This past spring, we decided to raise chickens in our backyard. Our desire was to learn more about how chickens can benefit the plants on our farm, as well as getting fresh eggs for our family to eat. We spent a lot of time reading books about chickens, and researching them on the internet. There are many resources about backyard chickens because they are so popular in America and in many countries. Chickens are one of the easiest farm animals to raise. They require some love and care and food. But they do not need a lot of space to live in, or a lot of expensive farm equipment.
We decided to raise “Easter Egger” chickens because they naturally, have a variety of colors in their feathers, and we wanted to be able to distinguish the chickens in our flock. They are also curious, usually enjoy being around people, and lay blue/ green eggs that are beautiful.
We ordered our chickens online in April. When they were 1 day old, they were shipped to us through the mail. When they arrived, we picked them up at the post office. (They were shipped to us in a special box with holes. ) Although, we ordered female chickens, we ended up receiving 8 pullets (females) and 2 roosters (males). This is common because it is very difficult to determine the gender of young chicks. We ended up giving away one of our roosters to a friend who has his own farm. Sadly, one of our other hens was killed by a snake at an early age.
We first kept our chicks in a small crate. As they grew, we moved them to a small pen in our garage. When they were big enough, we began building a chicken coop in our back yard.
We moved the chickens into their new coop in July. They were about the size of adult chickens by that time.
By the end of August, we had our first small, green egg. Now, in September, we are gathering almost 2 dozen eggs each week. They are beautiful eggs- ranging from blue green to olive green.
Almost every day, we gather up our hens, one by one, and put them in our chicken tractor. The “tractor” is a wooden rectangular box that is open on the ground, but covered in wire at the top, for protection. During the day, the hens eat green grasses and plants that are very healthy. At night, they go into the big coop for better protection from coyotes, foxes, and other wild life. They also have access to fresh water and chicken food in their coop. The rooster is let out during the day, as well. He walks around the tractor and protects the hens. Although some people in our area let their chickens “free range” (walk around and graze with no protection), we do not because we have so many hawks, foxes, dogs, and cats in our area. The chickens also add nitrogen to our soil, which should benefit our plants, especially our big pecan trees. Every day, the chicken tractor is moved to a new place, so the chickens can have fresh new greens.
So far, all of our chickens are enjoying life in our backyard. And we enjoy watching and learning about them, as well as eating tasty fresh eggs.
Have you ever thought about raising back yard chickens?