Raising Chickens: A Beginner’s Guide to Providing 3 Basic Needs for Your Flock, Part 1
Why do you want to raise chickens? Perhaps it’s for pest control (chickens root around the yard and love to feast on fresh bugs of all sorts … When they eat ticks and other annoying bugs, that’s less that will bother you and your garden).
Or, you might want to get your own chickens simply for entertainment. Called “Chicken TV” to some, just watching chickens go about their normal day is an amusing way to pass the time. And listening to their soft coos and clucks is quite relaxing.
But I’m sure you want fresh eggs. At least, that’s the #1 reason our family chose to raise chickens at our home, Wild Sage Homestead.
Oh, it could be for meat. We do have a little chicken in the freezer, but our main reason for raising chickens is for fresh eggs. I’m not an expert on raising chickens for meat so I won’t go into that here, but know that some breeds are better for meat and others are better for eggs. You’ll need to do further research if you want to know more about meat chickens.
Maybe it is all of the above? Either way, you want to know the basics of raising chickens. Honestly, I don’t believe it is as hard as you might think. Now you could spoil them, spends lots of money designing and building a custom coop and giving them the world. But as with most living creatures, it really comes down to providing their basic needs: Water. Food. Shelter.
Before you rush out and buy some adorable little chicks at your local feed store, getting everything setup beforehand is key.
Don’t let your chickens go thirsty! Keep fresh drinking water within reach at all times. We started with a small plastic chicken waterer (below). When we got tired of cleaning it and re-filling it, we upgraded to a larger, galvanized metal variety like this, pictured at right.
The size of your flock, seasonal climate and other factors will control how much water you’ll need and how often you will be refilling. Remember evaporation could be a bigger factor in the summer. And if you live in cooler climates (freezing winters) you will need to invest in a heater. Chickens can’t drink a big block of ice!
Note that we keep the waterer in the same place as chickens will get into a routine. Older chickens should find the water okay, even if you move it a bit, but young chicks need direction. Each time you change the water or move young chicks (to clean out shavings, etc.), it is a good idea to dip their beaks into the water before setting them back down inside.