Caring for Backyard Chickens
Caring for backyard chickens is super simple with a little know how. In this post I’m going to let you know what you need to get started caring for backyard chickens.
Types of Chicken Breeds
Different breeds of chickens serve different purpose. Some are specific to meat, some egg production, and some can be used as dual purpose. So for both egg production and meat production. Some chicken breeds also do better in climates with higher heat, some with cooler climates. So keep your climate in mind when choosing your backyard chicken breed. You can also purchase chicks’ as straight run or pullets. With a straight run your get a mix of male and female birds. Pullets are all female.
Must-Haves for Caring for Backyard Chickens
Before or at the time of purchasing your backyard chickens you will also need to purchase a brooder. A brooder can be a cardboard box, a tote, or you can purchase an actual brooder from the store. We actually used a small kids pool from the dollar general for a short time. A barn, garage, or basement are all good options for keeping your brooder in. We keep ours on our brooder on our enclosed back porch. But now that we are building a walk-in chicken coop we are building our brooder into our coop.
You will need some sort of the bedding to lay across the bottom of your brooder. You can use wood shavings, straw, or dried leaves and grass clippings as bedding. Cleaning out the bedding regularly will help keep the bedding dry and odor free. Around six to eight weeks they can be moved outside depending on weather.
Your backyard chicks will need a heat source. Chicks need to be around 90 degrees the first week, 85 degrees the second week and so on. Each week they need less and less heat as they feather out. There are several heat source options. We use a heat lamp and bulb. You will want to watch your chicks. If they are all around the outer edge of the brooder they are getting to hot. If they are all piled right under the heat source they are to cold.
Food and Water
You will need a feeder and waterer to offer your chicks food and water. Putting your feeder and waterer on pieces of cardboard or wood will help keep the bedding from getting into them. Chicks that are zero to six weeks of age should be fed starter feed and chicks six to twelve weeks of age can have grower feed. You can also feed your kitchen scraps to your chickens. This way you can repurpose left over food from the kitchen back into meat and eggs without wasting as much food.
When the chicks are about six to eight weeks old they are ready to be moved outside. They will need a predator proof shelter. Some predators to think about when choosing your coop are dogs, hawks and owls, raccoons and fishers, coyotes, and snacks. There are many chicken coop options some include pre-made from the store, chicken tractors where you move the chickens daily, and from scratch builds. We currently have premade store bought coops with a run (which I don’t recommend). We are building a walk-in coop with a large run since our chicken flock has grown. Check out some of the backyard chicken coop must-haves here.
You will want some nesting boxes so you don’t have to hunt for your eggs everyday. Chickens will start laying eggs regularly around six months of age. Chickens bred for egg production will lay one egg everyday. So when daylight hours are long you should have one egg for every chicken you have. Egg laying chickens breeds on average will slow down on egg production around two years of age.
Caring for Backyard Chickens
Caring for backyard chickens is so simple and easy. You don’t need much to get started and most of what you need can easily be improvised with a little creativity and imagination. What are your must-haves for caring for your backyard chickens? Let us know in the comments below.