How to Raise Chickens
Chickens are one of the easiest animals to care for.
The chores involved are only done once a day to once a week.
They are as easy to care for as a cat!
Chickens are also one of the best pets to teach kids about responsibility, where food comes from and compassion.
There are only two things you need to get right in order to have a great experience raising chickens:
The breed and the supplies (coop, feeder and waterer).
If you're just starting with chickens, we recommend starting with one of the three following breeds. Each lay very well, around 300 eggs per year (260 is average). Each breed is rated in the top 5 for friendliness (most important)
- Golden Comet / Red Star
- Buff Orpington
- Barred (Plymouth) Rock
The top selling chicken coops, like most other top selling products, are the cheapest. Unfortunately, many first time chicken owners that are unsure whether they want to keep chickens permanently will purchase these cheap coops in order to test out if chicken keeping is worth the trouble.
One of the reasons we started or chicken coop rental business RentACoop, was to help those on the fence about chicken keeping get a first hand experience before deciding if chicken keeping is right for them.
These coops are usually too small for the amount of hens they claim can live in these tiny coops. This creates poor living conditions which can lead to sickness or at the least, a smelly living environment.
Due to the cheap construction, these coops are never predator proof and often break down within a year making them easy for a predator to break in to.
An easy way to tell if they are predator proof is to see if there is wire on the bottom of the coop. Most all cheap coops have no protection from digging predators. With a poor coop layout, poor living conditions and no predator proofing, you can see why most people getting into chicken keeping for the first time will give up within a year.
To forgo these problems, we recommend purchasing a chicken coop from a local builder (Craigslist), purchasing a chicken coop that is larger than what you think you'll need, or renting a chicken coop and hens before you decide to buy.
FEEDER AND WATERER
Just as important as the coop choice is your choice of the feeder and waterer.
The most common feeders and waterers for sale (and coincidentally the cheapest) look like this - They have been sold for years and have not changed since the 1950's.
The basic problems with these types of feeders and waterers are easy to imagine just by looking at them. The three main design flaws are as follows.
- The food and water is not covered so bedding, dirt and/or manure get in easily. This makes chores a pain, making cleaning a once or twice daily chore.
- The feed is easily spilled by picky hens (all hens)
- Your placement options are limited to inside the coop or under cover as rain will easily spoil feed.
Giving chickens a variety of treats helps their immune system and makes the eggs more nutritious! Check out our treats page for a full list of chicken treat do's and do-not's.
Our Rental programs are educational and can ease you into owning chickens of your own!
The other companies have coops with feed and water systems that make the chicken coop rental more of a chore and they end up with customers that are less excited to tell their friends. Our hatching rentals are better for the same reasons.
We have worksheets for students and focus much our energy on creating more ways for kids to get as much as they can out of the program!