When you first start researching backyard garden chickens, it will seem overwhelming. Don’t let this stop you. Raising chickens in your garden is easy and entertaining. This article will help get you started in chicken keeping for beginners.
Before Getting Backyard Garden Chickens
Check your city ordinance to find out how many backyard garden chickens you are allowed to keep. Some cities only allow three hens.
Order day-old baby chicks from your feed store or online. Make sure you specify that you only want females. You don’t want any roosters. They are noisy and very bossy. Keeping hens in the backyard is a much better idea.
Tips on Raising Chickens in Your Garden
When you bring the chicks home you’ll need to keep them in a cage with a heat lamp as they get cold easily. Make sure you put wood shavings, water, and baby chick feed in the cage. You will fall in love. They are impossibly cute. Change the water, feed, and shavings every day. Watch to see if they are too cold or too hot. You can tell this by whether they huddle under the heat lamp or camp out in the farthest reaches of the cage.
Hens grow up quickly. By the time they get too big for the cage they will also be able to tolerate cooler air temperatures. You can move them to a larger cage or straight into their hen house depending on the weather.
When keeping hens in the backyard, make sure they have a coop where they can sleep and stay warm and dry. The coop will need nesting boxes with straw where they can lay eggs. They will also need a predator protected chicken run outside. The run should be connected to the coop. Chickens like to peck at the ground, eating bits and pieces of this and that. They like bugs. They also like to scratch the ground and stir up the dirt. Change their water regularly and keep them well supplied with feed. Change the dirty straw in the coop weekly too. It can get stinky in there.
It’s fun to let chickens free range. They have distinct personalities and their antics can be hilarious, but chickens in a garden can be messy. If you want part of your backyard to remain neat and tidy, then fence it off from the chicken section.
Chickens start laying eggs between 16 and 24 weeks old. You’ll be very pleased with how tasty their eggs are compared to store bought eggs. You’ll get the most eggs their first year. Egg production tapers off after the second year.
Keeping chickens is also a great way to have an endless supply of their droppings. Adding chicken manure to the compost pile will allow you to take advantage of this natural form of fertilizer in the garden.