Ameraucana Chicken: Understanding the Breed For Your Homestead

Ameraucana Chicken

Creating a homestead can be a difficult process if you’re not sure what type of livestock can help sustain your rural lifestyle. One of the most beneficial is to invest in is the Ameraucana chicken.

This unique chicken breed is fairly new and only made its first appearance in the early 1970s.

While it may not seem like an ideal breed to keep in your backyard, you’ll be surprised by its uses.

The Ameraucana breed of chicken is known for being ideal for rural areas due to its skittish nature.

It doesn’t do well in suburban areas and is susceptible to stress when placed with other livestock.

This sounds like a downside, but when living isolated, the chicken produces many different resources that become valuable.

Many people enjoy the Ameraucana breed because of its puffy and comical cheeks, while others love the chicken’s disposition.

The chicken’s personality aside, they are very bright and curious birds that make amazing pets.

Lastly, they work well in multiple climates and are very versatile.

Let us learn more about the Ameraucana breed to help you understand if it’s right for you or not.

History of the Ameraucana Chicken

The Ameraucana breed of chicken was first bred using a type of blue- or green-tinted egg-laying chicken called the Araucana, so the Ameraucana is commonly confused with the Araucana breed.

The Araucana is a popular chicken breed from South America and has slight defects that cut down its life expectancy.

On that note, the Ameraucana chickens were bred in the USA in the early 1970s to help remove a genetic defect that the Araucana suffered from, which was an ear tuft that could heighten the death rate of baby chicks.

After a decade of breeding, the Ameraucana was recognized as a breed of its own.

As of 1984, the American Poultry Association recognizes the Ameraucana as a standard breed.

They also have included eight different color variations of the species and noted their different characteristics.

More of the Ameraucana breed survived birth and were able to live healthy lives.

This produced a healthy chicken that could still produce high-quality eggs, plumage, and meat.

Additionally, their temperament was less aggressive and friendly.

Ameraucana Chicken Characteristics

Let us now look at how this breed looks, behaves, and more.

This way, you’ll understand its needs, as well as how you can take care and breed it.

Ameraucana Chicken
Ameraucana Chicken

What does a Ameraucana Chicken Look Like

The Ameraucana breed has a few notable appearances.

It is one of the most versatile chickens when it comes to looks.

It can have up to eight different colors, which makes it hard to describe.

Nonetheless, we will do our best to give you the overall appearances that are notable to them.

Each chicken includes its unique palettes, which are a mixture of black, white, blue, and brown.

This allows each chicken to be unique and have stunning colors and looks.

Either way, they are beautiful and eye-catching to keep on your property.

With their thick feathers, they are considered a winter hardy bird, which allows them to survive in a multitude of different climates.

Their beard and muffs are often puffy and give them a distinct silly chipmunk-like face. 

Other characteristics include deep red eyes that look sharp and intimidating, while their puffy cheeks and skittish personality make them less scary.

Weight-wise, females range from five to four pounds, while males can be as heavy as up to seven pounds.

Where as the Bantam Chickens are miniature chickens breed.

Ameraucana Disposition and Behavior

As for the chicken’s disposition, the Ameraucana is very friendly but can be easily scared away but quick movements and loud sounds.

They are often found in flocks chattering with each other, and you won’t find some of them having problems interacting with one another or humans.

Do note, though, that they don’t do well with other farm animals, so it’s best to keep them in a secluded area where they can roam around freely.

This will keep them happy and stress-free.

Additionally, they may enjoy having you around them, but aren’t as friendly as other breeds and don’t want to be touched or petted.

Other dispositions known to breeders are that not only is the Ameraucana’s appearance variable, but also its personality.

They show a wide variety of behaviors which makes certain traits hard to pinpoint at times.

This is likely due to the breed’s upbringing and genetic differences between the standards.

Males do tend to be a bit more aggressive and territorial, while the females generally do well with each other but need to be given their personal space.

With their large frame, these chickens should be kept in large cages, providing plenty of space width-wise.

This can help prevent their stress levels and skittishness from spiking.

Ameraucana Egg Laying Habits

The eggs that the Ameraucana hens lay are either white or light blue.

This breed can produce up to three to four eggs every seven days, so they are ideal for egg production.

The eggs themselves are medium in size and can either be used for food or as starter eggs. 

Some owners begin to worry as the breed doesn’t produce eggs until 18 to 20 weeks, or around five to seven months.

Compared to other breeds, this is later in the game, but they end up producing more at a quicker rate.

Plus, the eggs they produce are of higher quality.

There was a rumor going around that Ameraucana eggs were more nutritious than others, but that theory was debunked later as a marketing ploy.

The eggs contain the same nutritional content as other eggs. 

Lastly, the Ameraucana is a non-brody breed, which means you will need to invest in an incubator.

This can help assist you in keeping the starter eggs alive and producing more chickens.

If you aren’t focused on producing more chickens, though, then you can skip this step.

Sex Linkage

As mentioned, the Ameraucana breed of chicken originated from the Araucana chicken, which was originally from Chile.

Over the years, they have produced genetic differences, as the Ameraucana has been bred to have thicker feathers, do well in multiple climates, and have less recessive genetics. 

Many people tend to confuse it with the Easter Egger chicken due to the similarities in looks and production of slightly blue eggs.

That said, they have completely different origins, and the Easter Egger is not recognized as a breed.

The Ameraucana has only existed since the 1970s and only were recognized as their own standard back in the 1980s.

Ameraucana Health Issues

As with any chicken breeds, the Ameraucana is fairly healthy and doesn’t pose any large health risks for its breed.

It doesn’t have any known genetic deficiencies that may cause long term illnesses or diseases.

The species is known for being one of the healthiest that has been brought over to America. 

The expected lifespan of an Ameraucana breed is approximately seven to eight years if kept healthy.

Of course, the chicken is still prone to common chicken diseases, parasites, and other small issues if not kept in a good environment.

The only issue is their skittish disposition, which only gets worse if they are not kept in a safe environment.

Here’s a good video that showcases a typical Ameraucana chicken:

Are Ameraucana Chickens Right for Your Homestead?

If you’re looking for a family-friendly chicken, then you may want to skip on this breed.

It doesn’t do well due to its docile nature, and while it can be people-friendly, it prefers to be alone.

Additionally, the chicken has bigger bodies than most other chickens and needs to have adequate space.

The breed is accustomed to cold climates but must be kept in a draft proof coop otherwise, they may get sick.

They do enjoy their coop, but they will also benefit from being able to roam around.

If you’re looking for a few beautiful blue-tinted eggs every week, then this breed will be ideal.

Other people like using their eggs for selling as starter sets.

The only issue is that they don’t produce enough eggs annually for a supermarket.

Lastly, the male version of this breed tends to get aggressive at times.

They should be separated and have their own space.

The females aren’t too aggressive, but they can get irritated with each other at times.

If you have the money and space, it’s best to give this breed plenty of space for the flock and to roam around.

As a homestead chicken, they can be pretty useful if you’re only planning to support yourself.

If you want to branch out, we recommend getting other types of chickens.

Other breeds will give you better egg production and be able to support your family while also being able to brood the eggs themselves.

Ameraucana Chickens – A Breed Apart

The Ameraucana is considered to be one of the rarest breeds in the USA.

While they generally do well in most climates, their origins are from South America so they would benefit more from a similar environment.

If you’re looking for a steady way to support you or your family with their meat, eggs, and plumage, then these will suffice.

If you’re looking to start a farm or have a larger production, we recommend skipping this breed. Delaware Chicken

Looking at their overall cost, they can be worth the investment as long as you understand that they won’t start producing eggs until almost six months after they are born.

Delaware Chicken: The Dying Breed You Should Consider Raising

delaware chicken

The Delaware chicken breed is one of the fastest-growing of the popular heritage chicken breeds.

One of the best ways to be self-sufficient in rural areas is to produce your own food, and many homesteads benefit from the addition of Delaware chicken.

It is known for being a stunning hen that produces brown eggs which are perfect for breeding and consumption.

Additionally, its calm demeanor and friendly temperament make it ideal for beginners.

Due to its thick feathered body, it is also suitable for cooler climates.

The only issue is that it is a dying breed.

Similar to the Cornish cross, the Delaware breed soon became overpopulated, but fortunately, it is slowly coming back into trend due to homestead construction and backyard flocks.

If you plan on taking care or breeding chickens, today, we will give you a detailed breakdown of the breed.

This will help you understand if it can fit your rural lifestyle or not.

Delaware Chicken Breed’s History

As the name may suggest, this chicken breed originated from Delaware in the USA.

The breed started in the early 1940s by a man named George Ellis.

He raised this chicken breed for the sole purpose of providing single comb brown eggs.

He mixed the chickens with the Rhode Island Red breed, and this resulted in a higher grade of meat and eggs.

The chicken was not originally named the “Delaware”, but Indian Rivers and was changed sooner to Ohio Beauty.

This was due to its growing popularity in Ohio.

In the year 1952, it finally changed to represent its origins.

For production, the chicken breed has been a favorite because its plumage produced both white and black feathers.

This later was found to be even more amazing because its appearance remained slightly even when plucked.

Likewise, the chicken’s rapid growth ensured that there was a steady flow of both plumage and eggs, as well as showed a great capability to provide a meat source.

With growing popularity, the Delaware breed became useful for many different activities.

The chicken’s quick production speeds and healthy appearance made it ideal for use in the competitive broiler industry.

However, they were outclassed by other standards such as the Cornish Rock Cross nearly 20 years later.

In 1952, this chicken breed was finally admitted into the American Poultry Association.

It is the only variety of the white and black spotted chicken breeds, as well as a breed that features bearings on its hackles.

Sadly, the Delaware breed is not commonly bred unless on small farms, which means there are no other standards from their breed.

As such, as of 2009, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Company included them in the list of dying chicken breeds.

Delaware Chicken Characteristics

Let us look at the different things you would expect from a Delaware breed of chicken.

This way, you will understand their needs and usefulness.

Delaware Chicken Appearance and Traits

The Delaware breed of chicken is a medium-sized bird characterized by its white and black plumage.

The feather color is a mixture between either white or silver, and the tails and wings contain a few black barrings.

The chicken has a broad and deep body, which is perfect for colder climates.

Other characteristics prominent to the Delaware breed are the deep red comb, wattles, and earlobes.

Additionally, the combs are larger than other chicken breeds.

Their eyes range from a deep reddish bay color all the way to a golden brown. Lastly, their beaks are a deep red with their skin and legs being bright yellow.

Compared to other chicken breeds like the Cornish Hen, they are very similar in build and weight.

Generally, males weigh between seven and eight pounds and feature a stocky build.

On the other hand, females are approximately six pounds and feature a slightly smaller stature.

Delaware Chickens Disposition and Behavior

As for their disposition, Delaware Chickens breed is known to be calm, friendly, and intelligent.

Although one of the chicken breed’s major behavior is being quiet, they do enjoy chatting with one another from time to time.

Other prominent traits include being assertive towards others at times.

While they generally get along in a flock, sometimes they may be irritated with one another.

That said, the Delaware breed is less assertive than other chicken breeds such as the Rhode Island Reds.

Many of the Delawares enjoy being around others and benefit from a rich environment.

Their keen sense of curiosity makes them ideal for small homesteads or backyard farms.

Their favorite activities are pecking around in the dirt and observing or aiding humans around them in daily tasks.

Their thick feathered body makes them ideal for colder climates, but they may also enjoy the sun if they have shade to rest in.

Their interaction with humans is always positive, and they can even befriend their owners.

Many of them enjoy interacting with humans, which includes cuddling, petting, and resting on their laps.

They are very loving creatures and are some of the most friendly chickens you will find.

That being said, they aren’t always ideal for those looking for maximum production and profits.

They are ideal for a small homestead but shouldn’t be bred for industrial use.

Delaware Chicken Egg Laying Habits

The Delaware breed can produce up to four large brown eggs every seven days.

However, they are not interested in brooding, which can make it difficult for some of the eggs to hatch on time.

So, investing in an incubator and learning how to hatch chickens on your own will help ensure that the eggs are properly fertilized and brooded.

If you’re not planning on using the eggs to produce more hens, then you can easily skip the incubator, but still, we highly recommend to keep the incubator.

That is because it will provide you free hens and a stable flow of both meat, plumage, and eggs.

Delaware Breed Sex Linkage

As mentioned, the Delaware breed was originally bred from a mixture of both the New Hampshire and Barred Rock chicken breeds.

With their genetic similarities, you can produce Delaware chicken with several other breeds easily.

Many times we see farmers breed the Delaware breed with other sex-linked baby chicks.

The best combination of the Delaware rooster is, of course, the New Hampshire Red or the Rhode Island Red hen.

They can also be mixed by using a New Hampshire Red or Rhode Island Red rooster and mate it with a Delaware hen to get red sex-linked baby chicks.

Delaware Chicken Health Issues

The Delaware breed is generally a healthy chicken, but it may be susceptible to parasites.

The only other major issue breeders are aware of is that their combs are huge, which results in them being sensitive to cold weather.

While the breed itself does well in the cold, their comb can easily be damaged.

To avoid this, many breeders tend to place petroleum jelly on their combs, which helps prevent frostbite and lubricate the combs and keep them warm.

Other than that, there are no known issues with the Delaware breed.

You can check out the video below if you’d like to see a live Delaware chicken.

Are Delaware Chickens Right for Your Homestead?

If you’re building a backyard flock or want a small addition to your homestead, the Delaware breed can be a good pick.

They are often recommended for small suburban homesteads that have a wide-open range since it helps promote a healthy mindset and also is good for plentiful egg production.

With the chicken’s temperament, they enjoy being around other animals, flock members, and humans.

They love to chatter amongst themselves and are very lively and social.

Putting them into an isolated area can cause them great distress, so if you’re planning on getting a few, you must get a small flock.

Besides that, they are good around children and other humans.

However, they benefit the most from being able to roam freely around your homestead.

In rural living, you should have plenty of open space, but we recommend them only in places with fences.

The Delaware chicken also loves being in a rich soil environment that provides them plenty of bugs.

They enjoy the chase and nutrition provided by worms, bugs, and other small critters.

Additionally, they prefer gardened areas where they have the chance to come into contact with multiple plant species.

Lastly, they are perfect for beginners or those wanting to expand their homesteads.

The only downside we’re aware of is that they will need to be supervised on how they mate, especially if you want them to reproduce.

If you’re not aiming for high-quality birds, though, then you can easily skip this step.

Delaware Chicken Breed

While the Delaware chicken may be a dying breed, we find that many homesteads can benefit from its production.

Small farms, other individual families, or those looking to build a successful homestead will enjoy their egg production.

Due to their genetics, they also mature quickly, which means quicker egg production and reproduction. 

As long as you have the drive to expand your rural life, these chickens are your best bet.

They include plumage, eggs, meat, and can even help with keeping the soil fertile.

Either way, you’ll find that they are a unique and fascinating chicken breed.

Bantam Chicken: The Miniature Breed to Consider

Bantam Chicken

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When it comes to rural living, it’s important to understand that a viable food source is recommended. The Bantam chicken may be one of the most useful for those living in rural areas.

They are tiny chickens that don’t require much space to produce a wonderful harvest of fresh eggs.

They have a lovely disposition and are not fond of moving around.

This is ideal for those looking to work with small spaces or who don’t have the land to build a chicken coop width-wise.

The Bantam enjoys jumping up and down, which allows them to survive in small spaces as long as they can jump around.

Out of all the official homestead breeds, the Bantam is the most energetic and friendliest.

These chickens are bursting with personality and are very curious about their environment.

We want to provide you with quality information about the Bantam breed of chicken, so we will talk more about its characteristics.

History Bantam Chicken Breed

Explaining what a Bantam breed is can be a bit confusing because, unlike most chicken breeds, the word “Bantam” refers to its small stature, and not of its origin.

These small chickens don’t have a complete known origin, but the name was originally introduced back in the late 1800’s in Indonesia.

Sailors who would stop by the port city would refer to the chickens as being “Bantam” chicken due to being unique to the port city of Bantam, Indonesia.

After this, the breed had become popular in other suburban areas of the world for their small and convenient size.

There are three types of Bantam breed: True Bantams, Miniature Bantams, and Developed Bantams.

The True Bantams are naturally occurring in nature and are just small in stature.

The Miniaturized Bantams are bred from either a standard breed of choice or a specific small breed of chicken.

The last type, the Developed Bantams, is small breeds that have been genetically enhanced through humankind’s techniques.

After much genetic breeding, the true standard of Bantam was born and spread across the world.

The chicken generally does well in most warm climates, which makes it a favorite around the world.

However, it can be mixed with other breeds of chickens to help give them dominant traits.

We understand that it’s hard to keep up with Bantam. So, we’ve done our research and have provided a full list of most Bantam breeds.

Here’s a small breakdown of the popular ones:

  • True Bantams
    • Nankin
    • Sebright
    • Tuzo
    • Rumpless
    • Rosecomb 
  • Developed Bantams
    • Old English Game
    • Belgian Bearded
    • Pekin
    • Frizzle
    • Japanese
    • Booted
  • Miniature Bantam
    • Light Sussex
    • Rhode Island Red
    • Maran
    • Australorp
    • Ancona
    • Araucana
    • Leghorn

As you can see, there are many different types of Bantam, which can be both good and bad.

Many of these allow for versatile breeding, but the genetic traits can be hard to pinpoint for the Developed and Miniature versions.

Bantam Chicken General Characteristics

With so many varieties, let us look into the characteristics that distinguish the Bantam breed in general.

Bantan Chicken Appearance

The appearance of Bantam can also be tough to explain due to their many genetic cross-breeds.

Some range from large birds with black or white specklings while others are brown and black.

Others result in crosses with warm-colored feathers such as white, cream, and red.

As you can see, they are very variable in genetics and looks.

The American Bantam Association has recently added over 400 different kinds of chickens to their Bantam Chicken Variety list.

This makes their appearance hard to describe.

That said, as mentioned earlier, what mainly distinguishes a Bantam breed is its small stature.

Many of the ones located in America are smaller than the standard size of chickens. These small Bantams weigh between 16 and 30 ounces and can be up to one half the size of a standard size six-pound chicken.

Some larger cross-breeds of Bantam, though, have started to become heavier.

The standard Bantam breed is either one third or three fourth the size smaller than the standard size breeds. This allows them to produce the same quality products without taking up much space.

With so many varieties, it should go without saying that these chickens can be used for plumage.

If you have multiple breeds of Bantam, you will essentially have plenty of different color varieties to choose from.

This can be good if you want to sell their feathers for some extra income.

Bantam Disposition and Behavior

As for the disposition of the Bantam breed, these chickens tend to be very friendly and overall have sweet temperaments.

They do well with other animals and are generally nice towards humans.

The roosters can be a bit aggressive towards each other and humans during mating seasons, but other than that, there are usually no problems.

Due to the large variety of the Bantam breed, we always recommend doing individualized research on the type you’re getting.

Genetics play a huge role when it comes to chicken temperament.
Bantam Chicken Breed
If you research the mixes accordingly, then you should have no problem in finding their individualized temperaments.

Many Bantam breeds are very agile and love to move around.

Physical activity is a must for these small, energetic chickens, so they need to be able to rustle their feathers and move around.

A majority of them enjoy flapping their wings and jumping around.

If you can provide a place for them to roam, they will gladly appreciate it.

Bantam Chicken Egg Laying Habits

Bantam eggs are smaller than the standard version of eggs.

This is, of course, due to the chicken’s smaller stature.

If we were to compare them to other breeds’ eggs, they would be around half the size.

Many Bantam breeds don’t start producing eggs until almost eight months into their lifespan.

Ones linked to standard breeds, they tend to produce larger eggs and also lay a bit sooner.

It varies from chicken to chicken, though.

On average, the Bantam hen will lay around four to five eggs every seven days.

Some of the Bantam get broody while others don’t. It’s highly dependent upon what parents the chickens had.

If they were sex-linked with two non-brooders, then you can expect non-brooding behaviors.

That being said, we recommend you to get an incubator just in case you plan on breeding them or using them as starter eggs.

Sex Linkage

Sex-linkage is very hard to pinpoint due to them having over 400 different mixes.

The True Bantams are either from Nankin, Sebright’s, or Rose Comb chicken breeds.

On the other hand, Miniaturized Bantams were genetically enhanced with one parent chicken.

The common breeds for this are the Rhode Island Red, Orpingtons, or even the Cochin breeds.

As for Developed Bantams, they range in sex-linked genetics and parents.

Pinpointing which breeds are used is nearly impossible.

Nonetheless, we’ve tracked some of the common ones which were used in other countries to create the Developed Bantams.

These breeds are either the Cochin, Japanese, or Belgian chickens.

Common Health Issues of Bantam Chickens

The lifespan of most Bantams ranges from four to five years if kept healthy.

Many of the Bantam breeds are susceptible to either mite and lice and other diseases, but many health-related issues are due to poorly kept coops rather than genetics.

To ensure that they have good health, you must have the best nutrition plan for chickens and provide a portion of decent food and water source while also keeping their coops clean.

They also need to be kept in a warm coop; otherwise, they can easily get sick.

Many Bantam pass away from unknown illnesses.

Even professional poultry management has a hard time identifying any symptoms.

This could likely be due to recessive genetics or birth defects that were undetected.

The video below also discusses differences between bantams and standard chickens.

Is It Right for Your Homestead?

If you’re looking for a small chicken that can produce a steady flow of eggs, then you will be pleasantly surprised with the Bantam breed.

But if you’re looking to have a high egg producer, you may want to skip out on this breed.

They are good for suburban areas due to their small size, but this also yields smaller eggs and less nutrition.

For a homestead, they can be good if you’re limited on land.

We believe, though, that the large variety of looks and temperament can be useful if you find a few varieties with ideal traits you’re looking for in chickens.

Their price point isn’t that bad either, which can come in handy for beginners.

Ameracauna Chickens

Best Bantam Chickens

The Bantam chicken range in genetic factors and temperaments.

It is ideal for small spaces or suburban areas, so if you’re limited on space or want to add a small chicken coop to your homestead, this breed can help you achieve those goals.

Overall, these are cheerful and energetic chickens that can brighten up any space.

With enough room, they can easily produce up to four to five eggs per week.

This is enough to support most families, but you will need to remember that the eggs are smaller than standard breeds.

When it comes to dealing with Bantam breeds, we’d have to recommend to do your research before purchasing any. Delaware Chicken

It’s important to understand what type of Bantam it is and what breed the parents were.

This will give you a better idea of how the chicken will act and if you’re providing it with the necessary care.

Best Chicken Breeds for Rural Living or Your Backyard

Best Chicken Breeds

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Best Chicken Breeds – When it comes to building your backyard flock, it’s best to understand what chicken breeds are out there.

Whether you already have a flock or are planning on creating one, knowing the different breeds can help you find chickens that suit your lifestyle.

Multiple factors go into choosing which chicken breeds you need. 

Considering the climate, whether or not you want to pluck the chickens, or even use them as a meat source are all the questions you need to ask yourself.

Knowing what type of chicken you want is how you can narrow down your search.

It can be a difficult task and can become exhausting researching each type, especially with so many breeds to choose from.

That’s why we’ve taken the time to list the top ten breeds you’d want for rural living.

Each of these chickens is the best type we could find.

We will describe the different breeds and which ones are ideal based on climate, temperament, and production.

Best Chicken Breeds to Choose From

Australorp Chicken

Ameraucana Chicken Breed

The Ameraucana chicken breed is one of the heartiest, easiest and most enjoyable chicken breeds to have in your yard.

It’s a relatively new breed, having been created a mere fifty years ago, but it’s rapidly becoming one of the most popular backyard pets for people who love fresh eggs and low maintenance chickens.

The Ameraucana chicken is an upgraded version of the Araucana breed, which was known for having a fatal genetic flaw that seriously injured their bloodlines.

The Ameraucana is an upgraded version that doesn’t have the genetic flaw but retains all of the positive aspects of the Araucana.

Ameraucanas are notable for their beautiful blue-hued eggs.

Although these eggs are arguably much prettier to look at than brown or white eggs, they are just as nutritious.

Ameraucanas are very robust and easy-going creatures.

They are also relatively small, weighing only about six pounds.

You won’t have to do much to keep your lovely Ameraucanas happy, but they do like a little bit more room in their chicken coops.

Additionally, most of them will only lay about four eggs a week, and many start laying later than other types of chickens.

Even so, most fans of this chicken breed will agree that the benefits far outweigh the downsides.

Compared to other types of breeds, Ameraucanas are easy chickens to raise and could even make excellent pets.

Expect to have your Ameraucana chicken for about eight years, although their laying will slow down substantially in their later life.

Overall, these animals are prized among those who know chicken breeds.

You can’t beat their temperament, and they are highly unlikely to attack any of your other pets or children.

Additionally, they are hardy animals with health genes, so the chicks are likely to survive.

Of course, they also lay the best eggs.

Australorp Chicken

The American Poultry Association has deemed that the standard includes a pure black aesthetic.

However, there are black, blue, and white mixes with additions of other colors.

It’s a heavyset bird that can weigh around eight pounds but includes soft, lightweight feathers.

The Australorp Chicken is one of the best beginner-friendly chickens and best chicken breeds you can find on the market.

Any homestead or rural home can benefit from keeping a small flock, especially since the breed has dual-purpose.

Their eggs and their meat are high in nutrition and can provide a steady income or food source for the breeders.

An Australorp can lay up to 250 brown eggs annually, which are medium-sized.

If placed in an area with less stress and a free-range setup, they can produce even more eggs.

That said, their food and water will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Their temperament is easy going, and they are generally friendly to everyone around them.

Unlike other breeds, they don’t possess any aggressiveness or bully each other.

This makes them one of our most recommended birds, as beginners will find them easy to raise.

Major Downside:

The only downside we’ve found with this breed is that they are genetically born to thrive in hot environments.

Nonetheless, they are still one of the most common and ideal breeds we can think of for a newcomer.

Easter Egger Chickens

The Easter Egger is one of the most favored backyard breeds of any homestead owner.

These vibrant birds can produce a high number of eggs within one year.

Over the course of one year, they can lay up to 200 eggs.

What’s more interesting is that the Easter Egger got its title due to laying a wide variety of egg colors, including blue, pink, and green-tinted eggs.
best chicken breeds are Easter Egger Chickens

If you’re looking for a mass egg producer, you may want to skip this breed, though.

They may produce high-quality eggs, but they are slow to start and produce less than other breeds.

Their plumage comes in multiple colors and can be useful for other crafts, though.

Additionally, caring for an Easter Egger chicken is quite simple.

They have outgoing personalities and do well with other flocks.

Their friendly demeanor makes them ideal for farms or small nests.

That said, they need a rich environment to explore.

Having a yard or gated area for them to freely roam is recommended.

Their disposition is friendly, and they are very good with other animals, but they do have a tendency to get picked on.

If you’re mixing them with other types of animals, it’s suggested to keep a watchful eye on them.

Other breeders also seclude their coop and allow each chicken to have their personal space.

Major Downside:

While we didn’t find any major disadvantages to owning them, we can list a few issues.

First, they enjoy open space and a rich environment, which means you can’t keep them in confinement.

They also need to have proper nutrition for the eggs to turn out well.

This can easily be done by providing a proper diet and supplements.

Leghorn Chicken

If you’re looking for a flock that can mass produce eggs, then you can’t go wrong with the Leghorn…one of our favorite best chicken breeds.

These birds lay up to 280 white eggs annually and make a perfect addition to any rural dwellers.

The problem is that they are only well adjusted to warmer climates.

One chicken alone can provide up to five eggs a week, which is faster than most other breeds.

Additionally, they are also multi-purpose birds and can be used for plumage as well.

Their plumage ranges in color, but most of the breed has either cream, white, or silver feathers.

Leghorn Chicken
Leghorn Chicken

Leghorns are intelligent and active chickens that need adequate stimulation to keep them occupied.

They love climbing and jumping onto fixtures, even some nest in trees.

They are definitely not ideal for those who have neighbors, as the breed can be a bit noisy at times.

Other than that, they do tolerate confinement, but they will need things to keep them occupied.

Adding toys, tricks, treats, and activities for them to do inside a coop can help keep them happy.

They aren’t that fond of human contact, so it’s best to keep your distance.

Many Leghorns have different dispositions based on what their parent’s temperaments were like.

To help get a better idea, it’s best to know what breed their parents were and how they acted.

Major Downside:

The only downside that we’ve found to the breed is that they are extremely antisocial and skittish.

They don’t like being around other animals and don’t do well in a flock of mixed breeds.

If you’re expecting a pet-like chicken, then we highly recommend skipping this breed.

Delaware Chickens

The Delaware chicken is a dying breed that needs to be bred by more farmers.

They are beautiful white and blackbirds that produce both eggs and plumage.

This makes them a dual-purpose chicken and allows them to produce products weekly.

A Delaware chicken has beautiful white or silver feathers for its main body.

Their necks, wingtips, and tail have a mixture of grey and black feathers.

delaware chicken

This gives them a pretty unique look and makes them stand out amongst other breeds.

Generally, a Delaware chicken can produce up to five eggs every week.

After a year, that number would total to be around 240 eggs.

While this is slower than some other breeds, the eggs are large and provide proper nutrition.

The temperament of the Delaware chicken is very calm and collected.

Compared to other breeds, they tend to get along with everyone and everything.

These birds are very curious and tend to enjoy having a rich environment.

If you’re going to coop them up, it’s recommended that you include toys and craft play spaces to keep their minds occupied.

Major Downside:

While Delaware chickens do well in cool climates, they do suffer from sensitive wattles and ear lobes.

If you’re planning on having them roam around outdoors in winter, it’s best to apply some vaseline.

This helps keep them warm and prevents their skin from chapping.

Bantam Chicken

Bantam Chickens

The Bantam breed is an under-rated chicken that has over 400 different varieties.

The word “Bantam” refers to their small stature and ability to survive in small areas.

Of course, this also means that the eggs they produce are half the size of regular eggs.

Depending on which crossbreed you get, a Bantam bird is around one third smaller than a standard-sized chicken.

To put this in perspective, a standard chicken weighs around five pounds while a Bantam chicken can weigh 15 ounces.

Their small stature makes them ideal for those living not just in rural areas but also in urban areas or limited space.

Due to their friendly disposition, they can easily survive in either a confined area or small coop.

As long as they have enough space to flap their wings, they are generally happy.

Their disposition can be described as lovely and energetic.

Bantam chickens thrive off of social interactions with each other or their owners.

As long as you give them attention and adoration, they will continue to prosper.

Major Downside:

A major issue with this breed is that it’s hard to tell what their temperament and color will be if you don’t know about the parents.

With over 400 species of Bantam chicken, it can be challenging to find one that suits your needs.

Finding ones that have been bred for specific genetic traits is your best bet.

Rhode Island Reds Chicken

Rhode Island Reds are one of the most common breeds used in farms across the world.

They are known for producing a high yield of eggs every year and having beautiful brown plumage.

Due to their aggressive behavior, though, it’s not recommended for beginners to raise them.
Rhode Island Reds Chicken
They are prone to getting into fights with one another and can even pick on other animals.

If you’re going to attempt to raise them, you need to keep a careful eye on them so that they don’t act out.

While some Rhode Island Reds are bullies, others can be sweet and friendly.

The overall demeanor is very aggressive and independent.

They will walk around like they own the place and are known for being tricksters.

They are mainly territorial birds, so giving them their own space can greatly benefit animals around them.

As for their production rates, they tend to lay at least 300 eggs every year.

Weekly, you can expect them to lay five to six eggs every seven days.

These eggs are large and are light brown.

Other production includes using them as meat, and they don’t taste much different from your quality chicken at the supermarket.

Major Downside:

The only downside we’ve found with them is their behavior.

They can be extremely challenging for a beginner as you will need to train and prevent their aggressive attitude.

Once you have everything in control, it’s likely to become easier for you to manage.

Silkie Chickens

If you’re looking for chickens that have alluring appearances, the Silkie would be a good fit.

They are very popular due to their furry bodies and adorable demeanor.

They are commonly referred to as the teddy bear bird due to their fluffiness.
Silkie Chickens
Silkies may be challenging for beginners because they are very skittish and may need protection.

Particularly, if you have multiple breeds of chickens, they will become susceptible to bullying.

Placing them in a secluded area can help prevent them from being picked on.

Silkies lay around three eggs every week, which is one of the slowest out of them all.

You’ll get around 120 eggs each year, and they are small in size.

Compare this to your standard, and you’ll find that it’s almost nothing compared to other breeds.

If you’re going to get a Silkie, it should be for their personality and appearance.

These birds are amazingly docile and get along well with humans and other pets.

They tend to enjoy being in environments where they can come into contact with humans.

They also make lovely pets and will even play with children.

Major Downside:

The only downside we’ve found to the breed is that they are susceptible to bullying.

Other than that, there aren’t any other issues.

Their thick fur-like coat helps protect them in winter environments but may cause them to overheat if placed in a warm climate.

If placed into a warm climate, you must give them proper shade to hide from the sun.

Sussex Chickens

An easy-going breed that is suitable for beginners is the Sussex chicken.

They are dual-purpose and yield a high amount of eggs every year.

If you’re looking for a snappy bird that is both easy to control and comes in variable colors, then the Sussex is for you.

For production, the bird can produce up to 250 eggs each year.

This is around the average number that other chicken breeds can produce.

The main difference is that these birds can be used as a food source.

Sussex Chickens

They are highly nutritional and can provide a steady source of meat for your family.

Their disposition is generally easy to handle, and they are rarely very active.

Breeders describe them as confident yet friendly.

They love to forage and explore, which makes them ideal for those looking to give them plenty of space.

Gardens and other greenery outdoors makes the perfect environment for this breed.

Overall, the Sussex is low maintenance birds and don’t require much effort to take care of.

They don’t need any supplements, special handling, or treatments.

This makes them ideal for first-time farmers or those looking to build a backyard coop.

That said, they can be susceptible to parasites, so it’s recommended to clean the coop when necessary.

Major Downside:

The only major downside we’ve been able to find is that they won’t produce a standard breed until paired with similar sex-linked roosters.

If not, you won’t have starter chickens that have the same genetics as their parents.

Instead, they will lose out and most likely have a whole host of health issues.

Plymouth Rock Chickens

Amongst all the heritage farm breeds, the Plymouth Rock chicken is the most popular.

They are known for having a zebra-like pattern and color scheme.
Plymouth Rock Chickens
Their first known trait, though, is that they have a calm demeanor and are perfect for those looking to expand their flock.

For production, the breed can produce up to 280 brown eggs annually.

To put this in perspective, most other breeds only reach 250 eggs every year.

If you’re not planning on using them for egg production, then they can also be used as a steady meat source.

The Plymouth Rock has a black and white barred feather look.

The barred colors are different between males and females.

It also has a large body and is one of the more robust chickens.

The females weigh around five pounds while males can get up to nine pounds.

As for their disposition, they are known for being friendly around other animals and people.

They make excellent pets and even welcome young children.

If you’re looking for a hen that can be more like a house pet, then you will definitely love the Plymouth Rock chicken.

Major Downside:

The only downside we’ve been able to find about them is that they are chatty.

They aren’t as loud as other birds, but they do tend to chatter amongst themselves.

This won’t bother the neighbors, but it can be a bit irritating if you’re not used to hearing constant chatter.

BlackStar Chickens

The Blackstar chicken is one of the most popular hybrid and best chicken breeds on the market.

They have unique, vibrant colors in their feathers and come in either brown, orange, or black.

BlackStar Chickens

It’s only been recently that these chickens were added to the backyard chicken world.

Blackstars are medium-sized chickens that weigh around six pounds.

They have a single red comb.

Their plumage is striking and fluffy, with many thick feathers sticking out.

As for production, you can expect the Blackstar to produce up to five eggs per week.

That’s over 250 eggs over a year.

These birds also have plenty of beautiful and unique plumage that is perfect for picking.

Their disposition is a bit different from others.

While they enjoy being free-range, they also enjoy their own space.

They are overall quiet and don’t produce much noise at all.

The breed is friendly with humans, other animals, and children.

Additionally, they are very tame and will even cuddle with you.

Major Downside

The only downside to this breed is that they aren’t reliable broody types.

If you plan to mass-produce the Blackstar, then it’s important to choose and get a good incubator.

This can help you reliably produce more chickens without having to rely on them sitting their eggs.

How Do I Know Which Chicken Breed Is Best?

Since it can be hard to narrow down the list even from the top ten we’ve mentioned, we’ll help walk you through how you can eliminate a few.

Here are some important considerations:

Climate

First, ask yourself what type of climate you’re going to be living in.

From there, eliminate breeds that don’t do well in hot or cold climates.

Purpose

After that, ask yourself what the main purpose is for your chicken production. 

Are you planning on breeding them as pets?

Or are you planning on using them for eggs and meat?

What about plumage?

If you can narrow it down to those three, it becomes more apparent on which chickens you’ll want.

Additionally, for a rural living, it’s important to understand how much a chicken can support you.

Their eggs provide a constant source of food, nutrition, and protein.

With just a few hens, you can easily produce enough eggs for your family weekly.

If you’re looking to make a profit, they will overall exceed the number of eggs sold than the cost of raising them.

If you’re not planning on using their eggs, you can always switch to either using their plumage or using them as livestock.

Either way, once you have a small backyard set up, you can easily sustain yourself.

Their eggs will hatch, and you’ll have more chickens without having to invest more money.

Experience and Space

Lastly, think about what experience you have and how much space you’re able to provide the chickens.

If you’re a novice, then it’s best to avoid breeds that are either too skittish or too aggressive.

Additionally, those that need more than a confined space will need to be supervised as they roam freely outdoors.

After answering those questions, you should be able to narrow down your list to at least two to three different choices.

Just remember, we listed the most common and easy-to-breed chickens on this list.

However, there are numerous other breeds out there that may work well with your homestead.

Best Chicken Breeds For Your Backyard

When it comes to choosing the best chicken breeds you want in your homestead, it’s best to consider it carefully.

Many breeds (Ameracauna Chickens) have different traits and provide various types of produce.

If anything, they can even make a great pet to have just to liven up your home.

Hopefully, you’ve found our article interesting, and we hope that we’ve helped you learn more about the types of chicken breeds out there.

Best Chicken Water Heater of 2019 – Complete Reviews with Comparisons

Chicken Water Heater

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Chicken breeders know that in warm and mild weather, chickens are fine with their water being placed in chicken water feeders, but it’s a different story in colder weather.

If you’re away for a short period, the best thing you can do for your chickens is invested in a proper chicken water heater, so they’ll have flowing water when they need it.

Chickens will get ill if you do not keep them appropriately hydrated – that is precisely what will happen if their water has frozen over so badly that they just can’t peck through it to drink.

So, let’s jump right into the best chicken water heaters to help you keep your chickens happy and healthy.

Best chicken water heater Reviews

K&H Pet Products Thermo-Poultry Waterer Best chicken water heater Review
K&H Pet Products Thermo-Poultry Waterer Best chicken water heater Review

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K&H Pet Products Thermo-Poultry Waterer

This Thermo-Poultry Waterer is a pricier option from K&H Pet Products but a favorite with chicken breeders everywhere.

It is thermostatically controlled, so the chickens’ water will remain ice-free in even the coldest weather.

Thermo Poultry Waterer Features

This is a gravity-type drinker that has a jug and a bottom tray where the chickens’ water is dispensed.

It is made of very sturdy plastic that is BPA free and features a comfortable handle making it easy to carry around and limiting spills.

With this product, you can expect the water filter ring to easily remove dirt and objects from the trough, keeping things cleaner for longer.

Thanks to its shape, roosting won’t occur, and the spill-proof cap helps prevent wasting of water.

The Thermo-Poultry Waterer comes with a sturdy cord, so you won’t have to worry about it splitting or not working within the first few months or years.

Whats Good about Thermo Poultry Waterer

The waterer is 2.5 gallons and is super easy to fill.

It comes with a removable screen in the water well that makes it very easy to clean out straw, feathers, and shavings.

Whats Bad about Thermo Poultry Waterer

Some users of this product have reported a bio-film forming that is impossible to remove, even with regular cleaning.

The container can be tricky to wash because of the size of its opening.

Thermo Poultry Waterer Pros

  • Easy to use
  • No water gets wasted
  • No roosting
  • Removable screen

Thermo Poultry Waterer Cons

  • Expensive
  • Won’t stay upright for filling
Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Chicken Water Heater review
Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Chicken Water Heater review

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Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base

This is one of the more trusted waterers on the market that isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg.

It will regulate the temperature of your water, making sure there is no freezing that will result in your chickens getting dehydrated.

Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Features

You will get warm water even in the coldest winters with the Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base because its thermostat works really well.

You’ll be able to warm large amounts of water, so it’s a good buy for chicken breeders with larger flocks.

Harris Farms offer a drinker base that has 125W power, and it can be used with either plastic or metal drinkers alike.

However, it is not recommended for use with plastic as it can warm up water very effectively, but this could cause issues with plastic drinkers.

It makes keeping your chickens watered much easier.

With this guy, the water gets raised a few inches off the coop, keeping debris out of it.

Ease of use is great with this heater – you just plug it in and voila!

The thermostat is one of its greatest features.

Not only does it work really well, but it is also built to prevent overheating so you won’t be left with hot water that your poor chickens can’t enjoy.

Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Pros

This product will keep your water thawed even when it gets really cold outside.

Its bottom is covered, so you won’t have to stress about it getting wet and damaged.

It also uses a float that will keep it sealed in really cold weather.

  • Efficient
  • Simple usage
  • Effective seal against cold

Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Cons

The thermostat can become an issue – it can malfunction and keep the water warmer than it should.

Users have reported that it never turns off either.

The plastic it is made of is considered inferior.

  • Buggy thermostat
Farm Innovators Heated Base Chicken Water Heater
Farm Innovators Heated Base Chicken Water Heater

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Farm Innovators Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts

This is a mid-range product that is affordable and effective – considered the best of both worlds.

It will prevent your chicken’s water from freezing down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with 125W power.

Farm Innovators Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts Features

You will be hard-pressed to find a heater that is easier to use than this one.

You simply have to plug it in, fill it with water, and that’s it – job done on your side.

This is also a very versatile product – you can use it for any animal, really.

It can basically be seen as a water bowl for animals with a built-in heater for outside use of any pets.

This heated base is thermostatically controlled and will only start operating when the temperatures drop to below 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

The bottom is sealed off, so there is no way that critters like mice can make their way in and start chewing away.

The cord is nicely protected with hardy material, which means animals will not be able to chew through it and cause all kinds of chaos.

Mice tend to be a big problem for chicken breeders who have to use things like water heaters, but with this product, you will not have to worry about those poultry pests creating problems for you.

The thermostatic control that the Farm Innovators heater comes with means your water will be thawed, but it will not be reaching boiling temperatures.

Farm Innovators Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts Pros

You will not have to worry about the temperatures with this product – it starts working as soon as it is needed.

It is a trusted heated base that is considered a great buy for its price and how well it works.

  • Comes highly recommended by chicken feeders
  • Works great in even the coldest weather

Farm Innovators Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts Cons

Thanks to its design, this product is only suitable for use with double-wall metal founts.

It is recommended that you don’t use it with an extension cord.

This can be an issue for people who do not have power in their chicken coops.

It is a great product, but the small capacity means you’ll have to refill it often if you have more chickens.

For a very small coop, this might not be such a big deal, though.

  • Can be used with double-wall metal water founts only
  • Users have reported the product shocking them as well as the chickens
  • Can get dirty easier than other products
Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base
Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base

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Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base

This is another mid-range product that is designed to function well with double-walled founts as well as other metal water containers.

This is perfect for use outside as long as it’s sheltered.

Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base Features

The Little Giant is pretty versatile.

You’re not limited to the heating of chickens’ water.

You’ll be able to heat the water of other birds as well, and even that of other animals.

This product is made in the United States and will only kick in when it is needed.

When it’s cold enough for the water to require heating and it won’t use a lot of power.

The safety of this product has to be mentioned, as it is considered very safe.

Be sure to keep it out of the way, though.

But you won’t have any issues of bedding straw catching fire or anything drastic like that.

Although many people will be put off by the fact that this heater is made in China, there is no reason to discriminate.

It works really well and can last for many seasons with no rust or other problems to worry about.

Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base Pros

The Little Giant can be used with a water can of up to 8 gallons without any problems or issues.

This product comes from a line of trusted water heater products, and this particular model is actually considered one of the best of the best.

  • Easy to use
  • Effective in keeping water at mild temperatures
  • Saves on power

Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base Cons

It can cause problems such as the ground fault circuit interrupter tripping, even without the use of extension cords.

  • Can get problematic with the ground fault circuit interrupter
API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard
API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard

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API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard

The API De-icer is a submersible product that is great for birdbaths, pails, pans, and buckets alike.

With it, you’ll get a handy 6-foot cord as well as a cord chew protector and stainless steel guard.

API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard Features

Like many of the water heaters on this list, this de-icer is a versatile product.

You’re not limited to using it only to warm the water of a chicken flock.

You’ll even be able to heat the water in any birdbaths you may have on your property.

It is a very sturdy product that you can expect to heat your water for many seasons to come without fail.

If you’re looking for a durable water heater for your coop, this is your guy.

This is a really easy-to-use heater.

You can plug it in and forget about it until you need to unplug it for spring.

It’s not a high-maintenance product and a great buy.

API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard Pros

This product has a built-in thermostat that will de-ice your chickens’ water quite nicely.

You won’t have to worry about them not having drinking water.

You also get an adjustable clamp that you can use to attach the product to your water container.

  • You get a 6-foot cord included
  • Can de-ice up to 15 gallons
  • Heavy-duty heater

API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard Cons

Users have complained that the product is not as effective as it promises to be and that the cord splits.

  • Pricey
  • Several bad reviews

Chicken Water Heater Buyer’s Guide

It is imperative that you know exactly what you’re getting into when buying a chicken water heater, so you’ll end up with the best product and not be left disappointed with something that doesn’t do what you expected and hoped for.

Of course, everyone’s needs are not the same, and what you’ll end up buying depends on just what it is you want the chicken water heater to accomplish, and in what environment you expect it to do so.

Here we’ll look at a basic list of things that most chicken breeders will need to look at before investing their money in a product.

Easy to fill Chicken Water Heater

This is likely one of the biggest things for people who use water heaters for their chickens.

It may seem like a simple thing, but if a product gets it wrong, it will mess things up royally.

You’ll want to keep the chickens’ water fresh, so filling should be easy and hassle-free.

Easy to clean Chicken Water Heater

Another important factor that, if not easy, can screw things up.

It can even move people not to buy a product if they can’t find out if it is easy to clean or a complete pain in the behind.

Keeping your chickens’ water clean is important for their health.

What is a Chicken Water Heater Made From

What kind of material is the chicken water heater made from?

It’s important to know so you’ll know what to expect.

Metals will be corroded by apple cider vinegar, which many chicken feeders add to their flock’s water to reduce their pH levels, combat ingested bacteria, and many other health benefits.

Plastic is, in general, considered the best material.

Chicken Water Heater Waste

You’ll want minimum waste when it comes to your chicken water heater – this will make or break a product in many cases.

Chicken Water Heater Thermostat controls

Some chicken water heaters come with thermostats that kick in as soon as the temperatures drop below a certain level.

Make sure that the product with this feature is trusted because if it malfunctions, it won’t thaw your chickens’ water, and chickens will dehydrate.

Chicken Water Heater Electric cord

You will generally get an electrical cord included with your product but don’t expect it to be very long.

There are exceptions, but in most cases, you will not get a cord that is longer than 4 feet.

Maintenance for your Water Heater

This is yet another significant factor to keep in mind when you go out to buy a water heater (or buy one online).

If you are not prepared to keep maintenance at the top of your list of chores, you might want to consider not buying a water heater.

That will mean you’ll have to get rid of ice manually, so this really shouldn’t even be an issue.

A waterer of any kind that isn’t maintained well will cause problems.

The water will be stagnant, meaning gross slimy residue will form, and all sorts of bacteria and algae will start growing.

This will result in your chickens refusing to drink the water (good on them).

So before you buy a water heater, be sure to check how often you’ll need to change the water with the product and how easy or difficult that will be to do.

That is usually easy to guess just by looking at the design of the product.

Below is a short video that will help you keep or maintain your chicken water heaters going during the winter:

Related Content: Water Your Backyard Chickens: Watering Systems And Ideas!

Best Chicken Water Heater FAQs

Are chicken water heaters heavy on electricity usage?

If you’re using an old model, then yes, it will use silly amounts of electricity.

However, modern products are made to be energy-efficient, so it shouldn’t be a problem when you buy a new water heater.

Why use a water heater for chickens?

If chickens go without water for too long, they will get sick, as is the possibility with any animal.

Dehydration is never a good thing.

When temperatures plummet, water starts to freeze.

Chickens aren’t completely stupid (some breeders will argue they’re not stupid at all!), and if their water has a layer of ice, they will peck through it.

However, when it gets colder, they won’t be able to peck the thicker layers, and they’ll have no water to drink.

With the heater, this problem is solved as it will keep the water flowing all through winter.

Will I still have to break the ice in my coop?

With a properly functioning water heater, you won’t have to head back and forth to keep checking that the chickens’ water isn’t iced.

That’s the point of using one.

That’s also why you should make sure you buy a good product.

If your heater isn’t working, you’ll have wasted money and will still need to break the ice manually.

How much water do chickens need generally?

Chickens may look like they don’t require a lot of water because they’ll take a sip and move on, but most of them need up to a liter of water every day to maintain stable health.

Depending on how many chickens you have in your coop, you’ll have to provide liters of freshwater for your chickens.

Where should I place the water feeder?

You will have to keep the water supply close to the chickens, so it is within easy reach for them.

They like to take small sips, move away, and peck at the ground and return for another sip.

Whether you place them on the ground or suspend them depends on the design of the water feeder.

Keep in mind that a chick won’t reach a raised feeder.

Best Chicken Water Heater Review

Now you know what you need to look for when buying the best chicken water heater.

You’ve also been informed of some of the products that are available and what makes them great.

Our pick for the best chicken water feeder has to be the Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base.

It is trusted by chicken breeders and isn’t quite as expensive as many other products that won’t even be as effective.

Harris Farms Heated Base for Chicken Water heater
Harris Farms Heated Base for Chicken Water heater

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With this product, you can expect water that is nicely regulated and won’t be surprised by frozen water when you check on your chickens.

It comes with 125W power and is good to use with either plastic or metal drinkers – the choice is yours.

The bottom is covered and won’t get damaged or wet.

Harris Farms offer a drinker base that has 125W power, and it can be used with either plastic or metal drinkers alike.

It makes keeping your chickens watered much easier.

With this guy, the water gets raised a few inches off the coop, keeping debris out of it.

Although it has received bad reviews, these are actually hard to find.

However, if the reviews are bugging you, you can always consider the Best Chicken Water Heater.

It is more expensive, but the only complaint about it is that it can be difficult to keep upright for refilling.

Best Chicken Water Heater
Best Chicken Water Heater

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If you can solve that problem, and won’t mind spending a few bucks more than average, this could be the water heater for you.

It is straightforward to use; you won’t be wasting any water with it during use or filling; there is no way for the chickens to try and roost on it, and thanks to its removable screen, it’s easy to keep the chickens’ water nice and clean.

The best chicken water heater for you really depends on the unique needs of you and your chickens.

Once you’ve determined what exactly you need and what it is that your flock needs, you’ll be able to find the perfect product.

Just be sure to keep in mind all of the things mentioned in the buyer’s guide, so you won’t miss something and end up wanting to kick yourself.

For the most part, picking a water heater for your chicken coop isn’t rocket science.

Remember to look for a product that has a maintenance level that you’re comfortable with.

Most heaters are pretty simple when it comes to maintenance.

Then take into consideration how big your water feeder is if you’re not buying a feeder with a built-in heater.

Also remember that cleaning can be a hassle for all of us, so check out how the product is cleaned and how often it will need to be cleaned.

In the end, choose whatever will work for you and your chickens or other animals you’ll want to give running water.

Incubation for Beginners by Brinsea, Inc.

Eggs getting incubated

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Incubation for Beginners – Hatching your own chickens can be an educational and rewarding experience and with the right equipment and some best practices you can be on your way to having backyard chickens in no time.

Incubation allows backyard poultry enthusiasts to hatch chickens and ensure the eggs are developing correctly in a controlled environment.

Incubators are able to control the temperature, humidity and turn the eggs automatically making the egg hatching process stress-free.

While you can incubate eggs any time of the year, spring is considered the best time to raise chickens because of the warmer weather which is ideal for new chicks.

If you’re considering hatching your own flock of backyard chickens, here are a few tips that will make egg hatching success.

Incubation for Beginners by Brinsea, Inc.

Choose a good incubator

To find a quality incubator, we recommend looking at the functionality.

Does it have an accurate temperature control?

Can it be cleaned easily?

Can turning the eggs be done automatically?

You’ll also want to look at the sizing.

For example, how many eggs, and what type of eggs does a specific incubator hold?

Especially as a beginner, these are important qualities to look for in an incubator to ensure yourself the best possible chance at successful hatching.

Also, read the reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, either to the manufacturer directly or in online social spaces.

Getting the Eggs

Once you’ve decided on the right incubator for your situation, you’ll need to find fertilized eggs.

If you already have hens and a rooster then you are good to go.

If you don’t have a rooster, then it’s always best to source your fertilized eggs locally because they will be fresher and their chances of hatching won’t be affected by shipping.

Setting Up Your Incubator

Before setting the eggs in the incubator, read through the incubator’s manual to ensure everything is working properly.

An important step to note is to make sure the eggs are at room temperature before setting them.

Once eggs have reached room temperature, place them in the incubator on their side or pointed end down and do not adjust the temperature for 24 hours.

Importance of Temperature and Humidity

In order for the fertilized eggs to develop correctly, they need to be kept at the correct temperature and turned often and positioned in the right way.

Humidity is also crucial because eggs breathe and lose water through the pores of the shell.

Small changes in temperatures can cause eggs to develop too fast or too slow which could result in deaths or deformities.

The correct temperature for most species when incubating is 99.5°F when using a forced draft incubator.

However, there are incubators without fans and if you are using one, the temperature should be set at 103°F because hot air rises.

No matter the incubator, room temperature should always be between 68°F and 78°F and kept out of direct sunlight to get the best results.

Incorrect humidity is one of the main causes for poor hatching success because it is the most difficult to measure and control accurately.

Humidity is important only to achieve the right balance between excessive dehydration and space within the egg to allow the chick to maneuver into hatching position.

Humidity is affected by evaporation from the eggs themselves and the incubator water reservoirs.

All incubators have water reservoirs and ventilation holes, some have digital humidity displays and ventilation controls.

Humidity levels are measured in % Relative Humidity (% RH).

Ideal humidity during incubation is 40-50% RH for poultry and game birds and 45-55% for waterfowl.

If the humidity is too high, you will need to increase the ventilation or if the incubator does not have a ventilation control, remove water.

Conversely, if humidity is too low, you will need to reduce ventilation and add water.

Humidity at hatching time needs to be higher than during incubation, at least 60% RH to prevent the membranes of the egg drying too fast as the chick hatches and becoming tough and difficult to tear.

Turn, Turn, Turn Eggs

Positioning and turning the eggs is important for egg development because as the embryo develops on the yolk, it causes the yolk to become lighter and float upwards.

When the egg is turned, the embryo moves downwards into fresh nutrients in white of the egg allowing the embryo to develop.

Note that most modern incubators turn the eggs automatically.

Using an incubator with this automatic feature is the best way to ensure the eggs are turned consistently and accurately.

However, if you are turning eggs manually, mark each egg with and X on one side and O on the other with a pencil.

This helps with remembering what side they need to be turned to.

This should be done a minimum of twice a day, to prevent the embryo sticking to the sides of the shell.

Turning should be stopped two days prior to when the chicks are scheduled to hatch.

Certain models with the automatic turning setting will also stop turning the eggs two days before they are due.

Incubation Period

An incubation period varies between birds but for chickens, it takes 21 days.

To check on the state of the embryo, the candling method is used.

In the past, people would use candles to shine on the eggs to see how the development process was going.

Now we are able to use LED lights which don’t emit heat.

Eggs can be candled after 5 days of incubation and every few days after that. For best results, light the eggs in a dark room.
Incubation Period for backyard chickens
Initially, you will be able to see a small embryo and a web of blood vessels radiating from it.

As the chick grows it will be hard to make out detail but you should be able to see movement.

However, if the egg is infertile it will remain clear and eggs that have died will show a dark ring.

Time to Hatch

Two days before the eggs are due to hatch, you should stop turning and make sure the water reservoirs are filled.

Humidity will need to be higher than normal so it’s important not to open the incubator.

It will take about 24 hours or more from the first bump on the shell until the chicks fully hatch.

After the chicks have hatched and are fully fluffed, transfer them to a brooder where they can stay warm.

This experience is very exciting so enjoy watching how your eggs develop and have fun.

For more information on incubators and chicken hatching, visit www.brinsea.com.

Related Content: Best Nutrition Plan for Healthy Chickens, find out what they need!

Best Chicken Feed Options for Your Flock

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Chicken feed – Chickens like people, really only need one thing to get by: a consistent source of nutrition they can depend on.

Mealtimes are central to a healthy and fulfilling life.

With that in mind, as a chicken owner, what your birds eat is the beginning and end of almost all of your problems.

A proper diet can prevent things like illnesses, obesity, agitation, and premature death.

Moreover, it means your chicken will live a healthy life.

And, ultimately, isn’t that what really matters the most?

Join us, today, as we discover some of the best options available for feeding your precious chickens.

Feed Your Chickens The Right Way

Your chickens are an investment, whether emotional, financial, ethical or a little bit of all three.

It’s important you take care of them, and, next to housing them, the most important part of their healthcare is their diet.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best ways for you to feed your flock.

Pellets For Laying Hens

There’s no chicken who works harder than a laying hen.

Laying hens have specially-designed commercial pellets and crumbles, designed to maintain their nutrients.

While laying, hens should be fed these pellets on a daily basis, in order to stay in good health.

If hens have access to food all day long, they’re more likely to store excess pellets in their crop, just before bed.

This food, then, can be digested overnight, while they sleep.

With these overnight nutrients coursing through their little bodies, they’re more

With these nutrients coursing through their bodies overnight, they’re more likely to produce eggs daily.

Grits And Oyster Shells

Grits and oyster shells are considered a standard among chicken owners.

Tiny rocks that chickens eat and swallow, these grits are essential in the digestion process for these birds.

Without them, their absorption of nutrients can be slowed, leading to potential complications.

Variety is the spice of life, and chickens appreciate it as well.

In spite of the calcium in commercial chicken feed, it’s important for your birds to get it from a few different sources.

Start with a feeder full of coarse, broken up oyster shells.

The calcium deposits in this will go a long way towards strengthening their bones and beaks.

Both grits and oyster grindings should be offered to chickens as free range feed.

Vegetables and Table Scraps

You can call chickens a lot of things, but shy eaters isn’t one of them.

The standard-sized hen has it in her to eat between a quarter and a third of a pound of pellets in any given day.

But they shouldn’t only be eating pellets.

It’s crucial to make sure your chicken enjoys a varied and nutritious diet.

Cutoffs, leftovers, old vegetables and other table scraps are all foods that any chicken or hen would be happy to finish off on your behalf.

What to Feed laying hens:

Coffee grounds might not seem worth the trouble to you, but can add nutrients and variety to their diet.

Compost, stalks, weeds and bruised or partially bug-eaten vegetables are all good candidates.

Free-Ranging

A good way to regulate your chicken’s diet and make sure they’re not being forced on any particular food is to come up with free-range options.

Cut a large vegetable in half and hang it up in their cage.

Leave a bowl full of compost in the freezer overnight and have the chickens peck at the frozen mound to get the food they want.

Treats

Chickens are, by their nature, very animated animals, and there’s no time you’ll see them wilder than upon receiving a treat.

You’ve got to be careful with what you feed them, and how much.

Chickens can get fat, but, more than that, they can get sick.

Dole out cracked corn with caution.

They love this treat, but it constitutes nothing but empty calories.

Not only is this bad for them, but it can also lead to problems with their egg laying.

Similarly, sunflower seeds are a nice treat for birds, but should be given out in moderation, and never with the shell on.

Apples, pears and other fruits work quite well as well.

Something to keep in mind, when it comes to the question of bird treats, is whether they encourage behavior among your chickens.

Large bricks of bird treats sit in one place in a coop or cage, where chickens go over to peck at them.

This means your birds are learning to sit tight and wait for food to come to them, without scratching, walking, or working in any way to get it.

Not only that, but they also tend to attract rodents. These are, by and large, best to be avoided.

All in all, with birds as with people.

Everything is better in moderation.

Train your chickens to understand the sound of a shaking jar full of sunflower seeds to be something that happens from time to time.

A teaspoon of meal-worms is more than enough protein for any bird.

Keep your coop stocked with enough compost to foster the natural occurrence of grubs and bugs, for birds to peck at.

Fresh Water for Chickens

Often an afterthought, access to fresh water is actually the single most important part of your chicken’s diet.

In order to keep dirt and grime out of the water, put it somewhere elevated off of the ground, and clean out the bowl weekly.

You’ll notice your chickens tend to prefer muddy water puddles, but, much like children, they need someone who knows better to take care of them.

Never underestimate how important water is.

If your chickens don’t drink, for whatever reason, they can expire and die within 24 hours.

Note On Feeding Chicks

Young chicks are dependent on you to feed them, especially in the first few days of their life.

Feed should be finely ground, containing no more than 18% protein.

This specialized chick feed should be administered for 14 to 18 weeks before they shift over to adult food.

Finally, make sure not to feed them any additives or products that promise to promote or speed up their growth.

These are almost always used in growing meat birds, and the resultant spurt in their muscle growth is not healthy for them.

Change The Way You Use Your Chicken Feed

Taking care of your chickens is a 24-hour-a-day process.

You need to make sure you’re feeding them properly, or their health can take a turn for the worse, quickly.

Whether you go for organic, high-fat, hand-made or store bought, a little nutrition goes a long way.

Make sure you don’t over-stuff your birds on fatty foods, and always keep their well-being in mind during mealtimes.

Interested in learning more about bird rearing, rural living, and sustainable lifestyle tips?

You can learn more about modern homesteading by paying us a small visit, today.

feeding chickens
Feeding Chickens

Feeding Chickens: What They Need at Different Stages

Did you know chickens today are almost five times bigger than their 1957 counterparts?

A Canadian study shows this isn’t because they’ve been tanked up with hormones or other size-enhancing drugs.

The research concluded that it’s because we’ve bred chickens to be bigger over the years by giving preference to the larger ones.

So, it’s still a good idea to follow feeding guidelines for your chickens based on their age and stage in life.

Let’s take a look at how feeding chickens according to their stage can make all the difference.

The Early Chick Stage

The early chick stage refers to the time between birth and about 8 weeks.

Just as a growing infant needs certain nutrients to develop a healthy and strong body, so does a chick.

During this stage of life, chicks need what’s called a starter feed or starter crumble.

This feed must contain at least 15% protein for the developing chicks.

Medicated Diet

Medicated starter feed contains amproleum, which works to safeguards chicks from a fatal intestinal illness called coccidiosis.

This illness is contracted through contact with feces.

This is why it’s important to keep your chicken coop from becoming too crowded and unclean.

Warm, humid weather makes for a moist environment and is a breeding ground for coccidiosis.

There is a coccidiosis vaccine.

If your chicks have been vaccinated, it’s best not to choose the unmediated diet.

Unmedicated Diet

Unmedicated starter feed simply doesn’t have amproleum in it.

This is best used if you’re at all unsure of whether your chicks have been vaccinated.

The Middle Chick Stage

The middle chick stage ranges from 8 to 18 weeks old.

Think of this as your chicken’s teen years.

This is when grower feed comes into play.

The grower feed cuts the protein down from the starter feed during the early stage.

The protein content is about 15-17% and requires grit along with it.

If you continue your chicks on a high protein diet, it can push them into laying eggs sooner than their bodies are ready for.

Think of a 14-year-old girl who gets pregnant.

Not a good situation.

Laying Hens

When chicks reach 18-20 weeks, they may be prepared to start laying eggs.

For your laying hens, you can choose the pellet, crumble or mash versions of layer feed.

Layer feed has vital calcium for eggshell production.

The layer feed uses 15-17% protein with additional calcium for strong eggshells.

Even though there’s extra calcium, your laying hens will benefit from crumbled oyster shells presented in a separate bowl from the layer feed.

Laying hens will only ever eat as many oyster shells as they need.

This helps ensure your hens don’t become depleted of calcium.

Note that layer feed should never be given to chickens under 18 weeks of age.

This is because the excess calcium can damage the kidneys, cause kidney stones to develop and can decrease the bird’s overall lifespan.

Non-Laying Hens and Roosters

A maintenance diet is necessary for non-laying hens and roosters.

This chicken feed still has the nutrients and vitamins that laying feed does, without the added calcium.

The maintenance diet can be accompanied by chicken scratch.

Scratch is composed of various grains, one of which is typically cracked corn.

And it’s very high in calories.

Scratch should be used infrequently and in small amounts.

Feeding Chicken Snacks

The occasional treat for your chickens is fine.

And they’ll love you for it.

Just make sure not to allow them to indulge too often.

Keep the snacks down to every couple days.

Chicken Treats

  • Pumpkin rinds
  • Mealworms
  • Oatmeal balls
  • Leftovers from dinner

And, since chickens don’t have teeth, remember to provide grit to help them digest these snacks.

Grit is made from sand or small pieces of stone.

Steer Clear of These Foods When Feeding Chickens

There are some foods that are toxic to your chickens and should be avoided at all cost.

  • Avocado seeds and skin
  • Dried beans
  • Unripe tomatoes
  • Green-tinted potatoes
  • Cocoa
  • Any food with mold on it

Chickens Will Eat Anything

Remember, even though chickens can be cute and lovable, they’re not the brightest of the bunch.

They’ll eat just about anything.

So, be mindful of what’s in their exercise area.

Especially watch for small plastic toys, nails, coins or bits of wire.

Joint Feeding Times

When you have a situation where you’ve many different age groups, don’t despair.

These circumstances aren’t optimal, but they’re also quite common.

In this situation, it’s best to provide an un-medicated grower/starter diet, along with available calcium such as crushed oyster shells or eggshells.

Don’t forget to put the calcium supplement in a separate bowl to allow the hens to determine the amount they need.

This is the best solution because the extra protein won’t harm the older chickens.

But the excessive calcium in layer feed can harm the developing kidneys of younger birds.

Open Versus Restricted Feeding

Chickens are generally grazers and only eat when they know they need to.

For this reason, a free or open feeding schedule is best.

This gives your chickens the freedom to meet their own hunger needs and at their leisure.

Food Crisis

In the event of a food crisis on your farm or in your wallet, where you just don’t have access to the nutrient-rich diet mentioned above, do the best you can.

For instance, if you can’t afford or don’t have access to crushed oyster shells, feel free to use crushed eggshells.

While it’s ideal to be able to afford feeder and supplements for your chickens, you can make do with alternatives.

And remember, the most crucial of all diets when feeding chickens is the laying hen’s diet.

Her task is strenuous and exhausting.

She needs all the calcium and protein she can get.

Feeding Chickens at Different Stages

When feeding chickens, you want to make sure you’re tailoring their diet to meet their specific needs.

They’re omnivores and just like us, they need balanced nutrition to keep them strong.

For more tips and information on how to raise your animals to be their healthiest, check out our post on caring for livestock.

Common Chicken Diseases You Should Know About and How to Treat Them

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Chicken diseases – Do you have a backyard flock of chickens?

There are lots of benefits of keeping chickens.

However, in order to be a responsible chicken owner, you have to make sure they stay healthy.

Otherwise, they could stop laying altogether.

This means preventing contraction of diseases, treating them when they occur, and possibly even culling chickens when they’re in danger of spreading dangerous infections.

In this article, we’ll tell you all about the most common chicken diseases, how to spot them, and how to treat them if you find them in your coop.

Fowl Pox

This disease is usually not deadly, but is known to take the lives of young or particularly weak chickens.

It usually lasts 10-14 days in a bird, but can take up to 6 weeks to eradicate from a flock.

Symptoms of Fowl Pox

White spots on the skin, Comb sores, Mouth or trachea ulcers and Laying stops.

It can be contracted from other contaminated chickens, but is also carried by mosquitoes.

Fowl Pox can be treated with Vitamin supplements, particularly Vitamins A, D and E. During treatment, chickens need to eat soft food in order to allow the mouth ulcers to heal.

They also need a warm and dry place to rest.

In order to avoid this disease, it’s best to get your chickens vaccinated.

Botulism

Botulism is one of the most serious chicken diseases there is, as the symptoms progress very quickly and the death rate is very high.

It’s caused by contamination of food or water by rotting meat, and most commonly occurs in summer and fall, when temperatures are warm enough for the bacteria to thrive.

This illness is not passed on from bird to bird, but can affect an entire flock if they all share the same source of food and water.

Symptoms of Botulism

Weakness and nervousness, Tremors or shaking, Feathers are easy to pull out.

Paralysis of the legs, which progresses to the wings and neck before a chicken then suddenly dies.

If the disease is caught early enough, it can be treated with an antitoxin by a vet.

However, a home remedy of 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts mixed with 1 oz of warm water given daily with a dropper can also work.

Infectious Bronchitis

Infectious Bronchitis is a common chicken disease in backyard flocks.

This is because most wild flocks develop a resistance to it from increased exposure.

Symptoms of Infectious Bronchitis

Decrease in eating and drinking

Discharge from eyes and nostrils

Coughing, gasping or loud breathing

Decreased egg laying

Misshapen or soft-shelled eggs

Sluggishness

Chickens can be vaccinated against infectious bronchitis.

However, this doesn’t guarantee that they won’t be infected.

Instead, it just decreases the chance of contracting it.

If you notice any symptoms, you’ll need to act quickly.

This viral disease is known to spread quickly and can kill entire flocks if left untreated.

There is no specific treatment for Infectious bronchitis, but some chicken owners report having success with herbal remedies.

Infectious Coryza

This bacterial disease infects the eyes or nose and is highly infectious.

Symptoms of Infectious Coryza

Swollen head or face

Sneezing

Coughing

Discharge from eyes and nostrils

Reluctance to eat or drink

Breathing difficulties

Ceased laying

Staggering

This chicken disease is usually treated with antibiotics.

However, if it has progressed past the point of treatment, infected chickens should be put down to avoid passing the disease on to the rest of the flock.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against infectious coryza.

Pullorum

This disease is viral and can, therefore, be contracted through contact with other infected birds as well as contaminated surfaces.

Like Chicken Pox in humans, this illness affects infant and adults differently.

Symptoms of Pullorum

Sneezing, coughing and poor laying in adult birds.

Breathing difficulties, low activity and a white paste on the backsides of chicks.

There is currently no vaccine against Pullorum, so the best way to protect against it is to be aware of the signs and symptoms, then put down any chickens that contract the disease.

Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza is the most commonly-known chicken disease, also known as Bird Flu.

There have been some fears surrounding this illness, as bird flu outbreaks in the news are common, and people are concerned about contracting bird flu themselves.

However, with the correct care, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Symptoms of Avian Influenza

Respiratory problems, Diarhhea, Swelling of the face, Discolored comb or wattle and Red spots on the legs.

When a chicken contracts bird flu, it will be a carrier of the disease for the rest of its life.

For that reason, it will have to be put down.

Some farmers have to cull entire flocks of chickens due to this particular disease.

After a cull, a coop must be completely cleaned and disinfected before any new chickens can be introduced.

Otherwise, they are at risk of contracting the illness.

Bumblefoot

This is one of the easiest to spot chicken diseases.

Unfortunately, it’s also virtually impossible to prevent.

It’s caused by a cut on the foot, which can be picked up by digging, scratching, or even just walking.

When bacteria enters the wound, it can develop into a staph infection.

This can be cause for surgery or amputation, and if left untreated, can kill a chicken.

Symptoms of Bumblefoot

Limping, Swelling and A cut or wound on the foot that refuses to heal

The best way to prevent this problem is by checking your chickens’ feet regularly.

If they get cut or scratched, disinfected the area and keep it clean and then monitor the healing process.

Keep Your Chickens Healthy and Happy

In order to prevent chicken diseases, you must keep your birds’ immune systems up.

You can do this by providing a hygienic, warm environment for them, with good quality food and a clean watering system.

To improve their quality of life, you can also provide them with toys to play with.

Like any other animal, chickens love to play. Delaware Chicken

Take a look at our post on how to entertain your backyard chickens to get some ideas for how to keep them busy.

Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard

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Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard – Chickens have long been part of the world’s history.

Facts about Raising Chickens is that they are believed to be domesticated for cockfighting purposes, initially, before becoming food sources.

Today, they serve both purposes across the globe. Best Chicken Breeds

Facts About Raising Chickens

Scientifically known as Gallus domesticus, the chicken is said to be first tamed in China around 6000 BC.

Four thousand years later, flocks of them moved to India, eventually spreading to other parts of the world.

The bird as a male adult is called a rooster, while its female counterpart is called a hen.

Young chickens, newly-hatched ones in particular, are called chicks.

One type of chicken subject to Chinese-origin debate is the Chinese Silkie chicken, which are popular for their dark meat.

It is unknown whether or not they originated from China, where they are called “wu go ji”.

Their dark flesh is attributed to a condition called genetic fibromelanosis, which causes extreme pigmentation of cells.

Chickens abide by a rigid social system referred to as the “pecking order”.

This structure puts one bird dominant over another.

This can be easily observed while feeding.

Dominant birds will be intimidating, pecking at submissive ones, stealing their food or chasing them away.

Though it may sound weird, chickens are also touted to be the closest living relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex – arguably the most popular dinosaur thanks to popular culture.

The link lies in the oldest proteins ever found, contained in the remains of an adolescent female T. Rex which lived 68 million years from the past.

As it turns out, the protein’s chemical structure reveals an evolutionary relation between chickens and the dinosaurs that reigned during the Cretaceous Period.

The fossil, a T. Rex’s leg bone, is unearthed in 2003 by Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies.

It was found at the Hell Creek Formation, an area that spans Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Chickens have their own “language” too, in the form of about 30 distinct vocalizations used for communication.

But what’s even more interesting is the fact that they are able to communicate even before their birth.

Through a purring sound, the mother hen “talks” to her eggs, and the unborn chicks respond through peeps – short, soft and high-pitched sounds.

It must also be pointed that chickens are not “dumb”.

In fact, mother hens serve as good examples by teaching their chicks not to consume grains which could be bad for them.

In addition, they tend to copy the behavior of other chickens, which could be helpful in some cases.

But perhaps the most fascinating fact about these birds is that they are able to recognize up to 100 faces, so the next time you see one, be sure you are remembered.

 

Facts about Raising Chickens Mating
Facts about Raising Chickens Mating

Chickens Mating

How do chickens mate?

It all starts with their own version of “courting”, of course.

This is actually simple – the rooster tries to impress the hen through a series of movements that highlight his beauty and strength.

Unfortunately, most hens just walk away, but things can get into a more aggressive turn and result to an engagement activity/position known as “treading”.

The rooster gets into a piggy-back position; he stands on the hen’s back and restrains her neck feathers.

It is vital for him to maintain balance in this event.

The hen lowers herself, spreads her wings to the side and allows him to hop to deliver sperm.

Chickens mate without copulatory organs, though the rooster has a pair of testes, and the hen has a pair of ovaries.

Both sexes instead have an external orifice called cloaca.

As these touch together, the rooster transfers sperm into the hen’s reproductive tract.

This is called the “cloacal kiss”, and after the act, each return to his/her own business.

Sperm lives inside the hen’s oviduct for about a month. 

Chickens Laying Eggs

One of the most puzzling questions to mankind – which often comes as a joke – asks which among the chicken and the egg came first.

Surprisingly, this inquiry has been raised since 384 BC, and some of the most well-known people from history have expressed their responses to the circular reference.

Aristotle claimed that both had always existed.

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said it’s the egg that came first.

However, it was discovered in 2010 that eggs cannot be produced without a protein called Ovocleidin-17.

This protein, meanwhile, is produced by chickens, which appears to support the stance that the winged, grown birds are first to exist on earth.

Still, this is emphasized to be inconclusive, leaving the mystery unsolved in millennia.

Hens begin laying eggs about 18 to 21 weeks (nearly 6 months) after their own hatching.

It is important to learn, however, that they are able to produce eggs even without the presence of a rooster.

It takes about a day for one hen to make an egg, and she is able to produce another an hour or less later.

But for a hen to produce fertile, hatchable eggs, a rooster will be necessary.

Roosters reach sexual maturity in about 4 to 5 months of age and can remain fertile for years.

The egg-laying process begins with a small gland located near the hen’s eye.

This gland is photosensitive; light triggers the release of eggs.

A fully-formed egg is pushed through muscular contraction.

It goes out through the same channel as the hen’s waste, but there’s nothing to worry here.

Only one canal access is allowed to the vent every time.

Eggs come in consistent shape as they follow the form of the hen’s uterus.

This might be disturbing, but chickens, sometimes, eat eggs.

This happens mostly when an egg is broken by accident.

For human consumption, eggs should be gathered daily and refrigerated quickly to ensure freshness.

Chickens That Lay Blue Eggs

Araucanas, Ameraucanas and Cream Legbars are three breeds of chicken that lay blue eggs.

This hue is caused by a pigment called oocyanin (sometimes called oocyan) which goes through the shell.

This pigment is a by-product of bile production. As a result, the shell will be blue inside and outside.

Interestingly, researchers have found that blue eggs actually happened because of a harmless retrovirus.

It is said to be a 500-year-old mutation that began in South America and China, which explains why some breeds in areas of both regions produce such eggs to date.

This particular virus, called EAV-HP, mixes its own genetic data into the host through a backward process; it uses its RNA to create DNA that is later integrated into the host’s DNA.

Nevertheless, the occurrence of blue eggs must not be treated as a rare occasion or a supernatural event.

Color has little to do with nutrition, as blue eggs contain approximately as much cholesterol as other eggs.

Each contain about 185 milligram of cholesterol, which supplies around 60% of the total amount recommended for healthy adults daily.

It is said that blue eggs will not raise blood cholesterol levels significantly; saturated and trans fats have greater effect on one’s total and “bad” cholesterol.

Chickens Hatchery

In essence, a chicken hatchery is a haven for hatching and incubating eggs.

In general, hatcheries are developed to serve different purposes – from ensuring food supply to maintaining conservation.

For live, young animals, these environments function as “nurseries”, becoming their home until they are ready to be moved to other locations.

Chicken hatcheries are often manned by veterinarians and biologists, supervising workers who do most of the ground work.

Activities include safe and proper handling of eggs, monitoring of incubation and provision of nutrition, water and extra needs to older chickens, among others.

Hatcheries must remain sanitary at all times, to ensure the health of the eggs, birds and humans within.

Starting a chicken hatchery is among the many routes of poultry production.

It can be difficult, but with the right information, hardwork and patience, it can be a good source of income.

Caring for the parent flock is perhaps the earliest consideration to keep in mind, alongside a well-planned financial management system.

Note that chicken hatcheries need not be limited to chickens, as it can also house other types of poultry birds such as turkeys and ducks.

While sanitary principles may be the same, care for these other birds will require different procedures.

As a staple food source, chickens have certainly become part of our lives, providing nourishment to many parts of the world.

Because their life is essentially a cycle, proper care must be consistent, whether it’s for a grown chicken or a hatching egg.

When one finds value in both, whichever came first will no longer matter.

The beauty of these birds, after all, is enough to be thankful for.

Keeping Chickens: Tips for a Healthy Brood

Whether you are keeping chickens for eggs, as pets, or for meat, there are easy things you can do to keep them healthy, clean and safe.

Let’s take a look at 10 tips for keeping chickens safe from predators and healthy all year long.

Keeping Chickens Safe From Predators

Throughout the day, your chickens should be secured within a fenced area with at least a 7-foot high enclosure.

Although not always practical, it’s best if they’re at least semi-monitored whenever they’re out of the coop.

Before dusk, you should round up your chickens, count them and secure them for the night.

During night hours, your chickens should remain in a durable and completely enclosed coop.

You’ll want more than a single layer of chicken wire to secure your fowl.

Use a 1-inch thick wire mesh around areas that are not solid.

Be especially mindful of raccoons as you enclose your chickens, as they have tiny agile hands that can stretch into narrow spaces.

keeping chickens
Keeping Chickens

Housing Your Chickens

Whether you raise your own chickens for their fresh eggs, to make up healthy chicken recipes or as beloved pets, you want them healthy, happy and safe.

You’ll want to make sure you have a sturdy chicken coop that’s easy to clean, sheltered from the elements and secure from predators.

Concrete is ideal for the flooring, as it’s simplest to clean.

Keep Your Chicken Coop Clean and Poop-Free

The frequency of cleaning depends on a few factors such as the number of chickens in the coop and the size of the coop.

To reduce the chances of spreading illness from chicken to chicken, you’ll want to clean the poop from your chicken coop at least three times a week. And spot clean if needed daily.

Use gloves, with a broom, shovel or bucket to clear away chicken feces from the coop as needed.

Make it a point to at least eyeball the coop daily.

And make a plan to deep clean your chicken coop twice a year.

Age-Specific Feed For Your Chicks

You may already know the basics for caring for livestock, but one thing you might not know is that, just like you, your chickens need certain nutrition to stay healthy.

And chickens need different nutrition at different stages of their lives.

Baby chicks especially should have a specialized diet called a start or grower diet until at least 5 months old.

This feed is high in fat and protein for their growth needs.

You should feed your chickens a diet of pellet or crushed feed specifically designed to meet their nutritional requirements.

You should feed them daily and allow them to eat as much as they want.

Best Chicken Water Heater

Feed For Your Egg-Laying Hens

When it comes to sustainability and raising your livestock, your egg-laying hens help out tremendously.

Laying hens have extremely high demands for protein, calcium, and vitamins because of the energy it takes for this task.

Use a special “laying” diet for your hens.

The beauty behind having laying hens is you don’t have to worry about what the egg cartons mean when they claim to be cage-free, free-range, pasture-raised or organic.

You know exactly where your eggs are coming from.

Feed For Non-Laying Hens and Cocks

While your egg-laying hens need high calcium for their job, cocks and non-laying hens will not benefit from the same diet.

Cocks and non-laying hens need what’s called a maintenance diet.

It’s much lower in calcium than the laying diet.

If you have trouble finding a maintenance feed, you can use some of the laying feed in conjunction with fresh vegetables and fruits and 20-25% scratch of corn or seeds.

Foods You Should Avoid Feeding Your Chickens Completely

The following foods can be harmful and even toxic to your chickens.

Raw or Dried Beans

These contain a toxin that will kill your chicken, and there’s no saving them.

Keep your chickens clear of any bean plants because they’ll nip at anything in sight.

Moldy Foods

This one can be hit or miss, but just don’t test it.

Be sure to clear out any foods from your chicken’s feeding area left over from the previous day.

Avocado

Although parts of the avocado may be okay in moderation, this is one you probably want to avoid altogether.

Just don’t do it.

Green Tomatoes and Green Potatoes

These have toxins that will kill your chickens in even small amounts.

Green potatoes can be harmful to human health, as well.

Citrus

Do not feed your chicks or chickens any citrus fruits, including citrus seeds and peels.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which aren’t good for your chickens.

Tiny pieces may not have adverse effects, but best to keep your chickens from all chocolate.

This especially goes for dark varieties, as this has the highest content of caffeine and theobromine.

Healthy Wandering Environment

When keeping chickens, you want them to be able to get good exercise and fresh air.

Your chicken coop should be well-ventilated, spacious and insulated for warmth during the cold months.

Allot at least 9 square feet per chicken.

Keep chicken toys available for them, such as handmade tunnels, chicken swings or CDs hanging on strings for them to play with.

Remember, chickens will try to eat just about anything left in their line of sight.

Keep gasoline, oil, screws, fertilizer, bits of wire and pesticides away from your chicken’s play area.

Rooster Per 9 Hens

If you’re wanting to mate your chickens to produce offspring, you really only need one cock for every 9-10 hens.

Roosters do tend to be noisy and territorial, so you probably don’t want to have any more than you have to for the job.

Keeping Chickens Disease-Free

You’ll want to pay close attention to your chicken’s physical appearance and energy levels.

This will help you get a sense of what each chicken’s “baseline” is in terms of wellness and illness.

Watch your chicken’s weight and sift through feathers to check for parasites or feathers falling out.

Notice any sneezing or appetite changes, as well.

Keeping Your Chickens Healthy All Year Long

Whether you’re wanting fresh eggs, tender meat or pet chickens, you’ll want to keep them happy, healthy and safe.

Did you know 1% of urban dwellers own chickens on less than 1 acre of land and another 4% plan to join this poultry trend in the next 5 years?

This may not appear very high at first glance.

But when you consider the crowded environment of the city and the compact feel of side-by-side housing, 5% can seem quite high.

It can be difficult to keep your chickens healthy and happy under these conditions.

But it can be done.

For more tips and information on keeping chickens and other livestock, check us out at Rural Living Today.

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What’s the Best Nutrition Plan for Healthy Chickens?

Healthy chickens

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Raising healthy chickens are a staple of homesteading.

The urban farming movement and trend toward a rural lifestyle shift has spurred an increased demand.

Availability through online marketplaces has further fueled the desire and ease of raising livestock in our backyards.

Modern, healthy chickens need a larger diet because they’re bred to produce a greater volume of eggs and yield more meat.

Their environment has changed from farmhouse to the backyard.

Domestication has led to healthier, vibrant flocks. 

Commercial feed is an easy solution for feeding chickens but not always the best option for their nutrition.

Chickens eat plants, insects and fruits and vegetables, which make them omnivores.

It’s important to include a nutritional variety.

It’s easy to provide a sound nutritional plan to keep your backyard chickens healthy and happy.

Nutritional plan for chickens

What to feed chicks (up to 8 weeks)

Newborn chicks will need a feed that contains 18-20% protein to encourage growth and health.

The starter feed has two options (medicated and non-medicated) depending on your need to protect the chicken from diseases.

Feeding chicks:

Medicated chick feed
Non-medicated chick crumbles
Chick grit

The chicks beak is small so most starter feeds come as crumbles.

Crumbles are simply larger pellets broken down to smaller sizes.

During this time, it’s important to introduce grit into their diets to help with digestion.

Grit is stored in the gizzard and is usually sourced from when they pick at the ground.

You could supply it through sand and dirt mixed into the food.

High calcium diets are to be avoided at this age because it may cause kidney stones and reduce the lifespan of the chicken.

What to feed adolescent chickens (8 – 18 weeks)

Switch to grain that contains 16-18% protein.

Your options are called layer feed or a grower rotation.

It’s a millet containing a variety of nutritional ingredients.

Layer feed
Grit

The feed is typically in pellet form at this stage in life.

Grit will retain an important role to help with digestion and promoting healthy growth.

What to feed adult chickens (18 weeks+)

Stick with layer feed (containing 16-18% protein).

The feed at this stage will have a mix of pellets, mash, and crumbles.

A layer rotation is recommended for chickens beginning to lay eggs.

Calcium and grit should remain a staple of their diet though it will mostly come from their activity and feeding habits at this age.

Dos and Don’ts of Chicken Feed

You’d think it’s okay to let them “have at it” when eating but this is a detrimental approach to caring if you want healthy chickens.

Store-bought feed or mixing your own batches will provide most of what you’ll need but there are other tidbits to remember.

Chicken do’s

Offer insects, fruits, and vegetables

Supply unlimited feed for their choosing

Keep feed organized in buckets and with a feeder

Include calcium via oyster or grit

Feed extra carbs during winter

Stick to pumpkin seeds, mealworms, or veggies for snacks

Spread feed to prevent aggression while eating

Chicken don’ts

Overdo it with giving them treats

Saturate the diet with starches like bread

Give them grass and clippings

Use “scratch” as their main source of food

It’s perfectly fine to mix table scraps with pellets (within reason).

Don’t worry about invading insects because these provide a nutritious meal as well.

Those homesteading or living the rural lifestyle may desire to create a feed from scratch.

Mixing feed isn’t the best option unless you have a keen understanding of the nutritional elements.

It’s easy to misjudge ingredients and accidentally restrict your chickens from the nutrients they need.

Healthy chickens: Feed based on age

Chickens begin laying eggs at 4-6 months of age.

Their egg laying depends upon if they’re hybrid or non-hybrid.

Hybrid chickens lay earlier compared to their non-hybrid counterparts.

Domesticated chickens will typically lay eggs for 2-3 years.

Egg laying will begin to diminish as they reach later years.

Though, it’s not uncommon for older chickens to produce the occasional egg.

Exposure to sunlight will also affect their egg laying.

Fewer than 12 hours will lower their chances.

Winter months tend to show a drop-off in production.

It’s important to begin feeding chicks and chickens a balanced diet from an early age.

The balanced diet will help to improve their health and egg-laying ability.

Healthy chickens: Good environments

A chicken needs a safe, clean environment to lead a healthy life — just like us!

Chickens need the essentials:

Good food and fresh, clean water

Safe, stress-free environment

Chickens will drink from any source though it’s not the best due to bacteria and pathogens that are possibly present in the source.

Always supply clean water to the chickens and do a regular cleanup of the water source to prevent waterborne diseases.

Free-ranging chickens

The easiest way to manage the nutritional plan (and to keep them happy) is to allow chickens to free-range.

This will give them access to feed and other nutritional sources found throughout the yard.

Free-ranging becomes a hands-off experience which is beneficial for the chicken’s health.

Be aware of predators

It’s essential to safeguard their area from raccoons, coyotes, bobcat… whatever is in your area.

Enclose the top as well

Consider using traps or repellents to deter predators from entering your space.

Having a livestock guardian animal or livestock guardian dog works wonders.

Other environmental items include:

Removing hazardous, toxic items

Offering heat sources during colder months

Keeping chickens cool in the summer heat

Companionship to keep them social

Use chicken toys and chicken swings to keep them busy

Dirt mounds to prevent aggression

A clean, secure chicken coop and nesting box will suffice for the lifespan of your chickens.

Fence in the remaining sections to prevent venturing too far and exposure to hostile environments.

Delayed laying, loss, and moving forward

Late-stage egg production provides a sign of possible illness or malnutrition.

Veterinary assistance and regular checkups will provide guidance and treatment.

Delayed laying and loss are expected when raising chickens.

Yet, it provides a beneficial experience to understand the nutritional plan and environment to improve your success when raising healthy chickens.

Chickens are a fun, rewarding challenge

Chickens are a staple for those embracing the rural lifestyle.

They are excellent to provide a food source in a food crisis or during uncertain times.

Raising chickens poses a challenge but one that’s rewarding.

The reduced reliance on supermarkets and factory farming gives you a sample of possibilities when shifting from urban to rural living.

A nutritional plan is essential for raising healthy chickens.

It does require extra effort but it’s worth it to have a happy and productive brood.

This is but one of the many things to love about this lifestyle.

Raising chickens will provide inspiration and know-how to venture into bigger and more rewarding rural lifestyle experiences.

Check out some of our other posts on raising livestock for additional inspiration and guidance.