Most people beg their parent for a cat or a new puppy, but for the longest time I asked for a chicken. Chickens make great pets weather raising them for eggs or for fun, you can never go wrong with chickens. What are the pros and cons of having chickens?
Some neighborhoods don't allow chickens
Sometimes you can't be 100% sure of your chickens breed or sex
Chickens can be a bit noisy while popping a squat to lay your breakfast
Need room for coop and should be allowed to free range at least once a week
Chickens are very social creatures so I would recommend getting at least two or three never just one!
POOP A LOT! Caution!
They eat leftover table scraps or pretty much anything you find when cleaning out your fridge
They are go with the flow animals calm and chill
Funny and entertaining
Many beautiful breeds to choose from
Some people find it fun to build the coop with family
Picking a breed
Now that you've decided to get a chicken consider the following before picking some out,
Do some research about what breeds do best in you climate, and if your neighborhood allows them. If you live on an area with lots of predators (like coyotes and hawks) don't buy a bright colored breed. Your chickens will be more noticeable and more likely become a nice chicken dinner for a predator. I would recommend Wyandotte or a barred rock for places with mixed temps. Both breeds do very well in all kinds of weather and are fairly friendly with goody personalities. Check out the list below for your possible perfect match!
Silkies- not sexed, fun, calm
Wyandotte-pretty, goofy, need to free range lay about 250 eggs per year
Jersey giants- like little dogs, need more space, generally easy going.
Rhode island red-great egg layers, calm, need free range access
White Leghorns- lays many eggs, need more care, must have constant supply of food and water. Expect 300 eggs a year from this breed don't need free range access
Golden Comet-One of the best breeds for egg laying expect 200-300 eggs per year, very gentle bird
Americana-lay a variety of colored eggs, broody temperament
New Hampshire reds- Not a meat chicken, aggressive, expect 200 eggs per year
Buff orphingron-Friendly, on the bigger side about 150 eggs per year
Australorp-careless, don't mind being handled with a hardy temperament and an egg prediction of 250 eggs a year
Speckled Sussex-don't need to free range docile and very curios they are a target to older chicken for bullying so be causious when mixing these breeds with an annual 300 eggs per year
Now that you have your chicks make sure you have a big see-through plastic storage bin or bird cage (dog crates work too) and line the bottom with wood or cedar shavings. ( Most places give you a bag of bedding with the purchase of a chick) make sure you get a small feeder and waterer. Look for a natural food with grit mixed in for your new chicks. You will also need a grow light or light for them to stay warm at least 85 Watts, and high enough to ensure the safety for your chicks. You can buy a grow light at almost any pet store. Make sure when you pick out your chicks find one that looks to be in good condition and friendly. Spend some quality time looking. Before taking your chicks home have there bin set up and ready to go. Include a small box or hiding place for your chickens to chill out alone. Once your chicks are a bit older, begin introducing them to new foods such as bread, cooked beans, or cooked rice NEVER SERVE RAW! Doing so can kill your chicks because uncooked rice expands in there intestines! Handle the chicks every day to insure they will be nice and calm when older. Both chicks and chickens will love these treats listed below
Cooked potato's (White or sweet)
Cooked scrambled eggs
Wild bird seed
Cooked or cracked corn
DO NOT feed your chickens
Very citrusy foods
Dry uncooked rice
Dry uncooked beans
Some chickens have their own taste on what treats they like, but most of the time they eat anything.
After your chicks are about a month or two old they are able to stay outside so you will either need to buy a coop or build one. I recommend 4ft of space per chicken and one nesting box for every two hens. Introduce the chickens to their new house. You don't need to lock your chickens in the inside of the coop at night but if it makes you feel safer it doesn't hurt to lock the door at night. Give your chicken fresh water and food daily or invest in a quality waterer. Most chickens start laying anywhere from 20 to 30 weeks of age.The best tasting eggs come from chickens who have access to free range, eat table scraps other than dry chicken food all of the time, and have cozy nesting box liners and a full coop clean every other month. Collect eggs daily or your hens will sit on them and try to hatch them.
If you live in the suburbs and just have a small store bought coop or hand made coop with maybe six chickens or less, this is an easier task to winterize their coop. Just be sure quality ventilation is provided even during the winter months but keep cross breezes out! I tie a tarp around the coop part, provide a heated waterer, and a heated perch.
Mites and other pest
Chipmunks and bugs will dig in your coop and tango with your flock for a free meal, so place bricks around you coop and with a liner in the ground to ensure safety to your flock.Spray the underside of your free range chickens with bug spray in the summer months to keep ticks away. Bathing your chickens isn't required unless you really feel they need it. Bathe them in a warm bucket of water with a little bit of dish soap and add some acv near the end to keep mites of and endure silkie clean feathers. Gently blow dry them with a hair dryer on the lowest settings. Oil up you chickens feet, legs, and waddles with olive or coconut oil once in a while to avoid dry skin. Chickens may cut their beaks on chicken wire, don't freak out! Clean out the cut with wet cloth then appply neosporn or aquaphor for a day of two and it will heal on its own.
Remember to have fun and be responsible chicken owners!