So, you started a flock of chickens, and now you are addicted. It happens, even to those of us who had resisted the idea of raising chickens for so long. It took my husband 7 years to convince me to get some chickens on the farm. And I think he regrets it now, as each year I add to our flock. But, I do make the chickens pay for their upkeep by keeping mostly just the hens and selling the eggs (we have plenty to share). We also save on groceries by adding the roosters to our freezer for dinners or selling them at auction for some extra money.
If you are like me, and are considering adding to your flock, here are 5 things to consider before you run out to buy any more.
- Buying local is always best, but beware, you want to purchase from a Hatchery or individual who will let you visit their property and see how they operate. If you are lucky enough to have a local hatchery, check to see if they test their birds for Avian Flu (Bird Flu) or other deceases and are registered with the state. Buying local when possible also keeps the stress level down in the chicks, helps the local economy, and makes for a happier, healthier flock. If you don’t have a local hatchery, you can purchase from a trusted source or order from one of the many hatcheries that are online.
2. Consider the breed or breeds you want. Take some time to do some research on the breeds as each one is different. Base your breed on what you want to accomplish, whether that is eggs, meat, dual purpose or just to have them as pets. Some breeds are much friendlier then others.
3. Have all your needed equipment set up and ready before you bring the chicks home. This includes setting up your pen or box, having a heat source for them to keep warm, a feeder and waterer, grower / starter feed, and a way to get them out of the rain and winds. I’ll share more on what we do in another article.
4. Give the chicks room to grow where they can get plenty of sunshine, fresh grass and catch bugs after a couple of weeks. Expand their roaming area as they grow, making sure the older birds can talk to them and be around them. This will make the integration into the flock easier.
5. Make time to enjoy and bond with them. This will make it easier to deal with them when you are collecting eggs, but not such a good idea if you are using them for your freezer. I’ve had birds that would sit on our laps, hang with the horses when they were in stalls, and bring a smile to my face just because they can be so silly.