A Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens With Your Family
Raising chickens, whether for commercial purposes of personal needs, is an exciting experience. Chickens can act as pets as well as a source of food for your family. You can keep them for delicious white chicken meat or eggs. When fed well, chicken can lay so many eggs that you can also sell and earn extra income. And if you let the eggs hatch, one chicken can have up to ten chicks, which you can also sell or keep as pets. See how rewarding this can be? Here is a comprehensive guide for raising chickens as a family.
Rearing chickens is easy as long as they have enough to eat and drink. Chickens eat all the time and having food available throughout is a good way to keep them occupied. It’s recommended that you get enough leafy greens, cereals, and grains to ensure they get a balanced diet. Teach your kids to help feed and give water to the chickens. This is a great way for them to learn responsibility. The type of food and the cost will depend on the breed you have and your location. Chickens are capable of choosing what to eat and what not to eat on their own. They also eat left-overs, so the cost of feed is not too high. However, it’s a good idea to make sure that you don't give them chocolate, avocado, dried beans, or uncooked rice, as these are not good for them.
Chickens need good shelter for sleeping, protection from nocturnal predators, and shelter from rain and wind during the day. A good shelter can be made of any material and is spacious and warm. For daytime shelter, try to erect some shelter that allows them to get out freely and come in as they please, especially during the day. It’s a good idea to change the location of the chicken house daily if you house your chickens in a mobile unit. You may want to make sure you and your family always remember to close the coop door during the night. This way the chickens won’t escape and predators can’t get in. The pasture-raised chicken will need to stay indoors throughout so ensure their coop has enough mesh for ventilation. If you choose a DIY approach, ensure the legs are 18 inches off the floor with good roofing for sun and rain protection. Don't just build for the sake of it; ensure they are safe, sturdy, and practical.
There are many different chicken types for your family to choose from. You should be relieved that you can rear any breed you want without getting confused about which breed to choose. If you want your chickens for pets, you can get some beautiful breeds that are fun to look at. Others are great layers and will be good for eggs. Research things like feeding routines and extra care that every breed needs. Think of a breed that will be easier for your family to raise.
The start-up cost of chicken rearing is usually very low, especially for those who want to start low. The good news is that you can even start with two chickens, a cock and a hen, and within a few months, they will fill a full backyard without having to buy more. Chickens hatch at a very high rate and a single hatch can produce ten chicks. Imagine if they all survive. It’s a good idea for your family to plan out the costs to build a shelter, stock up on quality feed, and maybe get some hemp bedding as well. The cost of raising chickens will also depend on how many birds will be in your family’s care. Rearing chickens is inexpensive, and you can spend less than $25 per month. The good news is that when your chicken starts laying eggs and hatching, they can care for themselves.
Chickens can be messy, so it’s wise to rotate assignments for someone in your family to clean the cage regularly. To ensure cleanliness, you can line the coop with a newspaper on the floor to make cleaning easier. Ensure there is no moisture in the coop because this can put their health at risk. The dirty and damp coop can result in chicken diseases that can wipe out your entire flock. So, it’s a good idea to check that the coop is clean and replace the bedding. Control the smell and manure to ensure your chicken is not moody. You should also wear a mask so that you don't inhale the dust and feathers.
While rearing chickens is a fun experience, sometimes things can go wrong if they contract some disease you know nothing about. Chicken diseases spread so fast and can wipe out the entire flock in a matter of days. Some common chicken diseases include fowl pox, botulism, infectious bronchitis, infectious coryza, etc. While all these diseases can have different symptoms, you and your family might want to watch out for common symptoms such as stopped laying, sneezing, coughing, watery manure, reduced activity, and reluctant to feed. Prevent these diseases by keeping the immune systems of your chicken up and treating them as soon as you notice unusual symptoms.
Don't worry about the environment because chickens are environmentally friendly. This is the best option if your family loves sustainability and wants to keep your environment healthy. Chickens eliminate scraps and other insects and produce natural fertilizers that decompose easily. Don't worry about your family garden because it will continue to thrive despite chicken feeding on the grass. Your garden will be greener as their manure enriches the entire garden.
Rearing chickens will not interfere with any other pets your family has. Chickens are very friendly and peaceful and rarely get involved in a fight with other pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits, or other birds. They can easily co-habit as long as the other pets are also minding their businesses. It’s wise to make sure the pets and your children don't get too mischievous and start playing around the chicken or chasing them around. Hens with small chicks can also get aggressive as they are overprotective of their little ones.
Extreme weather can affect your chickens. Because of this, it’s a wise idea to shelter them in a good environment and protect them from rain. Also, a chicken house can protect them from predators, which could be hunting your lovely chickens. It’s suggested that your family gets a quality coop made with a strong frame and galvanized wire mesh to keep away predators. You can also add accessories like predator sensor mesh flooring, sensor lights, and outdoor to protect them further.
Raising chickens is adventurous and satisfactory. These birds are friendly, easy to feed, maintain, and treat. They are budget-friendly and can turn out to be a lucrative business opportunity, as well as a fulfilling pet and family addition. You don't need a huge garden. Just ensure you have a number that you and the rest of your family can easily maintain.
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