How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Beginner’s Guide
Who knew that, besides offering organic food, raising chickens can be a fun activity for the entire family? If you don’t believe us, keep reading. The following steps on how to raise chickens for eggs are simple and easy to follow. In fact, some of them are so easy that you can involve your kids in some of the processes.
How to Raise Chickens for Eggs Step by Step
1. Plan the Chicken Coop
The first thing you need to do when deciding to raise chickens for eggs is to check if it’s legal to do so. Some cities don’t allow this activity to take place within the city lines. You can Google the laws in your state to make sure you can do it. Next, talk to your neighbors. In general, chickens can be quite noisy, which is why you should discuss it with the neighbors. One compromise would be to offer them free eggs every couple of weeks.
Another thing you should consider beforehand is whether you have enough time to take care of chicks and chickens. The first day they arrive, you will have to stay at home. Most of the time, you will have to clean and harvest eggs. Finally, choose the location for the chicken coop.
2. Making the Brooder/Coop
Before the chickens get 2 months old, you should buy the chicken coop. You can make one yourself or order one online. Make sure it has lots of light and a run. The run allows the chickens to roam free but also be protected. Another option is a chicken tractor, which is a portable chicken run. Reinforce it so that predators can’t get to your chicks. Use stone or wood borders, nails, and extra wire. Before installing the chickens, add feeders, a heat lamp, and bedding.
3. Choosing the Chickens
An important part of learning how to raise chickens for eggs is to choose the right chickens. In the fall, it’s a good idea to buy hens. Ideally, you should choose a young one. If it’s your first year of raising chickens, it’s better to buy chicks instead of hatching the eggs. Before taking the chicks home, set up the brooder (a heated nesting place that helps the chicks keep warm).
Go to the local store and buy a chick waterer, feeder, and some starter feed. Ensure 3-4 square feet of space for each chicken inside the coop and 10 square feet outside of it. Ideally, you should go for day-old chicks. If you choose egg-laying chickens that are already mature, you should mix the species.
4. Raising the Chickens
Every week for 8 weeks, move the heat lamp slightly further. The first week it should be set at 95 degrees. Each week, decrease it by 5 degrees until you reach 65 degrees (18 °C). It’s a good idea to use a temperature when trying to learn how to raise chickens for eggs correctly.
The first day you bring them home, dip their beaks in water. They might be dehydrated and they don’t know how to drink yet. In the first few months, buy special chick feed for them. Two months later, you can move the chickens outside of the coop. If it’s cold outside, don’t rush with this step. In general, you should feed them varied food. Here are some options:
- Food scraps;
- Night crawlers;
- Store-bought chicken crumbles;
- Insects from the lawn;
- Corn/ Cracked corn.
5. Gathering the Eggs
Another useful step when you research how to raise chickens for eggs is to use fake eggs. It might sound weird, but a fake egg can teach the hens where to lay her own. Ideally, you should replace ¼ or 1/3 of your flock each year. The age diversity will work to your benefit since older hens will teach younger ones how to do it.
Each day, you will have to gather the eggs to keep the nesting boxes free. After gathering them, you need to wipe them with a soft cloth. This will remove the mess but will keep the anti-bacterial bloom on the eggs. Hens produce this layer to protect the eggs from diseases. In general, eggs should be stored at around 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius). For this reason, you shouldn’t keep them at room temperature, but in the refrigerator.
6. Avoid Bacteria and Diseases
There are some important steps you need to follow when learning how to raise chickens for eggs. They will help you fight diseases and bacteria and are simple to take:
- Wash the eggs that have chicken feces on them. Use a sanitizer with ½ oz. of chlorine to 1 gallon of water.
- Eat them quickly. Older eggs have more chances of being contaminated.
- Store chicken manure for 45-60 days before using it to vegetable beds. The fresh one can contain salmonella.
- Keep eggs that might be contaminated away from young children, pregnant women or ill people.
How Green Is It to Raise Chickens?
One question that arises when discussing how to raise chickens for eggs is whether it is green or not. It’s a good idea to do so because you can be sure that the eggs you’re eating are healthier. If you take all the precautions, you won’t get sick. Moreover, the products that come from free range chicken contain more nutrients and omega 3 fatties.
Besides being good for yourself, it also helps to conserve the environment. You get the chance to use the chicken manure for fertilizing, which in turn is good for the soil. When the chickens turn old, you can eat them, thus using your resources to the fullest and not wasting food, for instance.
As you can see, it’s not complicated to learn how to raise chickens for eggs. However, you need to be careful with the steps presented above since chicks are very vulnerable in the beginning. It’s essential to offer them the proper light and temperature conditions. Moreover, this activity can bring the whole family around, besides offering some meat resources as well. If you love gardening, you can use the manure to fertilize the flowers, fruits, vegetables or herbs that grow in your garden. Since the garden fertilizer is natural, you don’t need to worry about chemicals getting into your soil and food.
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