Intro to Keeping Chickens

Having chickens is a homesteading and prepping must, but interestingly, it is becoming a hip trend, even in the city. People are starting to look for better, fresher foods and having your own eggs in the morning is just plain appealing and fulfilling. Keeping a flock of chickens in your backyard makes good sense regardless of whether you live in an urban or rural area.

There are different varieties of chickens that you can rear like layers, broilers or you can opt to keep cockerels. You don’t have to start with a large flock. I recommend you begin with about 25 to 35 chicks.

The best place to buy chicks is from a commercial hatchery because the chicks are already vaccinated for different bacterial and viral diseases. Hatcheries have a variety of chicks; make sure you buy those that thrive in your area.

Pros of Keeping Chickens

They Provide Vital Foods

Obviously, we keep chickens for food. Both eggs and meat are rich in protein and minerals that our bodies need to thrive. We know where our food comes from and can eat without fear of getting deadly diseases from various chemicals used by large commercial producers.

They Eat Everything.

Having chickens is almost like having a garbage disposal. They eat almost everything. From the leftovers of rice, fruits and grains, to grass and insects, nothing goes to waste.

They Will Help Control Pests In Your Home

When I open the chicken coops during the warm months, chickens roam around scratching in the grass and raised beds. They eat insects, which provide them with extra protein that is necessary for egg production. Some of these insects can affect the produce you are growing, so the work that my chickens are doing is a huge plus in my book.

Cons of Having Chickens

Expensive feed

I recommend giving your chicken’s free range and adding kitchen scraps to their diet. Only buy feed when absolutely necessary. If you plan on buying chicken feed exclusively, you should know that it is expensive. It gets especially expensive when your chickens quit laying eggs. This generally happens after 2-4 years. Chicken feed on average costs 50-80 cents per pound, which means that you’ll be spending hundreds of dollars keeping chickens that don’t lay eggs; unless of course you make broth out of them (they don’t taste as great when they get old). Obviously, if we live in an SHTF scenario, satisfying gourmet tastes is not going to be our priority and we’ll be happy to have less than perfect chicken.

They Can Kick The Bucket Quickly In The Event Of Disease

If there is an outbreak of disease, your birds can start dying off pretty rapidly. Diseases spread fast in chicken communities, and within a week, you can have all your chickens dead.

They Are Highly Sensitive

Chickens are highly sensitive and they need close monitoring. Though they are easy to keep, they can get distracted and become moody or unable to lay.

Housing

Chickens need a lot of space especially if you are giving them free range. During the day I keep my chickens in a large area enclosed by a chain link fence. Even you don’t have a fenced area for them, don’t worry. After a couple of days, chickens get used to their house and will return home every night.If you keep chickens for eggs, ensure you have nests where they can lay.

Thinking of getting chickens? Assess your yard and figure out where you can keep them efficiently, while providing them the space they need; determine what they will eat and whether you will raise for meat or for eggs.

To your survival,
Richard Marshall

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