Monday, August 17, 2015

Thoughts + Resources from a Newbie Chicken Farmer

i really love having chickens.  it is almost embarrassing. everyone i know asks about our chickens/their coop and i talk about "the girls" almost as much as i talk about my dog. they are just fun and do sort of silly things. i love that very soon they will take care of our family's egg needs {this fall our flock of eight hens should begin to lay more than enough eggs for us to eat + share}.

i've been talking about getting chickens for a few years now. sometimes just the 'oh won't it be so fun to go collect our own eggs?' or the joke about what my chicken call would sound like {i think the chickadee inspired call: 'chicken-feed-feed-feed-feed' or the 'winner winner chicken dinner' with victory dance have been the front runners for a year or so now}.

but as i got more serious about raising our own flock {for the eggs, compost turning and garden pest control} i began to read, interact with chickens/their caretakers and dream.

so today i wanted to share a few insights + resources that helped me get chickens into our backyard...

+ get to know a few hens {or even a rooster}
i was able to "practice" raising hens for about a year before we got our own chicks. this was so helpful as it gave me just a little bit of experience and actual animals to keep healthy. the school where i teach has a very lovely garden and we decided to add just a few layers, a coop and an awesome run for the hens. the children have responsibilities to share in caring for the chickens. these truly loved hens provide eggs for when we make snacks and prepare real food with the students. so the fact that this small flock of three wasn't solely my responsibility made it easier for me to take on tasks without being overwhelmed. maybe you have a neighbor or friend who might need chicken sitters when they go on vacation or there is a local farm that asks for volunteers. you might gain experience and free eggs!

+get to know a few people who know chickens
this is pretty basic but i saved so many tidbits of information over the years from friends, neighbors, co-workers who have their own flocks - or did in the past. it is also great to have these resources when you come up against something {illness, strange behavior, etc} and you need to ask a more experienced farmer. 

+find a few favorite chicken raising websites  {click to go directly to the site}
here are some of my favorite websites...

the forum on this site helped me a lot with coop training for my littles and identifying a broody hen at my school. so much information here and a pretty active online community.

there were a few special posts about chicks + brooders that helped when we were hatching eggs at school... but there is lots of knowledge to gain from this chick's site.

+start reading
i checked out many homesteading, gardening, livestock books over the past few years from our local library. these are two of my favorite chicken books that i recommend over and over...

Keeping Chickens with Ashley English
this book is from her Homemade Living series and it really helped me begin to focus my plans for raising chickens, such as selecting breeds that i would enjoy and also do well in our climate. 

Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard by Jessi Bloom and photos by Kate Baldwin
this book has super fantastic photos that makes you want ALL the free-range chicken backyards. i found it very inspiring and it was actually a fun book to share with my students as we were waiting for our eggs to hatch {think seven year old girls making bookmarks for all their favorite coops + breeds}. 

+ be prepared to keep learning
as with pretty much all things i think there is a lot of to learn as we go. like we had a skunk interested in our coop + run recently. we did some quick research + double checked for any weak spots in our run. nothing has happened and we think we are in the clear for a bit... but not everything you will know from other resources before you have actual chickens. i think i have to learn about what happens here, in our yard, as the seasons pass. 

any other favorite chicken books or tips? want to gush about how cute my little chicks used to be? {these photos were from early May when i was playing around with my camera - because, well, baby chicks!} leave me a comment below! i'd love to talk chickens with you! and i hope to share more about my backyard chicken raising in the future here on the blog.

* i've added this post to Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop! ::click here:: to head over and check out all the great information and stories from other bloggers! Thanks to all the hosts and bloggers for sharing in the fun!


  1. I have been wanting some chickens for a while now. Can' get hubby to join in on my enthusiasm though......

    1. Hey there Miss Nifty Thrifty! The husband took some convincing... my guy joined in my enthusiasm after he saw me working with other chickens and knew that I was going to pull my share of the work to keep a few hens at home. Thanks for popping in!
      Good luck,