Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Year in Keeping Chickens - What to Plan For

We are fast approaching the end of our first year of being official backyard chicken farmers.  There are probably a gazillion lists out there of what to expect, but I think I’ll add my own two cents.   

First Things First – Complete Your Coop 
Baby chicks are fun balls of fluff, but let’s be real, you really don’t want them in the house any longer than necessary.  Trust me.

Coop Bedding   
Everyone should research this topic, however, if you want my advice, straw is hands down the way to go.  Shavings are messy and I can’t understand sand at all.  In the end it is all up to personal preference. 
  
Bedding Down for the Night
Your chickens need a safe environment at night.  You may have to usher them into the coop a few times, and a few times more, but once they catch on you will be golden.  Eventually they will take to roosting too.  Just give it some time. 

Free Ranging
Let those girls out to range as often as you can, it is good for them and good for the soul.   Just not so good for your flowers.
  
Grit and Oyster Shell
Provide both free choice.  Oyster shell gives the girls extra calcium for those beautiful egg shells.  Grit aids in digestion.  Hopefully your girls will be out foraging enough that they won't really need either but why not provide it just in case?  It’s kinda like having toast without real butter.  No thank you.

  *Heated Water Dish*
Get yourself a heated poultry fountain, and get it before you need it.  We tried a DIY heater and it just did not work out here in the Midwest winter time.  I can guarantee you this much:  if you wait until the first cold snap to discover your DIY heater cannot keep up, you and everyone else will be hunting the farm stores for that elusive water heater and you will ALL be out of luck!
(been there done that)



Eggs
      As Grandma would say, “They will come when they are ready, and not a minute before.”



 Last but not Least: Don’t Stress!
Kick back and enjoy them. Don’t over worry about this plant or that food item.  Listen, we humans were made with the ability to choose french fries or a salad.  Chickens have another kind of intuition, and it’s all built in.  So unless you have them confined in a small space filled with toxic plants, they will be just fine. 

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