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Why the Chicken Crossed the Road: Backyard Chicken Operations

So, why did the chicken cross the road? Possibly because somebody started raising chickens in their backyard and don’t have them properly contained. Or… to get to the other side.

Whichever of these are true, there are a lot more people raising chickens out there than a few years ago, and lots more chickens crossing the roads because of it, but… I love that people are taking on this new hobby and there are some great benefits to it! And the fact that you can pick up hatched hatched chicks at almost any local feed store, has made it very easy to start your own little backyard operation.

Hopefully the following information will give you a better idea on if you should take on this new hobby, or leave it for the other poultry enthusiasts (yes there are poultry enthusiasts)

Why Raise Your Own Chickens?

Answer: Food.

Ok, so you’ve got your answer, but what does it take to get the food i.e. eggs, or meat? Is the cost worth it? Is the extra work worth it? This answer is a little more complicated.

Pros of Your Own Mini Chicken Farm

  • Compared to many other pets, such as dogs, cats, and horses; chickens are VERY inexpensive to maintain. With bags of standard chicken layer feeds and chicken scratch being half the price of many dog, cat, or horse feeds. And keep in mind that a 50 pound bag of food will feed many more chickens than dogs for longer periods of time.

  • The eggs are fresh and delicious and full of nutritional value. And free!

  • If you decide to raise some chickens for meat, you know what is going into that chicken and will feel more comfortable about what that animal has been fed or treated with in it’s lifetime.

  • If you allow them to roam free in your yard, they provide great bug and weed control in your garden. And it’s free!

  • It may smell awful, but their manure is some of the best out there for fertilizing just about anything that you want to grow. And again, it’s free!

So you can see that outside of just providing you food, there are lots of things that chickens can provide you, for free, or at a very low cost.

But aside from feeding a chicken there are other things that must be considered and they also may come at a cost, and must be taken into consideration when raising chickens.

In the Beginning There Was… A Brooder: Caring for a Chick In The First 60 Days

  • First things first. You will need a chick brooder, which there are thousands of different variations out there, and you can choose to purchase or build your own.

  • The brooder will need to be kept at 90+ degrees Fahrenheit for the first week and decrease the temperature by 5 degrees each week. This can be done with a heat lamp, or specialized heating pads made specifically for keeping chicks warm. But please beware of fire hazards, and purchase products made specifically for the incubating of chicks!

  • Keep the floor of the pen dry and warm with pine shavings or other forms of bedding that are similar. Stay away from newspaper because it does not absorb as well.

  • You will need to feed these chickens with a crumbled chicken starter in a chick feeder as well as, purchase or build a chick waterer and keep it filled with fresh water at all times.

Free to Fly the Brooder: After 60 Days and Beyond

  • After 60 days a chicken is now ready to be taken out of their brooder and into a coop, pre-built or homemade. You can find requirements and specs at many different places online, but a general rule of them is 3-4 square feet per chicken inside the coop and 10 square feet per chicken outside of the coop. Also make sure to have 1 nesting box for every 2-4 hens.

  • The floor of a coop should be bedded as well, with pine shavings, sand, or even some forms of litter that have recently come on the scene.

  • Always have layer feed in a feeder and also have chicken scratch on hand to spread outside of the pen and also, always provide fresh water in a chicken waterer. You can purchase these but you can also build them yourself if you feel led to do so.

  • Keep chicken predators in take whatever preventative measures you can to keep them out of the coop.

So you now have some basic knowledge on raising your own chickens and are ready to start building a coop in your backyard that your husband or wife will tell you that he/she hates and that it's an eyesore! Or you've now realized that you were not meant to raise your own chickens. That is now your decision to make.

Happy Backyard Chicken-ing (this is not actually a verb and should not be used as so)

*For questions on how to purchase chicken feed through Mello-D Feed & Fertilizer or any questions of general chicken raising and nutrition, please contact us at mellodfeed@yahoo.com, or call us at (717) 469-5617