Raising chickens is not hard and the rewards are many.
Always a delight. We have three girls in our yard right now. Unfortunately, we lost one in the heat last summer 🙁
However more and more councils will allow you to keep backyard chickens so make sure you check yours is one of them. The rewards far outweigh the expense. We spend about $100 a year on food for the girls but even when they don’t lay on average we get at least 6 months of eggs from each chook per year.
That’s give or take at least 400 eggs a year to be conservative. That’s 25c per egg or $3per dozen. Not bad when you do the math.
Also we get the love and yes I said love and affection of three pets. Each of our girlhasve very distinct personalities and are endless entertainment for the children. The love to pat them, carry them and spend hours hunting for bugs in the grass to feed them. They also love feeding them and collecting the eggs.
We’re sharing to you how you can also start in raising chickens right in your backyard:
Preparation for your new additions
I have used all sorts of things to construct my chicken pen. General advice is 1 square meter of yard per chook and at least 30 cm of roost pole per chicken for perching. My chickens live at the back of the shed.
They are in a run that is 8m by 1m enough for 4 chickens. We allow them free range in the day so with some adjustments could fit 6 chickens in this yard maximum. I used a pine box that I recycled to make their coup and secured a tree branch across it for their roost. We then put this on it’s end up the side of the shed and placed a sheet of tin on it to keep the rain out.
I then went to Bunnings and spent $80 on chicken wire, nails, 2 large metal star pickets and broom handles. I used the wire to roof the pen as you need it secure from cats. I connected the broom handles together to make a door frame and strung more chicken wire around this. And I drove the star pickets in at either side of the opening to attatch the door to. It was really easy and took me a couple of days. It has held up for 2 years now with minimal maintainence. There are some really good sized coups you can buy online at the moment for around $200 if you don’t have the time to make one.
The only other things they need besides a pen is food, table scraps and chook feed from your local feed store, a water supply and somewhere comfy to lay their eggs. Mine came from my Dads farm and lay in the dirt and refuse to use the nice homemade box.
What Breed of Chicken?
There’s a wide variety of chicken you opt to raise from bantams which are very little to breeds of chicken like the size of a dog, no kidding.
I have silkies they are fluffy and pretty and lay nice sized eggs. You can choose to buy chicks that are only young and may have to wait a few weeks for them to lay. You can get pullets which are chickens at about 16 weeks who have just started to lay or you can, if you are really enthusiastic get fertile eggs put them in an incubator and hand raise your chicks. I have 4 kids so this was way too much work for me.
The number of chickens is also something to consider. If you have room for 6 or 8 I suggest to get them in batches.
A chicken’s lifespan can be up 8 years but generally they only lay for the first 4 years. If you get 2 chickens a year for 4 years then you will have older hens and younger hens thus getting maximum egg output for the longest time. As you lose the older birds they can then be replaced.
Common Chook Illness
If you keep a close eye on your chickens you will notice if they have any problems. Mine have scale mites on their legs occasionally and that is simply treated with Vaseline to smother the mites. I recently took one girl to the vet as she had pulled a claw. This was a $40 visit but a chicken’s blood does not clot so any injury needs to be seen to as they can potentially bleed to death. Other than these minor things, mine have never had serious problems.
Now the one who died last summer was Hennie. She unfortunately died in summer on a 45 degree temperature. We also had to nurse one of the other back to health that night from heat stroke. Chickens need to be kept cool from the heat.
I generally let mine out and they find the coolest place in the yard. Unfortunately we had to go out this morning and were worried for cats by the time we got home 2 hours later it was already way too hot for them. Poor girl.
There is the good and the bad that comes with any pet ownership and chickens are no different. We will have chickens forever now as we love them. Once you get them you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.