Raising Chickens

Posted by Debra Carmona on 20 February 2011 | Add a Comment

Raising Chickens

Rhode Island Red

It is funny how sometimes we come full circle in our lives. My father used to raise chickens when I was very young and I hated them but now I find myself doing the same thing and loving it. When I was young I remember that it was fascinating to watch them hatch from the incubator. Those little yellow chicks were so cute but once they grew feathers they became mean and I hated feeding them because they would peck at my legs. So, when it was time to slaughter them I gladly held them while my father chopped off their heads, oh but I hated to pluck out their feathers.

My Backyard Chickens

I guess I am yearning to get back to nature, grow a garden, raise chickens, and relearn how to provide for my family like the old pioneers did. My reasons mainly are for health. I have lost all confidence in the F.D.A. and the U.S. Governement. I no longer believe that they are making an honest attempt at looking out for the good of the American population. Thus, my adventure in raising chickens.

Barred Rock

Build Your Own Brooder

So, I mail ordered my baby chicks from the Cackle Hatchery and waited for them to arrive via the United States Post Office. I talked to one of my chicken farmer friends and did a little online research about what I needed to raise chickens. I looked at chicken coop plans, brooder ideas, and decided on the breeds that were right for me and watched YouTube videos from other chicken farmers until I could formulate my own plan. The phone call came from the post office to come pick up my package of live critters. I had ordered 15 but recieved 17 instead. I guess they threw in a couple extra just incase some were lost during transit. I picked up my package of little peepers from the back of the Post office. I was so excited to have them. Carefully following directions that came with them I introduced them to their new home, my homemade brooder. I kept the brooder in my back porch under a heat lamp until they were ready to go outside in their coop and outdoor pen.

 

Homemade BrooderYoung chicks need to be fully feathered before they can be exposed to the cold, wind and rain. I chose the Rhode Island Reds because they have a great reputation for being good egg layers and the Barred Rock because they grow bigger so can be used for a meat source as well as for eggs.  But I won't think about eating them until their egg laying days are finished. They both lay brown eggs but the Barred Rock's eggs are slightly pinker in color. Plus the colors of the birds are just so beautiful. Black and red are two of my favorite colors for clothing. Since they all about the same age and have grown up together they seem to get along fine as a group. I made sure to handle them often, spend time with them and talk to them because I wanted friendly birds. So far, I have not once been pecked by them. I only ordered females. Not sure if I ever want to have a rooster. And yes, the hens will lay eggs without ever knowing a rooster. That way too, I don't have to worry about cracking open an egg and finding a little baby chick in it. None of my eggs are fertilized.

 

Homemade BrooderThe brooder was made from a larger Rubbermaid Tub where I cut out the center of the lid. With some metal strapping and screws I attached small hardwire so they would have air. The brooder was set up on an aquarium table to keep up from the dogs who were curious but quickly learned that I was favoring my little babies. I kept the brooder in the back porch under a heat lamp. On really cold days I covered part of the top opening with towels. I monitored their temperature to make sure they were not too cold or too hot adjusting the height of the heat lamp as necessary. I quickly learned what messy little critters they were. Twice daily the pine shavings needed to be cleaned out and their water containers cleaned with fresh water added. They kept getting shavings mixed in their food and water containers so I placed a board under the containers then later bricks to raise the containers up a bit.

 

Raising Chickens

This video is an overview of my baby chicks as they grew into a flock of laying hens.


 

 

Building A Chicken Coop on a limited Budget

As taxes, gas prices, utilities, and the cost of just about everything is going up thanks to inflation created by our all intelligent government bureaucracy the dollar does not go as far as it used to. They create the situation that causes the problem and then offer more solutions that only exasperates the original problem. Many are speculating that there could be a food shortgage in the future. We may all be forced to go back to basics with the direction things are going today thanks to Uncle Sam and all those do gooders in Washington trying to mess with our America. So, it seemed like a good idea to plant a garden and raise some chickens so we can be a little more self sufficient not to mention the health benefits of raising your own chickens for food, mostly the eggs but if necessary meat as well.

 

As I began to look into building a chicken coop and pens I realised it could cost in excess of $1,000.00 so we opted for a cheaper plan utilizing the existing shelter of our garage. This way we only had to build the raised floor and two walls, then add the pen. A great spring project for the family to work on over the course of three weekends.


 

Favorite Egg Nest

Beware the USGOV does not want you to raise healthy food in your own backyard.


 

Is There Really a Pecking Order Among Chickens and does it ever change? ANSWER


Ladies Day Out

The rapidly growing chicks were getting too crowded for the brooder but not fully feathered to stay out doors all the time so I would put them in the coop during the day and bring them all back in the house in the evening. The video below is their first day exploring the outdoor chicken pen area.


 

Gardening with Chickens

Ok, now I've got all this chicken poop, what can I do with it? Many chicken farmers add the poop to their compost pile and use it in their spring gardens. You can compost eggs shells, newspaper, left over vegetables, coffee grounds, yard waste such as cut grass and leaves and chicken pooop. Do not put meat, bones, or fatty foods in the mix. Stir the stew every once in a while. After a season add the mix to your garden to enrich the soil for good growing season. After your garden season is ended, let the chickens loose to clean up the remaining plants to till and prepare it for the next season. Below is a creative way a farmer uses his chickens to prepare his gardens.


 

When the Hens are Laying

I was out near the coop with my video camera trying to catch a hen laying an egg. Well I didn't actually catch that but I did capture all the noise they make when they are about to lay an egg. You know the hens are laying when you hear the ruckuss. I put together a video of the sounds. After you get the idea I set it to music so it won't be too annoying. Sometime soon this video will also be airing on a TV show called Garden Wise Living with Alena Schott who also has a blog site.


 

Now what to do with all those wonderful, healthy eggs

Eggs Galore

My 17 hens yield 13 - 15 eggs per day.

We use up the older eggs from the top shelf first.

The newest eggs go on the bottom shelf and I rotate the flats by the date order.

We are fortunate to have two refrigerators so this one can contain all the eggs.

My family enjoys the fresh home grown eggs. They have so much more flavor than your store bought ones and the yokes are a bright yellow and they make all my baking taste better.

My hens are free roaming chickens meaning they are not penned up but are free to scratch up grub worms and crickets from under leaves, and pick some greens where they find them. They also get vitimin E from the sun. That is the way chickens should live naturaly.

Besides protein feed they also get ocasional vegetables or left over foods such as grits, rice, salads, and cerals. They also get ocasional treats like watermellon or pumpkins depending on the season. And they always have fresh water daily.

 

Mom's Recipes

 

Benefits in Raising Chickens

  • Healthy fresh Eggs
  • Save a little money on the grocery bill
  • Insect Control
  • Healthy meat source when their egg laying days are done
  • Garden soil supplement
  • Supplemental income selling eggs and chickens
  • Less food to throw away because they will eat just about anything

Chickens Love Pasta

When my chickens hear the sliding glass door on the back porch they run towards the house thinking I will have some treat for them as I often do. This morning it was left over spaghetti and they were quite amused with it. I find great amusement just watching them around the yard, or eating the treats I throw them and listening to their gentle sounds. Being able to give them all sorts of left overs means less food thrown away that would eventually create a smelly garbage can.


See My New Chicken Coop

With all the business of moving to a new home I did not feel like building another Chicken Coop so I converted an existing shed into our Coop. I reused some of the materials from the old coop so for very little cost or effort I had a new Chicken Coop.

 
 

 

Turn An Ugly Old Tool Shed Into

A Cute Chicken Coop With a Clever Paint Job

The shed served out purpose just fine but what I really wanted was a cute Chicken Coop. The shed was a drab dull color and the pens were not very attractive either so one day I got the inspiration to transform the old shed into a really cute Chicken Coop. I rebuilt the pen into three seperate pens and gave the shed a scrub down and clever paint job again reusing the same supplies keeping my expenses down. It is amazing how a bucket of paint can turn drap into adorable.

Chicken Coop Transformation
The ugly old shed turned into a Cute Chicken Coop

Cute Chicken Coop Door
 This is a Trompe l'oeil painting meaning to fool the eye. It is a flat metal door painted to look like a wooden door.

Cute Chicken with New Pen
The coop has pens on three sides. This is the smallest of the three.

I always wanted a cute Chicken Coop but didn't have the money to build a new coop. Since this old tool shed already had electricity in it plus was close to the house and the water supply I decided to upgrade it into a real chicken coop. After three years in the above plain coop I decided to give it a complete overhaul.  Want to see how I did it? See the whole story by clicking on the link below to view the process of this project.

Click Below

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Check out my YouTube Channel for lots of Chicken Videos.

My collection of YouTube Chicken Videos





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