raising chickens

Raising Chickens

Many people are turning to raising chickens to supplement their food budgets. Chickens can be raised for both their meat and the eggs they lay. There are a few ways to raise and care for chickens. That is what we will cover in this article.

Chickens have the advantage of being smaller than most other livestock, so they can be cared for in a relatively smaller space. In most urban places you aren’t going to be allowed to raise and slaughter a hog or cow in your backyard. However, there may not be the same restrictions on raising chickens.

Turning an unused backyard area into a place to raise chickens can be a worthwhile and satisfying project. One where you will be able to provide fresh eggs and even meat for your family. You can consume every part of chicken eggs, including the shell. Some common uses are to grind the chicken shell to a fine powder and use it as a calcium supplement. This calcium powder can also be used in your vegetable garden. I use them in my compost pile to add calcium to the compost I will work into the garden soil.

raising chickens

Choosing Chickens

Once you decide you want to get started raising chickens you need to decide what you want to gain from raising them. Are you looking for a supply of eggs? Do you want to raise chickens for the meat? Are you only wanting to raise one chicken as a unique pet? Asking these questions will help you decide what breed of chickens to raise.


Broilers are bred to reach maturity quickly so they can be harvested for their meat. These chickens are the types normally raised on chicken farms for the major chicken meat processing companies. Modern broilers have been bred to achieve slaughter weight in only 5-7 weeks. They have a high feed-to-weight ratio and fast growth rate to increase the efficiency of modern farming practices.


Layers, on the other hand, have been bred to increase egg production. Layers generally produce copious amounts of eggs for the first twelve months, then the laying slows as the chicken ages. Many people raise layers for the eggs and then cull them from the flock and eat them once the hen has slowed or stopped laying. Roosters are often culled and eaten since the whole purpose for having layers is for egg production.

Some people set aside a space to keep a rooster and then place a hen in with the rooster to produce offspring which can then continue the line of laying hens.

Coop or Free Range

You can choose to raise your chickens in an enclosed chicken coop or you can fence an area and raise your chickens free-range. Free-range means your broilers will not grow as fast, due to the ability to run and burn some of the energy provided by your feed. But most people seem to think that free-range chickens have better taste.

The choice you make will largely depend upon your available space and your purpose for raising chickens. If you are raising laying hens you might need both a coop and a fenced area. You will need laying boxes in the coop, so the hens will have a place to lay eggs. This also makes it easier to collect the eggs when they are all located in laying boxes.

Maintain Your Flock

You need to consider a few things to keep your flock healthy. Chickens are social creatures. The do establish a literal pecking order. The dominant chickens will be the ones who eat first and be the first to choose nesting sites. If you add chickens later to the flock, they are subject to being pecked until they are injured or even killed by the other chickens.

Even adding a rooster to the flock will upset the pecking order until a new one is established. Fights and other commotions are bound to occur until the flock establishes a new pecking order.

The way to prevent this is to place young chickens in a separate enclosure until they are old enough to fend for themselves in the common area with all the other chickens. That way you won’t lose young chickens to the older ones.

Caring For Your Flock

The quality of the feed and water you give your flock will have an effect on either type of chicken. A low-quality feed can extend the time it takes a broiler to reach the size for harvesting. What a layer eats can have an effect on the taste of the eggs she produces. Plenty of clean water is required for either type, as hydration affects both meat and egg production.

Keeping the place chickens lay, and sleep clean can help protect your chickens from diseases and pests. Chicken excrement is a combination of feces and urine. You need a way to be able to clean this out of the coop to prevent disease and pests. You may be able to wash it out with a hose. If you decide to use a broom or other method you should always wear respiratory protection. Chicken dropping can harbor microorganisms that can make you sick if inhaled.

It is very important that you clean the area your chickens inhabit frequently to prevent disease. If you plan for how you will clean the area and it is easy, there is a greater chance you will keep up with the cleaning and not let it get out of hand. If you do a little each day you will be more likely to keep at it and keep your flock healthy.

Making Use Of Your Chickens

When you raise broilers for the meat you have to consider the cost of the feed to grow them to slaughter weight. This is why it is important to purchase broilers, which have been bred to reach maturity fast. This reduces feed costs.

When you have laying hens the cost of the feed must be figured into how much the eggs are costing you. Feeding your layers the highest quality feed possible will result in a better-tasting egg.

You can also make use of your chickens in other ways to reduce your food costs. For instance, did you know you can boil the bones from the chickens you raised after you eat them to produce chicken stock? You can then freeze the stock and use it as needed. This prevents you from having to buy chicken stock for your other recipes.

Raising chickens can be a money-saving addition to your backyard or your off-grid homestead. They can provide you with nutritious food by using them for meat or eggs. If you would like further information on raising chickens you can visit the USDA website for resources and further information.

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