I posted on my Facebook page, if anyone wanted to know more about raising laying hens for eggs, and some of you did. So here we go- I will tell you the way I went about doing it.
1) Are you allowed to have chickens in your backyard? Many cities and townships will have bylaws that prohibit these kind of things. I’m not going to give you any advice on the matter but I will say this- With some things, its better to ask for forgiveness, than permission. Moving along…
2) Are you willing to do the work? Chicken shit is gross. It’s really really gross – and you will have to figure out a way to clean that and dispose of it. Chicken shit is also a great fertilizer for your garden!
3) Do you have a backyard that is safe? Maybe not a good idea to throw some chickens into an area with known predators or safety concerns without proper precautions. If you have a fox family living in your yard, or feral cats and dogs are known visitors – you will have additional safety expenses.
Will those 3 things in mind, moving forward.
I ordered my chickens from TSC in Peterborough on Lansdowne Street. They have a poultry program – according to their website, you can start ordering them now if you want them by April 16th. http://www.tscstores.com/PoultryProgram.aspx
I ordered 3 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Barred Plymouth Rocks. They cost about $3 per chicken. I would order 1 or 2 more than you think you need – as sometimes the circle of life can last less than 24 hours for these little babies.
When I got them, I kept them inside plastic rubbermaid totes lined with newspaper. This allowed for easy cleaning and I prefer it to the cardboard boxes. At night, we put a red heat lamp in over them so they would be warm.
They were inside the house for about a month – and they were then moved to an outside hutch that was previously used for rabbits.
During the day, the chickens would be outside roaming around the yard and different flower beds and gardens we have.
At night, my chickens would go in to their hutch on their own and we would lock them up. (Make sure you lock them up – chickens don’t seem to have run away or fly instincts and are an easy target for predators)
I got my chickens at the end of May and they didn’t start laying until early November soon after we started putting hay in the hutch. Maybe they would have started laying sooner?
I do believe that in the summer months – chickens get enough nutrition from bugs in my yard – this may be different for you. We had some organic feed from the Peterborough Co-Op available to them. In the winter – this is their primary food source in addition to some fruit and vegetables that I bring to them. Also water. Chickens drink a lot of water and need to for their egg production.
My dad had built a pretty intense chicken co-op for them for the winter. Its insulated and has a heat lamp in there that we plug in on nights that it gets really cold.
With the 3 chickens that I have, I get an egg almost everyday from them. Which makes it well worth it, knowing that I’m not supporting this:
All in all, I really enjoy having the chickens- they are really fascinating to me and hands down one of my favorite things is seeing them run full speed towards me when I call them. I like knowing that the food I eat comes from my front porch. I wouldn’t buy eggs from a grocery store ANYWAYS – I would still be getting them from the farmers market.
If you have the space and the commitment – I would definitely encourage this!
And eat the damn yolks. None of that egg whites in a carton crap!