A gratifying experience, raising backyard chickens may also be a wonderful opportunity to educate children or any family member about the environment, farming, and the significance of animal care. Many different chicken breeds exist, some for egg production, others for meat production, and some just because they are attractive. Even though many breeds are adapted to living in a backyard environment, particular breeds are more suited to backyard settings than others.
Starting at roughly six months of age, hens may lay for up to ten years, with the highest production falling during the first two years of their lives. Every week, hens might expect to lay around six eggs. Chickens need 12-14 hours of light every day in order to keep producing eggs.
This informative guide has included everything you need to know about caring for your poultry, from chick to chicken, to assist you along your bird-raising journey. Having hens will never cease to show you new things, and it will also never cease to provide you joy. We’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible not to get too complex for you to understand. This article is highly recommended for you to read!
Table of Contents
- 1 Breeds of Chickens: Egg Laying Hens
- 2 How Many Chickens Should I Get?
- 3 Dietary Intake
- 4 The Care That Your Chicken Need Every Day
- 5 Perfect Backyard Chicken Coop
- 6 How Much Space Do You Have For Your Chicken?
- 7 Common Hen-laying Problems and How to Handle Them?
- 8 Where Can I Find Chicks to Raise With?
- 9 Final Thought
Breeds of Chickens: Egg Laying Hens
As far as breeds are involved, there are several possibilities available for keeping chickens for the purpose of producing eggs. You should be familiar with one term: What is a hybrid chicken breed, exactly? A hybrid is a blend of two purebred animals. There are pretty many hybrid breeds available for you to pick from. It is common for hybrid chickens to produce more eggs and reach maturity sooner than purebred hens.
For example, several breeds spend over six months growing and laying eggs, whereas many hybrids start laying eggs after just seventeen weeks. Breeding hybrid chickens have many drawbacks, one of which is that you can’t actually breed them on your own. Whether there’s a rooster present, they will lay fertilized eggs, but the outcome of the chicks will be indeterminate. Its offspring will not be as good egg layers as their mother’s hen.
Several historical breeds mature quickly and produce a large number of gorgeous eggs. All chicken breeds, including Red Caps, White-faced Black Spanish, Anconas, and Minorca, begin laying in around five months. Although they may not lay as many eggs as a hybrid chicken, you will contribute to the survival of an endangered breed. Additionally, if you want to breed your backyard chickens, you’ll have the opportunity to do so as well.
How Many Chickens Should I Get?
You may estimate the number of chickens you need by taking an average in most cases. If your birds are only for egg production, all you have to do is consider how many eggs you consume in a week at the moment. A hen may lay between four or five eggs each week on average. Add a few backup chickens for emergency needs, and you’ve got yourself many eggs on your hands right away!
So, if you really would like 16 eggs per week, you have to have six chickens and just add two for backup chickens.
Chickens are omnivores, which means they can eat whatever they like. They consume various foods, including grains, fruit and veggies, and even worms. When feeding chickens a healthy diet, you should provide them premade food that has all of the nutrients they need. Crushed oyster shells are essential components of an egg-laying hen’s diet because they help digestion and increase their eggs’ production. A 6-pounds chicken consumes approximately 3 lbs of feed per week.
They’ll eat bread, leftover fruit, and veggies from either the kitchen or garden and whatever else you throw their way. Even if scratch broken corn and oats don’t provide all of the hens’ nutritional requirements, using them moderately is acceptable. Feed consumption may rise or fall depending on the time of year or season and how much energy the animal expends.
Lastly, water is an essential ingredient of a chicken’s nutrition and must be available at all times. The latter is particularly true when they pant to keep cool during the summer.
The Care That Your Chicken Need Every Day
Feeding and hydrating the chickens should be done daily. Since they are vulnerable to predators, they must be taken out of their cage each morning and returned to it at sunset every nightfall. Two times a day is the ideal time to collect eggs from the coop. In order to keep the coop or pens hygienic and free of foul odors, it is recommended that they be cleaned out once every week.
A lively, attentive chicken with brilliant eyes is a sure sign of good health. There is no need to worry about staying active and doing such activities as scratching, digging, or dusting unless it’s really hot outside. Healthy hens will chirp and chatter pleasantly during the day if they are active and well-fed.
Since every chicken is unique in terms of her egg-laying and feeding habits, it is important to closely observe each chicken and understand her routine productivity and intake. If your chicken feces are solid and gray-brownish in color with white urine salts, they’re in good health. Approximately every tenth dumping is slightly frothy, smells a little stronger than normal, and is light brown in color.
Hens grown in backyards tend to be healthier and less vulnerable to disease than those raised in commercial environments. Being familiar with what a healthy bird seems like can help you quickly identify the problem of your chickens. Whenever a chicken isn’t behaving normally, such as not running to the food as it usually does or wheezing or sneezing, start looking into what could be wrong with it.
Perfect Backyard Chicken Coop
It’s time to design and build or purchase a coop after determining the number of backyard hens you’ll need. You may use everything from 55-gallon drums to PVC pipes, chicken wires, and roofing scraps to make a basic chicken coop for your backyard flock. When purchasing or building a chicken coop, be sure to look for the following conditions:
If your backyard hens are permitted to roam, they will return to the coop soon before nightfall and look for a high limb to perch on. Each hen should have 8 to 10 inches of roosting area, and each rooster area should have roughly 18 inches. Always provide 18 to 24 inches of headspace atop the perches to allow the birds to fly high and free. Consider putting many perches on the top of your coop design permits it. In order to keep your hens from fighting for the best roosting spot, you’ll need to make sure there’s enough room along with each perch.
Since you are most likely keeping hens for egg production, a sturdy nest box is necessary. It may be anything from a basket turned on its side to an egg box or a basic wooden box. Please keep in mind that hens prefer a quiet, secure location to lay their eggs. In order to prevent overcrowding, you should provide one nest for every three chickens. There should be one box for every three hens using nesting boxes. However, having extra is never a bad thing! In order to avoid any unnecessary fighting, it’s best if there are more boxes available.
With enough shelter and protection from the wind and rain, backyard chickens can withstand both scorching summers and cold winters in their natural habitat. Since roosters do not hide their heads beneath their wings, unlike hens, they may experience freezing on their combs or feathers in extremely cooler temperatures. Nonetheless, they will be all right as long as the coop is dry and not prone to heavy winds.
Raising hens takes a lot of time and effort on your part. Predators will take your eggs if you let them to. Chicken and eggs are a favorite food of foxes, huge hawks, wild dogs, even weasels. The appetite for fresh eggs might be surprising even in the most affectionate of companions. Coop entrances should be elevated above the ground, with a ramp for the hens to go in, which will scare away many predators.
It is recommended that the coop be relatively spacious, with at least certainly five or six sq. ft each bird and if your hens will spend all of their time inside of it. It is suitable for their health and well-being if permitted outdoors, even for short. Clucking, scratching, and bathing in the soil are normal behaviors for hens.
How Much Space Do You Have For Your Chicken?
It is not good to start keeping hens if you do not have enough space to keep them. When hens are kept in a confined environment, they are more susceptible to diseases and disaster. They produce less egg when they’re pressured. How much space you need for your chicken coop depends on how much freedom your birds will have. For a flock that is pastured or has constant access to a big outside area, all required is adequate space for them to nest and lay their eggs.
However, the majority of backyard hens don’t really have accessibility to that kind of area. There must be at least two or three sq . ft of space inside it for each chicken in a backyard chicken coop. Perhaps there should be approximately 18 sq. ft of space in the run, as well.
It would be best if you had an 18-square foot coop and a 110-square-foot-long run starting with six hens. These are the very bare minimums. If you are able to give extra room for each bird, please do so. For greater health and egg production in a small flock, you’ll want to keep it in an area with enough room.
Common Hen-laying Problems and How to Handle Them?
Several issues may arise in the care of layer chickens, which would include the following are the most typical problems that were laying hens encounter, as well as suggestions on how to resolve them:
Egg Bound Hen
Whenever a hen has an egg ready to lay and has been unable to deliver it, it is said to be “egg bound.” Unless addressed immediately, this is a serious condition that might result in the hen’s death.
What to Do to Solve It: A coop-bound hen is in desperate need of assistance. After bringing it inside, soak its bottom for approximately twenty minutes in water that contains Epsom salts. To assist it to relax, softly massage its abdomen while it is soaking. Take one teaspoon of calcium orally and give her that. Do not try to shatter the egg when it is within her hole with a syringe or any other object inserted into her vent. It has the potential to cause infection or death.
Several factors influence this issue, including anatomical flaws and heredity, and certain backyard hens are more prone to become egg trapped. Small breeds that produce big eggs are more likely to suffer from this condition. It is best to cull hens that continually get egg-bound from the flock.
Egg Eating Hen
It’s a chicken keeper’s greatest fear when their hens eventually start eating eggs. Breaking the habit is complex, and even if you succeed, one wayward chicken may ruin your family’s morning arrangements.
What to Do to Solve It: Preventative measures are essential since changing a habit is difficult. If you want to feed chickens eggshells, smash them beforehand. Maintain a constant food supply for your backyard hens by removing eggs from the nest as soon as they lay. If you find that your hen is stealing the eggs, consider putting a golf ball inside the nest to dissuade it from continuing the habit. The real eggs will have to be removed repeatedly every day until it learns that breaking the egg is not an option. Sadly, a hen that eats eggs must be put down throughout the situation.
In the event that you have a flock of young laying chickens, it is likely that you may come across blood on an egg at some time throughout the laying season. Whether a hen delivers a huge egg, or once you have a small breed that lays large eggs, this is a typical occurrence.
What to Do to Solve It: Increasing the fats in your hen’s dietary feed should discourage it from laying any additional bloody eggs in the nest box in the future. It is pretty common for chickens to lay eggs in their natural orifice, and they don’t have a separate one. Both its digestive and reproductive tracts use the same opening, which is known as a cloaca. You may make it easier for the eggs to pass through your chicken’s cloaca by giving it some oil as well as bacon grease for lubrication.
Thin Shell or No Shell Eggs
The majority of an eggshell’s composition is calcium. To keep its eggshells from becoming thin and frail as they do throughout daily egg production, a hen must consume an enormous amount of calcium in its feed. Occasionally, the hen may begin laying eggs without a shell at all, which is considered extraordinary. This is a surprising discovery the first time you come across one in the chicken coop. When an egg has no shell, it is like a mushy ball. Keep calm if you come upon an egg that has been cracked open. It will happen even if the chicken consumes much calcium-rich feed. The only time you should take action is when it occurs regularly.
What to Do to Solve It: Consider including calcium in the diet, and there are many simple methods for doing this. Make sure your chickens aren’t pushed to eat more than they really require while supplementing their diets. You can add the following mentioned below:
- Extra Egg Shells: Your chickens require more calcium than they can receive from consuming their own eggshells, so you should consider supplementing their diets. The eggshells should never be fed directly to chickens without being crushed first.
- Ground Oyster Shells: You may feed shattered or powdered shells of any sort to hens as a free-choice feed source of calcium. In addition to shrimp heads and tails, hens in the backyard like shrimp peel and otherwise the tails.
- Food Grade Lime: Handing out free lime or combining it with corns, oats, or barley flour masa is one way to include food-grade lime containing calcium oxide in their diets.
Extra Large Eggs
It’s not uncommon to find massive eggs in the hen coop. Although it may seem concerning, this is a very natural occurrence. It’s common for huge eggs to have double yolks, which means they have two yolks instead of one. These eggs are fascinating! Cracking it open reveals two yolks and an additional white within the egg.
What to Do to Solve It: Huge eggs or multiple yolks should not be a source of concern in general. Occasionally you’ll notice them, and some chickens lay them more regularly than others. To lay extra-large eggs increases the risk of bleeding out the chickens. As soon as you notice a bleeding egg, please give it some additional oil to assist them in keeping the egg from being blocked in its hole or opening.
Where Can I Find Chicks to Raise With?
Local farmers, hatcheries, and farm supply shops are ideal for novices to get their chicks. Even if you wish to buy your hens from afar, the US Postal Service has been sending chicks for over a century and will deliver any online purchases.
Now you know all you need to know about raising hens and chicks. Those are all the steps involved in starting a flock of backyard hens. We’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible to not become overwhelming for you. Reading and asking questions are highly recommended, mainly if you know someone who has been keeping chickens for some time. When things don’t work out the first time, don’t be scared to try something new. We hope you have a great time rearing chickens and that your activities bring you much joy!