Ready to Raise Chickens? Here’s Your Guide!
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.
Chickens are an excellent companion to have in your garden. They need space to scratch and perform their normal behaviors. Chickens are also very clean animals and will help you maintain your garden. You can choose to raise free-range chickens. Free-range chickens do not need to be fed antibiotics. They also do not produce avian/poultry medicine.
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USDA standards for free-range chicken are ambiguous. While they require that chickens have access to free-range pastures, they don’t set rules on what that means. A USDA audit of a farm’s outdoor space can be misleading, but many farmers provide their chickens with ample outdoor space.
While free-range chickens are often raised in pastures, it does not always mean that they are treated humanely. These animals often undergo mutilations, including painful debeaking. This treatment causes the chickens to be unable to properly clean themselves and eat. Proponents of humane farming are working to ban the practice.
Although free-range chickens are allowed to spend more than 51 percent of their lives outdoors, the label can be misleading. This is because a free-range chicken might be confined to a large industrial shed or shared with twenty-five to 30,000 other chickens.
Several countries have taken steps to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock production. In Denmark and Sweden, the use of antibiotics for growth promotion has been banned. However, the practice is still widespread in other countries. Many farmers continue to use antibiotics that are classified as ‘critically important for human health’ and are not recommended for chickens that are merely healthy.
Backyard chickens are a fantastic companion to have when gardening. They are low-maintenance and produce delicious eggs. They also help to reduce food waste and don’t require much space. Backyard chickens are great because they can live in small spaces. They also produce manure that is easily composted and added to the garden.
Backyard chickens also have the unique ability to turn over garden beds. Their powerful clawing, also known as scratching, aerates the soil and turns it over much like a tiller would. They also poke around in the dirt to find bugs and seeds that will nourish their bodies. They also make wonderful gardening companions because they can help you pick up fallen fruit and green leaves. Chickens also love a variety of different kinds of plants. It’s important to choose a variety of plants for your garden so that they can live happily and easily. They will also eat various types of grasses, weeds, and ground covers. This will help stabilize the soil and filter rainwater runoff.
In addition to providing fertilizer and compost, chickens are also great pest repellents. The petals from calendula can help to brighten egg yolks and can be used as a tea or skin-soothing salve. As a bonus, chickens also provide a variety of vitamins and minerals. Alfalfa is an excellent source of green fertilizer.
Backyard chickens require eight hours of daylight per day and about 3/4 square m of scratching space per hen. They will lay eggs all year round as long as you provide them with sufficient space and care. Remember to check local regulations before you decide to raise chickens.
Although backyard chickens are not a direct source of the COVID-19 coronavirus, they may be a source of outbreak-associated salmonellosis. This type of illness can be hard to diagnose and often results in underreporting because of the delay or avoidance of seeking medical attention. In the year 2020, more cases of Salmonella infection will probably be linked to backyard poultry than to any other source.
The best way to confirm that your backyard chickens are not a source of corovirus infection is to find the virus in wild animals. The only way to do this is to isolate the virus in a wild animal. Other approaches will yield only anecdotal evidence.
The CDC has reported 163 illnesses and 34 hospitalizations related to chickens in 43 states. Of these, one-third of cases were in children. People who were exposed to backyard chickens were more likely to become ill than people who sought medical attention. This means that the number of people who contract the virus from backyard chickens is far higher than reported cases. Because of this, it is important to educate yourself about the risk of this virus before you get chickens.
Researchers are studying the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses in other animals. It is possible that an ancestor of SARS-CoV-2 is hidden in animal tissues stored in labs. And it is likely that a large number of these labs keep tissue samples in their freezers.
The government produces only a limited supply of vaccines for avian/poultry diseases and poultry illnesses. These include Marek’s disease, Newcastle disease, pigeon pox, salmonellosis, and infectious bursal disease. Since 2014, however, the government has allowed commercial poultry owners to receive limited amounts of avian influenza vaccine. However, despite the fact that avian influenza vaccines have become available, some birds still become infected. And even vaccinated birds may shed the virus without clinical signs.
As for avian leukosis, there is no vaccine available for it, and the condition affects only a small number of backyard flocks. But if you suspect a flock of backyard chickens is infected with the MD virus, you should seek veterinary attention for your chickens. Infected chickens may die from the virus, but you should avoid depopulating your flock until you’re sure you’re free of the disease.
The best way to prevent avian/poultry disease is through vaccination and good biosecurity. Then, if your chickens develop an infection, you can use veterinary medications. Antibiotics, if used correctly, are safe for most bacterial and protozoan poultry diseases. However, antibiotics are not recommended for viral poultry diseases. Instead, your backyard poultry should be treated with vaccination and good biosecurity practices.
Although backyard chickens are not a source of a reliable source of avian/poultry medicines, they do provide eggs and other meat products. In fact, more backyard chicken owners are raising their chickens as pets. In addition, they may even become quite bonded to their birds.
Be sure to read our other related stories at BackyardChickenNews to learn more about raising chickens in your backyard.