I have had lots of people ask me questions about raising chickens. For us it is a very affordable way to get organic range fed eggs and chicken. I am definitely no expert, but my mom is. So, she has been kind enough to type up a ton of information about chickens. It is way too much information to put in one post, so I will break this up into several posts for you guys to enjoy.I will do my best to answer any questions that you guys may have, but I will probably have to defer to my mom. She knows more than I could ever hope to know about chickens. She does mention local stores in these posts, but I am sure that most of you will find similar stores throughout the country.
What special needs do chickens have? They have a lot of predators. Dogs really like chicken. I had no idea there were so many wild dogs that roam until I had chickens. A chicken wire fence will not keep out a dog. You need welded wire of some sort. At night weasels, raccoons and fox will steal chickens so they must have a secure house to live in. A raccoon can open so many different kinds of latches so it needs to be something that is hard to open. Hawks will kill even larger chickens and carry away smaller birds. We stopped raising bantams because they were fair game for the hawks and we got tired of supplying supper every night. If there are large trees the hens will hide under the trees for limited protection from hawks. No, you cannot kill hawks in the state of North Carolina. It is illegal.
There are lots of different designs for chicken houses. You can use an old dog house with a run on it for just a few birds to a more elaborate hen house. They must have shelter from wind in order to stay warm in the winter. In North Carolina it really does not get cold enough to worry about them freezing, but you must give them fresh water daily that is ice free. We keep a child’s wading pool in the chicken run that we fill regularly (or the rain fills it) and keep a stock warmer in the middle of it to avoid having to haul water every day. I’ve seen on several chicken forums folks who are using an automatic dog waterer. That might work as well. We buy the metal waterers from Tractor Supply because we have not had great luck with the plastic ones. The metal ones will and do rust, but seem to last longer.
Tomorrow’s post will be about saving money with chickens.