Top 5 Reasons Why to Raise Chickens Raising chickens should not be a fuss. There are actually several reasons why people want to cultivate chickens in their backyard. Some of these are written below. Reason # 1 -- Chickens love leftovers. A chicken's appetite is incredible. They can eat almost everything, even their own kind! You can now say bye-bye to those unwanted leftovers being left rotten in your fridge. You feel less guilty of throwing them out into the garbage can. Plus, you can save on chicken feed. But be very careful with what you give for it may be their last supper. Tone down on the onions and garlic. Reason #2 -- Eggs! Who doesn't love eggs? Have them boiled, scrambled, sunny side up, etc. Admit it, pets that live comfortably inside your houses don't give anything more than barks, meows, purrs, and sometimes, chirp. Fishes, in general, can be eaten, but who would want to eat Goldie? None of these domesticated animals produce something edible. Well, chickens, on the other hand, have lots of benefits. One of the many benefits chickens give is their egg. You can eat fresh eggs right from the source. Either raw (good for pregnant women) or cooked, eggs taken from chickens minutes or hours ago are more tasty and nutritious than those purchased in the grocery store. You'll notice the texture and color is way different than that of the fresh ones. Reason #3 -- Source of natural fertilizers Your lawn or backyard could've never looked better. Chickens love to freely walk around. Chickens also love to peck on anything they see that can be considered as food. And what is food to them? Possibly anything that's organic. If you let your chickens roam around your space, you'll find out how reliable they can be. They eat pests living in your backyard -- grubs, beetles, insects, earwigs, and anything that comes close. After the digestion has set its due, they will transform what they've eaten into poop. But this is not just any kind of poop but a treasure called natural fertilizer. And you know what natural fertilizers do right? They keep the soil healthy for plants to grow. Cool. Reason #4 -- Low Maintenance Pets Unlike dogs that need combing and brushing everyday to keep their fur alive and shiny, chickens doesn't need such soulful treatment. All you have to do is provide them their daily needs like food and water. You also have to clean their pad at least twice a month and change the beddings too. In return, you can gather all the eggs. Aside from just gathering, you can also start a small business of your own by supplying poultry stores with fresh eggs or chicken meat. Reason #5 -- Grass and weed clippers Got that right. Now you can save on mowing your own lawn by getting yourself chickens! For chickens, grasses, weeds, and leaves are treats. It's like a lifetime dessert offering. It's like having a cow in your own backyard. They will dig through whatever it is without even complaining about the hard work. Chickens will clip it then clean it all at the same time. With these reasons, why bother getting yourself a dog or a cat? No offense but they can't even water the plants nor lay eggs for breakfast. All they do is prove to their masters that they are either one's best friends. In cases of chickens, you can have a best friend, a lawn mower, a supplier of organic fertilizer and an egg producer all in one. Raising Chickens: Pros and Cons There are so many reasons why someone would want or wouldn't want a chicken in their backyard. There are debates about it and here are some: Pros 1. Costs incredibly cheap. When we say cheap, not only does the chicken itself count but also the maintenance of it all. Compared to keeping a dog or a cat for a pet, it is much cheaper to take care of a number of chickens most likely because they are not choosy when it comes to food. You can feed them scraps and table leftovers and they will happily gobble it up. With as little as $2 a day, you can spend on a bunch of layer mash. 2. You can get something from them. Eggs. Meat. Ornament. Who wouldn't want it? In terms of eggs, it is seldom that you encounter a chicken that can't lay eggs. It is a good source of iron, which is good for the brain. You could either sell these eggs or keep them in your fridge. With meat, every part of a chicken can be eaten. Yes, every. In cases of those who don't want to see their chickens go bye-bye, they raise them as pets and for exhibition purposes. 3. Low maintenance. Unlike dogs who need everyday grooming and cats who need your undivided attention, chickens need none of those. You don't have to bring them to your vet every once in a while to take shots and doses of vaccines. All you have to do is feed them and supply clean water every day. Their coops must be cleaned at least once a week or twice every month depending on the number of chickens that you own. 4. Fertilizers for free and an instant pest control agent. These are the two things that chicken raisers love about owning a chicken. When you allow your chickens to roam around your backyard, it is in their nature to peck on whatever it is that catches their interest and their hunger. Chickens love anything that came from the ground most especially the ones that are moving. They eat insects, bugs, worms and the like. For them, these are special treats. Furthermore, it is in their nature to eradicate their internal wastes anywhere they please. But their poops are considered as natural fertilizers that the ground needs to grow plants and root crops in a healthy state. Cons 1. They are not the best guard pets to have. While chickens can coo and make familiar sounds, it is not in their nature to bite or coo on anyone they see who looks suspicious. All they can do is grow, eat, and lay eggs. They are also not the ideal pets you would want to have especially if you need a response like waggling of the tail or a purring sound. 2. Chickens are messy. Indeed. Plus, their poop smells terrible that it can reach certain areas in your house. If you're the type of person who doesn't want to go through enduring hours of cleaning, chickens aren't really the pets for you. 3. One for all, all for one. Well, in terms of getting sick this is a con. Because when one catches flu, everyone gets it too. And if one dies because of that flu, it is expected that every single chicken living with that infected chicken who also got that flu is also going to die after a few days. Chicken Raising Terms It is necessary to know all the terms needed for raising chickens for you to be more equipped on what to buy or need. With this information, you can fully comprehend what needs to be done to raise chickens effectively. Familiarize yourself with these terms to get a hold of chicken raising. Bantam -- chicken variety that is about half the size of the standard breed of chickens. These breeds are usually bred for ornamental reasons. Bedding -- can either be shavings of wood, haystack pile, or newspaper that are added to the floor of the coop and inside a nest box. The purpose of this is for absorption of droppings and odor of chicken poop. It also provides as cushion for eggs to be safely ejected from its mother without the worry of breaking it. Brood -- this could either mean the hens incubating their chicks or a flock of baby chickens. Broodiness -- a chicken's desire to incubate their babies -- unfertilized or fertilized. Broodiness can make an egg hatch or spoil it. There are a lot of factors that may arise in being broody. And the mother is a bit moody when she is manifesting broodiness. Candling -- is a procedure wherein a candle or a light bulb is used. It is the process letting light shine through an egg to determine if it is fertilized or not. Candling can be useful especially if you are planning to separate the eggs with growing embryo and those that you wanted to sell. Capon -- a rooster that has been castrated. Clutch -- fertilized egg groups that hens tend to incubate. Cockerel -- a juvenile or young rooster. Comb -- this is the rubbery, red flat piece of flesh hanging on top of a chicken's head. Roosters have a more prominent comb than hens. Some who are engaged in cock fighting preferred to cut the rooster's comb so as not to interfere with the fight. Coop -- house of chickens. Crop -- Part of a chicken's digestive system that can be found in the esophagus wherein food is first digested before entering the stomach. Droppings Tray -- a tray that collects chicken droppings, which is located under poles for quick disposal. Dust bath -- A pattern of chicken behavior wherein they dig a hole in the ground and immerse their bodies in earth that has been loosened. They will get down and dirty until they get satisfied. Bathing in dust is a kind of defense mechanism to protect chickens from lice and mites that may invade their feathers and feed on their blood. A dust bath can either be natural or artificial. Feeder -- a container that delivers and holds feeds for chickens. Fertilized egg -- an egg that came from mating of a rooster and a hen and is destined to become a baby. Grit -- bits of rock or sand bits that chickens tend to eat and is stored in the crop that is important for good digestion. Hackles -- chicken's neck feathers. Hen -- female chicken. Incubation -- process of egg hatching in which application of heat is required. The eggs that are incubated are those that are already fertilized. Constant heat, usual turning, and an environment that is humid are the essential needs of an egg that also comes in with the period. Incubation takes about 21 days before the eggs are expected to hatch. Layer feed -- a feed that is complete and is made for the sake of laying hens. Molt or molting -- this is the process of feather shedding and re-growing which happens once a year. When molting season comes, laying season is suspended. Nest box -- a box, usually improvised, that is designed for hens to lay their eggs. It is a requirement that for a number amounting to 4 to 5 hens, one nesting box is needed. Non-setter -- this is a kind of chicken breed that don't have any desire to care for their chicks, if they have one, or never wanted to incubate or hatch fertilized eggs. Ornamental breed -- a kind of chicken that is used only for ornamental purposes and nothing more. These breeds are the ones that are often seen in fairs and poultry shows. They are appreciated because of their stunning stature and appearance but not used for producing eggs and chicken meat. Poultry show -- this is a kind of show that is organized for the sake of judgment. The proudest breeds are displayed and are judged according to their standard breed. This show is organized by the APA or American Poultry Association. Not only chickens are brought to this kind of affair but also other poultries like geese, ducks, turkeys, etc. Production breed -- are the kind of breeds that are used for mass production of eggs. Pullet -- a juvenile or young hen. Roost -- the time when chickens are resting on a pole to sleep. It is also what you call the actual pole where chickens use to perch. Rooster -- male chicken. Roosting pole -- a perch that is made out of wood. It can be constructed and put inside the coop. Rumples -- a kind of chicken breed that does not have feathers on their tails. Run -- an area connected to the coop where chickens can roam around freely. Scratch -- a treat made for chickens that are composed of different kinds of grains; this is the one that is scattered on the ground. It can also be referred to as the behavior chickens make wherein they use their claws to dig up either worms, bugs, rocks, and tiny little insects that are inside the ground. Sexing -- determining the sex of a chicken. Sex link -- a type of new chicken wherein the chicken's sex is soon indicated even before the eggs hatch. Female of the sex link kind is known for producing eggs in a massive state. Shanks -- part of the chicken's legs which can be seen at the bottom. Sickles -- what is called to the rooster's tail feathers. Spur -- this is the protrusion that is seen on the shank of a rooster that used for fighting. Started pullet -- a hen that has started laying eggs but is only on a juvenile stage. Starter feed -- it's the complete feed that is formulated and made especially for baby chicks. Vent -- part of the chicken where poop, eggs and other waste matters pass. It's like the anus of humans. Waterer -- this is the trusty partner of the feeder which delivers and holds the water supply. Wattles -- it's similar to a chicken's crow but instead of being on top of the head, it's found under the neck of the chicken. It's composition is red and has rubber-like flaps. Wheezer -- in colloquial terms, it's what they call a chicken's butt. Wormer -- a kind of medicine that can treat or rid animals of parasites inside their intestines like worms. Choosing a Chicken Breed to Raise There are varieties of chickens to raise. Choosing a breed will depend on the kind of chicken that you want to raise. There are chickens that seem healthy but their egg-laying capacity is frail while other chickens give out lots of eggs every day. Before finally choosing the right chicken to raise, you have to consider a lot of things. Different angles must be taken into consideration like the place where your chickens will live. Do you have a big backyard? Is it wide enough to let your chosen number of chickens to roam? You have to think about this factor because chickens differ in breeds -- some are small and others are large. Also, another factor is the environment you are living in. If you're living along the equator, it is expected that the temperature within that place be, most of the time, scorching hot. But if you're living somewhere up above or down below, it becomes colder. Now, which of the two are you? There are cross breeds that can resist whatever the weather that may come. Production Reds is one of many typical examples. They can be tamed and are resistant to cold temperature. That is why, when you live in a place where it's always cold, this breed is the right one for you. Bantams can be a little bit hardheaded. They love to fly around, a very good reason why pens can be worthless. These breeds are tough but pretty for their fluffiness is incomparable. They are not good in laying eggs but if they do, their product is very small and is not advisable for selling. The Pekins and Silkies are two of the best choices when it comes to laying eggs. They come in various colors and types. If you try to crossbreed a silkie with a cochin bantam, you will have a wonderful breed because the outcome is a kind which never bit, hurt or clawed anyone as proven by top breeders. Be careful with purebred chicken meat because they are very fragile, they tend to choke their own food, and are prone to having heart attacks without any probable cause. If you are looking for a cheap egg-laying chicken, you can settle with a leghorn. Although you have to eventually clip their wings because they are flighty. Also, they are a bit scrawny so watch out! Some breeders dare not choose a leghorn because they are ugly and are high strung. Looking for a chicken that's sweet? Try cross breeding Cochin bantams. Breeds that came from a Cochin bantam's bloodline are amazing because of certain qualities like sweetness, manners, and you have a very good breed that can easily be noticed in exhibitions. Barred Plymouth Rocks are also one of the top breeds. It's like the best deal ever, all in one package. Why? Well, during summer time, they lay almost every day. They have a healthy and good weight, are astonishingly pretty, and are not vicious. Americaunas have an impeccable beauty that is more radiant because of their feathers. They have a color resembling a falcon's -- dark, golden feathers. Their beaks are almost similar with a falcon's because some breeds have pretty curved beaks. They are indeed beautiful breeds and can withstand the coldness of the night or during wintertime but if you like squeezing eggs out of these breeds, what luck! Sadly, they don't lay very well. Breeds that are unusual need more attention from the breeders so their breeds can survive. Choose the right chicken that you will raise. Raising Tips: How to Choose a Chicken Breed Chickens are wonderful animals. They are like the coconut. You see, the coconut can be used in many ways- from the leaves to the roots. In more ways than one, chickens are bred and raised because it entails a lot of benefits. In Asian countries, chickens can be eaten from beak down to its funny-looking feet. Thus, making it one of the sought after poultry products in the animal community. Yet, chickens aren't used only for food but for ornamental purposes. It all depends on the owner of the poultry farm if he's going to raise chickens for food or for exhibition. Whatever the purpose is for these critters, you can settle on one simple question: what breed should you get? There are actually four ideas to consider when choosing a breed -- egg production only, eggs and meat combined, exhibition, and meat only. Aside from these four, people also account chickens as a hobby and they very well enjoy watching and caring for their chickens. Egg Production If you are concerned with only the eggs and are not really a fan of chicken form and features, white leghorns or Red Sex Links and Golden Cornets fits the job. These breeds lay eggs in a very excellent way. There is a point to ponder upon though, if you wanted white eggs, choose a chicken breed that have ear lobes that are white. But if you wanted brown eggs, choose a chicken breed that has red ear lobes. Meat In meat, you have to purchase a breed that grows quickly and weighs big like the Cornish Cross. It is a cross breed between a White Cornish and a White Plymouth Rock. These breeds weigh four to five pounds in six weeks and weighs more than 6 pounds within 8 to 12 weeks. Eggs and Meat Breeds that are dual purpose is a combination of a breed that is both having the talent of vast egg production and grows larger and faster than the rest of the species. One typical and popular example is the Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes and Sussex. They are both English and American breeds. Exhibition These are the kind of birds that are appreciated for their eloquent beauty and features. Every part of their feather-covered body must be exceptional. Usually those that are chosen to wind up in exhibition during fairs are those that are crossbred. Exhibitions shows for poultry raising are most popular in places like the Midwest and Indiana. Usually, chickens are judged based on their color, breed type that's supposed to be ideal, their body weight and shape, etc. Bantams are one of the chicken types that outnumbered larger fowls during shows. They have a characteristic that a judge would adore -- takes less space, easier to feed, eat less, and easy to handle. Their eggs are also expected to be small but are pretty much good for eating like other ordinary eggs. Some of the popular breeds of bantams are the Wyandottes, Cochins, Old English Game and Plymouth Rocks. These bantam breeds can most likely win in exhibitions. Bantams are not the only birds that can have the right to the throne. Larger fowl breeds also hog the limelight. Some of these breeds are the leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, and Black Australorps. These breeds vary in their type, size, color, comb type and shape. Raising Chicken Tips: Requirements for Building a Coop A coop is what you normally call a chicken's house. It's their kingdom! A hen's castle. So you have to make sure to keep their house maintained at a four star accreditation for this will help the chickens grow healthy and happy. Therefore, to keep it the way it should be, there are specific requirements to cope up with to build a coop that will satisfy both you and your chickens. You, the poultry owner, of all people should understand this. Requirement #1 Regarding its design, the coop must be secured from any kind of predator. Every single angle in the pen -- sides, below and above, must be structured to withstand the wrath and longing of predators who are always on the lookout for a free meal. When selecting a wire mesh, be sure it is the right one. Predators are more than one. They scour within the area of your coop unnoticed just waiting for the time when they can attack. You have to make sure that the coop is impenetrable because some predators like raccoons just reach out for their prey, easily. Requirement #2 In connection with requirement number one, this is a continuation. Aside from predators, you have to secure the coop from those nasty rats. They burrow through the ground and come up from below. If the coop floor is not blocked, these rodents will slip into the hen's quarters. Rodents are attracted to the food you're giving your chickens and the droppings they excrete. What's more devastating is that these pesky rats love eggs. So whenever laying season comes, they gather too. Want to get rid of them? Good idea. But prevention is better than cure. That is why preventing them to come into the pen is better that getting rid of their presence completely. All you need to do is construct a floor within the pen, otherwise, bury a fence about 12 inches deep around the hen's house. Be sure that the materials you will use for the fence and the floor is thick or hard enough for them to impossibly bite through. Requirement #3 The way you build your coop must not be drafty or breezy. Subsequently, seasons will change and so would the weather. That is why; your coop must be able to endure any kind of natural effects. Requirement #4 Roosting poles must be provided for your hens to slumber. It must have an approximate 2-inch wide rounded edges. You allot an 8 to 10 inch space between every bird. Put nest boxes to encourage egg laying. One nest box is equivalent to three to four chickens. Situate the boxes inches above the ground. Do not let it touch the soil. Place these nesting boxes somewhere private where no one can bother them while they're doing their thing. Safety is the very first policy one should follow. Requirement #5 Your coop must be roomy. Spacious. You have to allot at least 3 square feet for every bird. There should also be space where the feeder and the waterer can hang to which is 7-8 inches above the ground. Requirement #6 The coop must be accessible for the owner's sake ONLY. Predators and rodents not allowed. Easy accessibility can help you clean the coop so that bacteria and bugs do not fester. Raising Chicken Tips: How to Prevent the Spread of Bird Flu Chicken raising has its sacrifices and benefits. Usually what the owner sees is the benefit beyond the sacrifices and problems. That would be fine for as long as you can handle whatever circumstances may occur. In cases of bird flu, the only way out is proper handling of your poultry and making sure that the place is spiffy clean. Poultry farm owners sometimes underestimate cleanliness. But sometimes, the more people tend to underestimate things, the more it becomes a serious matter. Sometimes, when its severity had come to its boiling point, it's too late to cool it down. There are two causes of bird flu (also known as Avian Influenza) -- cold weather and dirty places. Why should you know the cause? To prevent the spread of the disease even before it develops at your very own backyard. Once you know the cause, it will be easier on your part to identify the different measure you have to make to prevent the disease from spreading. Get rid of the cause then none of this will happen. That will be more convenient and less expensive than waiting for the outburst of the virus to act and terminate it because once it starts, the harder it is to kill. You can't change the weather. That is a fact. Between the two causes, the weather, including the whole atmospheric environment is one thing that you can't point a finger at. All you have to do is adjust with the present environment. Flu, in general, is acquired mostly in cold areas. The colder, the more amiable it is for the virus to stay. Thus, it stays and it reproduces and it reprimands and it affects and the tally goes on. But you can do something about it. You can't definitely change the weather but you can adapt to it. Let your chickens adapt to the environment. How? By giving nutritious food and immunization. Vitamins are also big advantages for your chicken's welfare. If your chickens have all these intact, their immune system will be strong enough to fight invading microorganisms. Cleaning is common sense. You have to see to it that the environment inside and outside their pen is immaculate. Pads must be replaced with new ones. Haystacks filled with chicken poop should also be replaced. Be sure to use protective wears like boots made of rubber, gloves, and facemasks that fit properly. In this way, if the poultry have already caught the virus, you would have your first defense against it. If all else fails and the disease is already spreading, you have to protect yourself from it. With or without the disease, you should follow these safety precautions. Just in case. Hand washing is the universal precautionary measure to partake. After being in contact with your poultry always wash your hands with soap and clean water. Go through the routine of eating a healthy diet, vaccinations, and have a flu shot. Exercise shouldn't be compromised. Once you have noticed that your chickens are manifesting some of the symptoms, an antiviral must be treated to lessen the severity and symptoms of the disease. But these drugs were not that successful in avoiding death instances. Practice food safety tips like eating a well-cooked chicken. After using, disinfect your chopping board with chlorine bleach, at least four to five teaspoons for every one-gallon of water. These are some of the measures to prevent the spread of the disease. Otherwise your chicken raising days are over. Raising Chicken Tips: How to Clip their Wings Clipping a chicken's wings is an owner's way of saying "You can't go anywhere." It is basically defined as the method of preventing backyard chickens to fly anywhere they want. Some, who think that wind clipping is inhumane, would rather see their chickens flying and wasting their time chasing them around the pen so as not to lose them. But others, who do it, believe that it is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. One of the basic advantages of clipping is that if you keep your chickens in a free-range status, you lessen the thought of worrying that your chickens will go flying around and say "Bon Voyage!" If you wanted to keep your chickens inside their pen and make them lay those eggs, you have to adapt to certain measures no matter how brutal it seems. For those who agree in the idea of clipping and are fascinated on how to clip the wings of their chickens, don't dare think that there is bloodshed involved because there is none. Well, maybe just a drop. You don't have to clip everything including the actual wings with muscles, bones, veins and all. The only part that is needed to clip is the ones with the feathers. Long primary feathers. For first timers, ask for assistance from someone who knows how because if you don't, things might get messy between you and your chicken. Clipping chicken wings may be inconvenient and needs caution but it is the best way to outsmart your chickens. If done correctly, you can take away the balance and flight coordination thus making them want to stay even if they are against it. There are pointers to know on how to properly clip a chicken's wings but first, you have to organize the things you'll need. 1. Sharp scissors with a rounded tip. 2. Pliers 3. Used towel 4. First Aid Kit 5. Your vet's number Procedure: a. Look around you. Do you see a candidate? Yes? Time to catch her. The perfect candidate for wind clipping is the chicken that has her wings growing very prominently. Usually these are the chickens you see who fly proudly above other birds. Catch the bird by the feet. This is the most ideal way of getting her under your grasp. b. Hold the chicken by the legs and support the body by holding her underneath using the palm of your hands to stop her wriggling. Use the towel to wrap it around your chicken's body to avoid any unnecessary movements. Leave either the left or the right part of her wings free. c. Spread the wing displaying the entire feather section that needs cutting. The feathers must be the primary ones. From the tip of the longest wing feather, estimate at least 5 inches then start cutting at that point. Use very sharp scissors so that the process will not be that agonizing for your chicken to take. d. You know you're done if you see that the clipped wings are already on ground and the remaining ones are aligned in proportion. In cases of mistakes, mistakes that made your chicken bleed profusely, either call the vet and ask for an advice or rush her to the nearest animal clinic for treatment. Raising Chickens 101: Introducing the New Birds on the Block To raise chickens, there are procedures and adaptations to attend to. One very good instance is introducing a group of "new" birds to a flock of old birds. It's like managing to merge two restaurants when one is Italian and the other is Chinese. Stress will come along. And that is not an assumption but a fact. Many poultry owners who think that they're ready to expand their chicken farm make certain measures of importing birds that came or was purchased from the outside, while others take their time and wait for hens to hatch their eggs. Adding new breeds into your peaceful and comfortable neighborhood of chickens can put a quite a rumble between the old and the new. Admit it, nobody likes newcomers. And adding these newcomers into a flock of hens or roosters that already have certain territories inside their coop can be big mess. The newcomers will try to take their place too, and the oldies will try their best to protect their area. Fret not, for this kind of attitude and feud lasts for only a couple of days. Adaptation can now take place. You can't avoid this kind of predicament from rising but you can do certain adjustments that can make all of you happy and stress-free. There are numerous peace-making strategies to help both parties adjust with each other. Isn't it nice to see your new and old birds in one space without having to stop them from pecking one another? One very good strategy is to let them see each other without having any physical contact. How? If you have a run (which is basically attached to the coop), you could put your old chickens there and then put a border (chicken wire) between the run and the coop. Put your new chickens inside the coop. This way, they are able to see each other minus the harm. Be sure that both parties have access to sufficient food and water. You can do this for about a week. As transition day comes, that will be a week after the slight introduction, you can now "join" them in one area. You can transfer the newcomers to the resident flock's territory during the night when all the birds are sleeping. Upon waking up, the old chickens will notice the new ones and they will, at any point, try to start a fight but will not because they are too groggy to initiate it. Not a strategy that has been proven effective but it's worth the trying. Distraction techniques are always effective in some way. This can alleviate tactics of war coming from the resident chickens. If you don't do this, the old hens will chase the newcomers till all their feathers come off. That would be devastating. Some of the distracting techniques are: a. Cabbage heads can do the trick. By hanging a piece of whole cabbage just above their head, chickens will reach it until everything is finished. That is, if they don't get exhausted by jumping to it and reaching it. b. Make the pursuit an obstacle for the pursuing party. Add large branches inside the run and coop. c. Let them run around at a wider and freer range. The oldies will be so thrilled to dig for grubs and insects they wouldn't even notice that there are newcomers roaming around. Raising Tips: Give your Chicken Treats Like children and adults, chickens also need treats that will motivate them to live healthy and happy. But! Unlike children and adults, the treats for chickens are different and are more nutritious. Compared to human treats that mostly comprises of chocolates, candies, and other sweets, chicken treats are more on veggies and fruits. Yogurt is a classic favorite of them birds. They are tasty and are very good to the intestines. This is also a good source of calcium that can contribute greatly to the structure and health of the eggshell. But the most favorite and is very popular among every living chicken is the worm! They will eat it so fast and not a single evidence of it will linger. Chickens, even with puny brains, have in it the command to like or dislike a certain treat. Below are some of the things that in general, chickens will come running for. If the first one didn't work, scratch it off then proceed to the next. Bon appetite! Apple May come in raw type or in applesauce. The seeds contain a small amount of cyanide but it's so small that it can't affect the chicken's health. Banana One of the good treats. This is also high in potassium thus; it is good for muscle activities. Broccoli and Cauliflower A fun way of giving them this treat is to tuck it on the side of their cage and let them pick on it till the very last piece comes off. Cabbage Given as a whole, you can hang this from the ceiling coop especially during winter days so they have something to put their mind and energy to. Carrots Either given in a raw or cooked state, they will, at any cost eat it wholeheartedly. You can even give them the leaves without even worrying that it will just be another rotten veggie inside the coop because they will eat it all up. Chicken You, yourself know that it is a sin eating your own kind. They might just like it but then the feeling would be wrong. Live Crickets You can choose to hunt it or otherwise buy it in a pet or bait store. This is also a nice treat to give them. You can watch them run around chasing the critters plus it is a good source of protein. Mature Cucumbers Give the mature ones because they love it when the seeds and flesh is soft enough to peck on. Cooked Eggs Still a good source of protein. Do not give anything that is uncooked because if you do, then you're teaching them to eat their own eggs in a raw state. Fish or Seafood Give moderately so as not to give your eggs a different kind of flavor. Flowers Nasturtiums, marigolds, pansies are good treats. But make sure that these flowers are all natural. Meaning no kind of chemical or pesticide has touched it. Fruits There are exceptions. But the best fruit treats are peaches, pears, cherries, etc. Some say that it is not wise to give fruits to egg laying hens but some would beg to differ. Grapes If you are giving grapes to baby chickens, don't forget to cut it in pieces to make it easier for them to swallow. Leftovers When you say "leftovers", it must be something that came from a human's plate minutes after mealtime is over. It must be edible. Anything that came out of your fridge that is considered as moldy or spoiled is not advisable. Don't give anything salty. Raising Tips: Gearing up for Chickens Certain equipments must already be present upon the arrival of the chickens in your own backyard. You have to be geared up before presenting your not so baby chicks outside the world. The transition period can be quite stressful therefore being prepared can help you rid of half of the stress. You have to purchase a lot of items for your chicks to stay comfortable from where they would lay. You need to pamper them so that when selling or butchering day comes, there are no regrets. 1. Food Without this, who will live? The food you will give will entirely depend on the kind of chicken that you have. But to sum it up, just give something that is "complete". It must contain the right food substance that your chickens will need like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and minerals and if the budget can still take it, buy them vitamins. There are two kinds of feeds: conventional and organic. Either of the two can be purchased online or at an agricultural poultry store. If the time has come for your chickens to lay eggs or is about 20 weeks old, purchase a layer feed. But if they are younger than 20 weeks, starter feed is highly recommended. 2. Waterer and Feeder Purchase a waterer and feeder that are suspended from the ground. They should hang at least a couple inches off it. A very good advantage when purchasing such items is that they will prevent your chickens from jumping on top of it and smudging off their feet filled with feces inside the container. An automatic refill feature is also included which is very reliable during times when you have to go somewhere and will take you a couple of days before you come back. Worry-free. 3. Bed Yes, no matter how absurd it seems, you have to provide them with the proper bedding to keep them warm, comfortable, healthy and happy. But this doesn't mean that you have to buy them sheets from Best Buy. Beddings can be in the form of a pile of clean haystack, old or used newspapers, or if you wanted it to be extra special, there are beddings that can be bought online or in a poultry store. Beddings are best inside the coop where it can provide chickens a soft surface to roam around with. Beddings are also beneficial for your flock because it absorbs the odor and droppings. You don't want a foul-smelling coop, right? Another advantage of the bedding is that is saves the eggs from cracking making it an area where eggs are safe to land. There are a lot of bedding varieties. But whatever the bedding that you've chosen, always make it a point that it is at least two inches thick and is truly absorbent. 4. Dust Baths If you see your chickens digging a shallow hole and creating a mess with dirt, they are dust bathing! Chickens enjoy bathing in dust. But did you know that when chickens take dust baths, they are actually protecting themselves from parasites and those creatures that find it interesting to live inside their legs and feathers. Therefore, it is necessary to have dust baths. If you have a dry area in your chicken run that has patches of fresh ground, it's the perfect spot to do their thing. But if your pen consists of entirely cement, worry not, because there are artificial dust baths available in agricultural stores.
Raising Tips: What to do When the Chicks Arrive The brooding place is ready. All things are set. All you need are the chicks. Upon anticipating the day of their arrival, you must get yourself ready otherwise things will go out of hand. Here's what to do when the chicks arrive. This will be very helpful to get your way through raising your own chickens. Tip 1 If the chicks arrived from elsewhere, you have to examine them very well. They must arrive in a condition that is nowhere near "diseased". If you noticed that the babies arrived in poor condition, you could let the postal employee inspect the shipment again. It is required that the employee certify the shipment arrive in good condition. Advise the proper authorities on what the problems are regarding the shipment for immediate action. Tip 2 Before putting the babies inside, the brooder must have its proper temperature which is at least 90 degrees. Make sure the area is warm and maintain this for a week. You can reduce the temperature for 5 degrees every week that goes on for the first five weeks. After the first five weeks, the poultry will no longer require the heat supplemented. You have to keep in mind that there should be enough space where the chicks can move so that they can move freely either to or from the source of heat. This will be advisable especially during extreme temperatures. Tip 3 Fill the fountains with fresh clean water with an additional half cup of sugar for every gallon filled. This will help boost the babies' energy. It is not recommended to add any chemicals regardless of what advertisements tell you. Tip 4 Mix fine grit with a ratio of 1:10. Fill the lids with feeds that will not be more than a quarter-inch. Then add the fine grit mixture then sprinkle a very generous amount of mixture or feed on top of the material that covers the litter. Tip 5 Poultry, however angle you look at it, can be the source of thousands of microorganisms which are potentially harmful. With this, you have to be very careful and certain precautions must be followed. Proper handling must be practiced. This can prevent the spread of different kinds of oral or fecal transmission from fowl to person to person. Adults should provide proper guidance to their young ones about how to properly handle their poultry. Avoid bringing any poultry within the vicinity of your family space. Wash your hands and any part of your body that came in contact with the babies with water and a trustworthy soap. Tip 6 For starters, upon removal from the box, dip the animal's beak into the water mixture to familiarize them where their feedings come from. Do the transferring one chick at a time. Be sure that the brooder is already warm enough for the baby to be placed. Tip 7 Observe the babies for a couple of hours after transferring. This will help you identify the environment they are in. Is it sufficient or are there needs lacking? Is their activities relatively equated to the heat? Changes can be observed just by looking at their behavior. If they crowd over the brooding area, it means that heat is not that warm. If they disperse from the heat and go in areas that aren't covered by the warmth, it only means that the heat is too much for them. If you are already convinced and with the comfortable situation, you can now breath easily with raising your chickens in your backyard. Bird Flu: A Chicken Raiser's Nightmare Since its outbreak, every poultry owner had become aware of the consequences that can happen if this deadly disease is not prevented. Bird flu or what is also known avian (meaning bird) influenza (flu), is the number one killer of poultry chickens in Asia and some parts of the world. Bird flu started in China and became a widespread disease for their chickens thus wiping out over millions of poultry businesses and dropping the chicken industry to a devastating point. The thing about avian flu is that, not only can it affect birds but also humans which makes the illness more dangerous to various lives. It can be passed from chicken to chicken, chicken to person, person to person, person to chicken, and so on. That is why authorities in the health sectors are taking this serious matter in their hands and are making strict surveillance. Avian influenza is not just a disease underlying a typical cold. It is more than that. In fact, it can kill an entire poultry habitation within a week. If passed onto a person, it can be more lethal as a person can interact with hundreds of people in a day without even noticing that they have become the perfect carrier of the disease. Worse, this sickness is not a picky disease. It could affect everyone including children. The incubation period, if passed to a human, is not exact but as record shows, it may take about three to five days from the exposure to the disease-causing virus. Till then, the person will experience signs and symptoms that are similar with the common cold like fever, cough, sore throat, and aching of the muscles. Sometimes, the only thing that could indicate if the person has bird flu is if they are having conjunctivitis. If the person who was affected and has experienced the signs and symptoms stated above ignored the indications, it may lead to severity of the disease. The person now will start to experience viral pneumonia and eventually, acute respiratory distress which is the most common cause of deaths among bird-related diseases. But this pandemic crisis can be pretty much prevented if certain precautions are practiced if everyone who is involved will cooperate with the measures that were given out by the authorities. Through thorough surveillance, WHO (World Health Organization) supports in eliminating the disease. Through this, they can trace the source of infection and track down those who were affected by the flu. They will confirm instances of the disease and how many deaths were known. Once WHO officials find out the extent of the disease's proximity, they will contain the area under quarantine. Those who are in the zone will not be allowed to go beyond it and those who wanted to enter will be prohibited. That is why the concerned officials must be responsible enough to bring in reliable data otherwise there would be miscalculations that can result to more chickens and people being affected instead of being saved. With the word spread out all across the globe, the government is also having strict participation for the observance if there are any occurrences of the virus in their community. Residents are the one who have to be more watchful because they will be the one more affected. Their communication and participation is the most important tool to evacuate the presence of this disease and make raising chickens safer to both chickens and owners. Raising the Not So Grown up Chickens As the chicks get older, they would require less maintenance. Meaning, there are still some things to take care of but it's less delicate than when dealing with babies. There are quite a few differences between taking care of newly hatched chicks and those that are like 2 weeks up to a month old. These are the chicks that already have prominent feathers and their bodies are bigger compared than when they were quite smaller. These are also the chicks that you bought from hatcheries. The basic needs are still important like food, water, comfort, and warmth. Those four essentials can never be taken away from the list even if they are already old enough to lay eggs. The list remains the same, although, now that they are more grown up, their needs have increased. Their appetite and hunger increases, their need for space increases, their need for water increases. Everything about them increases. Thus, you should make proper adjustments and see to it that every matter is taken care of. Unlike in their early stages, water must be boiled or otherwise, sterilized for ensuring that the water they drink is safe enough not to upset their stomach and affect their health. But now that they have already grown for a bit, any kind of water will do. Just be sure that you'll give them clean water like something that came directly from the faucet. Not yet ensured with the water's safety? Then boil it. You could now disregard the idea of putting an upside down jug on a dish. If you don't take it away, the chicks will just frequently trip it over and the jug will fall and all its contents will be spilled. Use something that will not have the tendency to fall in any kind of motion, a pot or plastic water container can do. You can also buy the appropriate water container in agricultural stores. Baby chicken foods can still be given. Though at times, you can introduce new kinds of stuff like including mashed potatoes in their meal. True, they hate potato peelings but they love the inner part of it especially when it is mashed. You could also include veggies like lettuce cut into pieces, cabbage, and grass is also a fine recipe to feed them. Insects? A first-class favorite. When it comes to the temperature, you have to lessen your efforts and worries. Since these grown up chicks already have literary grown feathers, not full, but it's getting there, sort of, warmth can be erased from the topic. The few feathers that they have grown are enough to keep their bodies warm during cold nights. But just to be sure that they get the heat they deserve, keep the heat lamp but in a more minimal state. Maintain a 20 degrees temperature within the chicken's vicinity. Chickens love to bathe in dust for some unexplainable reason. To add up to that, they love rubbing their feathers into the soil, and wag their feathers clean. It's beginning to look like a tradition. With this kind of activity, it is therefore necessary to have a sandbox or let them roam around so they can dustbathe freely. But even so, maintain a clean environment. Provide a wider space for them to romp and for them to have enough room to sleep and not overcrowd. If problems do arise, common sense can always work. These basics will definitely help you raise the chickens you need. Raising Chicks before Chickens There are two types of chicks to raise: the ones you practically took care of from the moment they were hatched and the ones that you bought from hatcheries which are already taken care of and just needs further nourishing. Basing from the two choices, there are also two ways of properly raising the chicks before becoming the perfect chickens. Chicks hatched from your own poultry's eggs basically need 4 things: comfort, warmth, food and water. Comfort can be based from your own personal touch and how you hold the chicks. Warmth is taken from the mother or if you plan to separate the chicks on an early stage, an incubator or what others call as a heat lamp is essential. Usually the incubator is composed of two or three light bulbs depending on the number of chicks that have hatched. The very first thing to do is fix the place where you will put your hatchlings -- the brooder. It must have a temperature that is neither too cold nor too hot. Either of the two extremes will contribute severe negative conditions to the chicks. Your incubator must have a temperature that's 90-95 degrees. If you have settled with the 95-degree heat, maintain it until the end of the first week. Your temperature must decrease every week by 5 degrees until you reach the 6th week. The floor of your chick's pad must be made of cardboard or piles of old newspapers. This can be used as an insulator for keeping the temperature in the room in proper condition. Have the drinking station of your chicks always cleaned. Aside from that, the proper way of refreshing your chicks is to give them boiled water. Something as little as these creatures are too vulnerable to germs. Their baby immune systems aren't that mature to fight away bacteria and harmful microorganisms that may invade their body. Better safe than sorry. Grain coffee is also an alternative but will cost you. You have to make sure that what you give them is not that hot to handle. To serve their drink, pour the contents in a jug, turn it upside down standing on a dish. The leak coming from the inverted jug is sufficient enough to accommodate their need for nourishment. Chicks are a little particular with their food. They don't eat anything "old". They want their food dripping with freshness. Initially, you could give them milled oats. You could include bits of boiled eggs into the milled oats. If you think giving them that is a bit too mushy, you are welcome to go to feed stores for poultry raising. Some who are fond of feeding anything to their chicks have this intuition to feed them bread. Which is totally wrong. Because feeding them bread is a sin. This can kill them. You could also include lettuce cuts into the diet. Squeamish or not, you have to provide their favorite menu -- bugs and grubs. They eat these little wiggly things and gobble them up so fast. Just don't make any mistake of giving these to newly hatched chicks. You have to be very particular of the space that you have provided for the young ones. Cramping must be avoided. This might result to trampling and worse, cannibalism. Chicks grow quickly. That's why you have to ensure that their room is big enough for their proper accommodation. Do replace the cardboard or the newspaper placed under their pad every time you notice it's soiled. Even you wouldn't like the idea of sleeping in your own feces. Raising Chicken Tips: Baby Poultry Brooding Plan for the Floor A brooding plan for the floor of poultries must be clean and sufficient enough to raise chickens. If not, there would be problems you dare not want to encounter. For planning, preparation is the best way to welcome your backyard mates. First, we plan the necessities, then you worry after everything is intact. How do you go about planning and building the brooding floor? Step 1 There are wide selections of products that can be purchased for brooding that will provide a draft free and comfortable environment. For a cardboard ring that is formed around the area suitable for brooding, the popular 13 to 19 inches high ring is commonly used. If you're planning for a 50-chick capacity, a diameter of 5 ft circle is needed. Assuming you want to increase the number of chicks, the ring diameter must also be increased that is proportioned with the number of chicks added. This is to reduce the negative outcomes of overcrowding. Aside from the huge cardboard boxes, your child's plastic pool or an old tank can be an alternative. Step 2 You have to cover the floor using one to two inches of materials that are absorbent and do not mat that easily. Shavings, ground corncobs, rice hulls, etc. can be your choices. Cedar shavings are not to be used for these are toxic and can lead to chicken poisoning. For the litter, the covering must be of cheesecloth, burlap, towels made of paper, and other materials that are non-slick. This is appropriate for the first 3 days. With this, there will be easy access for feeding the babies via sprinkles above the material. It will also lessen the possibility for the chicks to have sprattle legs. Lastly, it will prevent litter eating. Step 3 For a 50-chick capacity, you have to provide adequate heat from lamps. It must be a 250-watt with reflector. Regardless of the baby number, it is required to install at least 2 heat lamps. Picking is the result if the lamp reflects excessive light. That is why red heat lamps are more preferred. Red heat lamps provide sufficient light without going beyond its temperature. Heat lamps are hung at least 18" just above the litter. Inspect the light if they really provide the needed heat. Step 4 Feeder lids should be made available for feeding. Cut a box down to an inch on its sides. If you are raising game birds and bantams, sides with only three quarters or less is preferred. Step 5 Wire the brooder system of the floor. A wire floor is required out of materials that are not larger than a half-inch cloth. For raising game birds and bantam, a floor with a size of one-fourth inch is preferred. Step 6 As specified by the manufacturer, the floor should be of adequate space. This is because the manufacturer recommends the appropriate number of chicks that can be started within the vicinity of the brooder. Check the heat if it is working properly. Step 7 Provide a 15-watt red night-light. This serves as the brooder's light during the night for them to see properly. Step 8 Providing water troughs is wise but can also be a problem for it provides not only sufficient but also excess water access. After all of these are brought together, make sure that things are working properly and things won't result to jeopardy. These are just the basics for raising your chickens. Raising Chicken Precautions During Winter and Summer Even though it seems like chickens are fragile creatures, they have certain characteristics that can let them survive through whatever weather may come. But you have to take note that not all chickens are alike. While some can withstand winters, others preferred to sun bathe during summer sunshine. It will all depend on the weather that you are having when you decide to purchase the right kind of chicken so as not to waste money and time raising them and just have them end up in a chicken graveyard. Winter During wintertime or in cold weather days, never try heating your chickens just because you fear that they might catch a cold or freeze. You may find your flock dead in the morning. F.Y.I., chickens can adapt to extreme cold conditions because their body can change the metabolism as the cold weather approaches. If you live in a place where winters are more prominent than summer or is literary winter all the time, you might as well take certain actions for your chickens that will not put any of your chicken's lives in danger. a. There is a risk that a chicken's wattle and comb can be affected by frostbite. To avoid this, you can rub some petroleum jelly or any moisturizer every other day. b. Look out for frozen water supply. You can't deprive them of water. They will not drink from a frozen water outlet. Chickens can't take water with impurities. It must always stay fresh and clean. You can take out a water heater so that the water stays in its liquid form. Or if you don't have one, better bring the waterer inside the house then return it in the morning. Summer If you live in places where summer is the only known season, your chickens are prone to be exposed to excessive heat all the time. With this, they might be in risk to dehydration. The only thing that you have to look out for during summer is that their water supply never runs dry. It must always have clean water. Don't let your chickens roam around without providing them a sort of shade. If there is no run, you can provide ventilation inside the pen. During heat waves, hens would lay lesser eggs. If this occurs, it is a typical sign that your chicken is stressed because of the excessive heat. Their egg laying tendencies will go back to normal once the heat recedes. If things get worse, you have to observe the behavior of your chickens. What are manifesting? If you've seen that one catches a cold or is acting a bit odd, isolate the chicken instantly to prevent further spread of the disease. Don't forget to provide water and feed to the isolated animal. Then, when things are manageable, consult with your vet. Tell him or her how your chicken/s are reacting. Are they having: a. mites b. abnormality in the stool (blood, worms and white droppings) c. sneezing and teary eyes d. depressed e. unable to mingle with the flock f. loss of appetite Tell your vet what you actually see so that he or she can give you the appropriate answer to your dilemma. These are only bits of areas that you have to ponder upon regarding raising your chickens in winter or summer atmospheres. It's better to be safe than very sorry. Proper Construction of a Pen Suitable for Raising Chickens Constructing a pen is easier than it seems. You need to pinpoint some important matters like the materials to buy and the tools to use. Plus, you also have to consider the area where to build the suitable pen for raising your chickens. Alright, the easy yet crucial part begins with planning. First, the area, then the size of the pen. The pen size usually depends on how many chickens will be raised. Look at the option on what kind of birds you are dealing with. Novice or not, it is still better to start off with the most basic pen -- using the wire and post design. Here, the materials that you'll need are the posts, wire, and staples that can be used for fences. The tools are also basic namely a sledgehammer, the ordinary hammer, wire cutters, and crowbar. Now that you have gathered all materials and tools, surveyed the area, and is assured that there is none to worry about, it's time for the construction. To start with, look at the ground you're working on. Notice the stiffness and dryness. If it's anything like that, you have to bring in with you a bucket full of water. This will help soften the ground. Pound the ground using the pointed tip of the crowbar. By doing this, a hole is being formed. While pounding, occasionally pour few amounts of water in the hole to soften the ground. By leaving your crowbar inside the hole, pull your body against it. By doing so, you'll widen the proximity of the hole. If the hole is prominent enough and is 20 cm deep, that will be sufficient. Make sure that the hole has a wideness that can hold a pole in place. You can now put the post inside the hole that you have made, pointed tip first. Using the sledgehammer, pound the pole to the ground. Do the pounding until you are sure that it has remained firm. Sometimes, it is better to have someone hold the post for you to ensure better stability. Always practice caution and focus on what you're doing because you might pound your assistant instead of your post. If your first post is standing firmly, you can now start on your second, and third, and fourth, and so on. Give about a meter from where the first post stands. That will determine elaborate spacing. To serve as a gate, let 2 posts stand about 11/2 -- 2 meters apart. The moment you have firmly put all the posts in place, it's time to put the wire around it. For this to be made possible, carry the wire on one corner then using your regular hammer, pound the fence staples at the end of the wire to the post. Once the end is tightly secured, unroll the wire going to the next post then staple the wire that touches the post. Do the unrolling and stapling process till you have completed wrapping around the entire posts. If you ran out of wire, get more then start where you ended. Making a gate is also easy. All you need to gather are hinges, latch and a particle board. Start by cutting the board to fit the two ends of the posts. Now attach it together with the hinges and the latch. There you have it. Raising chickens is easy for as long as you know the basics. Keeping your Chicken Healthy while Raising Them There have been thoughts on what to do with your flock daily. Raising chickens can be quite easy but also needs maintenance to keep their environment safe and clean for both your chickens and your own happiness. Some owners hesitate to do such a grueling task. But in reality it is one of the easiest works you can do to give your chickens the welcome they deserve. In this section, you'll learn about what to do and what not to do daily. a. Keep their feed and water containers full at all times. Do not let them run out of these two essentials. They need these two things everyday to live. If you tend to leave your house for a couple of days, be sure to leave sufficient food and water so that your chickens don't run out of their needs and will not reach the point of picking on each other. b. Clean their water canister. If their water becomes cloudy or if they sensed that it's already dirty, they will refuse to drink it and in the long run, they will become dehydrated and eventually conjure illness and die. c. Every morning, observe for their health status. Look at their physical attitude. Do they look bright, active, and healthy? If they don't look anything close to normal, then you should call or see the vet to ask for suggestions and answers. d. If you are the type who loves collecting eggs for breakfast or for selling, the moment they are laid, you can already get them from the coop. Put the eggs inside the fridge to maintain its freshness. e. From time to time, you will have the chance to visit their coop and look at your chickens. Before you leave, make sure that things are safe inside and outside the pen. If you see rat holes, block it. If everything seems fine, be sure to close the door. As dusk comes, that'll be the time when all the chickens are in their nest. Not a single chicken in sight. Secure the area so that predators will not have the opportunity to get in. Unlike other pets, you can leave the chickens for days. You have to keep in mind that they have to be provided with enough food and water supply. If you came back and found eggs, it's still okay to collect. It still has its freshness. Here's a fact that you should know about an egg's freshness: it will take you at least 12 days from the day that it was laid before it matures and an embryo develops inside. Another thing that you should know about eggs is that upon collecting them, there will be chances that you'll see slight smudges of dirt or feces on the egg's surface. Do not attempt too scrub the dirt off no matter how the urge is killing you. Because one thing about eggs is that they are not ejected to this world without protective barriers. Bloom is the term that is given to the membrane that is located at the surface of the egg itself. The use of the bloom is to protect the egg from bacteria and microorganisms that may insist on penetrating through the shell. If you scrub this, you take away the protective covering. But if you are that type of person who wanted things to always be spiffy clean, like that of the obsessive-compulsive type, you can clean the dirty egg provided it will be under warm water and in a very gentle touch. Important Information on Feeding Raised Chickens Chickens can eat almost everything from meat to vegetables. You can give them dog food and they'll peck it with full gusto. You can give them pig food and they'll eat it without hesitation. Chickens are cleaners of garbage tidbits. They can even wipe out every insect, worm, or anything little and more vulnerable than they are. The good thing about raising chickens in your backyard is that it needs no feeding qualifications other than vitamins and boosters. Grains can also be fed to your chickens. Scraps of food bits and peelings can also be fed. You see, feeding isn't that hard for as long as you save some of those leftovers for your poultry to feed on. Chickens are also intelligent for they know when the bucket of treats is ready for lunch. You can feed your chicken in many ways. You can either put it in a container that is big enough to accommodate their number during mealtime. Scattering their food isn't also a bad idea without the worry that it will go to waste and remain scattered. Bones with tiny bits of meat are also their favorite. Now, when it comes to hens laying eggs, calcium is required for their diet. During the months when laying season is on its verge, you can feed your hens calcium just by including in their meal clam shells that are already crushed. Do not, by any means give clam shells that are whole. They may be at risk of recognizing these clams as their own egg shells. So you have to see to it that the clam shells are thoroughly crushed into pieces before giving it to them. These are available in your local feed stores. The most advisable food for your chickens are feeds, pellets, corn and grains. Meat, fruits and vegetables can be given out too. But chickens can't have all the fun gobbling everything up. Their diet must also be kept in observance because there are certain kinds of food that aren't advisable for them to eat. These foods can either be harmful or worse, deadly. Aside from the foods mentioned below, basically, other feedings are safe. Reason why chickens should not eat these types of food Chicken If you were given the opportunity to eat the thigh of your neighbor, would you do it? Same reason why chickens will dearly object if served with their own kind. But they will not know this. They never will. That's why, it is alright if you have included chicken bones to their meals. But the consequences can be outstanding because if given large amounts of chicken meat or parts of the spinal cord and brain, this may lead to the development of encephalopathy. Apple: An apple every two weeks given to 4 birds is fine but if this routine is done every day, you could expect digestive problems. Peelings of Potato: Chickens don't really like the idea of eating roots crops. The taste isn't that enjoyable either. Orange Peelings: The toughness of this is too much for them to take. Tomato: Given in small quantities, tomatoes can be good but be careful cause if given in excess, they might affect the chicken's droppings. Banana: For some reason, they just don't like them. These are just some of the foods that aren't really advisable to give to your chickens. Just take note: Root plants aren't on top of their list; hard fuits can never be favorite; if given in large quantities, whatever the food is, will give their digestive system a hard time. Hints for Hatching and Raising Chickens out of Eggs As a poultry raiser, you have to know that from the moment they were lain, eggs must hatch after 21 days of incubation. It's a good thing if your hen wanted to continue incubating her eggs. But if she doesn't, there is always an alternative -- an incubator. An incubator should have a temperature of at least 98 -- 99 degrees. To measure the humidity inside the incubator, use a hygrometer or a thermometer. Hygrometers can be bought in a price that's quite practical. You can buy it in any cigar shop or even online. For the first 1-18 days, your humidity can be at least 50% and the remaining days till day 21 must have a maximum of 80%. You should maintain adequate moisture inside the incubator. To do this, you can use paper cups or a pan containing water. To evenly apply the heat, mark the eggs with an O on one side and an X on the other side. This will determine which side needs to be heated. Do this process at least three to four times a day. If you started heating all X sides, the next time you turn it, all sides will be O. Do not skip until hatching day comes or else the eggs will get deformed from the inside. Sometimes, you get nothing. The above-mentioned hint is done by some egg hatchers and poultry owners. But others say that to turn or not to turn, hatch rates are always a success. Hatching Eggs from Incubators One good thing about incubators is that, in the absence of the mother chicken, they can come in handy. Very handy. Above all, these incubators can be bought in very cheap and practical prices. An incubator is an instrument that gives newly born egg a moist and warm state similar to that of the chicken's tummy. Options are endless depending on its features including the capacity, and others. Fertility The fertility of a hen is unlikely. It is very rare not assuring a hundred percentage accuracy. It varies from a close 56% to an 80% that can also depend on the condition, season and the bird type. Fertile eggs can be at least 75% expected to hatch. Determining the egg's fertility can't be done before the incubation. This can only be detected after 3 days or so by candling. Candling can be done by holding a candle in front of an egg which is typically white-shelled. As you do this, you could see a slight silhouette of the embryo. That will be the time when you can determine if it is fertilized or not. If they don't look anything close to "normal", otherwise damaged or cracked, you have to rid of them because they will develop a very unpleasant odor. If the eggs are uniformly white, the candle will be hard chance. So instead, you have to use a light bulb. Place the light bulb inside a can or a small box. Punch a small hole through the can or box wherein only a small percentage of light is reflected. You can place the egg over the hole where the light slits through. If you have noticed the cloudiness of the egg or a mass is prominent, assume an embryo has been successfully fertilized. But if the inside of the egg is clear, the egg is unfertilized. With these slight hints, you can diagnose the end product of an artificially incubated egg and not compromising the outcome of the chicks raised. Hatched Chicks: Raising To Do's Chicks that are hatched inside an incubator must stay inside the incubator for a couple of days. Don't get too excited to take them out. Give them some time to realize that they are already hatchlings and have to cope with their environment. Birds like quails, pheasants and chickens can survive for three days without any source of water or food. One very good thing about chickens is that when they are still inside the egg, days before they come out, the yolk is drawn to the navel and travels off through the stomach of the young one. The yolk will serve as nourishment for transition of the baby chick from the moment it hatches, to the time it gains sufficient strength till it fluffs out and becomes active to search the world for food. Physically, no gain weight will occur but there will be gain in activity, stature and faculty use. Upon noticing that chicks get interested with water drops or his companion's toes, don't mistook this as being hungry but part of the transition phase where they learn to adapt and familiarize themselves with their environment. It is the point of experimentation of the chicks. When evidences of experimentation are seen in such interest, a baby's learning and exploration comes in. You can take the hatchlings out after a day or 24 hours from the time that they hatched. If you have forgotten that you have babies left in the incubator and 48 hours has already passed, that would be fine. There are three important things to do upon hatching of the baby chicks -- brooder, feeding and prevent them from drowning. Brooder This is like a baby chick's second pit stop after life inside an incubator. A brooder is sort of an incubator but is bigger. It can be made or bought. The thing about brooders is that you have to provide your own heat lamp and make sure that the temperature is adjustable. Before putting the chicks inside the brooder, you should have it set at an environment that the temperature is not less than 90 degrees. A 95-degree heat can be a start. You maintain the heat lamp until the 6th week. From a 90-95 degree heat, you can decrease the heat by 5 degrees every week until it reaches about 60-65 degrees by the 6th week. Feeding Once you put them out of the incubator, you have to make sure that there is already available food and water inside the brooder. Never let these two essentials run out. They should always have something to put their beaks into. Babies must be fed with dry mash. Pheasant and chicken babies love baby chick mash. Solid food like grains is unsuitable. Grits aren't necessary when you choose to use mash feed. You can buy all these in a feed store. Drowning Prevention Receptacles can be life threatening to baby chicks especially during the first week of inhabitation inside the brooder. If they are so active, they can drown themselves inside those receptacles. There is an explanation why chicks love to flounder on water. It is said that as baby chicks that came out of an egg filled with fluid, they have this urge to throw themselves in the water thinking that it is still their sac. This is true with younger birds. But don't worry, they'll snap out of this once they get older. To do away with drowning use a water cup that is shallow instead of the one that is deep. Gathering the Right Materials before Building the Pen Being a starter in the world of raising chickens, one of the important thing you should consider and is also necessary is the fact that you can protect your raised chickens without even being on a shot-gun watch for 24 hours every waking day; that is why you have to build a pen that will last for a very long period of time. Before building, planning and gathering is the very first step. Location is the first thing to consider. Do you live in a rural or in an urban area? Your answer will depend on the chickens you can keep. Usually in rural communities, the number of livestock you want can be unlimited but when in urban settings, raising chickens can have restrictions regarding its number. Or sometimes, they are totally banned. Another thing is the kind of chicken that you are planning to raise. If they weigh heavier, this will be an advantage because this kind of status will make it more difficult for them to fly away. A simple wire and post design pen can be used. But in most instances chickens are more prone to flying away. Especially if they are not used to the place, a fence with a higher walls or wires is more appropriate. The place where you construct your pen must be safe and sturdy enough to withstand any predator's mark. It should be constructed in a way that your poultry are not easily snatched not only by scavengers but also by people who are pretty much interested in chicken stew. They must be protected and locked-in, especially at night. What is a post and wire type of pen? It is by far the simplest kind of design wherein materials like posts, strong wires, fence staples are used. The tools needed to help you complete the job are the ordinary hammer, wire cutters, crowbar and sledgehammer. Gathering these materials are the very first thing you have to do upon planning. Fence post can't be bought one at a time but in bundles. If you became worried that the excess lumbers will go to waste once the fence is finished, worry no more. This is because fence posts can be used in incredible purposes like supporting beams for sheds. Chicken wire is usually used. But for safety purposes a stucco wire is stronger and is more recommended for holding building sides. There are really no actual fence staples, that is why the local staples used for wiring can be used as an alternative. Skimping the staples should not be stressed. You need a lot while construction is ongoing and also additional supplies in cases of emergencies. The sledgehammer is used to pound the post into the soil. Weight is the first thing that you have to take note of when choosing a sledgehammer. Make sure that it is not too heavy that you can't lift it up and not too light that you will need to exert all your efforts just to pound your post. The crowbar is used for digging a hole where the pole will be placed. Lastly, the regular hammer will be useful for those hardheaded staple wires to dig in the posts. Now that all materials are properly intact, you can plan on the actual building of the pen. Expectations on Raising Baby Chickens Growing chicks to chickens is hard work but is quite fulfilling, especially when you're about to benefit from it. Chickens do change so quickly. Within just a month, you could notice development. On the beginning of life they are just little slimy egg contents and the next thing you know they can now chirp their way to the coop starting a whole new life -- a life that's self-sufficient and nevertheless, independent. Jumping off from three to six weeks old, a chicken sheds off its fluffiness and replaces it with feathers that will become more mature. Combs and wattles will grow and turn to a deep red hue. If you are raising cockerels, what you call a young rooster, they will attempt to crow. At the age of 21-25 weeks, pullets will lay their very first eggs. Pullets are the young hens. One characteristic of a pullet's egg is that its shell is weak and small. As they lay frequently, their eggs become harder and larger. The fun part of pecking one another is then established by six months. Their wattles and combs will be completely formed by then. No sleeping on the job for these fine-feathered friends. Although, after six months, their world will start to be put on a due, it will all slow down. Production of eggs will decline at a time but their eggs are definitely large. Molting will continue once a year and refuse to lay eggs at that period. Aside from that, there are still several issues to be very assertive of like their physical attributes and behavioral patterns. Molting is the process of shedding feather and then re-growing it. Like that of a snake's skin shedding but totally on a different angle. Molting usually occurs during summertime. They will not lay eggs during this time and they may look "diseased". But that shouldn't worry you because it's all-natural. You don't have to drag all your chickens to an animal doctor for them to be checked. Wait till the feathers grow back because they will look better and healthier as compared before. Be on the lookout though, because if it takes quite some time for the feathers to grow, there could be a problem. Illness or parasites could be the main cause for this feature. This is noticeable because they will behave in an awkward manner. One very irritating behavior that poultry owners have to be on the lookout for is the hens going "broody". Broodiness is a chicken's attitude, most specifically the hens, to be stubborn and insist on sitting down on her eggs all the time. This is a good thing if you want those eggs to hatch fast. What you don't know is that when a hen turns broody, she will sit on anything that's similar with real eggs, like golf balls! You wouldn't want to experience being caught up with your desire to communicate with a hen's broodiness because of three reasons: a. They get grumpy and will, at any circumstance, try to peck you if you go nearer. It will be very difficult for you to get those eggs because of this kind of attitude. b.Decomposing of the eggs will hasten because of the heat that regulates from the hen to the unfertilized egg. c. When a hen gets broody, she doesn't want to get out of her nest and forcing her to do so will get you into one peck fight with your hen. If this stubbornness happens, they therefore refuse to drink or eat thus depriving her of the needed nutrients.
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