Chickens are usually one of the first steps people take toward becoming homesteaders. They are classified as farm animals but they take up less space, they’re relatively cheap, and they’re easy to care for. When I say easy to care for, I mean REALLY easy!
I spend less than 10 minutes a day on chicken care. I check their water, check their feed, and sometimes spend time corralling them back in the coop if I won’t be around the house will be letting the dogs out. 10 minutes a day for a natural bug repellant for the whole yard. I think, YES! That’s what chickens do. They go through the yard and eat the bugs. How amazing is that!
We got our first batch of chickens this spring and I have been in love with them ever since. We love to let the chickens out in the yard while we are in the pool and have the best laughs watching them do the funny things chickens do. They are 100% pack animals. If one chicken gets somehow left behind it’s pure mayhem for that chickens. They’ll cry, fly, or run rapidly to meet up with the rest of the flock. If you’re interested in raising chickens for the first time here are a few tips to help to help wade through the options for this important decision.
Know their purpose
Chickens can serve a multitude of purposes. Some chickens are strictly to have as farm animals that eat bugs and keep weeds at bay. Some are exclusively for egg laying, some are used for their beauty, and some are used for meat. Know what you’re looking for before purchasing chickens so you won’t be disappointed. We wanted egg layers so we started with Rhode Island Reds and then moved to also getting 4 sex links 1/2 off at Tractor Supply. I wanted the Sex links because of their kind demeanors, smaller size, and their cuteness. The RIR are primarily for egg laying. We got in-sexed chickens for the RIR though so we are hoping they are all girls (fingers crossed). We attempted to do our own chicken sexing in the store and so far we have no idea how we did. Only time will tell but we’ll keep you updated when the time comes.
Consider their home
We searched for what felt like months for the perfect chicken home for both the chickens and our budget. Originally, building our own coop seemed like the best option but with our aggressive work schedules it made more sense to just purchase our own coop. I was absolutely in love with Carolina Coops products and informational videos but ended up settling on a coop from Tractor Supply instead. The coop was recommended to house 18 chickens. We have 8 in there and I feel like it is just right. Maybe if we had smaller chickens it could house 18 but that seems like a bit of a stretch because with feels so comfortable for just our 8. 18 would definitely feel crowded.
Know your cities laws
Abiding by the laws in your area is so important for every homesteader. Not only to keep yourself out of trouble but also to make sure you don’t ruin it for everyone else. Know your cities laws, follow them, and enjoy some happy homesteading.
Pick the type that’s right for you
Chicken breeds vary largely. I remember working with a girl who owned Silkies and I thought it was the craziest thing! I couldn’t believe she owned chickens and then to learn what they looked like and that they laid tiny eggs was so eye opening for me. After that we visited a restaurant called “The Chicken Coop” in Milton, FL where they had free ranging chickens outside. I was shocked by how beautiful many of them were and loved all of their unique patterns and markings. While our chickens aren’t fancy we went for large egg layers that are also hardy in all types of weather. So far we haven’t had any problems with our chickens. They’re happy, healthy, and hilarious little birds. We got ours as baby chicks so we still don’t have any eggs yet as they are not old enough yet but I’ll keep you updated as they grow to see how egg production goes.
So far, so good. We love our chickens and are so thankful that we put in the research to choose the types of chickens that best suit our lifestyle. (aka Felix eating 5 eggs per day.)