Raising Chickens 101: How to Get Started

A Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens

January 29, 2019
Chicken Hen

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So, you’d like to raise your own chickens? Be sure you’re ready to commit! Here’s the first post of a six-part beginner’s guide to raising chickens. Let’s “start from scratch,” so to speak.

Why Should You Raise Chickens?

There’s a lot to like about raising chickens in your backyard. The eggs are a real temptation—tastier and fresher than any store-bought eggs and better for baking, too. The shells, along with the chicken poop, can be tossed right into the compost pile. Much of the day, the birds entertain themselves, picking at grass, worms, beetles, and all of the good things that go into making those yummy farm eggs. Plus, with their keen eye for insect pests, chickens make for great gardening companions!

Remember, though: Nothing good comes easy.

Preparing for Raising Chickens

  • First, you’ll need a chicken coop. It has to hold a feeder and water containers, as well as a nest box for every three hens. It should be large enough that you can stand in it to gather eggs and shovel manure comfortably. Here’s how to build a chicken coop in your backyard.
  • Chickens need food (and water) daily. Feed is about $20 per 50-pound bag at my co-op, but prices may vary. How long a bag lasts depends on the number of chickens that you have.
  • Hens will lay through spring and summer and into the fall, as long as they have 12 to 14 hours of daylight. Expect to collect eggs daily, or even twice a day.
  • All year ‘round, you’ll have to shovel manure. Yippee!
  • If you go away on vacation, you’ll need a reliable chicken-sitter—and they can be scarcer than hens’ teeth!

Rooster and hen chickens.

How to Raise Chickens

Chickens are sociable, so plan to keep four to six birds. They’ll need space—at least 2 square feet of coop floor per bird. The more space, the happier and healthier the chickens will be; overcrowding contributes to disease and feather picking.

The birds will need a place to spread their wings, so to speak: a 20x5-foot chicken run, for example, or a whole backyard. (My hens have lots of outdoor time. They have places to take a dust bath and catch a few rays.) Either way, the space must be fenced in order to keep the chickens in and predators out. (Predators include your own Fido and Fluffy, too!) Add chicken-wire fencing to your list of equipment.

All of this costs money. The materials to build and furnish a coop and a 20x5-foot run are going to set you back $300 to $400. If you can’t do this work yourself, you’ll also be buying skilled labor.

Want to increase your flock? Young chicks need a brooder lamp for warmth, but don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

Gardening with Chickens

Most folks who keep chickens do so largely for the constant supply of fresh eggs, but did you know that keeping chickens can be also be beneficial for the garden? 

When the gardening season has finished for the year, let the chickens into your gardening space and watch them go crazy! They’ll uproot the stems and stalks of weeds and gobble up any damaged or overripe vegetables that remain. They’ll eat any weed seeds or insects they find in the soil, and will peck apart and digest vegetable remnants, especially broccoli stems, carrot tops, chard, and kale. After that, they’ll scratch the ground and peck out hidden worms or insects, mixing up the soil in the process—all with endless enthusiasm and curiosity.

Chickens in Yard

Chickens don’t only provide a constant supply of fresh eggs—they produce an endless amount of manure, too. Luckily, chicken poo can be composted, aged, and eventually added to the garden. In about 6 months’ time, you will accumulate about 1 cubic foot of manure per chicken.

During your daily cleaning of the coop, collect and pile up the chicken poop and used bedding materials. The best decomposition occurs when the pile is 2 parts poop to 1 part bedding materials. Lawn clippings and fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps, as well as leaves, twigs, and shredded paper, can also be added into the mix. Soak the pile and, over the next year or so, wet and stir it regularly to add air. A temperature of 130°F to 150°F is recommended to eliminate bacteria. 

More of Raising Chickens 101

Still interested? See more of our beginner’s guide to raising chickens below:

About This Blog

Interested in raising chickens? Here’s our Raising Chickens 101 series—a beginner’s guide in 6 chapters. We’ll talk about how to get started raising chickens, choosing a chicken breed, building a coop, raising chicks, chicken care, collecting and storing eggs, and more. The author, Elizabeth Creith, has fifteen years of experience keeping chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys on her farm in Northern Ontario. She currently dreams of a new flock of fancy chickens!

Reader Comments

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Hi! 2 questions! I have done

Hi! 2 questions! I have done A TON of research and been around chickens a bunch but never raised any. How many chicks would you suggest I start with? And I definitely want a rooster to protect my girls but my mom is worried about sound. Are they loud enough to hear in the morning from inside the coop?

feed them

I am very much interested in do you feed them? I am purchasing eggs from someone but I recently food out she feeds them corn. Isnt corn not good for them? Just want to be clear.
thank you in advance


I love your website I think that when you read this it clicks into your mind that you will know every thing about chickens

How to help a hen who is partially frozen from the elements.

How can I help one of my hens who I found dying from below 0 temps in the coop that is heated. We brought her inside and put her in warm water and we are trying to warm her up. What else can we do? She is not moving still.

Your frozen hen

Hi there, sorry to hear of your woes. I am not super experienced with chickens but do have some knowledge and my chickens were outside this winter and a few days ago had a -1 temp (-23 windchill). I don’t think it was the cold that got to your hen, especially if the coop is heated like you said, unless there was a power outage). I did have some questions though first two are ... 1. What is the size of the coop? 2. How many birds in it?

If the coop isn’t huge or you don’t have enough birds in there, I would tend to think the hen had something else going on. Is she older?


I had perchesed 15 chicks their about 5 weeks old, when can I start feeding them pellets? They're all females.

Feeding advice

0-10 weeks your chicks should have chick feed. 10-18 weeks Started feed. After 18 weeks, or after they begin to pay eggs start laying pellets or layer crumble. I always kept a calender specific to age.
Once they begin to lay you should add granite gritt and crushed oyster shells. About, 1/4-1/2 cup each, per feeder. Granite will help their gizzards digest. Calcium in oyster shells for strong egg shells. They'll know how to consume each, by nature.


we have 18 chickens and sell eggs and now 1 rooster is there anything we should do different because of the rooster as far as the eggs go

If you do not want chicks

If you do not want chicks then simply collect your eggs daily. They can not hatch what they can not sit on. Other than that nothing else is needed. Your eggs are all good for sale. At least as far as I have found. I have a Rooster, he is the protector of the girls, not only from other animals but he also keeps the flock in order. I collect my eggs each morning and before I lock up for the night I do a final check. I have no problems with my eggs and everyone loves them.

Raising country chickens and recently something is killing them

Something digs holes outsise the coop and getting into my chickens. It kills and eats part of them. I am so upset.

Killing your chickens..

It sounds like a possum or a weasel... most likely a possum. They are nuts over eggs and they kill and eat chickens also. Try throwing a few old eggs in a place near your hen house but not right next to it. A possum will take the eggs and leave your chickens alone as long as he is getting a meal. Possums can be great to have around - they eat rodents and old seed. Just remember he is there and give something to him to eat so that your chickens aren't such a temptation to him.

something eating your chickens

It could be a racoon or oppossum they both will chew the head off a chicken and leave the carcass laying there, very sad but it happens. The best thing to do is is dig down about 8-12" around your coop and lay chicken wire down and fill it in. This will stop them from digging under it. Otherwise fill your coop floor with chicken wire or some small hole fencing you can buy at your local co-op store.

Eating your chickens

An easier way to lay chicken wire instead of digging a trench for the wire is to lay the wire out about 18" running away from pen, then cover with a little dirt and let grass grow over it. When a critter tries to dig in he hits the wire and gives up. Has worked for me for years. After about 5 years replace the wire because it will rust.

Bantam birds picking on just one

I've got some beautiful bantams, 3 d'uncle and one buff brahman, I've had them about 9 months, and they are all laying well. About a month ago they ganged up on the brahman and took all the feathers out of her chest, so I had to move her out of the coop. I tried to introduce her back into the flock with only one other hen, but each one I tried her with lasted about 15 minutes before the pecking began. After a terrible afternoon, she's without feathers again and I'm desperate for suggestions I can't have this poor bird spend her life in a dog cage in my garage!

Hen pecking

Unfortunately, she's the, "bottom of the pecking order". It's a real thing. If you have the room, keep her by herself. If you don't have the room.....to save her the agony and stress...just cull her. It sounds brutal, but more brutal to have her try to live through that. She'll be too stressed to lay, eat or socialize.

I have 3 Bantam chickens, one

I have 3 Bantam chickens, one is a Rooster, and I have 9 other full size chickens. I have found that my Roo will quell most pecking order issues that the girls may have. He is protective of his ladies and will stop their squabbling before anything gets that serious. If you can have one that is what I would do. I think that is better than killing her just because she is the one getting picked on.

Do you need Roosters?

Ill have my chicken coop ready for spring. I kinda don’t want roosters due to the fact I don’t want little chickens running around. I also have 6 nest, prep for the chickens I plan on only having 4. Also I was wondering will they return to the nest after the day is over?

Do you need roosters?

No, you don't need roosters at all! I have 4 in my coop, which would never go back in when I first got them, I had to put them in every night. Then it got really cold and I had to shut them in the coop for a few days, and after that - Voila! They understood that was their "bedroom" and they go in without any encouragement.
So wait for a cold snap, and keep the coop door shut for at least 48 hours. You'll need to feed and water them as normal, but don't let them out. As soon as the weather improves open the door, and they will go in and out as if they've done it all their lives. Enjoy your eggs!

Do you need a Rooster

You do not need a rooster but, if you are allowed to have one then why not? just because you have a rooster does not mean that you have to have little ones running around. just be sure to collect your eggs each day, its as simple as that! You do not have to wait for a cold snap to get your chickens to take to the coop either, just put them in there for a few days and do not let them out, then when you do they will start going in on their own.

Roosters in the hen house

Our little man was a free rooster. He is beautiful. When he came into his roster roll, I hated him. He is very bossy to the girls. I must admit, he goes out of his way to protect them. Everyday I let them roam outside of their enclosure. He wrangles them up just before dusk, and they go in to roost. He is terrifically protective. I love to watch him shake his head and make his jesters to get the hens to behave.
I collect my eggs once a day. I'm going to hatch some eggs this spring. I have a whole other space for that though.

Hen vs rooster

Hello, we inherited 2 chickens with our coop. Raised chickens as a child and starting over many years later. I would like to know if one of these is a rooster! I think i would know the obvious but one lays the other doesn’t. The bigger one is more agressive. Trying to figure out how to send you a picture!

Hen VS Rooster

The Editors's picture

Hi Monica,

A rooster has a larger comb (the fleshy crest on top of their head) than a hen, and longer tail feathers as well. They are noticeably flashier, with some species having colorful and vibrant plumage. If a chicken is aggressive, it does not mean it is a rooster. There is a pecking order in flocks of chickens, even among two, with one picking on another. If the chicken isn’t laying, it could be a sign of age, poor diet, or cooling temperatures (in winter chickens will stop laying unless a heat lamp is installed). We hope this helps!

I have been raising broilers

I have been raising broilers but now want to switch to layers. Is there any concerns if I clean the coop my broilers used to used and put layers in? Will that hurt them anyway?


I don’t think there are any concerns. You’ll find that layers are so much neater than broilers (less poop!)  We would NOT advise raising them together.

Chicken disease.

Hi, I'm Jessie and I'm just starting with my free ranch chickens project. I observed that a few of my chickens started developing a weird behavior moving erratic, loosing balance like they have a neurological problem. The hen died few days later.
Please can you help me with this situation and give me the best advice .

erratic chickens

It’s hard for us to say. Sometimes chickens need more room to exercise.  Sometimes they are too hot; ensure they are not getting overheated.  It’s possible that the one hen hit its head and did indeed suffer injury. Perhaps it’s nutritional. Give your girls some concentrated chicken vitamins and see if they improve.

My experience

Great Post!
I had to go through a whole process of trial and error in which I made a couple of mistakes that I could have easily avoided had I known some basics. Of course, one doesn’t need to be a professional farmer to raise a flock of a couple pullets, but it is only now, after more than one year and half of experience, that I can say quite confidently that I master the elementary tools to handle my chickens in almost optimal conditions.
My journey is not yet over. I guess there are many many things to learn.

It's real.

A chicken that is over heated....by weather can have a stroke. They also can have, sudden onset, heart attack and just, "keel over" and die. More common than anyone would believe of a chicken! Fresh cool water, 1-2 times, daily during summer. I even freeze my corn cobs and let them have at it, the day after putting up my corn. Cold, refreshing and it's a, "yummy pecking toy".

want to start soon a chicken farm

looks very interesting!

how to keep hens

I would like to know how to keep hens


Love to rear chickens

poultry farmer

it is good

want to start raising chicken

help me as a beginner to raise chicken

Funny but true

For some reason I started thinking about the way about the way I used to keep eggs fresh without Refrigeration in the olden days
After Gathering eggs I would put them in a egg carton and turn them over twice a day to keep fertile eggs fresh. This kept the sperm from floating to the top
That way I can plant them under a hen that is sitting and the eggs still hatch but once you refrigerate the eggs there's no use trying to put them under a hen to hatch cold it kills the sperm
Has anyone else heard of this.
Also when Gathering eggs you must always leave at least one egg in the nest so the hen will come back and lay again in the same nest for some reason a chicken can just count up to 1
I have even used a golf ball to keep in a nest and the Hen didn't tell no different .
I also remember one time that I had a hen laying eggs in a box and I put something over the top of the box and move the the box with the hen and eggs and put it back porch and kept the cover over the top of the box for about a day and she come back and laid eggs on my back porch I even seen one hen waiting on another hen to get off the nest to lay an egg what gets confusing Is when more than one hen wants to sit on the eggs.. that way all I had to do was go on my back porch and get fresh eggs

Raising chickens? Your gonna

Raising chickens? Your gonna need water! My wife raises a lot of chickens and i got tired of all the work. Check out this automatic watering system- autowaterkit

raising checkens

Hi i will like to know which places around gauteng and Northwest where can i buy small chickens to raise. Will also like to know to whom will i sell?

chicken sticks his head in hole

she does this for hours a day. has anyone else ever heard of this

Animal husbandry

I want to rear poultry

poultry keeping

Am a beginer eager to start my own farming ,however what i read recently was also educative and can lead me some where thanks

starter of chicken farming

Its good,I also need ideas to start.

I have land an was trying to

I have land an was trying to c,what do I have to have to start my own farm.A friend of mind was telling me since u have ur own land u can get help.

Breeding chickens&eggs

I'm interested in doing it .I love farming ,but don't know where to start..

Raising Chickens for eggs

Do I need a rooster for eggs?

eggs and roosters

The Editors's picture

No, you do not need a rooster if you just want hens to lay eggs to eat.  However, if you want eggs to raise chicks, you do need a roaster to breed your own hens. 

Chicken farm

I would like to start my chicken farm business

It's real.

Start by being 100% committed. If you vacation, know that you have someone knowledgeable to tend your flock. Start small. Have a Cool or Chicken Tractor built before you purchase pullets. A good hatchery will mail your day old chicks to you. Be prepared to RUN to the post office when they arrive!!!
Have a chick brooder ready and waiting for your babies. Have chick feed and feeders, chick grit, chick waterers and heat lamp.
"Raising Chickens for Dummies" , albeit, seemingly insulting, is a great read. I was once a, "dummie".


I have five hens,a good sized Coop, fenced In yard for My chickens,we feed them a diet of chicken feed, mixed with corn and sunflowers, fresh water, and any fresh food we do Not eat,also throwing In weeds and greens,they are tended to daily,we get maybe three eggs every other day,what Am I doing wrong?

It doesn’t sound as if your

It doesn’t sound as if your hens are stressed in any way. Are they new? It can take 6 weeks for hens to settle in. Are temperatures too high? Could your hens be stressed about anything like predators? Is there a rooster (stressing them out)? Are they actually eating their mix? Don’t feed them too much scratch or they will stop laying. It sounds as if you’re doing the right thing and just be patient! Also, sometimes there are certain breeds that just aren’t great layers. See our article on choosing chicken breeds for laying: http://www.almanac.com/blog/home-health/chickens/raising-chickens-101-ch...

Breed can make a difference

What Breed are your chickens? Heavy layers lay approx 300 eggs a year, average layers around 250 a year. Breed can make a huge difference on the amount of eggs you get and some breeds lay once every 3 days approx 100 eggs a year. If your chicks are young they all might not be laying yet either. I wish you the best in your farming adventure. Hope this helps.

Chicken farrming for eggs

I am considering raising chickens for egg. I need the basic material and accessories for a foul coop
am thinking a 40 by 20 foul pen

Baby chick

I have a barred Plymouth Rock chick that has a growth on the back of her leg that is sharp and poking a hole on her backside. She is eating and drinking and I have her separated from the others. I can send pic if need be. Do I cut this off ? What can I put on the wound ? She is about 8 days old. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

feeding chicken for fertile eggs

what feed can i be feeding my hens so that they give me fertile eggs?

For guidelines about what to

The Editors's picture

For guidelines about what to feed chickens, you might be interested in:


In general (all other requirements being fulfilled, such as a rooster), a hen will be more likely to produce fertile eggs if she is healthy and has good nutrition. Breeder feed is recommended when the hen is laying eggs for hatching; or second best, provide layer feed (for hens that have started laying eggs). For more advice, see:


Or, contact your county’s Cooperative Extension. Contact information can be found here:


Hope this helps!

Feeding chicken for fertile eggs

There is no such thing! You need a rooster.

How to start raising chickens

Great Advice on getting started!

Glad I Found You!

What a great site! We used to raise chickens when I was a kid in Illinois, but I don't remember hardly anything. Now, I live in North Texas and want to build me a li'l ol' chicken coop, with a big flock of 3 or 4! I want them to lay through the winter, but the summers can be brutal here. What breed would y'all suggest?

Best Chicken Breeds

The Editors's picture

Hi Rusty, Welcome!  If you’re going to have hot, humid summers, consider Black Austrolorp and Red Sex Link, and Delaware breeds.  Readers have reported good results.


I have a rooster that

I have a rooster that apparently hurt his leg and has been limping for several weeks now, now he has been doing nothing but sleeping and staying in the coop, his tail is down and he doesn't even crow anymore, can you help me and give me some suggestions??? the vet around here is very expensive so i'm looking at you for something. Thanks Jim.

Another question sorry but

Another question sorry but I just saw a garden snake entering the coup! Small only about 2 ft. But can they be a problem?

And they haven't been

And they haven't been sleeping in there coup was thinking it was the heat. But could it be the snake or all the flies??

What is to cooled for

What is to cooled for chickens. I have 3 adult chickens.we can have cold weather. Thanks for what u do.

I have a problem with a

I have a problem with a attack chicken. I've raised them from babies but now 1 is literally coming after me pecking, then she does her little squat and shake? What's going on?

You've probably been so kind

You've probably been so kind that this hen thinks she's above you in the pecking order. Never let her attack or chase you or she is showing her dominance. You chase her around. Then you can gently hold her down and force her to bow. Or, you can also hold her upside down. Flip her around, and carry her around for 15 to 30 minutes in front of the other girls. 

Thank you I can report

Thank you I can report today was the first day with no attack! Everything she tried I picked her up and send her flying so far so good thanks much...


We are in the Great North East. First, we have chickens need more for colder climate. Wyandootes. Good layers and good meat. During winter, they lay better. We shore up their runs and coops with bales of hay and each coop has an infrared heat lamp, on timer. Comes in below 35* and goes off at 45*. Summer they want in high heat, but we make sure they have fresh, cold water daily. Winter, we make sure water didn't freeze a.m. And p.m. We have never had issues. But all chickens are different!

Hello, If possible I'm

Hello, If possible I'm looking into a small, cheap as possible chicken project. I'm looking into maybe getting 4 hens for egg production. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Also, Can you please tell me of a chicken that can take the heat pretty well? Also, what is the difference between white and brown eggs?

Thank you for your help!

Hello! Ijust cleaned my

Hello! Ijust cleaned my coop,and found mice.What do I use to get rid of them?

Hi to all, with eggs prices

Hi to all, with eggs prices these days I am thinking to get a couple of chickens and commit to them but I live in far west texas in the middle of the desert, here is very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter (not like new york). Does you guys have any recommendation for me? Thanks.

Can you use straw inside the

Can you use straw inside the coop to cover the floor and nesting boxes?

Shavings (not cedar)are

Shavings (not cedar)are better in coops, easier to clean, and a hand full of hay in box.

I just got 20 young chicks

I just got 20 young chicks and 4 days later I lost one and 3 others are acting strang what should I do I don't want to lost all .

Make sure aloes they have

Make sure aloes they have water and food available. To reduce mortality very important add special vitamins to the water, you can by them in any pet store.

What are you spose to have fo

What are you spose to have fo a chicken

I just got 20 young chicks

I just got 20 young chicks and 4 days later I lost one and 3 others are acting strang what should I do I don't want to loose them all .

Can i put. 44 day old

Can i put. 44 day old chicks......guineas . peacocks. .chickens. with started pulletd?? Thanks

Our neighbors raise

Our neighbors raise chickens…I love chickens, I love their sounds, and I love their eggs. I DO NOT like the rats that are digging into our back yard and dying in the back flower garden. Their tunneling is destroying the brick patio and back fence line flower bed. How can we get through to our neighbors that they need to make a change?
Please HELP!!


You can have rat problems without chickens. The best way to handle rats is to put out some fresh coke in a container where they can get to it. Rats love the sugar in coke and will be attracted to it. They can't burp, so the carbonation in the coke expands in their intestines and explodes, killing them. They won't have time to dig holes. They come, drink and die. By the way, rats are very prolific and produce hundreds of little ones each year. So if you have rat holes you likely have nests of rats in the ground. The coke will attract and kill all of them. But, you can expect to pick up dead rats all over your yard until they have been eliminated.

coke rats

Does that really work?

I have two hens and one

I have two hens and one rooster In a 5'-5' coop. I am not wanting to eat the eggs I am wanting babies. One of the hens laid 3 eggs and after the third day I noticed the hens ate the eggs. What should I do??

Well a couple of things.

Well a couple of things. First, if you want your hens to hatch out their eggs, you need a hen that is "broody". Not all hens are broody and a lot of breeds are bred to be non-broody.

A broody hen has a behavioral tendency to sit on a clutch of eggs to incubate them. She will be very defensive, refuse to leave the nest, often she pulls feathers from her breast to line the nest and keep the eggs warmer. They will not eat or drink while exhibiting broodiness. If you don't have a broody hen you wont have chicks.

Once hens start eating their eggs, they are very hard to stop. If you want to hatch your own chicks, you will need to get rid of your current hens since they are now eating eggs, and find a hen that is broody. Easier yet, buy an incubator and hatch the eggs yourself.

I would also increase the number of hens that you have to at least six. An aggressive rooster will really tear up just a few hens.

Totally new here. Just

Totally new here. Just researching raising chickens and am so glad I found you. I recently visited my brother in Washington and he has chickens and I FELL IN LOVE. Told my husband when we get home, I want some! We live in north east Indiana and have no idea where to start. My biggest concern is predators and weather. I have no idea where to start and love your input. Last Spring I started my own meal worm farm for my birds and have also read that they are a fav for chickens. Cannot wait to start this new hobby.

My chickens got into paint

My chickens got into paint chips (none lead) and mortar chips. Is there any way to help cleanse them?

Chickens ate paint

I have just begun to raise chickens and bought 12. I began using the MMS therapy we use for our own health which goes into their water. The MMS will quickly disappear in sunlight, so it must be given daily for a while. It kills parasites and bacteria. It is excellent for overcoming almost all diseases in humans, so I'm sure it will work with the chickens, just don't make the MMS too strong. I am using it to make sure any disease residing in the chickens is destroyed along with removing any heavy metals such as you find in paint. You can learn the story of MMS (Miracle Mineral Supplement) or the founder, Jim Humble, by using a search engine. It also reduces the damage done by feeding them feeds that contain GMO which is in most commercial feed unless you specifically purchase non GMO feeds which run a little more expensive. I will not feed my chickens or pets anything containing GMO.

I just got 6 chicks. My very

I just got 6 chicks. My very first chickens. Enjoying them. When do you introduce grit? Right now I give them only unmedicated starter

I would add chick grit after

I would add chick grit after the first 3 days. Sprinkle it on food like salt or pepper. It helps with digestion and "pasty butt".

my husband thinks we can use

my husband thinks we can use sand instead of grit that we buy at a store. is that true?

MMS and other Suppliments

I have never used this stuff, but the name Chlorine Dioxide made me think twice. Read all of the reviews before using this stuff (MMS) or any other suppliments. and or giving these to your chickens. Thats all I'm sayin. You eat what you feed your chickens!

I just got 6 chicks. My very

I just got 6 chicks. My very first chickens. Enjoying them. When do you introduce grit? Right now I give them only unmedicated starter

Another quest for advice. How

Another quest for advice. How long do the hens remain fertile after the roo is removed from access to them? I purchased 3 hens which were exposed to a rooster. I want them to breed with my own rooster. How long should it take before I can be sure the fertilized eggs I am getting are by my own rooster?

hi i think u should put all

hi i think u should put all the hens in a coop and your rooster in there for 2 weeks but don't let them out because if u do they won't go back in .but u can go out to give them food and water then go back inside straigt away i have done it with my chooks so it should work with yours

I would like to hatch some

I would like to hatch some eggs from my hens. I was told to gather the (fertilized) eggs a couple of times per day, bringing them inside and keeping them at room temperature until I have the amount I want to hatch. Also told that the fertilized eggs will remain viable for 10 days or so as long as they don't get real cold, such as refrigeration, or staying in the nest for too many hours without a hen. Is this true? How long can they set and a chick still be able to hatch under proper incubator conditions?

What is the best average

What is the best average rooster to hen ratio? I am just about to inherit my buddies chickens and need to know if any more chickens need to be bought....He has 2 red jungle fowl and a rhode island red rooster

What is the average lifespan

What is the average lifespan of laying hens which are healthy and well kept? Thanks in advance.

According to the experts at

The Editors's picture

According to the experts at Texas A&M: Many commercial laying hens are kept for up to 3 years. There are undocumented accounts of “yard chickens” living for more than 10 years.

I was given 13 hens and 1 roo

I was given 13 hens and 1 roo ..ive had them a couple months now acouple of them look like they are in a molting stage but backs are bare it doesnt look like anything is growing back ..they have been like this since we got them.i think they were raised on fruit and vegetables..i have completely changed their diet to chicken feed...they have a good nesting coop and a 20`x20` open rang to run around...im new to this and im worried could this be an infection or something ..all of the chickens are really mellow so theres no pecking....please help

bare back hens

They could be molting or you may just need to be patient. One of my hens had that problem when I purchased her and the old feathers had obviously been broken off. I started using MMS in my water and her feathers are growing back. But the thing I would caution you and all chicken owners is to be careful about commercial feeds. Most contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) which is very detrimental to any animal that eats them regardless of how much the information put out by the chemical companies praises them. Their chemists are paid to lie. GMO has been proven by independent scientists to be deficient in the nutrients the grains should have so your chickens are not getting the nutrition you think. It costs a little more, but nothing containing GMO will ever be fed to my chickens.

My chicken coop at home which

My chicken coop at home which my husband and a friend built is almost done. Can't wait to buy my own chickens. Do you have any suggestion on how many to buy? As beginners we wanted to just take it easy and we are looking into raising chickens as a hobby. Do you have any suggestions on what breeds to buy? Thankyou will really appreciate any insights and recommendations.

Visit my blog www.chickencoopathome.com

The question of how many

The Editors's picture

The question of how many chickens to buy depends on how many eggs you want (assuming you're raising chickens for eggs). You'll get, on average, 2 eggs a day from 3 hens. So, if you want a dozen eggs a day, buy 18 hens. In terms of the breed, Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Australorps and Orpingtons are all great egg layers. See the next article that we reference above on choosing your breed: http://www.almanac.com/blog/raising-chickens/raising-chickens-101-choosing-breed

Thank you for your reply.. 18

Thank you for your reply.. 18 hens might just be too many for us. We are raising hens just for a hobby so might as well settle for 3- 5 chickens considering us being a newbie in chicken raising. I Will surely check the link you provided.

Be sure to check for city

Be sure to check for city ordinances limiting the size of your flock; and don't forget about the HOA (home owner's association). Good luck with your new hobby!

We had chickens when I was

We had chickens when I was younger and 4 was a good number for us. We got an egg from each of them each day so you end up with 2 dozen a week. They had access to our entire backyard during the day and they put themselves to bed at night, they had an old cubby house that we modified a little bit for them and locked them in at night. They would live to approx. 6-7 years.
Also, for anyone with kids or a large piece of land - we whistled when we fed them and it takes 2-3 weeks but they train well to respond to a whistle. They will come to you when you whistle very reliably and it comes in handy (or can be a good party trick for the kids!).

I have a 2 1/2 month old

I have a 2 1/2 month old chicken. I'm not sure if its a hen or roo. I'm nervous its a roo because we have 2 hens ans we dont want baby chicks. Is there a way i can tell if its a hen or roo?

It's hard to tell a male from

It's hard to tell a male from a female. The rooster will try to crow about 2 months (though it could be later).

I'm new to this but recently

I'm new to this but recently bought 4 chicks from the local feed store. One was a bit more outgoing and curious as a kitten. Its comb grew faster, wider and redder than the others and it started to "dance" in front of the others. It's been almost 6wks. and the little fella is jumping on the others backs and did his first crow 3 days ago and has ever since. I'm no pro but Id say I have a roo! Hope this helps.

I have a 2 1/2 month old chicken

If you collect your eggs daily, you will never have to worry about having baby chicks. A rooster can be a great asset to your little flock.

Just got some baby chicks - 3

Just got some baby chicks - 3 days old. I have them in a large dog crate (5 of them) on newspaper with some water and their food. I just stuck a few pieces of fresh hay into the cage and they loved it. Is this OK?

The birds will need a place

The birds will need a place to spread their wings, so to speak: a 20x5-foot chicken run,
best part of this post is Chickens are sociable, so plan to keep four to six birds. They’ll need space—at least 2 square feet of coop floor per bird

I have eight month old

I have eight month old chickens they haven't started laying yet my other chicks were always laying by 6 monthes what are they missing indiet. I currently am giving them corn and oats and eggmash.

Eight months isn't too old

Eight months isn't too old for some chicken breeds.
Are they free-range? Chickens do best eating naturally--with grass, bugs, and other foraged material.
You sound as you have a good mix of nutrition. It's important for chickens to get a minimum of 16% protein.  We've never fed eggs to our chickens. We use soybeans, worms, and yogurt mixed with whole grains (not corn). You may find this page helpful: http://www.lionsgrip.com/prote...

We have two hens that are two

We have two hens that are two years. A Blessing from our daughter. One of the hens is leaving a very loose stool. This morning a very soft shelled egg was found. What are they missing in their diet? Is is grit or ouster?

It sounds as if they need

It sounds as if they need more calcium and vitamins. Try mixing oyster and egg shell into their feed. Also, add one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per gallon of water so that they can drink it. This will help the hens absorb the calcium in their system. 

We are starting up with 12

We are starting up with 12 chickens and a nice size coop. My question is....I have a 20 ft x 40 ft garden all nicely fenced in and critter proof. Could I place my chicken coop to attach to the garden for the hens to run around in? Would they damage my plants? Or would you recommend a separate run for the chickens to range around in?

I read you can fence a

I read you can fence a walking path around your veggie garden. Its said to be effective.

It's great to see that you

It's great to see that you want your chickens out and about, it's so good for them and you as they will be much healthier birds.

They will tear up your garden, so I dont recommend that you let them range there. I would set up a separate area for them using electric poultry netting and a charger.

I have been wondering about

I have been wondering about raising chickens, but live in a suburban environment on about 1/3 acre. How much noise do they generate? My neighbors are very fussy and I do not want to create a stir every morning. Glad to read you do not need roosters around to get eggs.

Chickens do make some noise,

Chickens do make some noise, but not necessarily any more than dogs. Only roosters crows, but hens will make noise when laying. Shrubs and insulation can help muffle the noise. It might be worth visiting a chicken coop to get a sense of the noise level and what you think will be acceptable. Odor can also be an issue. Keep well ventilated.

What great advise! My husband

What great advise! My husband and I recently moved onto 10 acres, we have been wanting to raise chickens for years. He loves eggs and I love to bake. We converted an old two stall horse barn, it's perfect for our 6 peeps coming on Wednesday and the two ducklings that I couldnt pass up last week from our wonderful local grange. Not to sure about duck eggs though. Last year I got a puppy chi-wawa, she has become the ducklings new mama. She got in the bath tub with them last night. Can we do too much trying to make them social? Are we overthinking them? New duck and peep mom looking for advise. Thanks

I had chickens growing up and

I had chickens growing up and loved raising them for 4H. We will be moving back to the country very soon where we can garden and enjoy home canning. I insisted to my husband that we order chickens and begin raising them. It will give me a great deal of peace knowing that between the garden and the chickens my family will always be well fed no matter what the economy does.

We moved back to the country

We moved back to the country 10 years ago. We had a large corner lot in the city and my neighbors all called my hillbilly because my back yard was full of container vegetables and a raised bed for corn. We got rabbits, as I showed and raised those for 4H. I am thinking about chickens and ducks now. I got miniature goats for dairy and make cheese too. Yes, it is awesome knowing that my children, and grandchildren now too, will always be able to have healthy food and be able to feed themselves.

are there any issues with

are there any issues with chickens carrying diseases that cause human illness?

We have three hens that are

We have three hens that are just starting to lay eggs. The eggs are soft. We have seen chickens pecking at the eggs. What should we do? Peg

I have read to put oyster

I have read to put oyster shells in their food because it sounds like they need more calcium.

what is best to feed them for

what is best to feed them for winter??

This will be our second year

This will be our second year with our Chickens and we started out with four, on was killed by a crow so we knew we had to cover the top of their outside area, now we have 16 chickens and they have a large chicken coop, with a large free range to go in and out freely, and a nestling area that we can use to just lift up the hinged top to collect eggs from the ouside, the coop is full of hay and long three long perches that they perch and sleep on at night, we feed them lots of corn, they love old crusty bread, we get over a dozen eggs a day, and give to family and friends so its so worth to have chickens and the kids love to come feed them..

So happy to hear about the

So happy to hear about the cold weather. I'm a country girl-city girl-finally going back to the country girl and can hardly wait for my chickens to raise. Thanks for all this great info!

Do chickens have to have a

Do chickens have to have a rooster around to lay eggs? I say no, but my friend says yes. I don't want babies or meat, just the eggs. Thanks for the info. I really enjoyed reading it and everyone's input. Yes, chickens can be cuddly. I used to carry mine in the basket of my bicycle as a little girl. Also, my mother would hold her and pet her neck until she fell asleep. Happy Farming to You All.

Hens will lay eggs with or

Hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster around, but those eggs will be infertile.

No not at all only if you

No not at all only if you want them fertilized by the male...

So excited to see this

So excited to see this subject as I've been contemplating raising some chickens (no roosters.) Recently moved to a farm and I am in heaven and want to take advantage of the space and area to have some feathered friends - but want to do it RIGHT for the chickens sake. So, have been doing much research and was glad to come across this when I came to FA to see about seed starting. Am looking forward to reading future snippets as I can use all the info I can get.

I've always wondered, though; I see where chickens have personality - but can they be cuddly? In other words, do they enjoy human company and/or interaction?

And is it necessary to have a heat lamp for the cooler climes? We live in northern Ohio......

No heat lamp necessary. I

No heat lamp necessary. I live in Northern Ontario, and only used heat lamps for babies (chicks and lambs). Even in -40 weather, the chickens were fine as long as they were sheltered.

We had about 40 free range

We had about 40 free range chickens on our farm. Every time my Husband would go outside, a Rhode Island red would always hang out with him....even perching on his chest while he was working under one of our vehicles,...I mentioned that he had a "friend" and he was skeptical...since we had several RI Reds...So, we painted the friendly hen's tail blue to see if it really was the same hen hanging out with him...guess what, he DID have a friend! Her name: BLUE....She would come in the house if the door was open just to find him. She followed him everywhere. Boy do I have the stories about BLUE !

Chickens are very cuddly! I

Chickens are very cuddly! I have one big girl who jumps on my lap 2-3 times a day, puts her chest on mine, roosts down and falls fast asleep to the point of snoring! all my chickens enjoy affection and kisses!

Lol traumatized with the

Lol traumatized with the hose!

Chicky poo is great for the

Chicky poo is great for the garden after it has been composed for 90 days. We have 39 hens and 5 roosters and not one of my roosters have attacked a visitor or family member. In addition, we put up fencing to keep the chickens out of the gardens, they are trainable. If one gets in, they are immediately traumatized with the hose, yelling and clapping. I have yelled at them from the top floor out the window and was surprised that they got the message and got out!! They're smarter than you think.

Michelle, you're right about

Michelle, you're right about chicken manure being to harsh to put straight on the garden. Composting is the way to go. And PellyRdGirl, thanks for the chicken-training tips.

Chicken Poop and Rosters

Just so you know, chicken poop is very harsh so don't plan on using it in your garden which, by the way may be destroyed by your chickens--they scratch everywhere! And roosters can be mean and deadly to ones ankles. Mom had four hens and two roosters. They were all gorgeous but the roosters did not like my sister and I. We had to use a broom to keep them off our ankles if we went in her backyard. I build the coop and I loved the chickens. They are great fun to watch and they do have personalities. Don't know why only my sister and I weren't their favorites--they did not bother Mom or Dad or my brothers and their wives! Wish I could have chickens in my condo!

Chicken Blog

So glad to see this...I've been contemplating starting a coop! Keep the advice rolling. Do you have any suggestions for breeds that are "especially heat hardy" I live in the southern most part of South Carolina and our summers can be nasty.

Heat is a problem, isn't it?

Heat is a problem, isn't it? Worse than cold. Check out the breed list on backyardchickens.com - it's not complete, but it's pretty good.

re:chicken blog

come from a long line of chicken farmers, love 'em! And their daily offerings of food, fun and compost building donations are great too.....

Love my chickies!

I would recommend researching the predators in your area, as well as breeds of chickens that are best suited to where you live. We love having chickens and allow them free-range. However, if you are particular about your patio furniture, or anything for that matter, you need to know that they will perch wherever they can. We do close them up in a coop at night so they do have a safe place to go, but we do have a significant problem with black snakes in warmer weather. Also, our chickens seem to delight in hiding their eggs, so if you do free-range you will probably spend a lot of time looking for nests of eggs and/or chickens hiding and setting eggs to hatch. That being said, I would not trade our chickies for store-bought eggs, nor for the entertainment they provide with their antics. They are also very helpful in the compost pile by turning it over looking for food. Thanks for the blog, I look forward to additional entries.

Great advice, Jerri.

Great advice, Jerri.

Chicken blog

LOVE IT and thanks. I need this!!!

Aw, thanks! I'm glad you're

Aw, thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying it, and I hope it goes on being useful to you.


I am really excited about this blog. My fiance and his family have always had chickens. They are all gone now, but we are considering starting back up with them. I agree with everybody about the taste of fresh eggs as compared to store bought. I have fibromyalgia, and one of the best things I have done for myself is to study foods and keep a food diary. When I eat organic and fresh, non-processed foods, I do much better. I am looking forward to the next blog! Happy farming :)

Plus it tastes better! I was

Plus it tastes better! I was shocked to learn that grocery store eggs are at least ten days old when they hit the shelf.

Most eggs in cafes and stores

Most eggs in cafes and stores can be around 6 months old as told to me from a supplier to cafe chain.

It is great you are covering this

Chickens are great even without the eggs. My kids moved me to town. I was so sad without my chickens. My son in law finally built me a chicken tractor and brought in my Silkies. I am content here now. They have such funny personalities. I will very much enjoy this. We did a frame run. The "T" posts are not strong enough for a determined big dog.

That's one determined dog if

That's one determined dog if it's damaging metal T-posts! A frame run is a great idea. Did you have to go to hardware cloth instead of chicken wire?

I'm excited to follow this as

I'm excited to follow this as I'm debating having my own chickens on my farm!

Chickens are awesome little

Chickens are awesome little creatures! We have 9 bantams (smaller versions). 7 hens and 2 roosters. We hatched out some eggs and got another rooster. Thought there would be problems w/2 roosters, but it's not. Maybe it's because they are related. i love my chickens! You wouldn't think it but they have such personality. Keep them safe, dry and clean and it's a joy.

I have had 3 roosters at one

I have had 3 roosters at one time and didn't even know it because 1 becomes dominant, the "alpha".... when I gave away my rooster, all of a sudden, one of the other two became dominant! The same thing happened with the third when I found a home for my second rooster! It was a really neat evolution to watch!

Love 'em!

Just this morning as my wife and I ate breakfast, I mentioned how blessed we are to have these eggs. We have had chickens for a lot of years. I would like to offer a few pointers: 1) I put a timer in my coop so the light comes on every morning at 6:00 and off every night at 8:00. I get eggs all year long. 2) When the hens get old, it's hard to cull them because you feel endeared to them for all the many breakfasts they have provided. Do the hard thing and thin your herd. Your production will be better for it.

We don't use lights on our

We don't use lights on our hens. The hens need that rest in the low laying season. I would never force or fool my hens into laying by adding the additional hours of light just to get a few extra eggs from them.

You don't eat them? They can

You don't eat them? They can add a nice supper to the list of provided meals.

We don't use lights either.

We don't use lights either. When the sun begins to set, our chickens make their way into the coop. Daylight is for being awake and dark or night is for sleep. We don't try to manipulate Mother Nature.It's -flock- not -herd-,by the way.

Loving My Chickens

I would highly recommend getting chickens! Once you get the coop built and critter-proof, it's not that much work. If you have enough hens you can pay for the food with the eggs that you sell...and they taste soooo much better than the store eggs.

Loving my chickens

The Editors's picture

I agree - chickens are pretty low maintenance once you get the predator-proofing in place. I really enjoyed mine!

I got creative for my coop

I got creative for my coop and used an extra large dog crate for my coop. I removed the pan from the bottom and zip tied 1/2 inch mechanics mesh on the bottom. I used a dowel for the perch. I bungied a Real Lemon bottle with a watering attachment upside down in the coop. I made a 3 sided concrete block frame to set the crate upon (and painted and planted pentas all around it and in the open front part I slid the pan. Now when it's time to clean out the coop all I have to do is hose out the bottom of the coop and spray down the pan. To keep them safe from rain and cold I fashioned a tarp that rolls down the back and sides of the coop and use an infra red lamp for the cold. My girls lay almost every day! I only have two, but they have a 15 x 15 run that they happily dig up every day. All I have to do is spray out the coop and rake out the yard. For the nest box I used a plastic round planter that is nestled in an iron frame (used to be a foot stool, very ornate and looks like a little throne with a nest on top).

I would love to see a picture

I would love to see a picture of your coop. We are in need of a coop and the more we can use that is already in our household the better.
If you don't mind sharing a photo please email me at mlouispalacio@yahoo.com.

Thank you.


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