If you plan on diversifying your gardening and farming activities and keeping yourself busy during the year, raising chickens represents a great alternative for those who are also looking for a healthier lifestyle.
Fresh farmed eggs not only taste delicious but are 100% organic, richer in vitamins and proteins. Combine them with your garden herbs or small crops of organic fruits and veggies and you’ll save money on food in the long term, as well as enjoy spending most of your time outside.
However, before turning your backyard into an out-of-control zoo, make sure you have what it takes to look after the animals. Raising chickens can be easy but still demands time, some good DIY skills, and money before you start profiting. Here are some easy tips for beginners.
Decide on your poultry sector
Before you go on a shopping spree and bring home 100 chickens, you should do some research and decide on a poultry sector that will best suit you. Chickens can be raised for meat and eggs, each sector having its own star breeds.
Assuming you are not looking to turn your backyard into a highly profitable business, you should stick to breeds that are easy to raise and are good for both egg production and their meat.
Choose the type of bird
Poultry farm owners can choose from hundreds of birds that will provide both meat and eggs. That being said, chickens are great but you can also consider turkey, quail, pigeon, goose, duck, and guinea fowl.
However, if you are a beginner, we suggest you start with only a few birds, preferably of similar breeds, and work from that. Keep in mind that each breed requires slightly different feeding and housing to be productive.
Don’t forget to also choose the perfect chicken breed, according to your preferences. Egg-laying chickens are more productive in the short term because, once they reach maturity, they will lay eggs daily, without the help of a rooster to fertilize them.
Choose a chicken coop
Looking after your birds’ safety and comfort should be your number one concern if you want them to be happy and productive. Therefore, you should start by building or offering them the best coop to call home.
If you’re good with DIY projects, there are various online tutorials to guide you through the construction of a coop step-by-step, with minimum effort and material waste. If you don’t have the time or skills to make them yourself, there is always the option of ordering them online or buying them from hardware stores.
These buildings are usually easy to put together and, once you’re done with the operation, you’ll only have to worry about the overhead netting and the fencing to prevent them from running away.
Make sure the area where your birds will be living is big enough for them to stretch their legs and roam freely. You can also build a separate area where your birds sleep and eat in, while allowing them to run free in your backyard for a couple of hours per day, under your supervision.
We cannot stress enough the importance of free-range chickens if you want stress-free meat and organic eggs.
Lighting and wellbeing
Keeping your chicks warm during the night is mandatory if you want to keep them healthy and productive. There are some very good models of heat lamps to create the perfect atmosphere inside the coops and help your birds thrive.
Last but not least, invest in their wellbeing and nutrition. Opt for high-quality grains and organic treats to keep the birds well-fed and don’t forget about regular check-ups at the vet to prevent diseases, worms, parasites, and other bacterial infections.