Saturday, June 15, 2013

The good and the bad of raising chickens

There is always the good and the bad to everything. That is also true with chickens. I feel like raising chickens is such a good experience for my two boys as well as giving us a product that we would normally buy at the store. Why not grow it ourselves? Chickens are truly easy, if you have the right set up. If not, it can really be a pain and cause you more work. 

1. We always buy our baby chicks in the spring around Easter time. We always buy them from Tractor Supply because we like to give them our money rather than higher chain stores, and they are normally the cheapest. This spring we bought 20 baby chicks. We are a little partial to Rhode Island Reds. That is the breed of chicks that we buy. They do not require a rooster to lay eggs. However, we do have 1 rooster.

2. When you first buy the baby chicks you will need to keep them close to home and inside for about 3 months. Sometimes that is hard, and if you don't have a garage or safe place to keep them, they will die from the cold or from a wild animal. They need a heat lamp for sure! 

Having helpers to build a new chick house is wonderful :) 

3. When the chicks get big enough you can switch them into your "big girls" cage. We normally wait until they are around 4 months old to do this. If you do it too early, the big girls will pick on them and then the pecking order begins and you don't want that. 

4. I think the biggest concern of raising chicks is your cage. Making sure NOTHING can get in. We have honestly had a problem with this. Everytime we think we have the cage fox/raccoon proof, they prove us wrong and they get in somehow. They are SOO good at getting in. Here in West Virginia we have a BIG problem with raccoons. 

Right now, this is our chicken house. Kevin built it, and while it's not the biggest or greatest it works. However, here in the past few months, raccoons have been testing us. It is very disheartening when you find a dead chick or chicken. This is the worst part of raising chickens. 

Having your children learn about raising a farm is one of the good parts of raising chickens. My boys love working and helping. They love getting the eggs. They love checking on our girls, and hearing "big daddy" crow all day. 

Like I said the bad part of having chickens is the wild animals that can get in. A few days ago, I went out after breakfast to gather eggs and feed, and it felt like a chicken massacre. I had 3 dead baby chicks, 1 dead big hen, and 1 big hen hurt very bad. A raccoon had dug under our chicken wire to get to them. I cried and cried like a baby seeing this girl hurt so bad. We have her now in a small tub of hay in our garage and she has been there for 5 days now. Thankfully, I think she will leave. We have been feeding her water in a dropper and even though my husband told me to "get it together" when I was crying, I think he has a sweet spot for our big girls too. 

We set our box trap every night beside our chicken house. We catch critters A LOT! Normally it's raccoons or opossums. They are what makes raising chickens so hard. 

There are good and bad parts of raising chickens, just like raising any other animal, but it is more rewarding than hard. We LOVE our girls. Chickens are one of the farm animals that can be raising in a more "subdivision" type setting if you have a good cage in the back of your yard. 

For more information on raising chickens I have found a great blog to follow:

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