Feathering Your Nest: Follow these steps to backyard poultry production

By: Cam Gubric

For the last year and a half I have been raising my own flock of chickens and ducks, gaining knowledge and tips along the way to make my flock healthier and more affordable.

Raising chickens alone can be very costly, depending on the base of their diet and the size of the shelter you provide.  For me it was easy.  I started within just a few days, scouring local farm stores like Tractor Supply Co. and Blain’s Farm and Fleet for chicks and supplies to raise them.  Here are a few basic necessities to begin raising your own flock:

•Chick starter feed: Crumbles are better than pellets)

•Chick waterer: A bigger waterer will be less susceptible to tip or clog.

•Some sort of large scale box: I used a 20 gallon storage tote

•Some sort of bedding: I used thin pine shavings. They are probably the best.

•Heat source: Chicks need heat. A heat lamp with a clamp is best. It can be clamped to the rim of your box.  Heat lamps may also be a fire hazard if held too close to the bedding.

•Shelter: I built my own shelter with lumber from Menards — a five-by-eight-foot coop, which I later moved the chicks into once they began growing their feathers.

•Security: Make sure your coop or yard is safe from predators! I have lost birds to predators before.  An enclosed pen outside of your coop or shelter is best.

•Nesting boxes: Hens love their own personal box to lay and nest their eggs in. A rooster is not needed to produce fresh eggs! He is only needed if you would like fertilized eggs to raise chicks.

These are the best tips to raising your own flock.  If you ever raise chickens, you may notice that once you introduce them to the outdoors, they will rely more on grass and insects for their diet and will eat less grain crumbles.  Make sure that if you buy chickens or any sort of livestock such as fowl, goats, rabbits, etc., that you check with your city ordinance on raising livestock within city limits.image7 image3 image2 image1

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