10 Tips for Raising Backyard Chickens for Beginners Hacks

Backyard Chickens for Beginners

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Raising backyard chickens for beginners is exciting and very rewarding. Chickens can be seen as pets and/or a source of food.

Either way, chickens can give you joy, a sense of fulfillment, and eggs.

If you have kids, the fun is exponentially multiplied as chickens are very social. It’s also a great way for children to help with chores as well as involve them in 4-H.

While it may be overwhelming in the beginning, there are many tips to make things go easier.

Soon you will see how simply entertaining they are with their different personalities. Best Chicken Toys: Entertaining Your Backyard Chickens

If you live in an area which permit chickens, they are a great choice.

Backyard Chickens for Beginners

The most common questions people ask is if chicken rearing is easy, and if it can it be done on a shoestring budget.

Raising chickens is easy. There are just some basic things for you to know.

After that, everything about raising chickens can be self taught – no special training needed.

Read about How to Raise Backyard Chickens.

There are also great books for raising chickens for beginners.

Raising chickens is inexpensive

Raising chickens is cheaper than having a dog in the house.

The cheap food, Chicken coop shelter construction options, pet care necessities, and other related expenses make backyard chickens an affordable endeavor.

Many of the initial expenses are just one-time purchases: coop, fencing, watering system and feeders.

This backyard chickens for beginners guide can give you confidence through the process of raising hens.

Backyard Chickens for Beginners
Backyard Chickens for Beginners

What are backyard chickens?

Backyard chickens, sometimes called urban chickens, are fowl breeds that are raised in a typical backyard.

These chickens are commonly seen as source of food with the eggs they produce and the meat they provide as they mature and their egg production starts to decline. Comparing the Best Chicken Swings

Keeping chicks is a rather trending backyard project today as people are more concerned where their food comes from.

Raising chickens in their own backyards give people more control of the quality of eggs produced.

Perhaps they choose to free range the chickens and/or to feed them with organic feeds only.

Both of these choices will significantly increase the health factor of the eggs and also the meat from the chicken.

Having a steady supply of eggs is also important for those who are interesting in alternate food supplies. This is important in cases of prepping for emergencies and for food shortages.

Chickens are easy to feed

Backyard chickens are omnivores which makes them easy to feed.

They can eat grains, fruits, vegetables and insects.

To better manage their diet, you should provide them with well-balanced meals that have all the vitamins and minerals they need to reach their potential weight.

Feeding Chickens: What They Need at Different Stages.

This also gives them a boost to lay more eggs.

Chickens are easy to take care of

You can shelter and house adult chickens in a DIY chicken coop and if you prefer to free range them, you can also integrate a chicken run with the coop.

The chickens only need a steady supply of waterand nutritious food.

Beating Food Challenges with Chicken Eggs
5 Important Tips on Raising Roosters
Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard

Organic Egg Backyard Chickens
Organic Egg Backyard Chickens

How to start raising backyard chickens

There are a few pointers you need to consider when you plan to raise backyard chickens for beginners in your backyard.

These tips can make it a lot easier for you to start and sustain your chickens.

Something to consider is how many chickens you want to have and how much room they will have.

Where do you live

If you know someone in your area who raises chickens, you may ask them what types they’ve had success with.

This will be particularly important if you live in a geographical area with more extreme climates or seasons.

Consider areas in which chickens will need to ensure long winters with cold temperatures.

According to Backyardchickencoops, chicken breeds with small combs and heavy feathering do well in cold climates. Come examples include Plymouth Rock chickens and Astralorp.

It’s even more important to choose the right breed if you live in a hot climate. Heat-hardy chickens will fare much better than other breeds.

Fresheggsdaily.com suggests choosing a chicken breed with a larger comb and smaller body mass, such as the Leghorn, Easter Egger, Welsummer, Golden Campine, and White Crested Black Polish.

And if you have both extremes — hot and cold – it’s best to choose the heat-tolerant breeds as most chickens do better with cold than heat.

Choose the chicken breed

In addition to considering the climate, there are other factors to consider.

Although all chickens can be raised in a backyard, there are a few breeds that are more suitable for backyard chickens for beginners.

Rhode Island Red

The Rhode Island Red is a breed that can reach an average weight of 6.5 lb. It has dark red feathers and adopts in a small flock very well.

Known to be a breed for laying eggs, this chicken can produce brown eggs.

Wyandotte

The Wyandotte is another chicken breed that is seen to be dual purpose (for eggs and meat).

With an average weight of 6.5 lb, the Wyandotte can thrive in small flocks and can do well in rugged conditions.

They are known to have a good disposition and are available in different colors.

Ameraucana

The Ameraucana is available in many colors.

It lays green eggs and can produce more for a longer period of time compared to other breeds.

This breed is easy to handle and can tolerate all kinds of climates very well.

Orpington

Another easy-to-raise chicken breed is the Orpington.

The hens of this breed can reach up to 8 lb in weight. The greater weight makes it very ideal for eggs and meat.

It has many color varieties and ideal for cold places.

Choose chicks or adults

Decide if you want to start with chicks or adult chickens. This is your preference.

Some of the key things you need to consider are the cost.

Adult chickens would cost more upon purchase but you can already expect them to lay eggs as soon as you house them in the coop.

Chicks you raise together may get along better than adding chickens who are already grown.

Buying chicks is a cheaper option but you also have to factor in making a brooder for them, and feeding them thru adulthood.

You need to wait up to 6 months before you can have some eggs from the chicks.

Raising chicks, however, can be more engaging for the family. It can teach your kids more things about caring for animals and learning about agriculture.

Buying chicken for your backyard can cost under $10 to $30 for each depending on the age and the breed you decide to buy.

Choose where they should live

Choose the best place to house your chickens.

Choosing a brooder

Chicks need to be in a brooder first.

The brooder must be kept indoors. The most ideal for the brooder is in the garage.

A brooder can be a DIY project and can cost up to $70 including the necessary lighting.

Ideal lighting is a 250 watt lamp that can produce enough heat for the chicks.

Brooders help your chicks thrive in their ideal temperature which is usually set at 90 degrees F.

This temperature is regulated and will be decreased slowly until the chicks are ready to be moved to the coop outside.

Choosing a chicken coop

If you are buying adult hens, then you only need to expend for the coop, the fencing, and overhead netting.

If you are comfortable working with wood, then you can secure coop plans and do the construction and sourcing of materials yourself.

Many prefer to buy a coop that is easy to assemble. It is easier, and you will be sure everything lines up correctly.

There are great chicken coops available. buy a ready-made coop.

They are easy to put together.

Buying a chicken coop will secure your chickens for a long time. It’s also generally a purchase you make just once.

Ready-made coops also have better designs and should be a more cost-efficient housing for your chickens. There are many to choose from online.

They are also usually made from materials which you can easily hose off to clean.

If you are handy, and you have recyclable materials in your backyard (restoring a Rural Backyard), you can always draft your own coop plans and construct it from scratch.

Be sure to have some buffer time just in case you fail to construct a working coop for your chickens.

Protect against predators

Be mindful of predators in your area. No matter where you live, it’s best to provide coverage on the top as well.

Coyotes, bobcats, hawks, raccoons, and other predators can easily access your chickens from the top.

Protect against climate

No matter what breed or different types of chickens you decide to keep, you must still consider how to protect them from the weather, including rain, hail, sleet, snow, cold and heat.

It’s important for you to provide a source of shade for them which is the best way how to keep chickens cool.

Also, be sure to have an area for them to keep warm in the winter and dry in the rain.

Choose what the chickens will eat

Feeding chickens

Decide the kind of food your chickens eat.

One of the best ways to feed chickens is just to let them loose and allow them to feed off from your backyard.

When you raise free range chickens, you are giving them more space and the freedom to source food on their own.

This is a good option especially if you have a sizable backyard as this can significantly reduce your food expenses for the chickens.

This option, when complemented with organic feeds, also assures you with an organic chicken which should provide healthier eggs and meat. Many people give their chickens their leftover produce, including watermelon and lettuce.

If a free range flock is not practical due to predators, terrain or space, chickens are easy to feed.

Complete feed

Another option is to give your chickens Complete Feed. You can get it at a feed store. This will help you ensure you are giving your flock a nutritionally balanced diet.

Scratch grains

You can supplement their diets with Scratch Grains. However, you should do this after they’ve completed their meal, as you don’t want them to get their nutrients only from scratch grains.

You can spread them on the ground for the chickens to forage. Some examples include rolled, cracked, or whole grains, such as wheat, oats, barley and corn.

It’s also important to provide a grit source to help them break down the grains.

Different stages

A hen already laying eggs demands another kind of food with a different composition. A layer feed has higher calcium content.

This will ensure that egg production is sustained.

Feeding chicks

If you’ve decided to start with chicks rather than buying hens, you must use starter feeds which are made up of 20% protein.

Use this for the first 6 weeks for the chicks.

You may choose the medicated variety which has anto-ciccidiosis drug, an essential thiamine blocker. This may prevent the chicks from getting the disease but will not offer complete immunity.

From the starter feeds, the pullets will move to a grower feed.

This should allow the chicken to grow at an appropriate pace until they are ready to lay eggs.

This feed is used from the 6th week of the chicks (the time they leave the brooder) to their 14th week.

There are now starter/grower feeds by some feed makers which should make feeding easy.

Install a feeder

To make sure that the chickens are eating properly, buy and install a feeder for them. You will appreciate having a feeder, especially in the colder winter months or when you go away for a weekend.

A good feeder will help to be sure you are minimizing waste.

You have to consider the fact that different chicken breeds have different appetites so you need to be sure that you are not feeding them too much or too little.

Chicken appetite is also affected by the seasons.

In the hotter months the chicken can consume less food while in the winter months, chicken tend to eat more.

Consider these appetite fluctuations to better manage your feeding patterns and volume.

Install a waterer

It’s important to have an easy system for your chickens to be able to access fresh water. This will save you time from having to change out and refill the water daily.

Water Your Backyard Chickens: Watering Systems and Ideas

Keep the chicken coop clean

Many people start with raising chickens in a coop lined with newspaper on its floor.

Although this is a convenient option, it doesn’t help to absorb the dirt and manure inside the coop.

Also the newspaper, when exposed to moisture, tends to be slippery for chickens.

This can create health issues for the hens in the long run.

Instead, use pine shavings for the bedding at least 4 inches in depth.

Make sure that your chicken coop is always clean.

This should prevent diseases to hit your flock. Learn about the Common Chicken Diseases You Should Know About and How to Treat Them.

This will also ensure your chickens are always clean, should your children touch them. Sanitation is important as it can affect the overall health and mood of the chickens.

It’s important to keep up with the maintenance. Even when you clean regularly, wash your hands after any contact with the birds, coop, after feeding, etc.

Regularly replace the beddings you use in the coop as this helps keep the chickens clean.

This also controls the smell of the manure of the chicken.

Remember to wear a mask when cleaning the coop and its outside spaces to prevent you from inhaling the dust and feathers of the chickens.

It is best to schedule a general cleaning for the coop and its surrounding areas.

This includes steps like clearing the coop with all the bedding and hosing down all the surfaces. Most of the coop kits you can buy online are easy to hose down.

Applying anti-mite solution during winter time is also a good practice.

This keeps parasites in control in the cold months. This is when the hens have to stay confined inside their coop.

Regular cleaning

Remember to clean the feeder and waterer too as these can be prone to dirt and mold growth.

You have to remember that chickens will drink more water when it is clean and less when it is dirty.

This can lead to dehydration and can make the chickens sick or die in a very short time.

Also, always remember, the better their environment, the better the eggs.

Manage chicken manure

Managing chicken manure is all about minding the bedding. Consider that it absorbs both the manure substance and the moisture that goes along with it.

Chicken manure is essentially made up of up to 85% water.

This can be a huge source of problem when you are dealing with heat, moisture, and also humidity.

The solution is just to make sure there are enough pine shavings inside the coop. It’s easy to shovel the soiled shavings and replace with new ones.

In the meantime, pine bedding must be stirred regularly to make sure the manure is not left on the top of the bedding.

This produces the odor especially in the hot months of summer.

You can easily toss new pine shavings to the coop to make sure there are enough absorbent materials in there.

Also, the soiled bedding is a great source of natural fertilizer.

If you have a vegetable patch in the backyard this can make your chickens a huge part in your garden’s sustainability.

Nest boxes and eggs

As soon as your backyard chickens start to lay eggs, you need to learn how to best harvest them.

The first thing you need to be mindful of is to make sure that the nest box in the coop is always clean.

This minimizes the risk of soiling the eggs too much even before you have the chance to retrieve it.

The nest box must also be cushioned so that egg damage is minimized.

The more hens you have inside the coop, the more nest boxes you need to have in there to prevent egg overcrowding.

Too many hens sharing on the same box can force other hens to lay eggs outside the coop. Incubation for Beginners by Brinsea, Inc.

Eggs from Backyard Chickens for Beginners
Eggs from Backyard Chickens for Beginners

You have to check for eggs early in the coop.

Do this regularly throughout the day. You will reduce the risk of the chickens soiling the eggs.

Unlike eggs you buy at the store, you don’t need to refrigerate the eggs right away.

Raising backyard chickens for beginners

Also consider your area of land and if you can consider miniature cattle breeds and a livestock guardian animal to complete your homestead.

Once you plan out your space, the chicken breed, and how many chickens you will have, you can decide if keeping a rooster is for you.

This backyard chickens for beginners tip can help you get the most from your hens and their eggs.

5 Important Hacks on Raising Roosters

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Raising roosters is tricky business, and you need all the help and advice you can get on Tips on Raising Roosters. Chicken farming is becoming more popular as an increasing number of people become more health conscious.

Being able to raise your own roosters and chickens to get the healthiest eggs is a great thing.

Here are five important tips on raising roosters that can help you do it. Comparing the Best Chicken Swings

Tips on Raising Roosters Hacks

Tips on Raising Roosters
Tips on Raising Roosters

Hack #1 – Give Your Rooster a Proper Diet

No matter which animal you are raising, good nutrition is the first step.

This product is essentialBest Chicken Feed Options for Your Flock

Without proper food, a rooster can start trouble with other chickens.

Also, be sure you give plenty of food so all the chickens can have their fill.

Having enough food will keep them all relaxed.

Your chickens and roosters will consider chicken scratch to be a great treat as well.

It also encourages their natural tendency to scratch at the ground.

Hack #2: Spend Time with Your Rooster and Backyard Chickens

You should make it a regular habit to spend time with your rooster from the moment you get them.

They will get to know you from the start and will feel more comfortable around you.

Instead of running away with fear, they will actually come toward you when you visit.

This will also make it easier for you to check them for parasites.

Having friendly roosters and chickens is important to keep all of them calm and friendly toward each other.

10 Tips for Raising Backyard Chickens for Beginners

Your Backyard Rooster
Your Backyard Rooster

Hack #3:  Establish Yourself as the Flock Leader

Just like humans, roosters also sometimes require some disciplinary action.

They might nip at you or fly at you trying to scratch you.

This behavior usually suggests they are only treating you as a member of the flock.

You need to show them who the boss is and that their behavior is not acceptable.

Chiding them or scolding them lightly are a couple of simple things you can do teach them to recognize your commands.

As with most animals, roosters can be taught to follow orders.

Water Your Backyard Chickens: Watering Systems and Ideas

Choose the Right Breed for Your Backyard Rooster Hack #4

Chickens have different breeds, each having their own characteristics.

Some are more docile than others while some are more aggressive.

The breed of a rooster determines its temperament.

Some roosters can be really noisy and create a racket, annoying the neighbors.

You don’t want to pick a breed that runs after anyone that comes near them.

This is your first step when choosing to raise a rooster; choosing the right one is one of the most important tips on keeping a rooster.
Best Chicken Toys: Entertaining Your Backyard Chickens

Good Backyard Chicken Coop
Good Backyard Chicken Coop

Hack #5: Get a Good Backyard Chicken Coop

Backyard Chicken Coop (Check prices here) we recommend.

Backyard Chickens need to spend around 4 to 5 weeks in a brooder.

It can be made from any material but make sure it is comfortable and large.

Use wood shavings to cover the floor and change the beddings daily to avoid smell and illness.

Once old enough, the chicks will need a coop.

It should be of a big size to provide proper shelter for the chicks from the rain and winds.

Give them enough area to scratch the ground so they can reach some good bugs for healthy nutrition.

Raising a backyard rooster can be an exciting and fun experience. While there are certainly pros and cons to having a rooster, by following these tips on raising roosters, you are definitely going to have a healthy and friendly rooster.

Beating Food Challenges with Chicken Eggs
How To Raise Backyard Chickens
Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard
Successful Hen and Chick Adoption

Successful Hen and Backyard Chicken Adoption

Backyard Chicken Adoption Guide

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Backyard Chicken Adoption – A few months ago, one of our hens, Pigwidgeon, went broody.

She was soon joined (literally, in the same nest) by her pal Hedwig.

Before long, April had taken over the nestbox in the other coop. Comparing the Best Chicken Swings

Some hens will sit on a nest for a few days and then go back to business as usual.

So I kept an eye on these girls, and they all remained on their nests.

We had recently dispatched our rooster, and I wasn’t sure if any of our hens’ eggs were still fertile. But I thought we’d give it a try.

Two weeks went by and the girls were still setting.

Pigwidgeon (Piggy for short) and Hedwig remained “connected at the wing,” sharing their combined passel of eggs.

April was devoted, constantly clucking to her eggs.

Was this going to be a successful Hen and Chick Adoption?

The Pros and Cons of Keeping a Rooster
5 Important Tips on Raising Roosters

Backyard Chicken Adoption Guide
Patient April and her little chicks ~ Backyard Chicken Adoption Guide

Hen and Backyard Chicken Adoption

When hatching time was upon us, I moved the hens to private maternity quarters.

The brooding duo got settled in a dog crate inside the coop, while April had her own outdoor pen in the run with another dog crate for a nest.

But the due date came and went with no sign of any peeping, pipping or hatching.

Most likely the eggs were not fertile, though any number of things can prevent fertile eggs from developing and hatching.

About that time I ordered a batch of Buff Orpington chicks from a hatchery.

I got the brooder set up with lamps, but I was hoping that one or more of the broody hens would adopt some of the chicks.

Successful Hen and Chick Adoption
Successful Hen and Chick Adoption ~ Team Broody: Hedwig and Piggy

I was pretty certain Hedwig, who had been a doting mother of one chick last year, would be a good foster mama.

I wasn’t sure about Piggy, who has been broody several times with no hatches.

And April, just one year old, was broody for the first time.

But I wanted to give it a try.

Ordering Backyard Chickens for Adoption

After picking up the hatchery chicks at the post office, I got them settled in the indoor brooder.

That night after dark,  I took six chicks down to the chicken coop and slipped two under each hen.

Each of the mamas immediately responded to the chicks’ peeping with soft clucking.

I watched them for a while, going back and forth between nests till I felt comfortable that the mamas were accepting the chicks.

The next morning, I held my breath as I went down to check again, knowing that one or more of the hens might have rejected a chick.

But there were three contented mamas with chicks peeking out from under their wings.

Throughout the day I checked on them and saw the same domestic bliss in each nest.

So the second night, we took all the rest of the chicks to the coop and placed them under the drowsy mamas.

At the same time we removed as many eggs as we could find in the dark.

The following morning all three hens were basking in the glow of motherhood.

Hen adopts chicks
Hedwig shows her babies how to scratch for goodies.

That was four weeks ago, and we now have two batches of healthy-looking chicks.

Piggy and Hedwig raised 14 babies together; April has 9 little ones.

I have to say I enjoy the freedom from brooder responsibilities!

I still have to maintain two feeders and two waterers, but the mamas take the place of a brooder lamp.

And I think the chicks learned to take dust baths and scratch the ground earlier than my brooder chicks have.

Lately Piggy has been showing signs of being ready to leave the chicks: spending more time off on her own and sleeping on the roost at night while Hedwig snuggled with the babies in the nest.

The other day I put Piggy in our other coop with the rest of our hens.

Hedwig and April are still doting on their chicks, but it won’t be long before they, too, will start looking like they’re ready to go back to the general population.

In just a matter of months, most of these little pullets will be laying eggs, and a couple of young roosters will be announcing the arrival of each new day at the crack of dawn.

I actually miss the morning announcements–I’ll be glad to hear them again!

Beating Food Challenges with Chicken Eggs
How To Raise Backyard Chickens
5 Important Tips on Raising Roosters
10 Tips for Raising Backyard Chickens for Beginners
The Pros and Cons of Keeping a Rooster
Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard

>>chicken coops here

Blue Chicken eggs
Blue Chicken eggs

Bad Egg Day at Our Chicken Coop

Yesterday was a bad egg day at our chicken coop.

Well it started out as a good egg day, but it didn’t end well.

Here’s a little backstory.

Hens need lots of light to stay on a steady laying schedule.

Most are in their prime during the summer when there are long days of sunlight.

That is, unless they are molting, dehydrated, or under some other stress.

But most laying hens regularly produce eggs during the summer.

During the winter, there is much less daylight than they need for regular egg production.

So most of them naturally slow down.

I say most because our Leghorns don’t seem to notice the changing length of daytime—they keep right on laying an egg a day even in winter.

But our other breeds space their eggs out by an extra day or two when the days are short.

So unless they get artificial supplemental light, most hens take some time off from laying during the winter.

Last year I set a timer to light the coop before dawn and after dusk to extend the hours of light.

We had plenty of eggs.

In fact, last year we had more than enough eggs.

So this year we did not supplement the winter light.

We’ve gotten a steady stream of eggs, but obviously every hen is not laying even every other day.

This winter we’ve been getting anywhere from two to six eggs a day.

Spring and fall, the daylight supply is in transition, and so is the egg laying.

The days are getting longer, and the hens know it.

The egg basket gets a little fuller as the weeks go by.

Yesterday was a record day.

There were nine eggs in the basket.

Chicken coop for chicls
Chicken coop for chicls

Well wouldn’t you know it…I stumbled coming out of the coop.

A few eggs dropped out and fell on the ground.

Immediately some of the hens pounced.

As I recovered my balance, I swung the egg basket a little too far.

I could hear eggs cracking and then I saw more fall out onto the ground.

Mr. Rooster then made his “Time for treats, ladies!” announcement, and more hens came running.

A good rooster will not only protect his hens– he will also tell them when he finds something good to eat.

And usually he’ll stand aside and let them have first dibs.

Usually.

Finally I regained my composure, but only two eggs made it to the kitchen.

The bad news is I didn’t get to share the bounty of the day with any people.

The good news is that the chickens all got a special treat that day.

The protein and other nutrients are good for them.

The shells provide calcium, which they need in order to produce more strong egg shells.

And there’s nothing cannibalistic about chickens eating eggs that are served to them by humans.

But really now–what I want to know is, was that my imagination, or were those chickens smiling when I tripped?

Best Chicken Toys: Entertaining Your Backyard Chickens

Rooster and hens
Rooster and hens

Springtime Is Peeping on Our Farm

Though we’ve seen a few snowflakes this week, spring is definitely here.

With it comes fresh energy and enthusiasm for outdoor projects and growing things.

There is a long list of things to do and thankfully, more daylight hours in which to do them.

To our delight, our kids and grandkids have begun their spring-through-fall season of treks to the farm, which slowed down in winter to one visit for Christmas.

A new adventure for us this spring is hatching our own chicks.

Last year we raised 42 hatchery chicks, most of which were two days old when they arrived.

We got that chick-rearing process down pat and decided to go a step farther this year.

We bought an incubator.

Although one can buy fertile hatching eggs, we want to reproduce our colored broilers and we do have a fine specimen of a rooster and several hens.

We are also interested in crossing the heavy broiler genes with our dual purpose hens for a possibly meatier egg layer.

So the lucky rooster gained some more hens for his harem.

We looked at the calendar to determine when the weather would be conducive to chicks moving outdoors at four weeks of age.

Backtracking from there, we decided that a late March hatch date would be just about right.

We collected a number of eggs and got them started in the incubator.

The gestation time is 21 days, but it’s suggested that eggs be “candled” early on to see which ones contain viable embryos.

Candling involves shining a light on the egg to show the air cell, blood vessels, and even little chicky eyes.

It’s also possible to see the embryos moving around and tiny hearts beating.

So at one week we candled the eggs and removed several undeveloped ones.

Again at two weeks, we took out a couple of eggs.

On the 18th day, when the eggs should be “locked down” and undisturbed, we had 12 viable eggs.

Springtime Is Peeping on Our Farm
Springtime Is Peeping on Our Farm

An interesting thing had happened early in the month.

A few days after we set the incubator eggs, one or our hens went broody.

This means that she focused on becoming a mother and glued herself to a clutch of eggs, leaving the nest only about once a day to eat, drink, and take care of other business.

She had no idea that her eggs were not fertile and would never hatch.

Tiny Pigwidgeon (“Piggy”) is our smallest hen, a petite Dark Brahma banty.

She was faithful and determined, and in three weeks I only saw her off the nest one time for a brief jaunt outside.

Hopefully she took a break at least once a day.

But a broody hen lives for one thing only: to hatch and raise some baby chicks.

We decided to give Piggy half of the incubator eggs in hopes that she would hatch them.

So on Day 18, we removed her clutch of infertile eggs to replace them with 6 viable incubator eggs.

What a shock to see that she had accumulated 13 eggs in her nest, stealing the eggs her roommates had laid on the other side of the nestbox and hiding them all under her fluffy body and wings.

Day 21 came and went, and by Day 23 three chicks had hatched in the incubator.

But not a peep came from Piggy’s private nest.

Unfortunately by Day 26 she hadn’t managed to hatch any chicks.

Perhaps she was off the nest too long, or the coop was just too cold, or maybe all six of her eggs just happened to fail in the last days of gestation.

We didn’t do eggtopsies, so we’ll never know for sure.

Since Piggy had been brooding for three weeks already, with very little exercise and less food and water than normal, we removed her from the nest and took her private little brooder box out of the coop.

We told her to go be a regular chicken for a while, scratching and pecking outside and regaining her strength.

Reluctantly, she complied.

It didn’t take her long to remember the joys of fresh air, sunshine, and treats to be discovered in the chicken pen.

If Piggy goes broody again, we’ll just give her some fertile eggs to start with and leave her to brood them.

Piggy has two banty roommates, a Silkie and a Cochin—breeds that tend to become broody and will happily raise standard chicks, unaware that the chicks will soon pass them in size.

We also have two Buff Orpingtons that could become broody as well.

The colored broilers we want to reproduce are not known for broodiness, so we may need some able foster mamas.

brooder in the barn
brooder in the barn

Hopefully we will experience both natural and mechanized hatching and brooding and have the joy of watching some of our hens putter around with little chicks toddling after them.

Today we’re starting our second incubator batch but won’t be surprised if spring weather also brings on the broodiness in the hen house.

Meanwhile, these six little chicks are hanging out in our brooder in the barn, waiting for the day they can join their banty aunties in the coop and run.

The four yellow chicks are hatchery White Leghorn pullets (young females) we bought to increase our laying flock.

The two brown ones hatched a day apart in our incubator.

The front one is full colored broiler, and the one in the back is a cross of colored broiler and Rhode Island Red.

Spring Is Trying to Spring

apple blossoms blue skyTwice a year I feel that my life opens up for new beginnings.

The first is in January, the start of a brand new calendar year.

The other is springtime, when so much outdoors seems fresh and new.

When my kids were at home, there were also June and September, with the beginning of summer vacation and later the start of school in the fall.

But now the school year doesn’t affect me as much as it did in those days.

January is not far behind me, and the new year has almost passed through its first quarter.

Now it is March, which I usually consider the beginning of spring.

But this year, almost daily the evening news still brings a report of a snowstorm or two somewhere in North America.

Something seems late.

Is it winter that’s ending late, or spring that’s arriving late?

Or are they one and the same? Such deep thoughts on such a complex subject, I know 🙂

I see signs though, that spring is definitely trying to spring.

Bulbs have sprouted, trees are budding.

I think I even heard a frog croaking the other day.

And every once in a while, the sun shines so brightly and the air smells so fresh that it seems just…like…spring.

two ducklings swimmingWhat new beginnings will you embark on this season?

Will you conjure up some ideas in your mind and sketch some out on paper?

Will you try to grow a new plant, or raise a baby animal?

Will you learn a new skill or hone a long-forgotten one?

Here at our place we’re hoping to hatch some chicks, plant a new garden, and put in some fruit trees.

Right now we’re trying to finish some indoor projects so we can give our all to the outdoor tasks.

A little fencing here, a little construction there, and a lot of thought to our outdoor living spaces.

There’s so much we’d like to do before fall comes around again.

Even though it’s long past Christmas, I’m making a list and checking it twice.

How about you?

Pros and Cons of Keeping a Rooster ~ Learn Which is Best for You

Colorful Rooster

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Deciding on keeping a rooster or not, that is a big question! 

When it comes to keeping a rooster, there are pros and cons to consider.

There are many people making money by keeping chickens and roosters as well.

Pros and Cons of Keeping a Rooster

Keeping a rooster has several positive roles in a flock of chickens.

A rooster provides fertilization services to the hens in the flock.

He’ll serve as a guard and defender against perceived and actual danger.

Your rooster will seek out food for the flock and alert the other backyard chickens that he’s found something tasty.

The facts of life for a backyard rooster

As far as fertilization goes, keeping a rooster is necessary only if you want to hatch chicks or you want fertile eggs for the kitchen.

Hens will lay nutritious eggs without a rooster.

A virile rooster will mate frequently with most or all the hens in his presence.

Water Your Backyard Chickens: Watering Systems and Ideas

If there aren’t enough hens to divide his time, he may wear them out.

This can cause damage to the hens’ combs, necks, and backs from the rooster’s beak and spurs.

Generally, a good minimum ratio is 8-10 hens per rooster.

Guard roosters on premises

Always watching over his backyard chickens, a vigilant rooster may appear to never rest.

He’ll scan the sky and landscape for potential predators, warning the hens when he senses danger.

While protection is a positive trait, some (but not all) roosters take it too far.

If they become aggressive, they can injure adults and children by jumping or pecking at them.

Comparing the Best Chicken Swings

Snack time!

Keeping a rooster … He will check over food he finds before calling his girls to come and dine.

Usually, he’ll stand back and let them get started before he begins to partake.

On the other hand, he may fight for his share.

He may also be aggressive toward a person carrying anything he thinks contains food. Best Chicken Feed Options for Your Flock

Your rooster will love treats as well.

Give him and your chickens some chicken scratch to keep them busy.

He will make noise

Where do you live? Know that your rooster will make noise. While your hens may well go unnoticed; neighbors close to your home will absolutely know you have a rooster.

Good reasons to keeping a backyard rooster

Keeping a Rooster with hens
Keeping a rooster with hens

A good rooster will:

Mate regularly with most or all of his hens, ensuring an ongoing supply of fertile eggs.

Protect his hens by alerting them to aerial and ground predators.

Call his hens when he’s found a food source.

Want your chickens to have some fun?

Check this out.

Good things about having a rooster

Roosters crow at the crack of dawn and all through the day.

If you like this sound, it’s a good thing.

A rooster will offer protection.

A rooster just looks cool—and maybe colorful–strutting around the farm.

Good reasons to raise backyard chickens without a rooster

You won’t want to consider getting a rooster if you want eggs for your table but do not want to hatch backyard chickens or eat fertile eggs.

If you and/or your neighbors don’t like the sound of a rooster crowing all day long, do not get a rooster.

If the noise won’t bother you, consider how close you live to your neighbors. Even if you are somewhat close, it may not be an issue. Consider where the chickens and rooster are on your property in relation to your neighbors.

Consider also if the neighbors will only hear your rooster if they are outside. They may not hear him when they are indoors.

If you really can’t decide if you should get a rooster and are okay with not ever getting a rooster, you can ask your closest neighbors if they would mind.

However, before you do this, be very sure you will be listen if they say no. If you ever think you will want to get one, it’s best not to ask for their permission.

Don’t get a rooster if your neighborhood, HOA covenants or municipal regulations prohibit roosters.

If you have fewer than eight backyard chickens, do not consider getting a rooster.

Consider special care the rooster will need. If you don’t want to remove the rooster’s spurs— a fairly simple procedure — from time to time, then don’t get one.

Here is a great book for all of us who have backyard chickens Backyard Chickens for Beginners: Getting the Best Chickens, Choosing Coops, Feeding and Care, and Beating City Chicken Laws

Other advantages to not having a rooster

Backyard chickens will not be injured by a rooster’s spurs or beak during mating.

You won’t have to worry about an overprotective rooster becoming aggressive, jumping or pecking at people.

keeping a rooster with hens
rooster with hens

Rooster personalities

Among all breeds, there will be gentle roos and aggressive roos.

But some breeds are known for more docile roosters than others.

Our favorite source for checking out personalities, among many other characteristics, is Henderson’s Chicken Breed Chart. Best Chicken Toys: Entertaining Your Backyard Chickens

Generally, the more a cockerel is handled as a chick, the less likely he is to become an aggressive rooster.

But even a docile roo will jump into action if he perceives a threat.

Once cockerels reach maturity, it can be difficult to keep more than one male in the same small flock.

Rooster dominance

One will claim dominance and will see the others as threats and competition.

Sometimes this hierarchy is respected and no one is injured.

More likely, there will be fights and injuries.

The simple solution is to have only one rooster per backyard flock.

At our farm we’re currently in between roosters.

We’ve had three colored broiler roos, but they were all overprotective and so heavy they damaged the hens’ backs and necks while mating.

Our grandchildren like to go in the chicken yard to cuddle young chicks and their favorite hens. We like walking among the backyard chickens without danger of a rooster jumping at our legs.

We also appreciate knowing that our hens won’t be injured so often.

Eventually, we’ll keep a colored broiler rooster for our broiler breeding program. But for our general chicken population, a gentler roo is in order.

Since we’ve decided to focus on Buff Orpington hens for our layer flock, we’re going to try a couple of Buff Orp roos.

They are known to be fairly docile—a good fit for our family.

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Owning a rooster is something to carefully consider.

Factor in the amount of space you have, how many chickens you will keep, predators in your area, and noise.