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.
Housing - Find the right Chicken Coop
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
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
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