Modern Homesteading, Rural Living, Off-Grid, Generators
Backyard Chickens and Roosters
Backyard chickens and roosters can be a great addition to your homestead. Backyard chickens, sometimes called urban chickens, are fowl breeds that you can raise in a typical backyard. Chickens are an excellent food source. They produce eggs. Later, as the chickens mature and their egg production declines, they produce meat.
Raising Backyard Chickens and Roosters
Chickens are trending as people become more concerned where their food comes. Raising chickens in their own backyard give people more control of the quality of eggs produced. Perhaps they choose to free range the chickens or feed them with organic feeds only. This significantly increases the health factor of the eggs and also the meat from the chicken. There are also people who sell eggs and who are keeping chickens as part of a survival or prepping plan.
And what about raising a rooster? Are you considering one? We explore all there is to know about roosters so you can make the right decision.
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.
They were as excited as if the swings were for them! Our family and neighbors have enjoyed watching our chickens swing and play.
Best Chicken Swings
The Chicken Swing – Fowl Play Products
This is the first chicken swing we installed, and it remains everyone’s (people and chicken’s) favorite.
It’s sturdy and well-built, bright and colorful.
The Chicken Swing is made from plastic and rope, and holds up well in all types of climates.
It was easy to mount. It’s adjustable for any coop size.
Like with all these swings, you will want to be sure there’s enough space for it to swing freely so it’s safe.
We first installed this swing when we had chicks. This is key. You will have much more success with chickens using this when they are adults if they start when they are young.
We made sure it was very low, about an inch off the ground.
The chicks were able to get used to it while they were young, energetic and curious.
As they grew, we raised the swing to 3 – 4″ off the ground. They still enjoy it to this day.
A concern for all chicken swings is the risk of injury during a vigorous dismount. The Chicken Swing comes with a fully adjustable cross-member which keeps the swing from twisting when the chickens dismount.
Depending on the area in which you hang it, when the hens have gotten used to it, you may want to put it high enough off the ground so the other chickens can be near it and under it safely, even when it’s swinging.
Two solid poly-pro ropes support the swing.
The perch is shaped like a small mailbox, with a corn-like surface the chickens can grip.
Pros of The Chicken Swing
UV and weather-resistant rope
Easy-to-install rope buckle makes it easy to adjust the height.
Safety side ties
Easy for chicks and chickens to grip and stay on.
Chickens can use it as a perch and a swing.
The perch tongues allow the swing to have more torque, so the chickens can swing easily.
It’s plastic — not wood — so it won’t warp.
It’s easy to clean.
Cons of The Chicken Swing (and all chicken swings)
Some chickens might be afraid of the swing so you may have to train them yourself
You may have better success with your chickens using the swing when you set it up when they are chicks or pullets.
Healthy Chicken Swing Perch
This is a simply chicken swing. It is very easy to install.
Like all chicken swings, its purpose is to keep chickens happy, active and entertained.
The Healthy Chicken Swing Perch is made from durable wood to last a long time.
Strong ropes support the swing, giving it a solid suspension. You can adjust the ropes according to the size of your coop. The Healthy Chicken Swing Perch also comes with two carabiners which make the installation process easy.
Even if your chicken are of a large and heavy breed, this swing will hold them.
What makes this one different is that there is sandpaper covering the perch so the chickens can sharpen their nails.
Pros of the Healthy Chicken Swing Perch
The swing is very sturdy, durable and easy to assemble.
The materials are good quality and safe for your chickens.
Sandpaper on the perch helps to sharpen their nails.
The perch is wide enough for all sizes to perch comfortably.
Cons of this swing
It can be a little wobbly especially when the chickens mount or dismount vigorously. This may scare your chickens.
Even with the best chicken swings, some chickens may not find it appealing.
It helps to “train” them with treats when they are younger (chicks preferably) or when you first get them. It still works with pullets and adult hens but each will have their own personality. It’s better to start when they are young.
Bwogue Wooden Chicken Flexible Ladder, Parrot Chicken Swing, Toy
This is the least expensive of the best chicken swings. It’s also a versatile swing in that it’s a swing/ladder. Chickens can perch on it to rock, or they can walk across it for fun.
Did you ever imagine yourself buying a swing for your chickens?! As more people raise backyard chickens, companies are coming up with ways to keep them busy. Many people consider them as pets, giving them names, etc.
Many people may enjoy DIY chicken swings. If you are handy, it can be a fun project.
The most important thing is to be sure the swing is SAFE. Remember, design it so there is no way the chickens would get caught up in the ropes.
It’s great to spoil your girls and keep them occupied.
Introducing chicken swings can be a welcome distraction for them. Chicken swings and chicken toys can add some excitement and fun.
Having tried the three swings, The Chicken Swing from Fowl Play Products scores highly on safety, durability, design for assembly and effectiveness.
It’s like the Chick-N-Veggie ball above but this one is only made to hang.
Being it’s smaller, you won’t be able to fit a full head of lettuce or cabbage in it, but it works well for other produce. And you can easily rip the cabbage leaves off and put them inside.
It measures approximately 4 inches in diameter.
Your chickens and ducks will enjoy it with a variety of fruits and vegetables. It works wonderfully with lettuce, spinach and kale.
It’s made from sturdy, rust resistant metal. There are large gaps in the wiring which allow the chickens to easily access the food.
It has a bell which will also entertain them.
The design of the treat ball caters to the chickens’ natural foraging instincts.
There’s a clip and hook so you can position it almost anywhere for easy access. You can keep it in the same location or move it around for them to find. You may want to get more than one and hang them in different spots for variety.
Like the treat ball above, this is great to use when you will be away for several days.
Features of the Precision Pet Chicken Treat Ball:
You can easily fill it with healthy snacks and hang it in the coop.
Keeps the food clean and gives your ducks and chickens some variety.
It’s great for apples.
Included bell attached at the bottom provides entertainment for chickens.
Provides a challenging feed source and enables them to peck (if you put an apple or carrot in it).
It is durable metal coated with red, rust resistant finish.
Note this will not fit an entire head of lettuce or cabbage. Again, you can remove the leaves and put them in separately.
Lixit Chicken Toy
Another great way to keep chickens occupied is with the Lixit Chicken Toy — the ultimate in providing action and snacks to your chickens.
It has an easy, pull-apart design to fill with feed, meal worms, or any favorite treats.
Simply put the Lixit in with your chickens and watch as they race to see what is inside.
Depending on the number of chickens you own, you may want to have more than one so they won’t fight over it.
Yes, they will love this toy (and the treats) that much!
No matter when you first introduce it to your hens, you should make sure it is lower to the ground.
Once they get the swing of it (ha!) you can raise it. If you have the space, you may want to get two and put them at different heights to see which they use the most. Then you can adjust accordingly.
You will enjoy watching your chickens jump on and off of a swing. It’s fun for them too, and curbs boredom. If you can find a way for your hens to enjoy this in the cold winter months, this will go a long way toward entertaining them.
The Chicken Swing features:
This toy is an exceptionally well-made, colorful product. The perch is plastic, making it easy should you ever need to clean it. It also won’t rot or warp.
Chickens can perch easily on it; it’s shaped like a corn corn.
The perch is 16.25″ wide — large enough for your hens.
Chicken toys DIY
If you are handy and creative, you can make all types of chicken toys. Experiment to see what your hens or chicks like. You can do something as simple as securing fastening a bell to the end of a hanging rope. See what your girls will find engaging!
Keeping chickens occupied
Chickens are capable of recognizing familiar animals and people, and building relationships with them.
Much like humans, they develop close relationships with their mothers.
They are capable of communicating with her while still in embryonic form. Chickens are social creatures, preferring the company of other chickens to being alone.
They develop a social hierarchy with those that they spend the most time with.
We should want to care for our hens in the best way possible.
We can do this be providing them with good living conditions, including a clean coop and ways for them to be protected from cold, rain, and the sun.
It’s essential they can live safe area from predators. Also important is that they have access to clean water and food.
Once you meet the basic needs, it’s great if you can give them space. Free range chickens are most likely happier. And if you can also give them access to variety and stimulation in the form of chicken toys, that will keep them curious, active and interested.
Ultimately, the goal is to keep them healthy so they can continue to provide eggs and later, high-quality meat.
Thankfully, more and more people are treating chickens better.
Many chicken owners value them as pets and as a food source.
Getting your hens the best chicken toys is a way to enrich their experiences and to honor their contributions to our lives.
Some owners grow so attached to their birds that they choose to keep them on as pets rather than solely a food source when they stop laying.
How to entertain chickens
If you want to get creative, you can make your own chicken toys. You can DIY chicken toys from things around your home.
Like the toys you can purchase above, they are inexpensive to create.
You can use an onion bag and hang a head of cabbage, allowing chickens to peck at it.
Also, you can build a “food puzzle” out of things the hens will have to move or manipulate in order to reach a treat hiding on the inside.
Chicken enthusiasts have even built DIY chicken swings to allow them some time to exercise and play.
Building an A-frame, otherwise known as a chicken gym, out of some leftover wood and some nails will keep them active and engaged with one another as they climb up and down the rungs. If you don’t have the room or materials you can build chicken perches as a diversion.
Chickens also love shiny objects. You can putting a small mirror — away from the glare of the sun — in a chicken coop.
It will provide hours of enjoyment for curious cluckers.
Consider also a chicken ladder. These are fun toys as well.
This can cost you nothing if you know a little bit of carpentry and you decide to use recycled materials.
However fancy coops that are ready to use can be very expensive, into the thousands, but the average cost of coops is less than a thousand.
Monthly costs can include feeds and other miscellaneous expenses.
If you go for buying chicks you also need to purchase a brooder.
Most families who raise chickens make their own brooder with Rubbermaid container or packing cases.
The size would depend on the number of chicks you decide to raise.
1 square foot of space is needed for each chick.
Consider this computation as you decide on your brooder choices.
You also need to buy waterers and feeders for the brooder and the coop when the chicks are mature enough to be moved to their permanent home.
It is less expensive to raise chickens than a pet dog or cat, plus you will have fresh eggs every morning when the chickens start to lay eggs.
This can offset some of the costs you incurred in raising the chickens in your backyard.
Caring for backyard chickens
Depending on the decision to raise chicks or matured chickens, you need to learn the basics of taking care of both to make sure that the chickens can grow to maturity and they can have a healthy, long life, producing as much eggs as they can for you.