How To Raise Chickens

Planning on raising backyard chickens? There's lots to know, but don't worry, we've got you covered. Learn the basics in this article!
By BYC Support · Jan 10, 2012 · Updated Feb 6, 2018 · ·
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  1. BYC Support
    Raising Chickens 101

    So, you are interested in raising chickens? Chicken keeping is a rewarding and enjoyable hobby that is rising in popularity as more people recognize the many benefits of having a backyard flock. In addition to having "a pet that makes you breakfast" (by providing you with fresh eggs) you'll quickly experience how fun it is to have chickens as pets. From there you can expand into breeding, showing, and rare breed preservation. Before you know it, you'll quickly find you have embarked on a fun and exciting journey of raising BackYard Chickens.

    BYC (BackYardChickens) is FULL of fantastic information on all aspects of chicken keeping, combined with a wealth of experiences and knowledge shared by our community members. If your question isn't answered in our Learning Center Articles, we promise there is an answer on our chicken discussion forum.

    This article will help you begin your journey by covering the basics of raising chickens. We'll link to other sections of the site where you can scratch up even more details!

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    Why Raise Chickens?

    Many old and new chicken keepers are frequently asked this question. Most people know chickens provide delicious eggs, but don't realize the many other benefits that come with having your own backyard flock. Here are some of the most common reasons to raise chickens:

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    Are BackYard Chickens Legal in Your City?

    Before you take the plunge and start your own flock, make sure chicken keeping is allowed in your town/city and make sure you understand the ordinances applied to your specific area.

    • Here is an introduction to Chicken Laws and Ordinances (and how you can change them)
    • Search our database of local chicken laws & ordinances
    • Double check your local city/town ordinances and homeowner's association
    • Make sure you know if you require a "set-back" (distance from your coop to property lines, fences, buildings, etc.) before building your chicken coop.
    • Raising chickens (and life) is generally easier if you have a good relationship with your neighbors (the promise of no roosters and free eggs helps!)
    • Read comments and post your questions in our forum devoted to chicken laws & ordinances

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    Where To Get Baby Chicks & Chickens

    There are a number of places you can buy chicks, older chickens and even fertile hatching eggs to get you started on your journey.

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    How To Care For A Chick—the First 60 Days

    Did you impulsively buy a box full of chicks? ;) Or are you planning to get some soon? Here's a quick rundown of what you'll need:
    • You'll need a chick brooder—see our list of homemade brooders here.
    • Or put together this brilliant Mama Heating Pad for the little ones.
    • Flooring—pine shavings & corn cob bedding are best for brooders. (Stay clear of newspaper since it doesn't absorb well and can be slippery underfoot for the little ones.)
    • Temperature—90*F+ (in the warmest part of the brooder) for the first week, and then decrease it roughly 5*F per week. Be VERY careful of fire hazards!
    • Food & water—you'll need chick crumbles/starter and a chick waterer (see our list of homemade feeders & waterers)
    • More information can be found here: Article: How To Raise Baby ChicksForum Section: Raising Chicks
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    Chicken Care After First 60 Days, General Chicken Care

    Before you know it your little fluff-balls will be tiny, feathered dinosaurs and you'll be inspecting the nest boxes daily, waiting for that first egg!


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    What's Next?

    Now that you've skimmed the basics, you might be ready to dive deeper into learning more about raising backyard chickens. We suggest the following:
    Learning Center Index:
    1. Getting Started Raising Chickens
    2. Hatching Eggs & Raising Chickens
    3. Housing & Feeding Your Flock
    4. Maintaining A Healthy Flock
    5. Other Fowl (Other Poultry Types)

    Further recommended reading:


    Advice from our members for chicken owners

    Chicken FAQs - The Frequent Asked Questions Of Raising Chickens

    Share This Article

    alexa009, kwazfam, KLIL and 16 others like this.

Recent User Reviews

  1. karenerwin
    "Great advice!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 2, 2018
    Great collection of article links with awesome advice, especially for the newbie!
    Under the brooder section I would love to see the link added for the article about brooding your chicks outside!! It is a fabulous alternative to brooding inside and makes transitioning to joining existing flock MUCH easier!!
  2. alexa009
    "A Very Comprehensive Article!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 31, 2018
    This article is very helpful about raising baby chicks! It provides all of the information you would ever want to know.
  3. Joeschooks
    "Interesting article"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 24, 2018
    A good read, and helpful advice.

Comments

To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. jaydennmomo
    This will help me and Jayden so much ty!
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  2. chloechickens01
    This will help soooo much!! Chick days coming in 6 days in TSC! Can't wait for that!
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  3. kayalover101
    That really helped.:)
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  4. TiffanyFalter
    I'm going to be starting with adult chickens, but they'll be making their own chicks before long, thanks for the info. I know about how many adults I should start with so as not to overcrowd my coop once they start multiplying.
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  5. Cindyearl
    I need help and enfo on how to raise Cornish X... I got 30 chicks... They are 4 days old now and I've lost 3 so far and worried about 1 more... I might of had to big of a heat lamp... I went and got a smaller one... any enfo is welcome...I love Chickens and eggs... Cindy...<3
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  6. Meadowlynn
    There is more to rearing chicken that is article says. Chicken are susceptible to any air born disease, the littler, has to be changed out in your coop, especially if you have egg layers. Depending on what type of chicken you have you also need different laying boxes at diffferent heights. Be aware of what kind of natural preditors you have in your neighborhood, some will come out during the day. And please make sure depending on where you live, that your coop has venting for air and /or heating for the winter. Please do you research. Find out which kind of birds work best in your area for your needs. Are they just going to be layers or layers and fryers?
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  7. bucksbiddies
    Very new to this computor thing.It took me two days to find what I was looking for and here it is! Hooray for me!!
      LindaNC 49 and Lauren Kim like this.
  8. Dan S
    Just got me two Americauna's from the local feed and seed. Super excited. Finally living a childhood dream.
      nanasacres, AudgeThis and Lauren Kim like this.
  9. Juliana Marandu
    Just started keeping small scale layers I need a lot of your idea
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  10. Dee Dee 2
    please read thread in forum re- Seven Dust
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  11. AliciaV
    Thanks for the tips they all came in handy. :^)
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  12. vanbb18
    awesome really help just a few questions
    1. do chicks have to be covered at night
    2. do chicks get scared of headlights form passing cars
    3. where would i find a 100 what bulb
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  13. chicks rock
    I live in charlotte and its almost winter. I might get chicks before winter. When would I be able to take them out to a coop.
      Lauren Kim likes this.
    1. chickencheeper
      Definitely get them in early spring(April) so you can put them in the coop (at eight weeks) during warm weather and you’ll be having eggs by October!
  14. smilebrite
    Thanks for all the informtion since I am a newbie at this.pam v.
      Lauren Kim likes this.
  15. RAnst4038
    You should have mentioned that because they are both predator and prey animals they have no scent.
    You have to bury your nose in there feathers to smell them. And then they smell as good as they taste.
      ChickenMorals and Lauren Kim like this.
  16. jungleexplorer2
    A simple solution. Throw dirty eggs away or break them and feed them back to the chickens. Problem solved!

    Simple Rules:
    1. Unwashed eggs are safe up to 2 weeks without refrigeration. Much longer if refrigerated.
    2. Washed eggs must be refrigerated immediately.
      OG Anomaly and Lauren Kim like this.
    1. chickencheeper
      By washed do you mean rinsed in the sink to get dirt off the shell?
  17. bobhoke
    Thanks for all the informtion
  18. bobhoke
  19. Cluckcluck1215
    Wrong.2-3 sq feet in CooP?! No, 4-5.4-5 in the RUN?!Are you serious?Its 10-12!
      BantyChooks and ChickenMorals like this.
  20. Little Fuzzy
    Sorry anybody who saw my post on looking for a new home for a Silkie Roo you can respond to my Email.. I'm having a lot of trouble learning how to work this new format.
  21. Cluckcluck1215
    I see you have updated the How To Raise Chicken's.

    Thank you for doing this, If noob's saw this they would've been getting wrong info.
  22. Bettyboop7499
    Unfortunately, I read info saying it was 2-3 square feet per chicken- now my coop is too small..is there a way just to add on to the existing coup?
      DobieLover likes this.
    1. DobieLover
      Sure! Why not. Did you add on to your coop since you wrote this comment?
  23. MissChick@dee
    When I first started with chickens I would google everything BYC would always pop up to any questions I had. Silly me why did I wait so long to join?

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