Raising chickens in your backyard can go from being an interesting hobby to a money-saving little home business. There are several advantages to raising your own chickens, some of which are:
- Cheap free range eggs to eat and sell.
- Biological bug and weed control for your yard.
- Great fertilizer for your own use or to sell.
- Pets with personality that are cheap and easy to maintain.
Check Local Chicken Laws
The first thing to consider before rushing out to buy your first brood is whether the law in your state permits you to keep backyard chickens. For detailed information, check chicken laws and ordinances. The law will consider potential noise, sanitary conditions and other important factors that will not annoy your neighbors or cause unsanitary living conditions.
Chicks have Special Needs
Hatched chicks and fertilized eggs can be found easily at a feed store or in the classifieds. Whether you you buy or hatch chicks, you will need to provide special care for their first 60 days.
- Cage or cardboard box with pine shavings and a 100 watt bulb in the corner.
- Temperature of 90 to 100 degrees decreasing by 5 degrees each week.
- Food & water – use feeders and waterers that will stop the chicks stepping in them.
- Play time so they get used to people and do not get bored. (Chicks tend to peck at each other).
- Fresh air and outside time scratching around the yard.
After the first 60 days, your chicks will move on to the next level of care. They will need a larger coop with plenty of space; and their feed will move on to pellets and vegetables, bread and cereals. You may line the coop with the same pine shavings as before or use deep litter.
Chickens will eat anything. So give them your table scraps to ensure a diverse diet and cut down on household waste.
Watch Out for Mites
A very important part of keeping a healthy flock is to control mite infestation. Check your flock for physical signs of parasites: one way to do this is to blow on their feathers and see if you can spot any mites. If mites are present, you will need to start treatment quickly and include the housing too. Left untreated, mite infestation could result in the death of your chickens as the motes live off their blood and nutrients. Treatment can take place with an insecticide such as permethrin or a non-toxic spray.
Keep Good Chicken Stock
Finally, remember to keep your flock healthy and genetically diverse by researching good breeding practices. Following these methods, you can accentuate good traits and eliminate bad traits from the flock. Your chickens will grow stronger and healthier if you introduce new males regularly. The classifieds can help you locate other local flocks you can trade with.
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