Feb 3, 2023

Raising Chickens

Hey, Y'all!  Welcome to the chicken yard.  I don't claim to be a chicken expert but in the 20 years, I've been keeping them I have learned a few things.  So, that is our discussion today, please feel free to comment as to what and how you do things with your flocks!  I hope you enjoy today's Chicken Tips & Talk...

Warning: Long post with much-needed information


There are a lot of first-time chicken keepers out there and that is a good thing!  Congratulations to you and I wish you well!  I certainly enjoy mine. 

Research to find the variety/breed of chickens you would like to have. Some full size are really huge some are miniature all of them are beautiful to me.  Think of the size pens you will want for your location. 
You don't have to have a rooster unless you're planning on fertilizing eggs for hatching chicks.  Plus you don't want more than one rooster in any pen there will be constant fighting. I will say that they are good protectors of their flock so one is pretty useful!
Straight Run means your chicks could be pullets/females or roosters/males in the count.  You won't know how many of each until they grow for many weeks. Take it from me it does seem from my luck of course most times there will be a great number of roosters in the batch. 
All pullets are female but sometimes the sexing is off and there could still be a rooster or two in the batch. The pullet chicks are more expensive at first but in the long run, you'll be better off.

Buy your chicks or older pullets and roosters from reputable sources.  You will need chick starter grower feed until they start to lay eggs or crow.  Know that from a chick to a laying pullet takes 18 to 21 weeks before they lay their first egg.

Did you know no matter the color of an eggshell the inside of all eggs is the same? They are but the assortment of colors can be so beautiful and make egg gathering so magical. (I personally have found some breeds to lay harder shell eggs and are more prolific).  You'll soon decide what you like.  If you're like most newbies you'll want one of each variety!  I know we went through that here! Most do.

You will need a safe environment for them to live in.  A coop to lay the eggs (of gold these days) dry and covered. 

You will need protective fencing both above ground and at least a foot of wiring buried underneath to help protect from digging predators.  
If you will be allowing them out to free-range then think of their safety for sure while they're out.  If you have many predators then think about good covered runs for their well-being and your peace of mind.

We have overhead coverings which help with owls and chicken hawks lurking about.  Some wire covering and some shade tarps. 
We've had owls, coyotes, dingos, raccoons, opossums, and even the bobcat that thought he was my personal pet and slept in the garden cabin, and even neighborhood dogs. Snakes will eat small chicks and eggs as well. I've had a stand-off with one huge snake in a coop!

It is good to have a flock dog protector!  The Great Pyrenees is a wonderful loving variety to have. Some of them do tend to bark a lot!  We've had two Chewy (the barker) was a good watch dog though.  Casper was loving and great!  He could open the pen to let himself out he was so smart and in fact, ran some human intruders off at a needed time! 

You will need to supply fresh water and food so think of how you'll do that.  Some consistent watering can be installed and if not you'll need waterers that can keep your flock supplied. The size would depend on the number you have.  

A great thing about Chicken Feed  You control what you feed them and that is a good thing to know. Granted the manufactured feeds are going up in price almost weekly and it pays to read the labels to see what the ingredients are for the health of your flock. 

You can mix your own Chicken Feed as long as you keep the percentages correct for layers. I have yet to do this but that is my plan.  There are many videos on the subject, but I'll share two today.

Chicken Feed Facts and Secrets 

How We Feed Our Farm Animals
2:25 into the video you can see the topic

I recommend the Grandpas Feeders they will save you in feed costs and pay for themselves in no time!

Good feeders are a must and I've found out over the years what works for me.  We use Grandpas Feeders  I bought several.  They're great! The money saved from wasted food lets you know that these feeders soon pay for themselves.  The chickens really don't waste as much feed when eating from them.  In fact, with time they seem to take it for granted and know it will always be there for them.  That's a good thing!

Grandpas Feeders Post

They always have fresh dry food on hand for their hunger.  They don't fret over what they will eat because it is always available to them. In time they become accustomed to how to step on the paddle and feed themselves.  Their feed supply isn't a worry for them.  They always know they have food to eat and relax in that area. Hey, you may even be able to take a short vacation with them being fed and watered.

Chickens love treats!  But you should limit them to about 2 tablespoons per chicken of any given treat in a day. Keep in mind too many treats and they won't lay your delicious eggs.  They love good scratch feeds with black oil sunflower seeds some grains and a little cracked corn.  Bread is their favorite!  I give mine good healthy table scraps such as salad discards that are fresh. Very Important:  Be sure you search for what is good to feed them and what can be unhealthy or deadly. Before giving them just anything, don't give them moldy or food that's gone bad.  If you wouldn't eat it then don't give it to them because if you think about it you will be eating their eggs!

In case you didn't know this fact hens need light either sunlight or artificial light for many hours a day.  When the sunlight lessons in the fall and winter months the laying becomes less or even nonexistent. If you don't provide artificial light something that I don't do. 
Supplement their feed with afternoon feeding of whole corn in the colder months to give them the warmth and what they need in their diet. If you mix your own grains then in winter months add whole corn.  In the warmer months, you can give them a little bit of cracked corn in the afternoon.

You also may not know that a hen has a certain number of eggs that she will lay in her lifetime and no more. 
As a hen ages, you will notice she will lay fewer eggs. Then she may lay very sporadically and possibly none at times.  
I place mine in what I call the chicken retirement village and just feed and watch them. Yes, I name my babies and they live on out here.
Another hen fact is that they molt which means they will have a time of feather loss and will not lay much if any until that is over.  You can provide a feed with higher protein such as Feather Fixer to help her through this molting time.
A broody hen who sets on eggs to hatch will not lay for a long time.  She will hatch and take care of her baby chicks, but she will not lay any eggs now. In time she will resume laying.

Your eggs will be fresh and that is so much better, plus healthier.  Did you know that store-bought eggs are already 4 to 8 weeks old when purchased? We all may depend on those at times but if you grow your own you'll be so proud.

Love your flock, watch them for their health.  Some may come down with any number of ailments but not often.  I've only had to give antibiotics to one hen and try to doctor a rooster with Bumblefoot- bad feet.

  • Be Careful! Never eat or drink in your pens,  keep them as clean as possible - expect lots of poop and feathers.  
  • Keep clean shavings in your nesting boxes ~the cleaner the nest and grounds surrounding them the cleaner the eggs.  Rain does make for muddy eggs. 
  • Wash your hands everyone for sure any children after handling freshly laid eggs.  You want to prevent salmonella etc. 
  • Have dedicated shoes for the pen keep them in a location close to the door don't walk around in your house with them on. 
  • Do Not Wash The Bloom/Coating off of the eggs.  Wash only if covered in poop or are filthy, then use those first.  The bloom keeps the eggs safer for longer it is a protective covering used to protect the baby chick should one be inside.
  • You Do Not need a rooster to have eggs. However, if you want baby chicks then a rooster will be needed to fertilize the eggs.  Mother hen is the best most natural and less time-consuming way for chicks to hatch but you can purchase an incubator and brooder should you decide to hatch your own.  The broody behavior of hens has been bred out of most hens in recent years.  Some hens do become broody and that's good, you can research when getting the breeds you want. 
  • ALWAYS Keep fresh water and feed available for your flock

Keeping chickens is not inexpensive it is expensive at times like these for sure increases in feed cost etc. Do you save money having them?  Not Likely. Will you have peace of mind in knowing you will have fresh eggs for your household at any given time?  You sure will! Plus you can find ways to freeze, freeze dry, dehydrate preserve in times of emergency. Know that there is a lot of work involved with raising them, hopefully, some of these tips will make it a little easier.

Whew! I'm sure believe it or not I've left off some things!
Doing is learning and trust me you will do fine!

I've got to go now and check the eggs, I have an egg eater to tend with! 
Another topic for later.....

Friends Have a Great Weekend!


  1. Interesting. I alway wanted two hens for pets and eggs. I would have to have someone come to my coop and educate me and show me what to do.
    I would love to have a Silkie.

    1. Lisa you would be so great at this. I'll be glad to answer any questions in you do get any. I love Silkies they are so blame adorable and for sure sweet pets!

  2. Wow! There's a lot to raising chickens. I'm sure this info is useful to prospective chicken raisers.

    1. Hey Eileen! I probably put way too much info up there could be confusing. It isn't as easy until you learn all about them, then it's mostly smooth sailing. I never in my life thought I'd be putting on muck boots dealing with poop lol and such.