Raising Your Own Backyard Flock
By Tom Seest
At BackyardChickenNews, we help people who want to raise backyard chickens by collating information and news blended with our own personal experiences.
Backyard chicken owners often envision foraging in the yard as the main source of nutrition. While this option is possible, it can reduce feed intake, which can be crucial for growth and healthy maintenance. A better choice is to offer free access to a variety of feed sources. Since feed makes up about 70% of the total cost of owning chickens, investing in good quality feed should be a top priority. The healthier your chickens are, the more productive they will be.
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One of the advantages of backyard chickens is the freedom to roam. Unfortunately, this also means that they are vulnerable to predators. Though well-constructed fences can prevent most four-legged predators, some can jump or climb them. This is why it’s important to educate yourself before choosing a flock to free range.
Free-range chickens benefit both the chickens and their owners. This type of lifestyle provides your flock with the opportunity to do things nature intended, like foraging for food, exercising their wings, and sleeping in the sun. It also reduces your feed bill and gives your chickens vitamin supplements.
Chickens are omnivorous, which means that they will eat a variety of plants and vegetables as well as bugs. Some people are under the impression that chickens are vegetarians, but this is not the case. Chickens will eat all kinds of bugs, including spiders, beetles, and caterpillars. If you’re growing crops in your garden, you can provide your flock with these nutrients while they’re busy foraging.
Another important consideration when choosing a breed of chicken is your climate. Certain breeds don’t fare well in hot climates. However, Phoenix chickens and Minorca chickens are ideal for hot and humid conditions. However, you should consider your climate before making the final choice. If you live in an area with humid weather, Mediterranean breeds are good choices. These breeds are small and sleek, with a large comb that helps them survive in extreme heat.
There are many benefits of raising backyard chickens. Having their own coop will enable them to live in a more natural and peaceful environment. You can save money on feed and keep your flock in good health. But you must be sure to provide adequate space for your birds. Leaving them in cramped quarters can lead to anti-social behaviors, especially in cold weather. It is also important to make sure their coop remains cool during the summer and warm in the winter. To achieve this, you need to set up proper ventilation. You should also make sure there are adequate airflow holes in the coop.
Choose a location that is well-drained. You can set up your chicken coop near a garden, but make sure the area is well-drained. This will prevent standing water and dampness inside the coop. In addition to that, you must choose a well-shaded spot for your chicken coop.
Free-range chickens can wander far beyond the confines of the coop. If you let them free, they will poop and scratch in areas where they are not supposed to go. This may lead to the loss of your flock. But don’t despair – there are many benefits of keeping backyard chickens.
One of the main benefits of keeping chickens is the natural fertilizer they produce. Chicken manure is a great organic fertilizer that breaks down naturally and provides valuable nutrients to your lawn. Free-range chickens will also help control weeds and insects in your yard. A free-range coop should be large enough for the size of your chickens.
You may want to keep a few backyard chickens as pets. A backyard flock is also a good way to get fresh eggs from the animals. These birds also provide fertilizer for your garden and make a great addition to your local food system.
Predators are attracted to chickens, so it is important to build predator-friendly coops. The coop should have double doors and no cracks in the door frame. Feed should be stored in airtight containers, and spills must be cleaned immediately. Do not place garbage cans or open compost piles near the coop. If you must keep garbage nearby, use a garbage can that is tightly sealed to prevent the trash from flying out.
Predators cannot get into a coop if it is covered with a large area of cover. Predators usually avoid places where there is little to no cover. You can plant bushes inside the chicken run, but leave the perimeter of the chicken coop free of cover. If you are worried about predators, you can use a welded-wire coop.
Aside from predators that live in your backyard, chickens also face a host of enemies. These include foxes, coyotes, owls, skunks, and snakes. It is vital to prevent these creatures from preying on your chickens.
Although predators are not a common threat, they can pose a threat if the coop is not predator-friendly. Usually, predators leave behind signs before destroying poultry. For example, if your coop is unprotected, snakes will make it easy to find your chickens, which is bad news for your backyard chickens.
In addition to having a fenced-in poultry run, you should also use predator-friendly coops. This way, your flock will remain safe even after dusk while the predators are out hunting. You should also make sure that the doors are kept locked when your flock goes to roost.
The first step in raising free-range backyard chickens is to decide what you want to feed them. Chickens love bugs, so try giving them mealworms and other insect-based treats. You can also give them maggots and beetles. This will not only help them with their nutrition but will also give them something to do.
Free-range backyard chickens require a high-quality diet that is consistent. A diet that is 90 percent complete chicken feed will help your flock to grow and thrive. For instance, the morning meal should include a protein source, which will help them produce eggs. Likewise, free-range chickens should eat their breakfast first so that they have a steady source of energy before they go foraging. You can also consider buying Purina’s Oyster Strong System, which is designed to provide calcium and vitamin D to hens. It also has manganese, which is good for their shells.
Feeding free-range backyard chickens is one of the most crucial responsibilities you can have. Without proper nutrition, you may notice reduced egg production, malformed eggs, and excessive feather picking. A decent diet for chickens should contain high-quality poultry pellets. You do not need to feed your chickens grain, though. But you can still give them grain for their nutritional value, and because it is inexpensive and natural, it’s a good choice for your flock.
Chickens do well on a variety of greens and vegetables. And they can eat bugs, too, which is one of their main food sources. Some people mistakenly assume that chickens are vegetarians, but chickens will eat a wide range of insects, including spiders, caterpillars, and beetles. And even when the weather is poor, free-range backyard chickens will still get the nutrients they need.
If you are raising free-range chickens, you will need to protect them from predators. Most predators will target the chickens when they are not in the coop. In order to protect the chickens, you must not let them out before dark. It is also important to collect the eggs regularly.
Predators are often attracted to poultry, especially in the evenings. They may not leave any signs of attack, but if you suspect that a predator has been there, check the chickens. Different predators hunt at different times. The best way to protect your chickens is to use small mesh fencing.
Free-range chickens are always vulnerable to predators. A low shelter will give the hens a place to hide in case of an attack. In addition, it will deter predators from attacking from above. A rooster in your flock will alert the hens of the presence of predators.
Another way to protect your chickens is to use perimeter fencing. This fence keeps predators out of your chickens‘ pens and prevents them from wandering into your yard. You can also use an internal fence to control their movement. However, this type of fencing isn’t always practical for everyone. For example, a permaculturist might not want to destroy natural wildlife paths. However, a free-range chicken yard doesn’t require heavy fencing.
Be sure to read our other related stories at BackyardChickenNews to learn more about raising chickens in your backyard.