First Time Chicken Owner – Owning Chickens 101
First of all, raising urban chickens is something I have always wanted to do. I became a first-time chicken owner sooner than I expected, and I inherited four chickens, a chicken coop, and some chicken feed from my mother-in-law. Plus, I had not given it much thought as to what goes into raising urban backyard chickens. I recommend you gather basic supplies and make a chicken first aid kit. At some point, you will have a chicken get sick or injured.
My Experience With My New Chickens
How do I care for these chickens? How often do I clean out the chicken coop? Also, I had no experience raising urban backyard chickens or urban chickens. I thought it was as simple as feeding them, cleaning their COOP now and then, and providing them sufficient water. Also, I went out and bought more chickens, including three baby chicks. Long story short, I didn't know what I was getting myself in too. At this point, we now have ten chickens, three chicks, and a rooster. Also, we decided to name the rooster “BamBam”; He is the inspiration for this site Bambams Coop.
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Raising Urban Backyard Chickens
Here is the kicker, I have never owned nor have I ever been around urban chickens or farm chickens and didn't realize how funny they can be, but don't kid yourself – raising chickens can also be a lot of work – if you want to raise healthy egg-producing hens. Therefore, not only do you have to keep them safe from chicken pests, but you also protect them from predators – including hawks and owls and raccoons and rattlesnakes and ants, and much more. Additionally, some of the best chickens to lay eggs are:
- White Leghorn
- Golden Comet.
- Rhode Island Red
- Golden Laced Wyandottes
- Barred Plymouth Rock
- Buff Orpington
Finally, my backyard chickens are my pets, not just egg-laying machines. Each of them, including BamBam, has their personality, and when they see me coming, they come running towards me happier than ever – even squawking in their voices. Therefore, making all the hard work so worth it.
Preparing For My Urban Chickens, What Do I Need?
First, you will need to decide how many chickens you will buy or hatch. Also, are you allowed to own chickens because many communities don't let it? Moreover, will you be getting a rooster, are you allowed to have one in your neighborhood? Furthermore, many urban districts have ordinances against raising urban chickens or having a rooster. These are just some things to think about
Construct A Chicken Coop or Buy A Prefabricated Chicken Coop
Second, once you know how many chickens you will buy or hatch, you will have to decide whether to construct a hen house or buy a pre-made one. Be sure to size your chicken coop properly and have sufficient space, roost bars, shade, and proper ventilation for the number of hens you will raise.
Third, there are many types of housing for chickens to choose from; whether you build or buy a prefabricated hen-house, keep chicken safety from predators in mind. Then you will need feeders, feed, layer grit, calcium supplement, bedding for inside the coop.
Chicken Coop Size Requirements
The accepted minimum sizes are 2 to 3 square feet per bird inside the coop and 4 to 5 square feet per bird in the run. However, extra space is always better, and hens are prone to stress and squabbling when they're packed in tight quarters. As a result, illness and less egg production can occur.
Now to the next phase, after you bring your chickens home. They will need to stay in their coop and run, so they learn where they sleep. Although managing an adult flock is not complicated. At times it can be a little time-consuming; in fact, it is relatively simple armed with the proper knowledge and being prepared. Even though the hens will care for their needs, don't be afraid when hiccups occur. Something to keep in mind while you may think chickens need heat in winter, they do not. What they do need is proper ventilation but not direct crosswind exposure.
How Much Water Do I Provide My Urban Chickens
First, one of the most important things you can do for your flock provides an adequate supply of fresh, clean water at all times, especially in the Texas heat. A chicken will drink approximately three times as much water by weight as they eat in food. A good rule of thumb is to provide one quart of water for every four chickens.
Chicken Coop and Chickens
Lastly, water can be placed in any sort of plastic or stainless steel container. but I find it easier to provide drinking water and keep it clean in gallon(s) sized drinkers I've purchased. I place the drinkers around the pen and under the trees outside of the chicken pen. I place flat plastic containers in different areas so the hens can cool off in. Finally, I prefer drinkers that are easy to clean.
Types Of Chicken Feed
There are several brands of feed and based on my review some are better than others but that's just my opinion. In addition, to help American Business stay in business, I buy American Made and produced products when I can. My chickens did not like pellet feed so I buy them an organic feed that doesn't contain GMO-Corn or Soy, scratch and peck feeds. Also to make the feed last longer, thicker egg shells and healthier for my hens, I ferment my chickens feed. It is super easy and your chickens will SQUAWK over it.
Chicks ages 0-10 weeks old should be fed a chick starter diet with a protein level between 10-20%. The formulation of these feeds provides proper nutrition for growing baby chicks. Higher protein foods are reserved for meat birds.
At 10 weeks of age, gradually start feeding your pullets Grower feed. Grower feeds are usually 15-16% protein and are formulated to sustain growth to maturity.
Raising Chickens For Eggs – Layer Feeds
At around 18 weeks or when the first egg is laid, gradually switch your birds to a Layer feed. Layer feeds are designed for birds laying eggs for consumption. Layer feeds have an increased level of Calcium, for proper shell development and it contains 16% protein. Never feed chicks or pullets layer feed as it can cause major health issues.
Can I Give My Chickens Treats?
Chickens love treats but they should be limited to no more than 10% of their diet. These are excellent treats for your chickens, Fly Larvae, which are high in protein which is what chickens need, and chicken scratch.
When you have chickens, be prepared for when common and uncommon problems occur. Also, if you are not prepared for them, it is likely you will be frightened and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, it's likely that at some point, a hen(s) will have health issues or injuries of various types. You will not be able so to save them all; it is heart-wrenching.
Molting is a natural process, and it can and will happen to a rooster or chickens, it is the process of losing all old, battered feathers and growing new ones. Thus, most molting can last from 60 to 90 days, from the time the bird first starts losing its feathers to finish growing new ones.
My Chicken Is Not Laying Eggs
I've found, there are many reasons a chicken will stop laying eggs, change of feed, lack of vitamins, poor nutrition, illness, and stress are just some of them. Therefore, knowing your chickens is essential.
What Is Broodiness
What is a broody hen – is a hen that sits in the nest constantly, because she wants to hatch her eggs. If the chicken is approached she will puff herself up, squawk, and she may even peck at you.
What To Do When Bullying Occurs
The pecking order is just that, each bird in a flock have their own place. The hens at the top of the pecking order get to eat and drink first, those at the bottom eat and drink last. The hierarchy is simple and effective so that all the members in the flock know their position. I have learned that it is a good idea to make sure the chickens at the bottom of the pecking order are getting enough to eat.
Sometimes bullying can get out of hand, if this happens to isolate the bully for a week then introduce it back into the flock may help. If the bullying gets to the point where a hen is bleeding, remove her from the pack because once the other hens see the blood they will kill her.
Keep Urban Backyard Chickens Safe From Predators
It doesn't matter whether you live in the city or the country, because there will always be predators that will injure or kill your flock. Some of the common predators are foxes, coyotes, raccoons, hawks, and pet dogs.
The key to your flocks' safety is awareness and preparedness of predatory animals in the area, and last but not least is coop security.
Urban Backyard Chickens Illness And How To Prevent Them
Proper hygiene and bio-security should be implemented on the poultry farm. Also, when introducing a new flock or chicken into the farm, caution should be observed. Birds that recover from certain ailments usually act as carriers and easily spread the disease to uninfected chickens. Therefore, the ideal scenario is to prevent the disease. Plus, birds of different ages should not be mixed together.
The takeaway, raising urban chickens can be work but once you get into a routine it is pretty easy.
Raising Urban Backyard Chickens Tips – Illness
Chickens get sick or injured, with this in mind, it is a good idea to have a Chicken First Aid Kit handy.
Signs Something Is Wrong With A Hen
Raising backyard chickens can be stressful. Some signs and symptoms there is something wrong with a fowl tend to stay in the coop, isolates herself, has diarrhea, losing weight, not eating, or stops acting normal. If you notice this behavior, the chicken needs to be isolated immediately. Furthermore, check your hen for visual injuries and start adding vitamins/electrolytes to her and the whole flocks' water. Moreover, the transmission of poultry diseases is normally by direct bird-to-bird contact as well as contamination of feed and water. In the event that the chicken looks sick, is ill, or injured the bird(s) should be isolated away from the flock immediately.
How to spot the 4 most dangerous chicken diseases
- Viral Diseases
- Infectious Coryza
- Marek's Disease
What you should know about Infectious Bronchitis or if you notice your chicken is limping it may be Bumblefoot. My chicken has mites, how do I get rid of them?
Can Ducks Live With Chickens?
Since both duck and chicken's needs are similar, feed and shelter make it possible for them to be raised together in the same coop, but you need to consider a few key points when incorporating waterfowl into a chicken coop. For example, unlike chickens, ducks do not walk up ramps as easily. Also, ducks will need a place to swim.