Raising Chickens for Beginners

Raising Chickens for Beginners

Having some knowledge of raising chickens for beginners or knowledge of any kind before tackling a new project or venture always helps.

First Flock for a Beginner Raising Chickens

When I got my first batch of 20 full-grown chickens, I only had the very basic knowledge of chickens needs for survival. This knowledge came from an older friend that had expericence raising backyard chickens for a long time. His set-up wasn’t exactly the Taj Mahal, just food, water, a pen, and shelter. One thing though that he had that I didn’t was he could let his chickens out during the day to free-range because he lived in the country. I, on the other hand, lived in town and had to keep mine penned.

chicken

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

DIY Chicken Coop and Pen

To give my chickens as much freedom as possible, I built a DIY chicken coop and pen. The pen was almost forty feet long by about fifteen feet wide. For the coop, I reconstructed the bottom of an old treehouse fully enclosed for their shelter. I built boxes for the hens to lay eggs and a place for them to roost. The mistake I made was trying to brace up that long of pen by using two-by-fours on a diagonal, well I never dreamed those chickens would climb right up that and escape! So I had to fix that by putting chicken wire over the top about five feet from the edge of the pen where the two-by-four went to the top. That did the job and no more escaped chickens in the backyard.

chickens

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Essentials for Raising Chickens

The man I bought my chickens from was pretty educated with them. He gave lots of advice raising chickens for beginners. A plus was he sold feed, feeders, gravity flow waterers, all the essentials. The grain that I bought from him was a layer feed that he had specially mixed from the local farm elevator. A mixture of cracked corn, milo, and supplement which they devoured. Crushed oyster shells was a part of their diet, apparently helps in the chickens’ digestive breakdown. Both men that I got my info from told me to do that or I wouldn’t have known. I guess it worked because I always had healthy, good layers.

chickens eating from feeder

Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

Egg Selling Business

Whatever you do, the more you fool with it the more you learn. I learned pretty fast that the twenty chicken egg selling business for my boys wasn’t going to be profitable for me. Although my family enjoyed all the eggs. Hey, I didn’t care though because I liked messing with them, kinda therapeutic stress reliever after work. I tried to spoil them every way I could since they couldn’t free range. A big expense that really shoots your profit is buying dried meal worms for them. Dried meal worms is like chicken meth; they go crazy over them.

eggs

Photo by Court on Unsplash

Spoiled Chickens

That wasn’t an everyday affair so me and the boys would dig or find earthworms; way cheaper with the same effect. So, I got a little smarter with the worm to cut down on the labor for finding them. I put about three or four pieces of used plywood boards and laid them randomly in their pen. Why did I do this? Have you ever been outside and turned over a log, brick, old tire, piece of tin, etc. anything that held moisture under it? Yes, if your part of the country has worms and there is some moisture, there’s probably gonna be worms under them objects.Voila! I invented and easy worm smorgasboard for my spoiled chickens. You can use anything flat and easy to lift. About every two days I would do this for them and they were ready!

Bringing the Range to the Chickens

Another tip raising chickens for beginners. Since free range was out of the question, mainly in fear of a loose dog in town that might get them, myself and the boys, mainly out of curiosity, dumped mounds of leaves and cut grass in their pen. If they couldn’t get on the range, hey, bring the range to them. That was another hit with them. I swear you could pile it six foot high and twenty chickens would have it ground level remarkably fast. The chickens loved to scratch the leaves and grass. Scratching kinda looks like a chicken pealing out or hey! Maybe a dirt bike throwing a Rooster tail in the dirt, no pun intended. Anyway I reckon that’s their way of searching for bugs plus maybe feels like bare feet on soft carpet.

The Clean-up Crew

After spending time and testing the appetites of my beloved docile chickens, I came to the conclusion that they rank somewhere in the midst of the clean up crew. The clean up crew being buzzards, opossums, coyotes, basically any animal that will eat anything. I never ate any of my own chickens, but I do love eating chicken. Kinda makes me wonder how a good ole fried buzzard would taste, but I’ll probably pass.

Chicken Feed

My chickens were never without the basics of layer feed, crushed oyster shells, and fresh water. Before we had to get rid of them, my clean up conclusion came from throwing solid table scraps into their pen, which anything was a plus for them. Most anything I threw in there as far as vegetable and bones was picked clean or gone! I hate to say it, but chicken bones was one of their favorites also. You really can’t blame the little cannibals on that one.

I’ve read where some people grow fodder to cut down on costs. You can read about this here.

Unusual Food Choice

So for the last food item I experimented with, which this won’t save you any money, it was just out of curiosity. I would have never guessed, but for some reason I opened up a can of Friskies shredded moist cat food and put it in with them. The scenario was like piranha eating a small hog trying to cross the river in Brazil. They cleaned that can dry in a minute, just unbelievable, not to mention with twenty chickens kinda funny!

brown chickens

Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash

 

Raising Chickens for Beginners

Well, all in all, my cinnamon brown chickens were healthy and good layers. I’m still pretty green on knowledge. But I hope some of my personal experiences can give you tips for raising chickens for beginners. And you raise some that are happy and healthy and stay in the pen!

Chicken Supplies (affiliate links)

Feeder

Waterer 

Meal Worms 

Oyster Shells 

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Top Mistake Raising Pigs

Top Mistake Raising Pigs

Raising Pigs in the Heartland

Before I get started telling about my friend’s experience with the top mistake raising pigs, a little about me. I consider myself fortunate being from the Heartland of this God-blessed United States of America and southern part of Illinois.

I once heard a southerner call this area, which I never heard before, Little Georgia. (Which by the way is where my wife is from) Apparently this part of the country appealed to them and made them feel at home.

I would say it is a great place to live, as far as citizens go, but taxes and crooked politicians are driving people out of Illinois. Here’s one reason I stay; check out this gorgeous view!Another gorgeous sunset view at my favorite homestead!

My family and I have stayed so far, it’s hard to leave when you have so many ties to family and friends. I was born in Hamilton County in the sixties and lived in the suburbs of Walpole til the age of 4 til my folks divorced. Walpole had a population of about 30, so in other words we lived in the boonies.

 

Most of you have never heard of Hamilton County Illinois, but maybe some of you have heard of Jerry Sloan. He played and coached for the Chicago Bulls and coached the Utah Jazz. Yes, Jerry’s from Hamilton County, been lucky enough to meet and talk to Jerry a time or two. He’s as down home as you can get. When he was coaching or playing though, then it was game on! I’ll always remember Mr. Sloan’s mild demeanor.

Stereotyping People who Raise Hogs

One thing that I think to myself that everyone might have the most in common is stereotyping. Whether you admit it or not, it’s almost natural. North, South, East, or West, you probably have some sort of view or thought about the region of the country from what you’ve heard or experienced. Probably more from what you’ve heard than what you’ve experienced I’ll guess.

As for myself, for a long time New York, New York was pretty undesirable to me. Most of us outsiders tend to lump the whole state of New York in the mix with the city. Other than New York City and Buffalo, New York state is pretty rugged and rural with mountain ranges. Everybody in New York is not in the mafia and far from it!

Photo by Sam Trotman on Unsplash

You think also of someone from Nashville, TN being a country singer or a country boy, well that ain’t the scenario either! Just ’cause you have a drawl don’t mean you’re a country boy.

Photo by Brandon Wilson on Unsplash

As for my state of Illinois, no I’m not from Chicago, not related to Capone, but yes we do hold the record over Louisiana for sending governors to prison.

Photo by Christian DeKnock on Unsplash

My region is known for its coal mines, oil wells, and agriculture, either grain or livestock. My own personal experience with the farm is mainly the grain side of it. Baling hay, disking the ground and cultivating the crops, but here they don’t cultivate anymore, just spray.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Raising Livestock

As far as the livestock part goes, I personally haven’t participated much. I have helped castrate pigs, mainly me just catching them and handing them to the owner, we’ll call him Fidel Castrator. Then one time a full-grown bull, still don’t know why the neighbor wanted that done, but it was an experience! The most experience I’ve had with livestock so to speak is with chickens and dogs, as well as bees.

On the other hand of livestock and wild game, I’m a lot more experienced with butchering, preserving the meat, and utilization of the animal. Now that I’ve wasted a good portion of your precious time, I will tell you a true story, especially for those beginners raising pigs, that will save you time and headache going to the market.

 

Raising and Loading Pigs

A friend of mine and his mom and dad, for the last couple of years got five to six pigs to up to butcher for the year. Apparently the loading session to get those pigs in the truck turned into four hours of Hades! Pat said, “I backed up up to the pen, which is close to the road because my truck stuck out in the road halfway. My dad built this chute for the pigs to go up into my truck.”

Photo by Christina Warner on Unsplash

They had the pigs ever since they were little and figured no problem on loading them as so many other people do. The situation changed drastically I guess when the new object appeared at the end of the hog ramp. That is Pat’s truck.

Something different, something new, never makes a hog go up the chute. (Nice rhyme, eh!)

Well that’s not necessarily true. Apparently there is ONE thing that will make them go up the chute.

After about FOUR hours of trying to load these hogs into Pat’s truck, (evidently they chose to jump out over the sides of the chute rather than going into the truck) Pat said, “My ole man lost his (in other words) feces.” Pat’s mom has conceal and carry, and she was out there also helping with loading pigs, and threatened to “shoot every bleeping one of them if they didn’t get into the truck!”

After hours of verbal abuse and threatening physical abuse to the pigs that never occurred, someone said, “Go in there and check the internet!”

 

The Secret Sauce for Loading Pigs

Five minutes later, Pat’s mom stuck her head out the front door and yelled, “BREAD!”

She brought a loaf of bread down and tore it into chunks leading up the ramp. Pat said that was like pig cocaine, they all followed the bread trail right into the truck.

Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash

Past articles that I’ve read say if you’re taking hogs to the market, no matter how tame they are, you better back your trailer in and open it at least a week before to let the hogs get used to it or you’re probably gonna have trouble.

Maybe this little bit of information will make your day go better when it comes that time for loading pigs.

Photo by Laura Anderson on Unsplash

 

Maybe if you don’t take this advice you’ll go viral on YouTube for going insane loading hogs. I guess sometimes loading pigs would make the Pope cuss.

Take care and good luck!

 Top Mistake Raising Pigs

Not knowing how to get your pigs loaded with no fuss!

Written by Brian

 

Top 5 Mistakes Raising Chickens

Top 5 Mistakes Raising Chickens

5 Mistakes Raising Chickens

This is a list of 5 things NOT to do when raising chickens.We first started raising chickens when we lived in town. Disclaimer: It’s a very small town so it was ok…lots of people have chickens. Here are some things we learned along the way and the top mistakes made so you can avoid them!

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

1. Don’t build a ladder for the chickens to get out of the pen!

We actually made this mistake when we first got chickens. I came home from work one day and there were 16 chickens at my house! My husband is really great at building things and he built a really nice coop with a run on the outside of it. The fencing needed bracing so he put a two-by-four diagonally from the bottom of one end to the top of the other. Well, you guessed it! Those chickens climbed right up that board and got out. He fixed it by putting chicken wire over the end of the run. Worked like a charm!

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

2. Getting too many chickens to start with.

Well, you saw above that we started with 16 chickens. We knew that we needed a few chickens anyway to have eggs, but for our family of four, 16 was too many. We had more eggs than we could eat and we eat a LOT of eggs. Half that many chickens would have been enough for our family and a lot less work.

Photo by Court on Unsplash

3. Not having a plan for excess eggs.

Like I said earlier, while we had talked a little bit about getting chickens, I came home from work one day and there they were! Therefore, we had plenty of chickens and plenty of eggs. I will say there is nothing like fresh eggs. Store bought doesn’t even compare. So since we had all these excess eggs, my husband decided my boys who were about ten and eleven at that time could go into the egg business. They had a few people buy from them, but they were not as enthused about this business as my husband was. Guess what? My husband got tired of being the only one selling eggs, so we had way too many eggs so we blessed our family with the eggs. They were pretty happy about that.

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

4. Underestimating the cost of raising chickens.

Feed is fairly inexpensive, but our chickens go through a lot of feed. Also, we feed our chickens  (affiliate link) oyster shells in the winter to keep them laying. That stuff is not very cheap but it sure worked. I’m sure if we fed them all organic feed and such it would really increase the cost. No wonder organic eggs are so expensive.

Photo by Dušan Smetana on Unsplash

5. Thinking you need a rooster in your flock.

Now, this may sound silly to people used to chickens, but when we first got chickens this was a question a lot of people asked us. How do you get eggs if you don’t have a rooster? Well, we wouldn’t get fertilized eggs capable of having chicks, but it’s just like human females that produce an egg every month only they produce a lot more often. The breed of chickens we have are kind of like a mule, they couldn’t have fertilized eggs even if we had a rooster. They are a great docile chicken and perfect for beginners.
Boy holding chicken

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Getting Chickens

  • Know your limitations and only get what you can manage. Don’t make the same mistakes we did! I probably should add one more mistake a beginner might make. Falling in love with the cute fluffy chicks they have at Easter and purchasing a lot! Those babies require a LOT of care and attention to survive. Also, they need special equipment so be prepared. A beginner should start with layers only and then expand as you’re able.
  • Got any other mistakes? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

 

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