Raising chickens can be a rewarding and cost effective hobby. The money you'll save on eggs, meat, and even garden fertilizer makes raising chickens have quite a lot of economical sense. But how does one get started on raising chickens?
If you decide to raise chickens, you're obviously going to need to acquire some birds. There are two ways to go about this: buy full grown chickens or buy chicks. If you buy full grown chickens, make sure they have vaccination records and are laying healthy eggs. Buying chicks is a little cheaper than buying full grown chickens, but they also require more care. Be sure the chicks come from disease-free stock.
Most chickens will start to lay eggs at the age of 5 months and will lay as many as 300 eggs per year for ten years. As they age, their egg producing frequency declines.
Free range chickens are cheaper to maintain since the cost of feeding them is nothing. These chickens eat greenery and insects to survive. Caged chickens need about one pound of chicken feed (divided into two daily feedings) per dozen chickens. Chickens also must consume small pebbles or shells on occasion. Free range chickens consume these elements naturally, but caged chickens must be fed small pebbles from time to time. A local co-op should sell small rocks meant for chicken consumption; scatter a pound of these rocks for caged chickens and they'll take care of the rest over the course of several months.
Providing chickens drinking water is also affordable and easy. To swallow, chickens must lift their heads, so an ideal water source for them would hang at eye level. Natural water sources are acceptable for free range chickens.
Keep your chickens and their nesting areas clean to prevent disease. Housing should be made accessible to your chickens that protects them from rain, wind and other elements that hinder egg production.