fit inside. You can mount the nest boxes on the cool side of chicken coop about a few feet off the floor/ground. Allow a nest box for every chicken. The nest’s bedding material can be straw or shavings, and should always be kept dry and clean. When the bedding material in the nest boxes becomes soiled with broken eggs or feces, you should pull out the soiled or wet parts, and then put in some fresh bedding materials. This will help keep your birds laying in the boxes, as well as making it easier to clean the eggs.
Coops should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized at least twice a year (or more). Make sure you remove everything from the chicken coop (including chickens), and then thoroughly wash down all of the surfaces with 1 part bleach to 10 parts of clean water. Rinse thoroughly and let dry. Once dry, everything can be replaced.
Chickens just like other animals require a well balanced diet. There are feeds which have been created which contain the right balance of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. If you want your birds to stay healthy and produce quality eggs, it’s best to feed them the specially formulated chicken feeds. They’re available as powdered mash or as pellets. A single chicken normally eats about 1/2 a cup of feed each day. Always measure out enough feed for your chickens, and then place it in the feeder. Ensure the feed you buy is suitable for the type of chickens you have. The feed manufacturers normally label their products accordingly; that is, suitable for layers, chickens or growers.
That said, it’s important to note that chickens need a variety of foods so as to produce quality and great tasting eggs. The best way of achieving this is by supplementing the feed with your kitchen food scraps. The food scraps provide adequate minerals and vitamins which are necessary for the chickens health. Leftover grains, fruits and vegetables are perfect for your chickens’ health.
Most kitchen food scraps are safe for chickens, however, there are some foods which shouldn’t be feed to chickens. Never feed your chicken raw potatoes, chocolate, rotting food, avocado, rhubarb, dried beans, peanuts, tomatoes, raw meat, coffee, and pepper.
You can also provide grit which aids in digestion and providing your birds with extra calcium. You can purchase grit online or even at your local livestock store.
You should provide your birds with fresh, clean water at all times. Make sure the water container is free of debris and full of water whenever you happen to check on your birds. Add fresh water as needed, or replace any water that has been contaminated.
You should collect eggs on a daily basis (preferably in the afternoon). Leaving the eggs in the nest boxes for a long period of time increases the risk of the birds damaging them and the eggs can also lose their freshness. If you find any broken eggs, you should immediately remove any egg shells and yolk. If there is any feces in the boxes, you should clean it out and replace the bedding material.
Eggs can at times be very dirty and should be cleaned. Do not use cold running water, instead wipe the eggs with a dry cloth. If the eggs have muck, you can use a warm wet cloth, a dry steel wool or even fine sandpaper.
Once you have collected and cleaned the eggs, it’s time to store them. Package the eggs in cartons, and put them in a refrigerator. Fresh eggs do not have to be stored in a refrigerator, but they’ll last much longer this way. When packaging, place the eggs with the pointy ends down and the blunt ends up. Remember to write down the collection date so that you know the actual age of each egg.
-Always keep your chickens safe from vermin and predators. A solid fence outside your chickens’ coop can help keep your birds safe.
-Sweep the coop on a daily basis, and keep any leftover food off the floor/ground.
-Roosters are generally loud, so keep this in mind if you’ve neighbors nearby.
-Remove any sick chicken from the rest of flock, and talk to your vet.
-Treat your chickens as needed for pests like fleas, mites, and lice.
Happy Chicken Owning and fresh eggs for everyone!!
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About the Owner and Professional Pet Sitting Etc
Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional. She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History.
Professional Pet Sitting Etc. is a leading business in the pet care field and continues to grow since 1990. It is an AWARD WINNING business, having been awarded the 2015 Best Pet Sitting , 2015 Best Dog Walker, Business of the Year Awards in 1996, 1997, 2006 and 2010. It boasts 30+ amazing pet sitters on staff, over 3000 clients in 38 cities from Nashua to Concord, NH. Hundreds of satisfied client testimonials can be found on their website and more 5 star reviews on their Facebook page, Google+ page and more. They have sustained an A+ rating with the BBB, A rating with Angie’s List and are unmatched in the Pet Sitting Industry in New Hampshire.
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