Raising Chickens 101
So, you're interested in raising chickens? You've embarked on a fun and exciting journey! BYC (BackYardChickens) is FULL of great information. If your question isn't answered in our Learning Center Articles then we promise there is an answer on our chicken forum.
Below are the absolute basics of raising chickens. For more detailed information please explore the rest of the site and join our forum.
Why Raise Chickens?
- Easy and inexpensive to maintain (when compared to most other pets)
- Eggs that are fresh, great-tasting & nutritious
- Chemical-free bug and weed control
- Manufacture the worlds best fertilizer
- Fun & friendly pets with personality (yes, you read that right)
- See our poll on Why Do You Raise Chickens
Are BackYard Chickens Legal in Your City?
- Search our database of local chicken laws & ordinances
- Double check your local city / town ordinances and homeowner's association
- Make sure you have a good relationship with your neighbors (the promise of no roosters and free eggs helps!)
- Read comments and post your ?s in our forum devoted to chicken laws & ordinances.
Where To Get Baby Chicks & Chickens:
- Local Feed Stores often carry a variety of day old chicks from February to June
- Learn how to hatch chicks from eggs, and learn how to make a HomeMade Chicken Incubator
- Search our forum for members' listings of hatching eggs or chickens for sale.
- More information in our article regarding where to get chicks and chickens
How To Care For A Chick - First 60 Days:
- You'll need a chick brooder - See our list of homemade brooders
- Flooring - Pine shavings & corn cob bedding are best. Stay clear of newspaper since it doesn't absorb well and can be slippery.
- Temperature - 90F (in the warmest part of the brooder) for the first week, decrease 5 deg. per week. Be VERY careful of fire hazards!
- Food & water - chick crumbles / starter & a chick waterer (see our list of homemade feeders & waterers)
- Play time - Play with your chicks when young to get the use to being around people.
- More details: Article: How To Raise Baby Chicks - Forum Section: Raising Chicks
Chicken Care After First 60 Days, General Chicken Care:
- Once feathered out you'll want to move your chickens into a chicken coop! Rule of thumb is about 3-4 square feet per chicken inside the henhouse and 10 sq/ft per chicken in an outside run. Keep local chicken predators in mind and make a safe home for your flock!
- Flooring - Pine shavings work best. You can even try the deep litter method for even less maintenance.
- Food & Water - Most people go with formulated chicken layer feed / pellets. You can even make a homemade chicken feeder / waterer
- Treats - Vegetables, bread, bugs, chicken scratch (cracked corn, milo, wheat)
Now that you've skimmed the basics you might be ready to do a deeper dive into learning more about raising backyard chickens. We suggest the following:
Learning Center Index:
- Visit our very diverse Chicken Learning Center with tons of articles and information about raising your backyard chickens.
- Vsit our chicken community discussion forum where you can search and post your questions to our super friendly community of thousands of chicken enthusiasts!
- Join BYC and become a FREE Member! (see the benefits here)