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When you think about survival, you think about ways to provide for your family. This includes doing what you need to do to feed your family. Being self-sufficient should come without hesitation. This means looking for alternative ways to provide food for your family. Think about Backyard chickens. A chicken coop is a perfect alternative as a source of food for the family. This guide will take you through all that you need to know about how to raise, care for, and reap the benefits that come from fresh chicken eggs.
Why do you want chickens and what are the benefits?
I am sure that you have heard that fresh chicken eggs are better tasting than store-bought eggs, not to mention you can collect them through spring, summer, and fall. Chickens can produce fresh eggs every day and can be raised for both egg-laying and meat. Chickens are also beneficial for providing a great deal of manure that can be composted and added to your garden that you should have started by now. Backyard chickens provide a way to clean up your gardening space once the gardening season has ended. They will get rid of damaged and overripe vegetables left behind, as well as dig up insects and worms in the ground. Great Article on Composting/Link
Things to consider before you get started
Before you go through with getting a chicken coop, there are a few things that you need to consider. This includes the following:
- The first thing that you need to do is check with your local government to find out if you are allowed to have a rooster or hen in your neighborhood. If you are allowed to have them, is there a limit on the number that you can have?
- Do your research and make sure that you are ready to commit to the task.
- Calculate the amount of time and money that you will need to invest in raising chickens.
- Determine the purpose of raising them. The same chickens that you raise for laying eggs will differ from the chickens that you raise for eating.
- Make sure that you have enough space to raise chickens.
Starting the coop
The first thing about building a chicken coop is that you need to have a plan. If you feel that building one will be complicated, you can always find a place that creates coops at a price that you can afford. Here are just some of the basic supplies and requirements that you will need for a hen house or full-size coop:
- Feeder and water containers
- Roosting area
- One next box for every 3 hens
- You should be able to stand in it while gathering eggs or shoveling manure. A chicken needs about 3 square feet in the coop. You want to make sure that your space will not be overcrowded- which can lead to diseases.
- It needs to be sturdy enough to protect the chickens from predators. The entire area needs to be fenced in, therefore you should consider using some chicken-wire fencing. This will keep the birds in and predators out. Yes, predators, such as foxes, coyotes, household pets, etc.
Generally, your overall startup cost can range between $500-$700. Of course, this depends on the size of your flock, run, and coop. You will want to consider having between 3-6 birds in your flock. This will guarantee that you have a steady supply of eggs.
What kind of chicken(s) do you want
You need to decide what type of chicken you want to raise, whether it is for laying eggs, eating, and/or free-range. What's the difference? Broilers-
Broilers are considered dual-purpose chickens but are specifically raised for their meat. They grow faster than average chicken and by the time they are 10 weeks old, they are the perfect size for feeding a family. Free-range-
This refers to a chicken that has a free-range of roaming outdoors, rather than being confined. There are many pros and cons to raising free-range chickens, but the meat is tastier and they produce more eggs.
Other dual-purpose chickens include:
- White and brown leghorn
- Egyptian Fayoumi
Here are examples of other meat chickens:
- Cornish cross
- Jersey giant
- Freedom rangers
Chickens In A Field
Caring for chickens
When it comes to the daily care of your flock, here are things that you need to keep in mind:
- You need to collect eggs at least once per day sometimes twice. Egg basket
- You will need to clean the coop daily, which includes the shoveling of manure.
- Chicken manure will attract flies, they poop all over the place and it can get smelly.
- Chickens need plenty of daylight, up to 14 hours per day if you are looking for optimal egg-producing results.
- The wintertime should be used as downtime for egg-producing, therefore avoid using artificial light.
Shopping for a chick
You can purchase baby chicks as young as a day old. The younger the chick is the longer you will have to wait for the eggs to hatch. If you get a rooster, you can always hatch your chicks, however, there is a lot that is involved with hatching chicks. If you don't want to hatch chicks and you don't want to wait for the eggs, you can purchase ready-to-lay pullet. They are more expensive than a day old chicks however, they can begin laying eggs immediately. As your flock begins to age, you will need to consider purchasing replacement chicken. The most productive years are the first two years of life-beyond that point the egg-production will slow down.
Wrap-up & Conclusion
When it comes to backyard chickens, you need to make sure that you have the time and money to invest in them. If you are just learning how to keep backyard chickens make sure that you consult an expert to help guide you along the way. It may seem scary or difficult in the beginning, but it doesn't have to be.
Keep in mind the basics which include the following:
- Birds need to spread their wings- so you do need a chicken run.
- They need ample amounts of water and food daily-think about multiple watering and feeding stations.
- Clean the coop daily
- You need to have a chicken sitter on hand if you plan a vacation, and it needs to be someone reliable due to the daily care requirements.
Preparing yourself for survival mode means being well-rounded. By adding a backyard chicken to your list of survival skills, along with gardening you are well on your way to providing for your family in the event of an emergency.
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