Prior to about the middle of last century, many families were involved in raising chickens at home. Mostly this was done for economic reasons, to provide food for the family. But these days-while many people still do it for that reason-raising chickens at home is becoming more popular as a hobby. Some people even consider their chickens to be their pets!
The first thing that anyone who is interested in raising chickens at home should do is to check the law in their subdivision, town, county, or state. Raising chickens at home might not be legally allowed.
If there is no law against raising chickens at home, a new chicken enthusiast should start researching all the details about this interesting hobby. It’s important to know what to feed chickens to keep them healthy.
Actually, it is fairly easy to feed chickens. They enjoy leftover foods, weeds, and garden pests. They occasionally eat mice, too. All of this makes pet chickens wonderful lawn and garden assistants. But they should be provided with nourishing corn and water on a daily basis.
It’s also important to know how to safely house chickens. There are many predators for chickens, even in city environments. Cats, hawks or other large people may be tempted to steal pet chickens from someone’s yard. The weather can also impact the health of these birds. A covered chicken coop is a must, preferably one that is dark inside to give the chickens a chance to rest or lay eggs. Outside the coop, chickens need room to wander around. They don’t need a lot of space, but the more the better. And a dirt environment is best as chickens love to scratch in it.
Once the food and housing situation is resolved, it’s time to bring home several chicks. When raising chickens at home, it is easier to train young birds than to try to teach and old ones new tricks about where to nest or other matters. Young chicks must be cared for with close attention. Keeping them in a small animal cage or even a cardboard box with pine shavings on the floor is the best environment.
The temperature in the area should be kept at 90 to 100 degrees for at least one week, with a decrease in temperature of 5 degrees per week as the chick’s age. Mounting a 100-watt bulb in one corner of the brooding area should provide adequate heat. The chicks should be played with so that they get used to people. Then, when they are completely feathered, they can be moved into the chicken coop.
The chicken coop should be kept as clean as possible. It should never smell nasty. If it does, then it must be cleaned out immediately. A good sweeping and mopping should do the trick. Save the chicken manure for the compost heap and it will be a nutritious additive to the lawn or garden. But twice a year, the entire coop should be cleaned and sterilized so that the birds do not become infested with lice.
Raising chickens at home can be a fun and interesting hobby for anyone. Even children can participate, and they will gain a sense of responsibility that they might not get from raising other pets.