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.