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One of the things that we hope to put into place this year is really getting started on living a much simpler life. Eventually, we want a full homestead, but neither my Tom or I are silly enough to think that’s just going to happen overnight. What IS happening this year though? Well besides my garden? Chickens!! Big, beautiful, egg and meat producing backyard chickens! I have been researching and drooling for years now so 2015? Is FINALLY my year to get started!
Do I need to tell you just how happy this makes me? I have wanted chickens for so long! Aside from the fact that it’s one more step toward self sufficiency for us, it means no more buying eggs or chicken meat at the store! Anyhow, there are a few things that we have to do first before we buy our chicks, but for those of you who are closer than we are? I wanted to share a few tips on caring for your backyard chickens. If you take care of them properly, your flock will thrive and provide.
First, your birds will need a coop. If you’re the handy sort, you can try your hand at building one. There are a ton of DIY Chicken Coop plans out there so just pop over to Google or Pinterest. If you’re a huge DIY failure like I can be most of the time, you can usually pick up a coop for a decent price at stores like Tractor Supply. For ours, I plan on hitting up Craigslist and having someone build one. It’s cheaper for me to do it like this since I live in a rural community than it is to go to a bigger market store. Take some time to pick out your coop. Chickens need to feel safe and comfortable or they won’t lay. Some straw for their bedding will go a long way. Just be sure it’s swept out and changed weekly (at a minimum) to help keep nasty diseases away from your flock.
Next, you’ll want to make sure you’re feeding them correctly.They need commercial pellets that have carbohydrates, proteins, and minerals that your chicken needs. Hens need a lot of calcium so toss back in their own shells and oyster shells if you have them. They’ll love you forever if you give them treats like mealworms, pumpkin, sunflowers and cracked corn. For those that don’t compost for a garden, toss your fruits and veggies to your chickens instead of throwing them out to help keep them healthy and happy. Happy hens lay happy eggs.
Finally, when you’re buying your chickens, remember that they’re very social creatures. Make sure you keep enough for them to define a pecking order. Letting them free range also can improve their happiness. You could even put a kiddie pool out for them during the summer! What most people don’t realize is that they’re so social that they will even recognize their caregivers and love to sit on your lap and be petted!
I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m super excited to be adding chicks to our little “homestead” here. It means that we’re one more step closer to our dreams!
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