Best Tips For Raising Chickens – Guide to Backyard Chickens

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Everything About Backyard Chickens - The Fresh Exchange


Backyard chickens have grown in demand the last few years as more and more people seek ways to be more self-sufficient and connect to nature so what are the best tips for backyard chickens? What should you know about when selecting your chickens and everything else you may want to know about starting your own flock is all in this blog post along with this podcast episode. In the episode you can expect to learn:

  • How to handle the cold with your backyard chickens
  • What to expect before bringing your chickens home
  • How to navigate challenges you may face having backyard chickens
  • How easy or hard chickens may be to raise
  • Do you actually need a rooster or not

Give the episode a listen if you are wanting to dive even deeper and have a fun conversation with some friends.

In this blog post though we will be discussing the best things to know about backyard chickens and some of the best tips for raising your own chickens at your home as well as things to expect.

If you are getting backyard chickens for the first time from chicks here is a quick post on what to know beforehand.

Everything About Backyard Chickens - The Fresh Exchange

How long till my backyard chickens will lay eggs?

For most breeds, it takes 4-6 months from hatching for them to start laying eggs daily. A few things to know about egg-laying:

  • Different breeds produce different color eggs as well as different size eggs. Also, different breeds lay a different number of eggs in their lifetime.
  • Most hens lay their best from spring to the middle of fall and many stop laying once the cold arrives. This is in order to move their energy to keep themselves warm rather than focusing on spending energy on laying. It takes a lot of energy to stay warm. Don’t worry too much if your broody hen abandoned eggs.
  • You can also expect most chickens to be a good layer for 2-3 years. After that, they will begin to dwindle in production.
  • Eggs unwashed and in a refrigerator can be kept for up to 6 weeks

How do Chickens Help in a Garden?

Most people get backyard chickens for their eggs, but they offer far more benefit to a home gardener than just egg-laying. In fact, they are extremely beneficial to the soil and building healthy soil for your garden. Here are some things to know:

  • Chickens can consume most kitchen scraps. So before composting everything you can add into their run, let them enjoy and then move the floor of your run into your compost to generate nice heat to your already existing compost.
  • Chickens will clean up a garden and clear out bugs and issues in the garden as well as break down plants and spread compost.
  • Chicken poop is an amazing fertilizer. It is nitrogen-rich and great as this is removed by many plants such as beans for instance. The chicken poop will cure in the garden within 5-6 months of rest.
  • The bedding in the chicken coop acts as an amazing source of heat and addition to compost. The hay/cedar chips/pine shavings or anything you use build up your compost with all the waste from the chickens.
  • The egg shells are amazing additions to compost and as garden fertilizer.
  • Chickens also will spread compost very quickly in a garden space. If you drop your compost and leave them with it they will cover the area within a few hours without any work from you!

Everything About Backyard Chickens - The Fresh Exchange

Do You Need a Rooster for You Chickens?

The quick answer is no. Not every flock of backyard chickens needs a rooster at all. The rooster is necessary if you want to have fertilized eggs for hatching. If this isn’t of interest then you by no means need one. It is important to know though that there will become a rank in your coop though. Your hens will choose a dominant female hen and she will rule the roost quite literally. Just watch out for aggression and fights as chickens will attack each other when bored or if they see a difference.

Everything about chickens - Fresh Exchange

What is the best way to keep my chickens healthy?

There are many things that can happen to your backyard chickens from parasites to predators and more. Here are a few quick tips for how to keep them healthy.

  • Make sure they have a space to dust bath even in the winter. Adding in Diatomaceous Earth in the area they bathe. This agitates parasites like mites and lice so they do not decide to make your chicken a home for themselves.
  • Dust bathing is also a way your hens connect and build relationships. It is a social experience that keeps them healthy.
  • Offering plenty of activity so they do not attack one another. In the winter months when there is less to peck place out seed blocks or other things to give them tasks. They like to stay busy!
  • Add ACV and a touch of Bronner’s to their water. This keeps them less susceptible and interesting to parasites.
  • You can also add Chicken Nesting Box Herbs to their boxes to keep away parasites naturally.

What do you do with chickens in the wintertime?

You can build a ‘cold frame’ or greenhouse-style addition to your coop, and cover it in clear plastic so that the birds will have plenty of space. They’ll be protected from windy weather with this shelter!

How do I keep my Backyard Chickens warm in winter?

Chickens are reptilian animals and actually thrive in the cold more than we realize. Here are a few things to know:

  • If you live in a cold place make sure your flock contains cold-hardy breeds that will handle the cold well.
  • Make sure to have a heated water feeder and plenty of food on hand. They need both even if not producing eggs because it takes a TON of energy for them to stay warm.
  • Use a deep bedding method to keep plenty of insulation.
  • Make sure there is good ventilation and insulation in your coop but do not use a heat lamp.
  • A heat lamp is dangerous to your hens and actually makes their bodies not work as well because they cannot use their natural ways to adapt to the cold.
  • They grow specific feathers for winter that keep them cozy and warm. You will see them fluff them up in order to trap in heat.
  • Just make sure to have space for dust baths available to them as this is when they are most likely to get lice or mites.

Will chickens lay eggs in the winter?

The hens stop laying eggs as daylight hours decrease in the fall, but you can keep them comfy with some light and warmth. If your chicken slows down or stops producing eggs during these colder months of the year it’s because their bodies are telling them to take a break from working so hard for a while!

Can chickens be left alone for a week?

The chickens are not meant to be left alone for exceeding 7 days. They need a trusted friend, neighbor or family member who can take care of them regularly in order that you may go out and do things around your house without being constantly worried about what will happen if they get neglected!

Everything About Chickens - The Fresh Exchange

Are there other questions you have about chickens? There is a good chance we talked about them in this podcast with some of my friends who have 2 times the size flock we do. I am sure you will get tons of amazing info! If you have other questions about backyard chickens or homesteading with chickens you can leave them below.

If this tips for raising chickens help you, consider checking these articles below —

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Winter Ready Chicken Check List

Hello! I’m Megan Gilger,

A strong believer that nature and the seasons are our greatest teachers. We live on a hill in Leelanau County, Michigan just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. This land we are responsible for is where we are focused on building a life around the seasons and intention. We spend our days here building a regenerative model of living and focusing our garden on native plants and intensive polyculture planting styles. My focus is less on self-sufficiency and more on community-sufficiency through how we grow and connect through the seasons.
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