Raising chickens for eggs in your backyard is very doable. Not to mention, it’s rewarding. And if you have children, then raising chickens for eggs will help create a connection with their food. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Start small. Three chickens are a good number to start with.
2. Get laying chickens. Chickens typically start laying eggs when they are around 18 weeks old. You can certainly get baby chicks and start raising them OR what we recommend is that you buy chickens that are already laying. You can call around to nearby farms to see if they have any extra chickens they want to sell. Chickens that lay eggs are called “Layers” in the farm world. Good questions to ask the farmer are: what do you typically feed the chicken, what breed is it, how old is the chicken and does it lay eggs? Typically cost of a chicken is $10-$15 for regular chickens and about $25 for certified organic chickens.
3. Breed. You can get chickens that lay blue and green eggs. These are called Ameraucanas and it is always a delight to see a blue egg. Rhode Island Reds are another good breed and is what most farmers have. They lay brown eggs.
4. Have some outdoor space. Since you are starting small, you really don’t need a lot of space. Just space for the chickens to roam around the backyard so they can forage and a place for shelter.
5. The chicken coop. Chickens don’t need to live in a mansion to be happy. The need a place where they can lay eggs, sleep at night and have shelter them from the wind. You can make the chicken coop, convert an old shed, buy one used from Craigslist, or get a no-frills coop from Amazon or Tractor Supply.
6. Food. If you end up getting baby chicks and raising them from birth, then you will need to start them off on finely grinded grains. The baby chicks do not have the ability to digest grains made for adult chickens. Once they are adults, you can feed the chickens whatever you want. You can give them left overs from your kitchen or order grains to supplement their diet as foraging for food outside will not be enough for them. We recommend giving them lentils to eat because that will help increase the iron content in the eggs.
7. Don’t get a rooster. You actually don’t need a rooster to lay eggs. And it’s better not to have a rooster because then you don’t need to worry about the eggs being fertilized. Also, if you have children, the rooster may get very aggressive with the kids and attack them.
8. Build a chicken run. Chickens are prone to predators like racoons, foxes, eagles and hawks. The chicken run will give them access to the outside while being fenced it. You would attach the chicken run to the chicken coop. You can always let the chickens out of the chicken run when someone is in the backyard with them.
We hope this is helpful to you. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!