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05 Jan · Thu 2012
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Posted by Suzie OConnor @ 10:16 AM EST
01 Jan · Sun 2012
Raising a coop full of chickens can be a fun and educating experience. Chickens can be hatched or bought from local farmers. They can also be ordered through a number of different hatcheries. If you are learning how to raise chickens then it is best to buy already hatched chicks. It is also recommend to only try raising female chickens, hens, the first time you raise chickens. Roosters can be aggressive, territorial and very loud.
Before bringing the young chicks home a brooder should be set up for them to spend four to five weeks in. A brooder can be made of almost any type of cage or tub. The brooder should be large enough for the chicks to be able to spread out comfortably. Wood shaving should be used to line the floor of the brooder. The bedding should be changed daily to avoid smell and illness.
Once the chicks are old enough to go outside they will need a chicken coop. The coop should be large enough to shelter the chickens from wind and rain. The chickens will also need enough room for them to scratch at the ground and search for bugs. Most hens will begin to lay eggs around six months. Having a chicken coop will make it a lot easier to find those eggs before they spoil.
Food and Water
The chicks will eat food called crumbles at this time. This type of chick food can be bought in either medicated or non-medicated form. Feeding medicated food will help avoid an illness killing off most of the chickens later on. When you feed non-medicated food then you will have to be especially careful about keeping the brooder and the chicken coop clean. Once the chicks reach a few weeks then you can fed them worms or bugs found in the yard or garden. Avoid feeding them green bugs. This could cause loose droppings and may get the chick sick. Full grown chickens can be feed a well balanced chicken feed. They will also scratch in the dirt looking for worms and bugs.
Chicks drink a lot of water, and will need to have clean water available to them at all times. Automated water containers are very helpful. These will help keep the water clean, and can be easily removed to be cleaned.
You will also need a heating lamp to help maintain the temperature. The behavior of the chicks can help determine the settings used on the heating lamp. If the chicks huddle close together constantly then they are chilly, and the lamp should be moved closer. If they act sluggish, and avoid contact with each other then they may be too warm. As the chicks' feathers grow then the lamp can be raised higher and higher.
The chickens can be placed outside once their adult feathers have come in. Temperatures should not fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Otherwise the young chickens may freeze.
When learning how to raise chickens it is important to have fun, and that means for the chicks also. Chickens are very curious creatures, and love to wonder around. Play time outside is a great way to get the chickens use to living outside later on also. Be very careful to keep an eye on the chicks while they are outside. They can get stuck easily, and are very venerable to larger prey animals, like dogs and cats.
Posted by Suzie OConnor @ 11:09 AM EST
Rhode Island Reds are one of the most popular breeds of chicken, and for good reason! These hardy, easy keepers do well in almost any climate, are great layers of brown eggs, and come in both standard size and a much smaller bantam size. Developed in the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the 1840's, early flocks contained chickens of various colors and comb types, but the most common color today is a lovely deep red that has become the most identifiable characteristic of this iconic breed. Curious and athletic, and able to handle poor diets and even poorer weather, they're a great choice for small flocks. Although usually gentle, quiet, and sociable both towards humans and other chickens, Rhode Island Red chickens can be feisty and independent, and their seemingly endless curiosity can get them into trouble. They can be kept in close quarters, but often become restless and pushy in really tight confinement. These traits, however, also make them great foragers a quality which makes them popular among backyard flocks.
Hens begin laying early, and though they will not always lay in the extreme heat or cold, they can lay more than 200 large medium sized brown eggs a year. It isn't too unusual for them to lay large eggs in their first year, and they may go on to lay double yolked eggs in subsequent years. Because of their egg laying abilities, Rhode Island Red chickens are often used in some of the most common commercial hybrids such as red sex links, ISA browns, and golden sex links. As you may guess from some of the names, the color of day old chicks from some of these hybrid crossings depends on their gender, making it easy to sort females from males as soon as they are hatched.
Roosters are large and handsome, and are big enough as cockerels that Rhode Island Reds are considered a "dual purpose breed", meaning that while the hens make great layers, extra males and older hens traditionally provided large and meaty carcasses for the Sunday dinner table! Don't be too quick to send young roos to the freezer, though. They can make for very watchful protectors of the flock, will warn of intruders, and can even make great pets.
The hens rarely go broody, making them ideal for flocks where the maximum number of eggs is wanted. But beware: because of their popularity, and because they are so widely available, some flock lines are considered much better layers than others. If you are considering keeping Rhode Island Red chickens, do your research and make sure you get your birds from a reputable source. Also be aware that there are both "production" lines and "show" lines. In show quality lines, chickens are bred to have close to perfect color and conformation, but may not lay quite so many eggs in a given year as their less pretty relatives.
For adaptability, willingness to forage for some of their own food, personality, and egg laying ability, it's really hard to beat Rhode Island Reds. Whether standard size, bantam, show quality or production variety, these chickens will continue to be among the most popular breeds worldwide.
Posted by Suzie OConnor @ 11:01 AM EST