Friday, February 27, 2009

#4 How much work are you willing to put into looking after your birds?

#4 How much work are you willing to put into looking after your birds?

Looking after any kind of animal requires a certain amount of work. However chickens are one of the easiest animals to look after as they rarely get sick. They are very tough self sufficient animals. In fact they hardly need humans to survive. I say they hardly need humans because as long as your chickens have access to water, some food to eat and a place to spent the night they don't care if you are their or not.

Most breeds of chickens are highly resistant to illness. This most likely comes from thousands of years of living in filthy conditions with mankind. I have seen chickens drinking water that would kill you and I if we drank it. And they seem to love to eat the most disgusting rotten things they can find in the barnyard.

Most disease in chickens comes from overcrowding in large scale chicken farming operations. If you put 25000 chickens in a barn you are asking for trouble. For the small chicken owner who just has a hand full of birds in his back yard decease is rarely a problem.

Chickens are tough creatures in more than just decease resistance. I have seen them kicked by horses, fly through glass windows, fly into walls, chased by dogs, stay outside up in a tree on the coldest nights, get soaking wet out in the rain and so on. Sometimes they seem almost indestructible.

However some breeds are a little tougher than others and the toughness of the breed dictates how much work is required to keep them safe and healthy. As I have already said in previous posts the older more common barnyard breeds like Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are a little tougher than some of the small or fancy breeds. The fancy breeds like Cochins or Polish are a little harder to keep clean with all those fancy feathers and this makes them more susceptible to illness.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Cost Of Raising Chickens

I found this interesting article on the cost of raising chickens and thought I would pass it on. Now I have to say that I do not agree with every thing in the article it is worth a read. With a little work and some ingenuity raising chickens can be almost free. However to achieve the Almost Free status one must think outside the box. You must raise your chickens more like our ancestors would have done.

Raising Chickens

Saturday, February 21, 2009

#3 Is it cold or hot in your location?

For the most part temperature is not that great an issue when keeping most breeds of chickens. That being said you do have to take it into consideration if you live in a location that is subject to extreme temperatures.

Extreme Heat.....

The most important factor when dealing with extreme temperatures is not so much the birds but how well you look after them. With extreme heat you must make sure you give your birds lots of water. Now I know people will say you should always make sure you give your birds lots of water and they would be right. I just wanted to stress the importance of it when the temperature is high. As for what breed of chickens are best at taking the heat I would have to say that I have found Leghorns do fairly well. However as I live in a temperate climate and it is not that hot in my neck of the woods, their may be other breeds that would be better suited to your location. If you live some ware really hot, you would be wise to talk to other chicken owners in your area to see what breeds they like best.

Extreme Heat.....

Extreme cold is not as hard to deal with as extreme heat. Most of the common breeds of chickens can tolerate cold that would kill a person. However the larger breeds in most cases handle the cold better than the smaller breeds. I run heat lamps in the winter to make life a little nicer for my birds but the do not really need them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

#2 Where do you live. City or country side?

#2 Where do you live. City or country side?

This may not sound all that important but it may have a effect on the breed of chickens you keep. If you live out in the country and have a little bit of land then you can probably keep just about any kind of chickens you want. But if you live in suburbia you may need to take this into account when choosing your chickens.


One of the most common problems with keeping chickens in a urban environment is noise. Chickens can make a surprising amount of noise and you may find this a problem, for you and the people who live next door. For this reason it may not be a good idea to get a rooster. As every one knows roosters crow in the morning, or as some say Cock-A-Doodle. What a lot of people don't know is that roosters can start crowing before the sun comes up and keep at it all day long. They Don't Stop.

Hens can also make a large amount of noise. They often make noise when they are laying a egg, but they also make noise when they are upset by something like a predator. You cant do a lot about the noise the hens make during egg laying but some breeds are more likely to make noise that others when they are just upset by something. Leghorns make a lot of noise all the time and are best avoided if you think noise may be a problem. Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are much quieter.


If you live out in the country space is probably not a issue. It is up to you if you want to let your chickens free range on your property or keep them in a coop. If you are going to let them out to free range on your farm it is not that important what breed you choose. Some breeds are a little better than others at finding food to eat out side and avoiding predators but in my experience most common breeds do fairly well. If you let your chickens out you will loose some to predators but that is the way of things on the farm. If you are going to keep your birds in a coop the post important thing is not to overcrowd them. I have found that Rhode Island Reds do well in a coop. Leghorns are a good choice if you are wanting to keep each bird in a cage. Leghorns seem quite happy to spend their time in a cage.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Whats the best chicken for me

People often ask me what kind of chickens should they get? This may sound like a simple question but the answer depends on many factors.

Most people who ask me about chickens have very little knowledge or experience with birds of any kind. They are typically people who have moved out to the country side from the city and just want a few birds for eggs and sometimes meat. Sometimes they just want a few birds as pets. Also in the last few years there has been a growing trend for people who live in what I would call suburbia to get a few chickens to have fresh eggs. This suburban chicken phenomenon has been brought on by a growing environmental awareness and the resent tough economic times.

To help you decide what kind of chickens are right for you I have broken it down into 4 questions.

#1 What do you want the chickens for? Do you want eggs, meat, pets?
#2 Where do you live. City or country side?
#3 Is it cold or hot in your location?
#4 How much work are you willing to put into looking after your birds?

Today I will tackle the first question. #1 What do you want the chickens for? Do you want eggs, meat, pets?

Perhaps not surprisingly a lot of people say yes to all three, They want eggs, meat and pets. However many people end up dropping the meat requirement. I have found that many people who have not been raised on a farm just have a hard time killing any animal. This is not something to be embarrassed about. Killing an animal is never a pleasant task and if you have never done it it can be hard. Suburbanites also have a real tendency to make pets out of all animals and it is hard to eat a pet.

As for the answer. If you want one breed of chicken that will best accomplish all three tasks of providing eggs, meat and pets. I would recommend the Plymouth Rock also called Barred Rocks or just Rocks. The Plymouth Rock is a great egg layer, laying a nice good sized brown egg. They grow to a nice size for the family table and they have a wonderful friendly calm disposition so they make great pets. Another great all purpose bread is the Rhode Island Red. It has all the same qualities of the Plymouth Rock and if you want large eggs its the one for you.

Now some people who just want eggs like the Leghorn. I will admit it is a great egg layer but I never recommend them. I have found them to be nervous and flighty. They make a lot of noise and they are prone to eat their own eggs.

If you just want meat their are several excellent varieties of meat chickens on the market but it must be noted that all breeds of meat chicken are a little harder to raise. I will talk more about meat chickens in another post.