How easy is it to raise chickens for eggs? VERY EASY!
What you need:
- Food and fresh water
- Shelter- predator proof coop with a place to roost
- A place to lay eggs- nesting boxes.
FOOD: Adult hens eat chicken scratch/pellets or a mixture of the two. I use an organic feed specifically developed for laying hens. Chicks eat chick starter feed until they are about 8 weeks old. If you plan to raise them for eggs, when they hit 8 weeks, I recommend switching them to a layer specific feed or a mixture of scratch and pellets. These foods are available at any feed store and even most pet stores nowadays. I also recommend providing supplements such as Poultry/Chick grit, if your hens do not free range, and ground oyster shell for stronger shells.
Chicks can use a standard waterer as long as they can reach it and you place rocks into it the trough so that they cannot fall in.
Now, I use the Grandpa’s Treadle Feeder to discourage rodents. You DO NOT have to use anything fancy like this! The Grandpa’s Treadle feeder prevents food spillage and access to food by other animals. A plain standard feeder does just fine.
Save those kitchen scraps! hens love all food and will eat your scraps. Make sure to check my list of what not to feed chickens HERE
SHELTER: Build or buy a coop with a roosting bar. There are tons of free plans online. Or, if time isn’t on your side, you can buy a kit like we did for our first 5 hens. We went with The Smart Coop Kit and my husband and son built it together. It has room for up to 6 hens and comes with a nest box. I recommend building your coop with a natural floor, meaning, just good old dirt, not a wood or cement type of flooring. This will allow for easy clean up. Hens scratch at the ground ALL DAY LONG, actually burying there own litter. This is called the deep litter method. We mix in some pine shavings and sand to keep it fresh.
It is KEY to predator proof your coop with 1/2 inch mesh hardware cloth all around the bottom and any openings. This also allows for a fresh breeze and lets the sun in a bit but keeps out all predators. Predators can penetrate chicken wire. DO NOT USE CHICKEN WIRE! Hardware cloth is easily secured with a staple gun. The floor should also be covered with hardware cloth that attaches to the outer walls of the coop and run.
NESTING BOXES: Approximately 3 per dozen hens. These can be built or purchased. You can also find good plans for these online. We line ours with with pine shavings.
I recommend getting day old baby chicks at least once. But they are time consuming to care for. It is great
to imprint and share that eperience with your kids, and the neighbors kids and your friends from work and their kids and… ok, everybody loves baby chicks.
Research the breeds before picking up your chicks. We have a great mix of consistent layers of colorful large eggs.
Many feed stores either sell baby chicks, young chickens or can refer you to a local place that does. I buy my day old baby chicks from MY PET CHICKEN. I have ordered over 40 day old baby chicks from My Pet Chicken and never received a Rooster! They ship to my local post office within a day or two of the delivery day you choose.
They also sell Pullets, which are chicken that are about 6 weeks old. They range in cost starting around $25.oo, but well worth it if you don’t have the time to care for little chicks. Not to mention getting you a
head start on egg production. Hens don’t usually start laying eggs until around 4 months for most breeds.
There are many free resources out there and I recommend one at HERE.
Reduce Waste and Keep Your Hens Healthy and Happy by Feeding Them Your Tables Scraps – Happy Hens
Instead diversify your hen’s diet!
DO NOT FEED YOUR HENS
Anything rotten or moldy.