Believe it or not, increasingly more chickens are turning up in the cities. Urban farming is booming as a way to live greener and leaner lives – not just do city chickens provide fresh eggs, they provide complimentary fertilizer, bug and weed control, and – if you are up for it – a tasty chicken supper.
While not every municipality is supportive of chicken farming, many cities are passing laws to support small-scale coops. Contact your city to learn its rules, and read on to obtain the information on raising your own brood of hens.
Considerations Before Purchasing Chickens
Before you even consider visiting the feed shop to pick up a couple of chicks, you need to make an important decision: Do you wish to get mature hens, young chicks, or fertilized eggs you hatch yourself? There are advantages and downsides to each option, so consider your situation and needs before making a purchase.
Several aspects to consider prior to becoming an urban farmer consist of:
- Your city’s ordinances
- How soon you want fresh eggs
- How much offered time you have
- The bond you want to produce with your chickens
- Which breed of chicken is best for you
City Ordinances: Is It a Hen or a Rooster?
The very first thing to think about is your city’s rules and policies, normally discovered in the ordinance section of the city’s web site. The majority of cities don’t enable roosters to be keepinged as animals because they are considered a noisy problem – you ‘d be hard-pressed to discover next-door neighbors encouraging of all that morning crowing. Besides, the only reason you ‘d want a rooster is if you desire it to fertilize the eggs your hens lay, or if you really want a rooster to offer security for your flock. For the purposes of egg-laying alone, a rooster is unneeded.
When you hatch your own eggs or buy extremely young chicks, it’s virtually impossible to know the sex of the birds. If you are not enabled to have roosters in your area, it would be a shame to wind up with a cage filled with male birds that you need to hand out. When it come to strict city regulations, your best bet is to buy grown hens or young birds that have actually already been sexed.
How Soon Do You Want Eggs?
Hens generally do not begin laying eggs until they are between 4 and five months old. If you want to hatch your own eggs or buy young chicks, you need to understand that you’ll be waiting awhile before tasting your very first batch of farm-fresh eggs. If you really want fresh eggs by the weekend, get hens that have actually already begun laying.
How Much Work Are You Going to Do?
While chickens of any ages have the tendency to be low-hassle animals, the younger your chicks are when you get them, the even more work they need. Hatching fertilized eggs requires an incubator, and recently hatched out chicks have to be keepinged in a brooder with a very carefully monitored temperature level. While newborn chicks don’t need to be monitored all that carefully, you should intend on examining them frequently, simply to be sure they’ve adequate food, water, and clean bed linen.
Chicks likewise require unique ‘chick collapse’ and starter feed, which can be discovered at your local feed store – and if you want your chicks to be personalized, playtime is a must. This is pretty subtle activity: Just choose them up, pet them, and lug them around. It does not take much effort, but it does require some time.
While the whole process of hatching out and caring for young chicks is rather simple, it’s natural to feel nervous the first time around, so anticipate it to take up more of your time. Reserve time in the morning and night to inspect your eggs or chicks, and don’t hesitate to take a few trips to the regional feed establishment to ask the personnel concerns.
If you ‘d rather miss the additional trouble, just purchase older birds in the two- to three-month age-range. By doing this, you can avoid the incubator and brooder entirely and move them right into a cage.
How Important Is Your Bond?
While hatching out eggs and buying young chicks is a little more work, it likewise includes a benefit. Chickens have fabulous personalities and make excellent pets, especially when they are raised from an extremely young age. Recently hatched chicks really inscribe on those who’re around when they hatch out, becoming really attached. This is a terrific experience for adults and children alike, so if you are amenable to the work and do not mind the danger of hatching out roosters, it could be the best means to go.
What Type of Breed?
There are hundreds of types of chickens, so picking the right one for you and your household is important. Breeds vary by size, color, temperament, egg-laying capability, egg color, and purpose (meat-producing, egg-producing, or ornamental). Based on your choices, do some study and select a breed that’s finest for you. My Pet Chicken has a great list of some of the most popular types broken down by egg-laying capability.
Several types to consider include:
- Plymouth Rock: Lays about 4 eggs per week and grows up to 9.5 pounds, making it an outstanding dual-purpose egg and meat bird.
- Rhode Island Red: An active and vocal bird that’s also a prolific egg-layer, normally laying about 5 brown eggs per week.
- Australorp: Great for eggs and meat, these sweet and docile birds lay about 200 eggs annually and do not appear to mind being restricted.
- Orpingtons: Excellent birds for households with children, Orpingtons love humans as well as take pleasure in being gotten and brought around. They are likewise called ‘layers,’ laying about 3 brown eggs each week.
If you have decided to hatch your very own eggs, there are 2 things you’ve to do: Discover a provider of fertilized eggs, and acquire an egg incubator. Your local feed establishment is a wonderful resource for all things ‘chicken,’ so ask the personnel whether they source fertilized eggs or if they understand of regional farmers who do. Sourcing your eggs from a regional source is preferred, as you can visit the place, see the hens and eggs, and take control of the transport from farm-to-city yourself.
Before bringing fertilized eggs house, you need to purchase an egg incubator. Incubators are a regulated environment perfect for hatching out eggs, and they usually cost around $100. Look on eBay or Craigslist for used incubators if $100 is beyond your spending plan.
Eggs take 21 days to gestate post-lay, so depending on when you acquire your eggs, you might’ve up to 3 weeks to take care of the eggs before they hatch. Caring for fertilized eggs includes checking the temperature and humidity of the incubator a couple times a day and turning the eggs an odd variety of times throughout the day (usually 3 times), to guarantee the growing chick keeps typical motion within the egg. Egg turning stops on day 18 of the pregnancy duration, and the incubator ought to continue to be closed during this time.
The temperature level and humidity of the incubator need to be closely monitored. If you’ve a forced-air incubator, preserve the temperature level at roughly 99 degrees. If you’ve a still air incubator, the temperature level must be slightly higher – between 101 and 102 degrees. Humidity for the very first 18 days must be keepinged at 45 % to 50 %, then it must be enhanced to 65 % for the last couple of days. If your incubator doesn’t have a humidity reader, purchase a hygrometer – you can find digital variations online for under $25.
On the day of the hatch, there’s little you’ve to do, other than check on the eggs and young chicks, transferring the chicks to a brooder within a day of their hatching. Keep in mind that egg fertility is rarely 100 %. Many egg fertility varies from 50 % to 95 %, so it’s a good idea to acquire a greater number of fertilized eggs than you actually want chickens.
The First 60 Days
Whether you’ve actually hatched your very own eggs or you have acquired young chicks, the first 60 days require slightly various care than that of full-grown hens.
1. Set up Your Brooder
Brooders are little enclosed areas with access to a temperature-controlled heat lamp. While it’s possible to make your own, you can buy a brooder for less than $100. Make certain you set it up in a safe space, such as a shed or a garage, keeping the chicks away from prospective predators, such as felines and hawks.
Line the bottom of the brooder with yearn shavings or corn cob bed linen, and supply the chicks with a chick waterer and starter feed purchased from your regional feed shop. Inspect the water and food daily, changing as required, and clean and replace the bedding at least once each week. Chicks are small little things, so they do not consume a big amount of food. The majority of backyard chicken owners can anticipate one bag of chick crumbles to last them the entire 2 months the chicks are in the brooder.
Assuming you are raising laying hens, you ought to keeping the chicks on a 20 % protein medicated chick starter up until 18 weeks. At 18 weeks you can switch over to a non-medicated collapse, and when hens reach 22 weeks or begin laying, you can start feeding fall apart with a 16 % to 18 % protein material.
If you are raising hens for their meat content, put them on a diet plan of higher-protein crumbles, preferably in the 22 % to 24 % variety. Stop feeding them medicated feed at least 2 weeks before you butcher them.
Between the preliminary purchase of chick crumbles, waterer, and bedding, you can expect to invest about $35 to outfit your brooder.
2. Adjust the Temperature
From the point of hatching, the temperature of the brooder need to start at 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Weekly, reduce the temperature by five degrees till you reach 65 degrees or space temperature, whichever is greater.
3. Make Time for Play Time
The first 2 months are the very best time to bond with your chicks. Pet and have fun with them, picking them up and adjusting them to human interaction. Do this several times a day. Chickens are diurnal, so they’re up and about during the day, and they sleep in the evening.
Set aside a couple of minutes throughout the day to spend time with your young chicks, preferably when you check on their water and feed. Chickens are likewise social animals, so raising numerous chicks at the same time is a good idea, as they can keeping each other business even when you are not around.
Moving Your Chickens to a Coop
Once your chicks are two months old, they are ready to be transferred to a chicken coop. Normally speaking, chickens keepinged inside a hen house should’ve 3 to four square feet per chicken, while those kept in an outside run should’ve 10 square feet per chicken.
Like brooders, it’s totally possible to make your very own chicken coop. The most vital components are great air flow, a low roost where hens can sleep protected from the elements, removable perches, private laying boxes (about 12 inches square, one for each four hens), and removable dropping boards beneath the perches for easier cleaning.
Also, be specific that the coop is devoid of possible dangers, such as nails and loose boards, and is predator-proof. It’s a good idea for coops to be wrapped 360-degrees with wire cage to avoid raccoons, rats, or felines from finding a method to break in. Some predators are specifically resourceful – raccoons can even open doors and covers when given the opportunity – so make certain to consist of latching locks on all doors and openings
The truth is, getting a pre-made coop is not cheap. Many cost at least $200, and in many cases, well over $1,000. If you are not comfortable making a cage from scratch, explore chicken cage designs and cage kits to make the procedure a little much easier, and hopefully more cost effective. While the equipment and materials needed to make a chicken cage from a design or cage kit will not be inexpensive (and rely on the design), you can at least minimize the labor expenditures you ‘d be paying another person to fashion a coop.
To find coop kits or designs, begin by doing a quick Internet search. This assists you to choose which kind of design or kit you wish to buy. Then, contact your local feed store or your regional Craigslist site to see if any person in your area offers cage kits or develops coops. A local carpenter could offer you a much better discount than an online merchant. The complete cost of constructing a cage varies substantially based on the size, functions, and features, but you can still expect to spend at least a couple of hundred dollars.
One other thing to consider when buying or making your chicken cage is whether to make it a mobile cage. Mobile cages have wheels and a bar that enable you to move the coop from location to place within your lawn.
Mobile cages have a number of benefits: First, it enables you to park the cage in the shade when it’s hot out or in the sun when it’s cool. Second, chickens have a way of destroying turf while at the same time fertilizing the land. By moving your coop around, you can take advantage of the complimentary fertilizer while staying clear of the destruction that occurs with a group of pecking, scraping birds.
Care and Maintenance
Caring for your grownup chickens is surprisingly easy:
- Provide Clean Bedding. The hen home need to consist of untreated want shavings, straw, or sawdust as flooring and bed linen.
- Offer Sufficient Food. Laying hens should be provided with about 100 grams of fresh chicken feed every day – chicken feed is a nutrient-controlled food offering at least 16 % protein to guarantee healthy birds and healthy eggs. Put it in a covered feeder and replace as required. For laying hens, select a protein-rich food to help produce protein-rich eggs. Your local feed establishment need to have the ability to help you pick out a suitable mix. While it’s tempting to skip the industrial chicken feed and decide to feed your chickens a diet plan of table scraps, it’s inexpedient. Since of the balanced dietary content of industrial feed, you ought to count on it as the main food source, staying with table scraps as deals with.
- Give Access to Clean Water. Buying a one- or three-gallon waterer is an excellent option for hassle-free care. Just inspect it day-to-day and change as required.
- Supply Grit. This grit’s composed the gizzard and helps break down grains. Just position a bowl of sand in the coop to do the technique.
- Feed Them Treats. Chickens enjoy deals with, such as table scraps, bugs, broken corn, and milo. As insane as it sounds, they even enjoy chicken and eggs. Gather your table scraps and give them to your chickens – just prevent feeding them onions or garlic, which can flavor their eggs. Likewise, raw potatoes, avocado, and chocolate are poisonous, so keep them far from your birds.
- Check for Dampness. Inspect your chicken feed for wetness, and if it’s damp or damp, throw it out. Damp food can grow toxic mold.
- Give Them Calcium. Laying hens need a source of calcium in their diet plan. Crushed oyster shells or crushed limestone are excellent choices that are usually available at feed stores, however don’t hesitate to crush and reuse your very own egg shells.
- Keep It Clean. Clean the cage completely at least once a week, getting rid of perches and dropping boards, sanitizing them well. Stick with a natural cleaner – a mix of white vinegar and water works well. Replace all flooring and bed linen after the cage has been cleaned.
- Offer Exercise. Chickens love roaming around, so offer them access to a chicken run or let them out of their coop from time to time. Simply understand that wandering chickens are a temptation to birds of prey and cats – they’ll be more secure if you keeping them in a covered run.
- Watch Them Carefully. Note your hens’ routines to make sure they are feasting, drinking, and communicating as usual. Birds gathering together may be cold, while those breathing greatly may be hot. If a bird appears hen-pecked and has actually lost feathers, you may have to remove it briefly from the flock to allow it to recover before returning it to the coop.
The expense of establishing a small flock of 3 to 10 urban chickens is not really low-cost – you can expect it to cost about $700 if you make your very own chicken coop – however in many cases, the benefits surpass the costs. Once your hens begin laying eggs, the typical cost to feed and take care of a flock of 10 birds is just about $4 per week. Think about the eggs (and potentially the chicken meat) you’ll enjoy with your household, the alternative to begin a side company offering eggs, and the camaraderie of feathery pals, and it’s no wonder more individuals are using up city farming.
Have you thought about raising chickens? Exactly what additional ideas would you recommend?