Having almost one year of experience with raising chickens, I’d still consider myself in the amateur category. However, here are a few necessary steps if anyone ever decides to join the chicken business…or just to read for fun.
Select the Right Breed for what you want.
The following are a few example breeds.
For egg production:
White Leghorn hybrids, Rhode Island Red, Easter Egg Chicken, Red Production, and Brahmas (the last one I would not recommend).
For Meat Production:
Dual-Purpose Production, serves the purpose of providing meat and eggs although neither one is their dominant trait:
For Show or Pets:
The Silkie, the White Crested Polish, Bantams
The essential supplies should be purchased before the chicks arrive to your house. First, the size of the coop will be based on the number of chickens you will purchase. The coop should be warm, dry, ventilated, and easy to clean (chickens get very dirt). You will also need a heat lamp, shavings, feeders, waterers, thermometer, and high-quality feed.
Once you have decided what your purpose for buying chicks is, you can head down to your local farm store to pick them out. The chicks themselves are not expensive, but the supplies will be where all the money is spent. So make sure your checklist has all of its checks on it and that there is room for the chicks before you get to this step.
Lighting & Heating.
This is a crucial step for the chicks’ growth. The chicks can be warmed with heat lamps placed about 20 inches above the surface and the thermometer should be placed at the chicks’ level to accurately ensure the temperature stays around 95 degrees. As the chicks get older, the temperature can be dropped about 5 degrees per week. If the chicks are huddled together under the heat lamp, this indicates they are too cold and if they are scattered away from the lamp, they are too hot. If this is the case, adjust the temperature accordingly even if it’s not in the “indicated range.” The chicks will need a heat lamp on them for approximately 4-8 weeks, and during this stage the chicks are usually left in the house and transferred to the coop later.
At this point, the chickens can be moved to the chicken coop if they are not already there. This is also the point when you will have to use a bigger feeder and waterer that is adjusted to the height of the back of the standing bird.
Part Two: Egg Production
Begins at about 18-20 weeks of age. Despite popular beliefs, it is not necessary for a rooster to be present for egg laying to occur. Breed, housing, weather, and nutrition affect how many eggs will be laid. Eggs should be collected daily for prevention against bacteria and placed in a refrigerator. Hens will be at peak production in roughly 30 weeks.
Once you have gotten through the early stages, it is a breeze from there. You can visit the coop once a day instead of every few hours when you were checking the temperature. If you’re in the egg business, you can have fresh eggs daily! What a wonderful treat!
For more information, visit PurinaMills.com