Growing a backyard flock means more than just raising chickens or getting hens to lay eggs, it’s also about having a long-term plan of action that protects and keeps all your chickens healthy. So, before you get to the “raising chicks” part, you first need to establish a plan.
Your backyard flock can help you gain so much in so many ways. When raised well, they can produce fresh, healthy eggs and flavorful meat. Furthermore, throughout a chicken’s growth, you get to witness its transition from baby chick to either a full-fledged rooster or egg-laying hen. There’s certainly a lot of enjoyment to be had in that, for both you and your family.
How to Get Started Raising Chickens
Before purchasing new chicks come springtime, keep these important tips on how to raise chickens in mind:
Chickens come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. If you’re aiming to acquire meat or eggs from these animals, you must start with the more common breeds.
What are you looking to gain from your flock? If you’re more focused on gaining fresh eggs, go for breeds that are best suited for egg production like the Blue Andalusians, Ameraucanas, White Leghorn hybrids, and Rhode Island Reds. Of these four breeds, two produce white eggs, Andalusians and the Leghorns, while the other two lay blue (Ameraucanas) and brown (Rhode Island Reds) eggs.
If it’s the meat you’re after, then the Cornish Cross would make an excellent choice. Finally, if you’re looking to get the best of a chicken’s food-producing capabilities, both meat and eggs, consider acquiring Buff Orpingtons or the Plymouth Barred Rock.
2. Determine Your Flock Goals
What do we mean by flock goals? This term refers to the number and gender of chickens you’re looking to have in your flock. Of course, it’s also important to note that these goals are also largely determined by your state’s ordinances.
Considering these matters helps you become better prepared for what’s to come. You’d be able to set a budget, prepare the coop, plan for egg collection, and do other things that are crucial to raising a flock.
For more details on the cost of raising chickens, feel free to check out The Hen’s Loft.
3. Partner With a Reputable Supplier of Chicks
After devising a proper plan, you then go straight to purchasing chicks. This essential second part of your venture requires you to team up with a chick supplier that has gained a reputation in its community.
Your supplier has to be credible so that you won’t have to worry about issues like diseases and lack of vaccination. Baby chicks have to be immunized for coccidiosis and Marek’s Disease.
4. Ready the Brooder
The brooder, or the shelter you house baby chicks in, should be warm and daft-free. It has to have an enclosure at the bottom that you can cover with thick fabric or bedding. You also need to make sure it has a heating lamp, so it’s kept at just the right temperature that’s safe and healthy for chicks.
When preparing a brooder, make sure to do away with square corners that can easily trap some of the chicks when they happen to huddle in that area.
5. Keep the Coop Clean
It’s safe to say that chickens do not have the strongest immune systems, so it’s important to go the extra mile when it comes to cleaning. Make sure to disinfect materials before placing them in the brooder, and then every week.
Use household disinfectants that do not leave a residual film on your items, particularly the feeders and waterers, as these could very easily poison the chicks.
When you have healthy chicks, they’re very likely to grow into strong roosters and hens. You can achieve long-term success when you implement an excellent nutrition program. That means doing your research, partnering with the right feed suppliers (and knowing what type of feed to use), engaging in safe and healthy practices, and just loving what you do.
Start your chicks off with starter-grower feeds that offer complete nutrition. Remember that chicks need 38 nutrients starting on their first day.
When some of your chicks later transition into egg-laying hens, change their feed into one that offers just below 20 percent protein. Furthermore, go for exactly 20 percent protein feeds on birds that will, later on, be used for meat.
Proper long-term nutrition not only ensures your flock’s health, but it also ensures that you’ll be getting nutrient-rich products from them.
Whether you’re raising chickens simply because you love doing it or are more interested in it for the business, do it the right way and plan before setting things in motion. By following the tips mentioned above, you’ll not only be able to keep your flock of chickens healthy, but you’ll also achieve your purpose for them at the same time.