I personally think that chickens are extremely easy to maintain and super fun additions to a farm! Besides eggs, chickens can provide meat (if you choose) soil aeration, and compostable droppings (more on composting chicken manure here) to utilize in your garden! And you don’t have to have a fancy set-up to own chickens (although, it definitely makes chicken owning more appealing!)
Here are some things to think about when considering adding chickens to your farm:
I often get asked how you know which breed of chicken is right for you and that’s important to ask because not all chickens are made the same. The answer is simple: do your research and ask:
- What is my climate? Do I need cold-hardy or heat-tolerant breeds?
- How many eggs do I need? Some breeds are higher producers, others lower.
- Do you care about size of the egg? Bantam and other small breeds lay smaller eggs.
- Are you looking for a particular color of eggs? Egg color is determined by the genetics of a breed.
- What size of coop do I have available? This determines how many hens you can keep (rule of thumb is 3-5 sq ft/bird).
- How much run space can I provide? (Rule of thumb is at least 8-10 sq ft/bird-the more, the happier your chickens).
Chickens need a clean place to roost that is off the ground, nesting boxes (preferably off the ground) to lay eggs, and to protect from the elements/predators. This space also needs to be well ventilated to prevent the buildup of dangerous fumes which can cause respiratory issues in your birds.
We put a fan in our coop to help circulate air in the hot Texas summers, but when it comes to the cold, the majority of the time chickens will hold their own without additional lamps due to the creation of air pockets under their feathers that will act as an insulating jacket!
Because we built our coop on the larger side and allow our birds to free-range, my maintenance schedule is very reasonable and easy to incorporate into our lives. Note that chickens are animals, and no coop will be clean all the time, but keeping a coop clean and free of moisture is vital to your flock’s health. Chickens poo where they roost, so keep this in mind when building a coop/placing roosting bars.
Everyone’s cleaning schedule looks a bit different but click HERE to see my yearly schedule.
Primary feed, once chickens have reached laying age, is a layer feed. (we use Purina layer pellets). This will ensure your flock’s nutritional requirements are met.
You can supplement their diet with treats or fruits/vegetables but avoid potentially poisonous foods like:
- uncooked beans
- green potato skins
- nightshade leaves
My flock has access to pellets and fresh water at all times, and since allowing them to free-range/forage, I notice they don’t go through the feed as quickly!
You can read about the breeds/temperaments of my current flock HERE.
Hope this shed some light on those questions to ask when preparing for chickens!