Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tell me about chickens . . .

Yes, you read that right. Can you tell me everything you know about raising chickens? 
Please. 
Clara enrolled in the agricultural science track at the high school this year, and she needs to take part in a "supervised agricultural experience." Although volunteering at the humane society technically qualifies, she wanted to do a real FFA (Future Farmers of America) project. So, we agreed that she could raise chickens in the backyard.  She's planning to buy 4-6 chicks at the Feed and Fuel Store just after Christmas. She'll start them in the laundry room or garage before moving them outside. Eventually, she will try to sell eggs and will keep record books to track her expenses and receipts. 
So, we hunted around for a free or low cost chicken coop, and found this one on Craig's List for a mere $60. It's a 2-4 chicken size coop, but she and Paul are thinking about adding on to it. She's also planning to fence off a nice size run outside the coop in the back yard. The coop came with a large cage for chicks, feeding and watering bowls, some bedding, and a good sized role of chicken wire. 
And that's about all I know! I'm looking for advice, resources, suggestions. And I'm curious about how many of you raise chickens now or have in the past. And I have a really stupid question. Where do the chickens sleep at night? There's a shelf for laying boxes behind the shingled door on the right hand side of the coop, but I had the impression that your hens weren't supposed to sleep in those boxes? Obviously, I;m pretty clueless.
A new adventure for a new year . . . looking forward to your help!

21 comments:

helena said...

I know nothing about keeping chickens but look forward to the vicarious journey towards knowledge

scrappyjacky said...

I know nothing as well....but good luck to you all.

Fiona@Staring at the Sea said...

I know nothing myself, although would love to have some if I thought the neighbours wouldn't complain! However, a friend of mine recently wrote a book on the subject. Not sure if the breeds would be the same across the pond, but you can find it on Amazon. River Cottage Handbook 11: Chicken & Eggs by Mark Diacono

Sian said...

Honestly? I used to be frightened of chickens! Then my FIL got some and I grew used to them..but I don't know how to look after them. This is going to make for some good blog posts I think!

Miriam said...

I have hen envy! I only know that hens are very sociable and like a bit of fuss. It is going to be wonderful to follow your adventure through next year.

Sheena said...

We have had chickens as pets for the past 6 years or so. We tend to rehome ex battery hens so don't raise them from small. We give away a lot of eggs as otherwise i do lots of baking which is fine but the calories are not!
They are great but if free range will scratch up all your garden & you need to be aware of predators... we had foxes appear in our garden so now have our hens in a large protected run.

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

I have wanted chickens for so long, but they aren't allowed within our city limits. Sorry I have no advice to lend, but I am totally jealous of the amazing eggs you're going to have! I'll look forward to hearing more about Clara's progress and whether you enjoy having chickens around your place. :o)

Karen said...

LOL!!! I grew up with chickens. My grandfather raised chickens and showed them at the county fair. He had a china closet filled with trophies. I remember chopping off a chicken's head on Saturday night, plucking the feathers out, and eating it on Sunday. There are photos of me holding a hen, and collecting eggs, but truthfully, I know NOTHING about how to raise them. Good luck!

Joan said...

The fact that the coop came with chicken wire made me laugh. I've never thought of chicken wire actually having anything to do with chickens. Good luck!

Irene said...

All I know about raising chickens is that they are messy. Good luck to Clara in her adventure.

Becky said...

We've been keeping chickens for 4 years now but get them at point of lay, so can't help with the early days! We have two and they spend the days we are at work within their coop as we have foxes in our garden. When we are home we let them out into their enclosed run. We can't let them roam free round our garden as we have a hedge between us and next door and they could get through! They decimate grass! Their enclosed pen has wood chips and they love pecking around in them to find grubs and worms. We feed them once a day in the morning a mix of layers pellets, corn and grit and give them fresh water daily. We had one go broody and had to put her in a broody coop on her own - if that happens let me know and I'll give you more details on how to break the broodiness! We get on average 12 eggs a week from the two chickens. They are pretty friendly too. We have clipped one wing on each of them so they can't fly away. We have no problems with mites, but we do clean and wash out their hen house every week. They tend to sleep either on the perching bars in the enclosed part of their run or in the nesting box, which is also in the enclosed part. We shut them into their in the winter at night time to keep them warm - they would probably be ok if we didn't but we don't like to think of them getting chilly! In the summer we don't shut them up and this allows them to get into the attached run when they wake up and not sit in the nesting box area squawking and waking the neighbourhood up! Good luck to Clara with this venture - we love our chickens they are great fun to keep :)

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

We've had chickens for a couple years but like others we get ours when they are about a month from laying, not peeps. We recently had a mite infestation that they are still recovering from but they have done really well other than that.

Gail said...

I know nothing about them what so ever but I'm looking forward to hearing all about Clara's adventures with them this year. Good luck.

Missus Wookie said...

No idea either - hope it is a fun experiment for Clara and you all.

Abi said...

I'm afraid I have no experience except when I babysat some children who had them in the garden. As far as I know they sleep in the sheltered bit of the coop. Each night we would shut them in that bit and in the morning let them into the run again.
Sounds like a good adventure! Have fun!

Alison said...

I have to firstly apologise for my lack of commenting! ...then tell you I know nothing about chickens....just avoid roosters-they are very noisy at 4am...my neighbour has just acquired one!
Alison xx

Melissa said...

Oh my, that will be a new adventure! I know absolutely NOTHING about raising chickens, but I'll be watching for more news on how this project goes!

Anne said...

I don't know anything about chicken I'm afraid, but it's such a nice adventure. In case I am not around later Rinda, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a fabulous Xmas and all the best for 2014. It has been very nice to follow your story this year, Anne xxx

Liz McGuire, said...

Sorry, I know nothing of chickens either!

Hope you have a very Happy Christmas and all the best for 2014.

Liz x

alexa said...

Just popping in to wish you all good things today and hoping for lots of lovely moments for you as a family. The chickens project is going to have us all agog this coming year!

Starnitesky said...

What fun! I am looking forward to hearing all about the chickens!