As first-time chicken parents, we get asked this question all the time – are chickens really that easy to care for? In this article, we’ll talk briefly about our experience with chickens, things you need to be prepared for, and the difficulty level of raising your own flock.
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By the time we found the homestead of our dreams, we’d already agreed that chickens were going to be our first farm animals – our first big project. So it didn’t take long to pick a location, draft up plans, and start building the coop.
But all of a sudden, the thought of being responsible for so many little lives became very overwhelming. Can we really do this??
Well, I’m here to tell you that we are doing this – we’re successfully raising chickens – and you can too!
It may seem like a lot to take on, and it is! It’s not something to take lightly.
But with a lot of preparation, you can get ready.
Just don’t rush it, take your time, and wait until the moment is right. Your chickens deserve a great start in life.
Research is Your Best Friend
I would guess that – like us – most people are starting with zero knowledge of how to raise chickens, so become a sponge. Read everything you can – buy books or check them out from the library & leverage online resources.
There are so many beginner guides out there to raising chickens – you should be able to find everything you need.
Having a sense of what to expect will help ease your stress. Plus there’s some things you need to research & have in place to responsibly take care of your baby chicks like:
- Heat Source
- Feeder & Water Container
- Chick Feed
- Chick Grit
- Medical Supplies
The Darker Side
On the note of medical supplies, I want to address some things you need to be prepared for – some difficult things.
We ordered our chicks online, through a reputable site, and they were delivered to our local post office. Thousands of people order chicks this way every year – it’s very common.
The alternative is to get baby chicks from a local farmer or a farm-supply store.
The benefits of ordering them online is a wider range of selection and less competition – our local farm store chicks are usually gone within a few hours!
However, shipping chicks cross-country causes them a great deal of stress.
As a result, it’s not uncommon for chicks to die, either in transit or soon after arrival. Most companies will make things right within 48 hrs of delivery – but it’s still something you should be prepared to deal with.
Also, for that reason, you should perhaps avoid opening the delivery box with children present, in case a chick didn’t make it or was mangled in transit.
Also, when chicks are churned out on such a massive scale, there’s a higher possibility of defects farther down the road.
For example, one of our Rhode Island Reds spontaneously died a few days in – it broke my heart.
Shortly after, two chicks started having trouble pooping – squaking in pain, distended vents, just a terrible scene.
I jumped online, researched, asked questions, tried every treatment under the sun – for weeks – and nothing got better. Ultimately, we decided they were in too much pain and we had to put them both down – it was devastating.
…and with that our twelve chicks became The Nine…
Would this all have been solved by avoiding ordering chicks online? Perhaps, but defects like this happen all the time – much more frequently than in dogs & cats.
It’s something you need to be prepared for – how aggressively you want to treat them, when enough is enough, and whether you can put them out of their misery.
It’s a natural fact of life that chickens are at the bottom of the food chain, so if you have predators around, your chickies will be found.
You need to be prepared with a predator-proof coop, protection or hiding places if free-ranging, and a plan for when things don’t go smoothly.
Back to the Lighter Side
Well that was terribly depressing…
How about something more fun??
Let’s talk about the perks of having chicken around!
Chickens are an absolute delight. They’re beautiful & incredibly smart. It’s so much fun to watch the whole flock go after a head of cabbage.
Plus, the obvious bonus is eggs! And I would say that, once our girls start laying, their eggs are going to be fair repayment for some of those initial trials.
We’re all about good food, so that is the reason they’re here and we’re so anxious for the first one to be laid!
Now that they’re almost fully grown, the day-to-day maintenance is minimal. Here’s a list of our main chicken tasks:
- Weekly refill waterer and feeder
- Daily bag of fresh lawn clippings (because we can’t free-range just yet)
- Clean out their coop once a week
- Let them out first thing every morning
- Close them in after dark
All and all, they’re very simple to care for on a daily basis.
However, I know that we’re lucky because we haven’t had any additional medical problems.
I’m aware of some potential future issues, like bumblefoot, where I may have to do chicken surgery myself. That’s because – check this– there are virtually no chicken vets out there!
Chickens being kept as pets is a fairly new trend and, up until now, sick chickens just went in the stew pot.
All of a sudden, people are wanting to treat & save their prized family pets and there really aren’t any vets who know how to treat them. Kinda wild!
Also, once our girls start laying, they’ll be a whole host of new potential medical issues. So we haven’t experienced it all, and that’s the perspective I want to give you…
From one beginner to another…
From someone who doesn’t have years of chicken experience…
I’m just like you – I’m not a pro.
It literally shocks me everyday that we actually have chickens.
But if I can do this, so can you!
Yeah, there’s some tough stuff you need to be prepared for, but the daily maintenance is low & the enjoyment is high.
Based on all that, I would have to say that – yes – chicken are easy to raise.
So what do you think? Are you interested in raising your own flock? Come along & we can figure this out together! Our hope is to provide you with more helpful tips & articles as we learn more about our ladies.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it to spread the chicken love.
Do you have any questions about raising chickens? Anything that’s stopping you from taking the leap? We’ll be as helpful as we can or point you towards some good resources. Send us an email or leave a comment below! You can also let us know on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest pages.
For some adorable baby chick footage, come along on the day our ladies first arrived!
While we get our eggs in a row, why don’t you check out some of our other articles on:
- Growing Your Own Food
- Foraging Guides & Recipes
- Preserving Your Harvest
- Homestead Recipes
- Baked Goodies
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