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Tips for raising chickens in the yard

Tips for raising chickens in the yard

Raising domestic chickens for eggs, meat or both should be a fun and productive adventure. You don’t have to play with your chickens or take them for walks, but you’ll probably enjoy the time you spend caring for them, and you might even start thinking of laying hens as pets. The main requirements for successfully raising domestic chickens are suitable housing, suitable food, protection from predators and normal health maintenance.

A coop where your hens and roosters can roost at night, with four walls and a roof to protect them from the elements, as well as a fenced area with mesh or wire for the chickens on all sides, is the standard in housing when raising domestic chickens. A fully enclosed coop attached to the coop allows flexibility in caring for your flock: you can sleep in and not worry about waking up early to let them out of your coop or coming home in the evening before dark to shut them up overnight . As long as there is enough room for your birds and the coops are secure, virtually any coop will do, whether it’s a converted shed, a custom-built coop, or a shed hand-crafted from scrap materials.

The feed you buy for your chickens will depend on their purpose. Layers are fed a special laying slurry and need calcium supplements due to egg production, while broilers and broilers receive a broiler feed mix. All chickens will benefit from free range and foraging as fresh grass, weeds, bugs, ants and worms are very beneficial to them and improve the quality, taste and nutritional value of their meat and eggs. Raising chickens in the backyard also gives you a purpose for your kitchen and table scraps, such as vegetable peels, leftover rice, wilted lettuce, apple cores and yogurt: the chickens will love them.

Natural predators, including foxes, possums, raccoons, hawks, cats and dogs, can be a huge threat to the life and productivity of the flock when raising backyard chickens. Preventing their access to your birds is of the utmost importance to the success of your backyard chicken venture. A sturdy coop for the birds to stay in if you won’t be on the premises, as well as vigilance when they are on the loose, should be enough to protect your flock.

Veterinary care is rarely warranted for poultry. Chickens are usually vaccinated at the hatchery and when properly raised in sunlight and away from unhealthy animals, usually stay healthy. Any chickens that do become ill, such as in commercial chickens, are usually culled from the flock to prevent further disease. It is actually very unusual to have disease or illness in your flock when you are raising chickens in the backyard; expect your birds to be healthy. Provide them with room to run around, as well as a sandy scratching area and an area that receives direct sunlight in addition to a shaded area.

All in all, raising chickens in the backyard can be a fun and very productive experience. They love to eat kitchen scraps and have access to green grass, but even basic chicken feed will keep them going. As long as your birds’ basic needs are met, you can look forward to eggs or meat or both from your own backyard.

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