Poultry is the number one most consumed protein in the United States. Much of the chicken consumed is raised by local and family farmers that are contracted with bigger companies. Even if you’re not contracted with a more prominent company, raising chickens can be a valuable experience. Not only does it put food like eggs and meat on the table, but it also teaches responsibility (especially to children). If you’re looking into starting a chicken farm but don’t know where to begin, read on to find out!
Do Your Research on Breeds and Breeding
Starting a chicken farm isn’t as simple as purchasing a few chickens and putting them in your backyard. There’s a lot of research you need to do beforehand, such as what breed you want to get and how to breed them (if you wish to).
There are several different breeds of chicken, so you need to find out which one will suit you best. For instance, consider if you need a species that’s hardy in the winter or extreme heat. You also need to consider the rate of egg-laying, how docile the bird is, and if the bird will rear chicks.
Next is the matter of breeding your birds. If you don’t want to breed your birds, you will not get a massive return on cuts of meat, but you will have a reliable source of eggs. Breeding your birds will ensure a steady supply of meat coming into your household. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to breed them or not, but some chickens are better suited for not breeding.
Find Out What Equipment You’ll Need
As said before, you can’t just buy chickens and throw them into your backyard. You’ll need specific equipment, such as food, grit, and bedding for your chicken coop. Chickens don’t need many supplies, but you’ll still need some basics:
- Waterer and Feeder – Hanging waterers and feeders are best, so the chickens don’t roost or defecate on them. If you have under 100 chickens, you can get away with smaller feeders and waterers. If you need larger poultry equipment, you’ll want to consider getting automatic systems for watering and feeding your flock.
- Food – Depending on your chickens’ stage of life, you’ll need different kinds of food. There are chicken starter foods, high protein foods for laying hens, and grower/finisher feed for chickens bred for consumption.
- Scratch – Scratch is a term for grains such as corn, oats, and rye that you give as a treat to your flock. All you need to do is throw it on the ground, and the chickens will eat it.
- Grit – Grit is another word for small stones that chickens need to digest and break down food. You can supply gravel or small stones/sand for this purpose.
- Bedding – You can use pine shavings or hay for bedding. This is usually very cheap and can be found at any pet store.
- Heater – Heaters – In the colder months it is important to make sure your chickens stay warm. Do your research and find the best heater for your coop to keep your chickens cozy.
Make Sure You Can Handle the Job
Chickens aren’t high-maintenance creatures, but they do require space and upkeep. The quality of your eggs and chicken will decline if you let them live in dirty conditions, don’t keep up with the watering or feeding them, or let their condition deteriorate. Make sure that you’re willing to keep up with the needs of a chicken flock before starting your farm.
Running a chicken farm is an incredibly rewarding experience. However, you must make sure you’re ready for the job before starting. This includes doing your research on breeding, getting the appropriate equipment, and being sure you’re prepared for the responsibility. Once you’ve done these three things, you can safely say that you’re ready to start your chicken farm!