Raising Chickens Part 3: A Beginner’s Guide to Providing 3 Basic Needs for Your Flock

Written by on April 30, 2012 in At the Homestead, Chickens & Eggs - 9 Comments
Raising Chickens: Caring for Your Flock, 3-part series by Wild Sage Homestead

Raising Chickens Part 3: A Beginner’s Guide to Providing 3 Basic Needs for Your Flock

Once you know the basics of taking care of chickens, including providing fresh water and plenty of food, be sure to have a coop setup before bringing your first chickens home.

Providing Shelter: The Chicken Coop

The perfect coop for your chickens can be made out of anything that provides secure, enclosed protection. You may upcycle something you have around the house that you no longer use, such as a child’s play house. We used an existing outdoor shed, painted it red with white trim and it looks like a miniature barn. Our chickens love it!

Old garden shed converted into a chicken coopIf you are converting an existing shed, toy or other structure into a coop, be sure to board up existing openings or cover them with screen. Openings will let chickens escape, obviously, but more importantly and unfortunately, allows predators a way in. Do not use chicken wire (how ironically named!) as the holes are large enough for the paws of some predators to reach through.

Plus, think about protection from the extremes – from super hot summers to harsh winters. Air needs to circulate in the summer and sufficient shelter from freezing temperatures is necessary in the winter.

In my opinion, though, protection from predators is your number one concern. Some, like hawks, can fly down and carry a chicken away. Others, reach into openings. We had a raccoon open the small coop door and kill several of our chickens. (We now have it clasped shut at night with a lock.) To be safe, first think like a predator — how could you get in? — then secure all openings and doors as best as you can.

In the end, know that you are bound to lose a chicken or a few. It’s just a fact of life. If you have room and a big enough coop, allow for some loss and get more chickens than you think you’ll need. There’s a learning curve, too, and we made a few unfortunate mistakes which led to a decreased flock in our first year. We went from hatching and purchasing around 40 chickens our first spring down to a flock of 13 exactly one year later.

Now, so not to end on a discouraging note I’ll add chickens are a blast! In the whole scheme of things, they are pretty easy to take care of and there’s nothing like fresh eggs to add to your favorite batter or whip up a delightful omelette. At the end of the day, rest easy knowing you are providing a nice life for a fun flock. They will thank you in return with many of those delicious eggs and hours of entertaining Chicken TV.

For more information, browse Backyard Chickens and My Pet Chicken.

Back to Part 1 – Watering Chickens | Back to Part 2: Feeding Chickens

What did we miss? Share your chicken tips and stories below … We read every comment!

About the Author

Designer Rob Russo loves to work and play on the homestead with his wife, Jes, their three daughters and a big flock of chickens. He blogs about social media design and marketing at DesignerRobRusso.com and is the marketing director of HelloScent.com. You should follow Rob on Twitter.

9 Comments on "Raising Chickens Part 3: A Beginner’s Guide to Providing 3 Basic Needs for Your Flock"

  1. Kelly May 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm · Reply

    yes, we have learned the hard way about chicken wire. We had the smallest kind and a cat still could reach their paw in :( Great tips! We are building our chicken coop pretty soon here :)

  2. ChickenSaloon.com May 6, 2012 at 2:47 am · Reply

    There is chicken wire, or chicken mesh that leaves the holes VERY small, small enough that really nothing will get through, but it can be harder to find. Raising chickens is a blast, but you’re definitely right, one of the biggest concerns is keeping your flock safe. I wish I could give some advice beyond what you’ve written, but I don’t think there is any. It is just going to happen from time to time that you lose one, unfortunately. Still, raising chickens is absolutely worth it. A great way to have fresh eggs, and a great opportunity and experience for families to have, and for children in particular, I believe.

    • Rob Russo May 6, 2012 at 11:46 am · Reply

      The experience for our family is one of our favorites. Our kids love our chickens! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  3. John Exami July 6, 2012 at 11:46 pm · Reply

    I remember when I was a kid and my father bought several chicks to raise, we place them somewhere safe and all, but the stray dogs still found a way to take them out of the cage. Poor Chicks.

  4. farmergranny August 19, 2012 at 11:14 am · Reply

    It would be great if someone could give me some ideas on how to save my next flock. This spring I had turkeys, ducks, chickens – in a locked coop. After about six weeks, I let them out during the day in a fenced run. Something was eating just the head off all of them. The pens are locked; rocks are around the bottom perimeter of the fencing. This is the second year in a row this happened. prior to this, I had free range hens that roosted in the trees and in the barn – and they all lived about five years. What can I do? Any ideas very welcome! My email is lking710@hotmail.com

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