So you want chickens…

So since this blog is called Farm and Frill I thought I should probably throw an actual farming post into the mix.

About 10 months after we moved into our little farmhouse we decided to get chickens. Nick wants to eventually get more animals, so we decided to test the waters with chickens. We got 12 chicks from my school, fourth grade was learning about life cycles, and brought them home. Basically all you need to raise chickens is a feeder (feed), water dispenser (and water), heat lamp, and bedding. I read a couple of books to help us figure out what we’re doing…and I love reading so I wanted to anyways. This one and this one were my favorite, even though one is technically a cookbook it had a lot of cute stories and advice.

From there, I poured my wealth of information on Nick and he was in charge. About two weeks later Brooks came so he was really the sole caretaker of our little brood.

They stayed in their safe little home for a couple of months and when they got so big they were stepping on each other they were transferred to one of the horse stalls in our barn. The previous owner used this for his dog so it had a little dog door leading out to a fenced kennel area. We gave it a good cleaning, secured any holes predators could get through, and let them live. We had to invest in a bigger feeder and water dispenser, Nick built some nesting boxes and a roosting post, and they were set. To say we are experts is a gross understatement, but these are things I found we needed and were very useful:

  1. A heated water dispenser. Being in Wisconsin, it gets really cold and we didn’t want to run the risk of the water freezing. This has been absolutely essential, they actually drink way more water than you would think. This does cause the water to evaporate so make sure you check to refill it often.
  2. Cedar shavings for bedding. They don’t collect bacteria or smell as much as other types of bedding and it’s pretty easy to clean up. We’ve also tried straw, since our loft is filled with it, and it definitely is not as nice.
  3. Chicken aprons. This is strangely a necessity. Infection from scratches on a hen’s back is the leading cause of death. We only had one get an open sore, but I was really happy I had this when she did so she was protected from everyone. It slides around their wings and protects their back. If you have too many roosters per hen this may happen often so either get rid of some roosters or don’t be surprised when chicken armour becomes your best friend.
  4. A big supply of egg cartons. We went through so many egg cartons, these actually came in handy so we had some backup. We ended up with lots of eggs to give away, and most people didn’t give the cartons back so the more the better.
  5. A back up heat lamp. Again, Wisconsin is cold in the winter so when one of the hens flew into our heat lamp we were so happy we had a backup to set up to keep them nice and toasty.

As odd as this post feels, I would have appreciated it when we set out on our chicken venture. I could really talk about these crazy chickens forever…but I’ll stop now. Your welcome.