Are you thinking about getting chickens or do you already have a flock? This post includes some of Thrifty Homesteader’s most useful posts and videos about keeping chickens…
Getting Your Chickens
The first step to successfully raising chickens is to buy them from a trusted source. You could be purchasing diseased or old animals if you purchase them from a swap meet or sale barn. It’s best to start with day-old chicks from a hatchery that is certified disease free.
- 5 Steps to Starting a Backyard Flock Responsibly
- 5 Myths about Backyard Chickens
- Keeping a Closed Flock or Herd
- Controversy Over Backyard Hens
- Keeping City Chickens: 7 Things to Consider
Hatching & Brooding Chicks
What do you do with chicks once you bring them home? Since they don’t have a mother to keep them warm, they need a brooder, and of course, you don’t want to burn down your house. You may wonder what those things have to do with each other, but heat lamps are the #1 cause of barn fires, so check out these posts on how to get your chicks started and how to use heat lamps safely. And contrary to popular belief, spring is not the only time to get started with chicks. I actually prefer fall chicks for several reasons, which I discuss in this first article …
Chicken Keeping Basics
- Chickens and turkeys together?
- What happens when you have too many roosters?
- 7 Benefits of Gardening with Chickens
- Tips for Protecting Your Livestock from Predators
- Chickens in Winter
- 6 Things Chickens Don’t Need in Winter
Chicken Health and Feeding
Chickens are incredibly hardy animals. With a flock of about 80 hens and a few roosters, we have lost about one hen every three years to a natural death. In other words, most chickens wind up as someone’s dinner, either ours or a predator’s. We have locally grown non-GMO feed mixed by a local farmer, and we feed a little spent brew grain daily, which comes from a local beer brewery. Plus the hens get whatever bugs and caterpillars they can catch in the pasture.
If you’ve never had chickens before you might just assume you’ll have a permanent chicken coop that sits in one place forever. However, there are a lot of disadvantages to that, as we learned over the ten years or so that we had that type of old-fashioned chicken coop. Today we have a movable hen house that we call the Henmobile, and we use chicken tractors for the young chickens after they come out of the brooder. At about four months of age, almost all of the cockerels become dinner, and the pullets are moved to the Henmobile to join the layers.
- Henmobile Video Tour
- How to Move a Henmobile
- Coop de Hill (permanent chicken coop)
- City Chicken Condo (moveable chicken coop for a few hens)
- Chickens vs. Ducks: What’s the Difference When it Comes to Eggs?
- 9 Reasons Your Hens are Not Laying
- Hens on Holiday: 3 Strategies for Eggless Living
Book Reviews & Additional Resources
These are some of my favorite books on raising chickens. If you asked me to recommend just one, it would be The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery. It is required reading in my Pastured Poultry class that I teach for UMass-Amherst online, as well as Joel Salatin’s Pastured Poultry Profits, which I would suggest if you want to start a business selling chicken meat or eggs.
- Hatching & Brooding Your Own Chicks
- The Small-Scale Poultry Flock
- Learn to Speak Chicken
- The Chicken Health Handbook
- Pastured Poultry Profit$
- Pure Poultry
Sometimes, even after reading everything you can find, you still have questions. That’s when it’s helpful to have another person to ask! Thrifty Homesteading is our Facebook group where we talk about all things related to homesteading, including chickens and livestock. Join us!
Do you have experiences to share or questions about keeping chickens? Post in the comment section below!
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