FARM FRESH EGGS: THEY WERE A DREAM
At the beginning of the year my husband and I decided to invest in chickens to have access to farm fresh eggs in our very own backyard. Neither one of us grew up with chickens or any animal other than a dog for that matter so we didn't know what to expect. You can look up prices and read about what people have to say on the internet but I never came across a blog post that was straight to the point. Here are the questions and answers I had about investing in chickens. Important things like how to keep them alive and take good care of them. What it's going to cost to be chicken parents. I am bringing you everything I have learned today! This is what you need to know about investing in chickens.
Plan on the startup cost being no more than but up to $1,000.00. This is true if you are starting from scratch and buying everything you need for your chickens from the farm stores. The chics, bedding, coop, food, etc. This is an average quote for owning a family amount of chickens. We own 10 chickens and they have been good to us!
THE TIME OF YEAR TO BUY CHICKS
I live in the state of Washington and I am not sure if it varies state to state but baby chicken (chick) season runs from March-April in all of the farm stores. We purchased 12 of them. Hoping they would all be egg laying hens but it turns out 2 of ours were roosters and I had to take them to the auction barn. There is a 5% chance that the farm stores mistake a rooster for a hen when they are so young so keep this in mind when purchasing your chicks. Also, you might want to purchase a couple extra because the matter of the fact is that they all won't make it into adult chicken life. Again, we purchased 12 and ended up with 10 solid egg laying hens. Below are the three different types of chickens we went with. Just ask the store associate what variety will best suit your lifestyle and farm fresh egg needs! We sought out a mixture of family friendly and multi colored egg laying breeds. You will need a heat lamp, bedding, chick feeder gadgets and a container to keep your chicks in until they graduate to their coop or the weather warms up outside. We used a water trough that we would later turn into a potato garden.
WHAT CHICKENS EAT
We feed our chickens food made with clean ingredients and without antibiotics. The country store sells bags of food, similar to bags of dog food, for both chicks and adult chickens. You can buy them with or without antibiotics in the ingredients. You can also buy treats for your chickens from the store and you can feed them your kitchen scraps too as like a desert experience! That has been one of our favorite parts of owning chickens. We recycle our leftovers and the ends of produce we can't consume by feeding it all to our chickens then in turn they reward us with farm fresh eggs! The only thing we choose not to feed them is onions because it will flavor the eggs (not in a good way). People say owning chickens attracts rats and I think this is probably true for people that don't keep their chicken feed locked up in a secure coop and also in a sealed container in between feedings. We store our feed in a large garbage can that snaps shut and we bungee cord the lid down for extra racoon protection. If you are a gardener, the best treat of all time if to let your chickens roam your garden at the end of harvest season. They will get to eat a lot of green leafy treats and bonus for you - your garden will get fertilized with chicken poop and weeded nicely making it all ready for the next season too!
You will have to buy a water feeder for chics and a water feeder for when they are grown at about 5 months old. I have linked the 5 gallon water container we bought and love. The only other thing we like feeding to our chickens since they don't eat food with antibiotics is powdered vitamins we can add to their water that helps boost their immunity and gives them extra Vitamin D for a boost of egg laying power. Any country feed store will sell this to you or you can purchase these online.
WHERE CHICKENS LIVE
We purchased a chicken coop from a country store. Many people build them and you can find great inspiration on Pinterest if you have time to do that! We decided to purchase one because for multiple chickens we wanted all of the details a store bought coop offers. It came with chicken wire all the way around to keep rats out, a roosting bar for the chickens, a coop filled with roosting bars for them to sleep and nesting boxes, a handy pull out drawer for cleaning and the coop house is lifted off of the ground creating a shelter for the chickens if they want to wander around 'outside' under cover. The coop we purchases is suited for 15 chickens and we think it works comfortably for the 10 we have. I actually saw it listed online at Tractor Supply and called our local store about it. They had it in stock but the store price was $200 more than online. They said mention the online price when you come in and we will match it! So there's a pro tip for you to possibly save some money!
THE BEST BEDDING FOR THE COOP
The stores sell all kinds of bedding for your coop. I recommend using pellets that absorb moisture rather than wood shavings! When those get wet they will stick to everything and makes a mess. The pellets basically turn to sawdust. We put pellets under the roosting bars in the coop where the birds sleep (and go to the bathroom) and we fill the nesting boxes where they lay eggs with straw bedding. Both of these products allow for easy clean up!
WHEN DO YOU START SEEING RESULTS FROM THE INVESTMENT
You will receive joy the day you start preparing for your chicks to come home. Owning farm fresh chickens is such a fun experience for the whole family! However, know that it's going to take around 5 months before you start seeing any eggs. I should add that we did not train the chickens to lay their eggs in the nesting boxes - they just do that on their own! They are really easy to raise and take care of actually! They are amazing animals.
START PLANNING NOW
You can start preparing for your chickens as soon as today by saving your egg cartons and money! Spend some time shopping for or building the perfect coop! I hope this post was helpful coming from someone that had no idea how to raise chickens! We feed them every other day, make sure they always have water and bedding to nest on. Overall they are very easy animals and love people! We have an english bulldog and the chickens and dog get along great! Our toddler loves the chickens with all of his heart and he is learning great life lessons from simply caring for them. For more lifestyle inspiration follow me on Instagram @AdoptAdventure! Much love to you and yours!
Photography at home by the amazing: @AnnaJoyPhotography