Looking for a pet that’s relatively easy to keep in your backyard? If so, look no further than backyard chickens! Believe it or not, keeping chicken is an easy task and can be done in one’s backyard even if you live in suburbia or inner urban areas. This is due to the fact that chicken can be reared in a small space and the food is readily available from many places. The effort that you need to put in when rearing chickens is relatively less in comparison to other animals.
This said though, there are some things that one has to bear in mind when keeping chickens. As a prospective chicken owner, you need to consider what is involved in preparing the chicken house, purchasing your chickens and getting them all settled in at your house!
Preparing the chicken house
The first thing that you will need is the chicken house that will shelter the chickens from wind and rain, in addition to providing a safe haven to sleep at night. The house does not need to be huge or elaborate, however a fancy chicken house can highlight the design of the garden.
The house should be designed in such a way that during the day, the chickens can access the dirt pen. The fence should be high enough to heights of six feet and also deep enough to the tune of eight inches deep, so as to keep away predators that prey on chicken. The entire run should be covered by use of hawk netting, which prevents raptors from carrying away chickens, in addition to keeping climbing predators, like the raccoon, out of the chicken house.
For the chicken to be happy, they need extensive space which prevents them from pecking each other. Some breeds of chickens normally tend to peck each other and with the availability of enough moving space, pecking can be avoided. With limited space, chickens can get quite aggressive and peck each other to death. The amount of space the chickens need is dependent on the breed and size of the chicken. As a general rule, ensure that there is a minimum of three square feet per chicken.
During winter, keep the chicken indoors as the cold does them no good. Keep the chicken busy by tying cabbages high on strings that they can jump up and down to eat.
The chicken house should have a water dispense, and you’ll find these at any good feed store for a relatively cheap price. Your chicken house will also need a trough, where you will place the chicken feed. Also essential to all chicken houses are roosts, where chicken will perch, in addition to their chicken nestling boxes. These boxes can be made of plastic crates, homemade wooden crates or even metal boxes that are available in most dealer shops for poultry supplies.
Purchasing your chickens
Once you’ve set up your chicken house, it’s time to get the chickens that will soon call it home. They can be bought from hatcheries that sell chicks and eggs. If there are no hatcheries in your local areas, you can simply order online and have you purchase delivered to your doorstep. A good hatchery will go the extra mile by providing an individual with guidelines that need to be followed to ensure proper care of the chickens. The biggest challenge in purchasing young chicks is that there is a high probability of finding a rooster among the hens. This is due to the fact that it is difficult to differentiate between a rooster and a hen when they are young until they get to be 12 weeks in age.
If you wish to buy an older chicken that is bigger than a chick but not yet at the maturity to lay eggs, pullets are the way to go. It is advisable to buy pullets on an individual basis, and you can get them from farms or 4-H fairs where the chickens are sold when they are at a tender age. Chicken can also be purchased from agricultural fairs in addition to poultry shows where the prices range from $5 up to $25, depending on the breed of chicken.
Making your chicken feel at home
After bringing the chicken home, you need to ensure that they settle in comfortably. This can be achieved by placing them into the chicken house and allowing them to roost for a number of days. Do not let them stray until they are conversant with the neighborhood.
In making your chicken feel at home, you need to consider food and water as well. Chicken require fresh and clean drinking water, in addition to nutritious chicken feeds. They enjoy leftovers, garden weeds and bugs which they pick out of the vegetables.
And finally, you must ensure that the chicken house is kept clean by removing out all the shavings and manure in the house. This is ideal for your garden compost and will help you to maintain a good garden.