My chickens are almost here! I ordered 9 hens and 1 rooster for my beginning flock. I have been counting down the days and preparing for the arrival of my baby chicks! The only downside of getting chickens was having to clean the forgotten chicken coop. If you watched my chicken coop tour a few months ago, you know that the chicken coop was run down, filthy, and a mouse haven. Well, if I wanted chickens, I needed a clean dwelling for them, so I got to work. Here are some common questions when getting started with chickens:
What are the different kinds of chickens?
There are so many breeds of chickens but there are three main purposes: egg-laying, meat bird, and dual-purpose. A dual-purpose bird is one that is both an egg-layer and used for meat. For my first flock of birds, I got an egg-laying breed. Once I get some time under my belt with this first flock, maybe I will venture into meat birds.
What do I need for keeping chickens?
You will need a waterer, feeder, feed, grit , scratch, a roost, nesting boxes, and chicken coop bedding. Consider having a hanging waterer and feeder so the birds don’t roost on them and contaminate the food and water with their poo. You want to create a clean space for your chickens to live and thrive in. The chickens should have access to clean water at all times. You don’t want dehydrated chickens or them drinking from dirty water.
What is a chicken roost?
A roost is where the chickens go to rest during the day or night. They enjoy perching high above the ground, instinctively, to keep away from predators. I would suggest keeping a sheet pan of sorts under the chicken roost to catch the droppings overnight. This will allow for easy clean up, instead of mixing into the chicken bedding.
What is the best material for a chicken roost?
Wood is the best material for a chicken roost. You can use 2x4, 2x3, or 2x2s to construct your roost. Sand the edges to make sure it is smooth to grab and free of splinters. Consider rounding the edges, so it is easier for the chickens to grab. Don’t use metal because it can become too cold for your chickens and don’t use plastic as it is too slippery for them to get a comfortable grip.
What are the different kinds of chicken feed?
Your local feed store will most likely sell different types of chicken feed. There are different types of feed depending on the stage of life your chicken is in or the purpose they are bred for (egg-laying or meat.) For example, a high protein feed is used for egg-layers and a grower/broiler mix can be used for meat birds. Read the packaging and instructions to address the needs of your flock.
What is the best chicken coop bedding?
Chicken coop bedding can be straw, wood shavings, shredded newspaper, chopped cardboard, sand, and grass clippings. There are a variety of different opinions on what is the best. I know that because I researched all of these options when I was preparing for my chickens. I have come to the conclusion that the best bedding is what you feel comfortable using. I have also come to the conclusion that the worst chicken coop bedding you can use is straw. Straw becomes disgusting and holds onto moisture and doesn’t make for an easy cleanup. I have seen homesteaders posting how dirty their straw was and how they will never use straw again. I’m not going to be using straw—I will be using wood shavings. Straw can be used in the nesting boxes, though.
I chose wood shavings for my chicken coop because that is what my neighbor uses and it makes for easy cleanup. Using what my neighbor with a successful chicken flock uses was a no-brainer for me—she helped me source the wood shavings she uses and explained how easy it was to clean. Use what is available to you and don’t get caught up in the pool of opinions online.
How do I keep my chicken coop bug and mite free?
A natural way to help keep the bugs down in the chicken coop is to use food-grade diatomaceous earth. This is a natural bug repellent, so you can sprinkle some near holes, on window sills, and any openings around your chicken coop.
What is a nesting box?
A nesting box is where the hens go to lay their eggs. You will need nesting boxes if you have egg-laying hens. You can line them with hay. Three birds to one nesting box is the rule of thumb. Having nesting boxes gives the hens a safe place to lay their eggs instead of laying them in random areas in the coop or chicken run.
When will my chickens start laying eggs?
This can vary by breed, but generally eggs won’t be laid for 14-18 weeks, so about 4-6 months. If you get your chicks in the spring, expect eggs late summer or later. Over winter, they lay less eggs.
How many chickens should you raise for eggs?
For egg production, you typically want two hens per person. Calculate how many eggs you use each week for eating and baking. Two hens will provide 4-7 eggs per week. Keep in mind that you can freeze-dry eggs and water glass them as well for long term storage.
Can you freeze eggs?
If you receive an abundance of eggs from your hens, you can freeze eggs for up to a year. I love freezing as an easy way of food preservation, so freezing your excess eggs is definitely an option!
My chicken coop has received a makeover. It was a mouse poop haven, and now it is clean, insulated, and has walls! All I need to do is open up my packages of wood shavings to line the coop floors, get some hay for the nesting boxes, and build a roost. I will open up the packages of wood shavings once my chickens arrive, so there is no chance for bugs or mice to infest it. Here’s to a healthy flock!