Friday, June 12, 2015

Keeping Chickens

We have raised chickens for 5 years now. We have learned so much throughout the years.
It took us 3 years to finally have a good, safe place for them. That is really the most important aspect of raising chickens. No matter where you live, there are predators. They will come, in time.
We have learned what works, and what doesn't. Unfortunately, that takes a lot of trial and error.
Now we have around 20 hens and 1 rooster. That seems to be the best number for us.
If you have more than one rooster, trouble comes. They fight, and they start pecking the girls too much and you'll see bald spots on their backs. I like just one rooster.
As you get into keeping chickens, you will find what chicken breeds you like best, and what ones you don't prefer as much. I like a chicken who lays like clock work once a day, and is more of a big stock breed. That basically means they are "BIGGER" in their belly/hips area.
You want to make sure you have outside roaming area for your chickens. Some people can let their chickens roam free, but that only works well if you have a guard dog to protect them.
We have tried doing that and it has cost us a lot of chickens. We just have too many predators here in West Virginia. So we have our barn and inside their coop they have a "chicken door" where they can come in and out. We have it connected to this fenced in area so they can come out and roam but still be within an area.
Sometimes it is best to raise the chickens from babies if you want them to be ok with children. We have found this to be particularly true with our boys. We have bought already laying hens, and we can't get within 5 feet of them. They have been raised by adults normally and have stayed in a closed in barn and are pretty scared of little humans.
When you raise them as chicks, they are used to the kids and seem much more friendly as adult hens.
We keep our chicks in a separate cage. This helps the chicks only stay with other chicks that are their size, and also so they won't get picked on by the big girls. I normally keep them in this cage for 4 months. Then I will test run how they will do with the big girls.
I will put one chick in, and if I see that they are going to peck her to death, I will get her out and try again in a few weeks.  
Some of the main things I love about chickens are:
1. Fresh Eggs DAILY
2. Not a high maintenance animal
3. They are away from the house and don't mess your house up :)
4. They are entertaining to watch
5. They are really loving. Especially when you've had one for many years!
If you want to start raising chickens, but don't know where to start please e-mail me.
I would be happy to answer any questions you have.

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