Raising your Own Chickens from Hatch to Egg Laying and Beyond
I am a previous chicken owner. At one time we had a little flock of 12 birds providing us fresh eggs daily and a convenient way to compost kitchen scraps. It was a positive experience for our family and one we hope to have again on our new property.
It has been 5 years since I’ve even thought about taking care of chickens, so I need to refresh my knowledge. This new book – Chickens from Scratch – by my friend Janet Garman is perfect for beginners. I consider Janet to be an expert on raising chickens and other birds.
As Janet says: “Knowing the basics of chicken care will make you feel more at ease and ready to take over the care of the new chicks.”
Benefits of raising chickens
- // We’ll have our own organic eggs. Have you seen the price of eggs recently?
- // Chickens provide endless (and cheap) entertainment.
- // They are a convenient composting system.
- // Free range chickens keep down pests in the garden.
For our family, chickens just make sense.
Bringing Home Chicks
Before bringing home the chicks you need to prepare a place for them. Janet recommends a sturdy box, bin or plastic tote. I appreciate that it does not need to be an expensive project to begin a little flock of my own.
This chapter addresses where to get your new chicks, how to set up a brooder box so they will get the best start, and what kind of bedding to use.
How Many Chicks?
The number of chicks to start with will depend on several factors:
- // How many eggs do you want each week?
- // How many are you able to have in your neighborhood?
- // Since chickens produce fewer eggs each year, what is your plan for that? You will still need to take care of them or make plans for “the stew pot.”
Janet suggests starting with 3 to 6 hatchlings and ordering sexed pullets so you have better odds of only getting females. Hens lay an egg, on average, every 25 hours. If you are raising chickens to supply your family with fresh eggs it will take 20 to 26 week before they are mature enough to produce.
It’s a miracle my old chickens survived
When I first raised chickens I asked advice from the local farm supply, and pretty much winged it. They were healthy enough and provided us with years of fresh eggs. I guess I just got lucky because, after reading Chickens from Scratch, I think it’s a miracle they survived.
In this book, I’ve learned what to do about “poopy butts”, how to make effective nesting boxes and what Janet recommends for feeding, watering and sheltering the new flock. I read about how to deal with common chicken ailments like bumble foot, scaley mites, and what first aid supplies to have on hand.
I also learned that if you want healthy animals there are several foods that should not be fed to chickens. My biggest mistake – potato peels and raw potatoes. Who knew?
Who is Chickens from Scratch for?
Anyone that is just beginning to raise chickens will benefit from Janet’s wisdom. It is also a wonderful refresher to people like me, who are just getting back into raising a flock and may have forgotten the finer points. After reading Chickens from Scratch I have the confidence I need to jump back into raising my own chickens again.
I highly recommend it as a helpful addition to your homesteading library.
About the author:
Janet Garman raises chickens and many other farm animals on their family homestead in Maryland. She and her husband have raised their family and grown their farm while running a family business, being a farm store owner, and teaching chicken-care classes in the community. Janet holds a degree in animal science, concentrating on farm animal management after having spent time working as a paralegal and a retail store owner. Now retired from the retail life, Janet is using her time to improve her website and blog, spend more time with the animals and farm, can produce, and learn to be more self-sufficient. Her most important dream is to encourage others to take small steps to be more self-sufficient wherever they live.
You can find more excellent chicken information on her website Timber Creek Farm.