How Much Protein Should A 10 Year Old Dog Eat Chicken Keeping Basics – Backyard Chicken Keeping

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Chicken Keeping Basics – Backyard Chicken Keeping

Chickens… I believe EVERYONE who has even a yard the size of a postage stamp can easily raise chickens. Yes, you heard me right, they are easy to keep, quieter than your neighborhood dog, live as long as dogs, eat your food scraps and give you something to eat just about every day.

However, as with all good things, there is responsibility. Above all, young children should not play with chicks and children in general should be supervised around chicks as they are very fragile and easily injured. They also need to be protected from dogs, cats, and other potential predators, so they need a coop and an enclosed space where they can roost safely. But believe me, it’s worth it.

My big bonus… In nine years since I started raising chickens, I haven’t had to buy a single egg.

I like to collect fresh eggs every day of the year, even if when the days get shorter and it is very cold or very hot, the hens slow down their laying. They are also excellent soil cultivators, rivaling most dogs for the way they dig. They also eat weeds, seeds and insects and provide rich fertilizer along the way. In addition, they are natural composters. I push all my food and garden scraps into the coop and let the chickens do their thing. Then once a year I rake it all up and put it in the compost bins I keep in the chicken area. This way the chickens do most of the work.

But I’m getting ahead. For several years before acquiring my first hen, the mystery of raising hens prevented me from taking the plunge. After all, I live in the heart of the 5th largest city in the United States and I wondered – How can I raise chickens? What are they eating? When do they eat? Where do they live?

I often visited my friend, Debee, affectionately called the Chicken Lady, and often talked about her chickens. She would sell me a dozen eggs for a dollar. Then a mutual acquaintance offered to give me a few adult hens and specific advice on how to keep them. I was off and running.

The actual raising of chickens is easy. First build them a small chicken coop to live in at night, make sure they have food and water every day and you are good to go. Your local feed store will have all the advice, materials and feeds you will need. I started with adult hens (I enjoy my sleep so no roosters, plus good I don’t want to disturb the neighbors). However, at some point, I really suggest getting yourself day-old chicks and raising them to adulthood. It’s also easier than you think.

I started with a large box the size of a dishwasher and a smaller box of 10 reams of paper. Cut a small hole the size of a chicken in the smaller box and place it open side up in the larger box. This creates two rooms for the chicks. Now get a 25 watt bulb and hang it in the smallest room so the chicks can warm up and/or cool down as needed. Add a small bowl for water (keep it small as the chicks can easily drown) and a dish with high protein crumble food for them. Change the water and add food daily and in a few months they will be ready for the yard.

Once you have adult chickens, transfer them to their permanent home, which can be a stationary coop or a portable coop, called a chicken tractor. (They can survive in your garden and find places to roost in trees and shrubs, but they are unprotected from predators and love to eat green vegetables, grass, flowers and plants.) Chicken tractors are great because you can move them from bed to bed letting the chickens clean up insects, weeds and fertilize. This makes the planting process much easier.

I chose a permanent spot in my yard and set up a small 4 x 8 foot chicken coop for them to retreat to every night. Then I created a 20 x 30 chicken coop for them to live in during the day. This is where I feed them, collect their eggs and generally let them socialize.

How many eggs does a hen lay? A hen begins to lay eggs around 5 to 6 months. You can tell when they are laying because they tend to squeal as if they are laying an egg. The first or second year, given that they are not too stressed; they will lay about 6 eggs per week. Then, as they grow, they lay less, but the eggs get bigger. Stressors include heat, cold, a nearby dog, or anything else that you think would make them a little nervous. They also stop laying eggs when they molt. And to completely bust the urban myth – you DO NOT need a rooster for hens to lay eggs!

Here are the spring chicks and the good harvest of eggs by autumn.

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