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  • Writer's pictureBrowns' Family Farmstead

How To Raise Chickens: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

If you're considering raising chickens, this comprehensive guide is a must-read for beginners. Whether you're interested in having a backyard flock for fresh eggs or simply enjoying the company of these feathered friends, this resource covers all the basics to ensure a successful and rewarding chicken-raising experience. From choosing the right breed and setting up a coop to feeding, health care, and egg production, this guide has you covered every step of the way.


Table of Contents

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Choose the Right Breed for Your Needs

Selecting a breed that is best suited for your intended use (eggs or meat) and environment will take legwork and it will influence the breed that is most ideal for your situation.


For example, a leghorn is a small, but good highly productive egg layer of over 300 a year! On the other hand, if you are looking for a meat chicken, they are smaller than average sized birds. Therefore, they would not provide a lot of meat, unlike a Jersey Giant that can be weigh nearly 15 pounds.


Similarly, if you want to raise chickens in an area with a hot climate then accommodations may need to be made to keep your chickens cool in extreme heat and prevent heatstroke. Luckily we have put together a guide for this exact instance The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Chickens Cool in Summer Heat.


Another important consideration is the age and gender of chickens. If you are looking to breed, then you will need at least one rooster and one hen. Additionally, some breeds only live 3 to 5 years, while others live upwards of 12. While a longer lifespan might sound ideal, keep in mind most chickens only produce eggs for 3 to 5 years.


For more information on how long each breed lives and produces eggs, read our in depth article.


For additional income, chicken owners may prioritize breeds that have strong egg laying capabilities as they can sell eggs and fertilized eggs for profit.


Let's take a look common breeds, their intended uses and key notes to determine which is best for you.

Breed

Purpose

Hardy

Dual

​Cold & Heat

Dual

​Cold

Dual

Cold

Eggs

​Cold & Heat

Eggs

​Cold & Heat

Eggs

​Cold & Heat

Meat

Cold

Egg

Heat

Dual

​Cold & Heat

Eggs

​Cold & Heat

Eggs

​Cold & Heat

Eggs

​Cold & Heat

Eggs

​Cold & Heat

Dual

Cold

Raising Baby Chicks

Many chicken owners start with getting baby chicks that as less than a week old and raise them into adulthood. Since these chicks are not being cared for by a hen, there are special requirements that they need such as a brooder to keep them warm.


These items are in fact so crucial to young chicks survival that we consider them an essential all owners of baby chicks should have. For more items we recommend for raising chicks, read our article.


For more information we suggest reading A Comprehensive Guide to Raising Baby Chicks Week by Week.


Set Up a Coop and Run

There are a few critical pieces to setting up a chicken living area. A shelter that will be large enough for each breed with appropriate square footage described in each breed guide.


It will also need to be secure from weather (including drafts) and predators. Other accommodations include a roost bar and enough nesting boxes for your flock.


One the coop is set-up it is time to move onto a run to keep your chickens contained, but also keep common predators away. Depending on your geographic region or if you are going to free range your chickens, you may need to take additional steps to keep them safe from predators such as having at least one rooster.


While some farmers would argue that enrichment for chickens are not a necessity, I would disagree. When chickens are bored and under stimulated, they are more prone to bullying and pecking their own eggs.


We have put together a list of 20 enrichment items you can add to your run. Some of which may even be free.


Feeding and Nutrition for Chickens

One of the benefits of chickens is that they will eat bugs, vegetation, and even fruit and vegetables from the garden which reduces feed costs. A key consideration is to ensure that none of the plants are toxic as this can be dangerous for consumption.



Understand Chicken Health and Common Issues

With a balanced diet and a regularly cleaned run and coop, there will not be a lot of required healthcare if your chickens are already healthy.


We also offer free choice oyster shells as a source of grit and to strengthen the shells of eggs. If a chicken (especially a strong layer) is deficient in calcium, it can lead to severe health complications and a shortened lifespan.


We provide our chickens with vitamins in their water as a precaution to ensure they do not have any deficiencies. This is especially important for younger birds still integrating into the flock.


Of course, it is still possible for them to get parasites and other general illnesses, so it is always good to keep a watchful eye on your flock. If you suspect parasites, this can usually be cured by adding a moderate amount of red pepper flakes to their feed.


Handle Eggs and Chickens Properly

Before your chickens start producing eggs it is a good idea to understand how long farm fresh eggs last, how to store them, and even how to determine if they have gone bad.


For a complete guide and more information read our comprehensive guide How Long Do Farm Fresh Eggs Last.


Naming Your Flock

This step is certainly not for everyone, especially if you are raising meat chickens. But it can be fun to name your flock, especially since chickens can learn to come to their names.


Here are a few of our favorite sources for chicken names.

  • Color: Complete list of names by color, including (Black, Brown, Grey, Red, White, and Yellow).

  • Theme: Themes can be an easy way to name a lot of chickens at once. We have a collection of themes including Disney Characters, Elegant Flowers, Names for Groups & Pairs, and based off Personality & Characteristics.

  • Names for Hens: Collection of Old Lady Names perfect for any hen.

  • Names for Roosters: Collection of Old Man Names perfect for any rooster


Final Thoughts

Getting chickens is an exciting journey! It is so fun to watch explore and interact with the world.


Due to this it is important to be prepared in advance by determining what breed of chicken best suits your needs, preparing an environment with enrichment and providing safety, as well as having all the basics on hand for any emergencies that may come up.


If there are any other topics, you would like to see please leave a comment below.


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