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Raising Chickens for Beginners

When we first started raising chickens we were completely overwhelmed by the amount of information available. We bought every book on raising chickens and poured over websites. There was an endless amount of information out there about raising chickens. What we needed most was a simple introductory post on raising chickens for beginners. We just needed to know the basics to get started, and with the understanding that you do too, we wrote this post!

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There's a lot of information out there about raising chickens, but that much info. can be overwhelming! We make it easy for you to pick up the basics, with raising chickens for beginners. #homesteading #homestead #backyardchickens #chickens #raisingchickens #poultry

Raising Chickens for Beginners

Where Do I Begin?

Read, read, and read some more! Doing research before buying chickens is going to be a huge help. You need to go into this venture as well informed as possible. You’re on the right track just by reading this article!

What are the Basic Supplies I Need for Raising Chickens?

Raising chickens is relatively inexpensive and you can get started with very few supplies.

These are the basic supplies you’ll need to get started raising chickens:

  • Nesting Box – Nesting boxes are mounted to the wall of the coop, it’s where your chickens will (ideally) go to lay their eggs.
  • Roost – The roost is where your chickens sleep at night. Most people mount a piece of lumber like a 2×4 or thick dowel in the coop. The chickens fly up to it and sit on it to roost at night.
  • Water fount – A water fount holds water for your birds and keeps their water clean.
  • Poultry Feeder – A poultry feederwill dispense chicken feed, keeping it up off the ground and unsoiled.

Nesting boxes are easy to build, or you can re-purpose items like buckets, planters, or baskets to turn them into nesting boxes. Roosts are also quite easy to come by, we just use a few large tree branches for our roosts! You will want to invest in a quality water fount and feeder. Cheap supplies will break soon after buying them, so it’s worthwhile to get something nice now!

Supplies You Need to Start Raising Chickens (And Some You Don’t)

If you're just getting started with chicken keeping, you may be asking yourself, "Where can I buy chickens?" Well, we have plenty of options for you!

Where Do I Get a Chicken Coop?

There are many options out there for chicken coops. If you’re handy, there are lots of free plans online for how to build a chicken coop. We’ve put our ten favorites into this post to make it easy for you to choose! If you’re not-so-handy, or you just want a few chickens, you may want to start out with a pre-fabricated chicken coop. There are chicken coop kits for sale on Amazon, or you can pick up a pre-built coop at places like Tractor Supply, Runnings, and Home Depot.

Get Started Building Your Chicken Coop

What’s the Difference Between a Coop and a Run?

A chicken coop is an enclosed house in which your chickens sleep and lay their eggs. A chicken run is an outdoor pen, usually attached to the coop, where the chickens can get fresh air and sit in the sunshine. The run is usually enclosed by chicken wire or fencing to keep the chickens in and keep predators out. The chicken coop is where the roost and nesting boxes are located. Poultry feeders and founts can be located either in the coop, the run, or in both, just make sure your chickens always have access to their food and water.

Where Can I Buy Chickens?

Finding the right place to buy chickens can be tricky. There are tons of options out there, from mail order chicks to adopting from your local shelter.

By far the easiest way to get chickens is to order them online from a place like Meyer Hatchery. You pick out your favorite breeds, add them to your cart, pay online, and your box of chicks magically shows up at your post office!

If you don’t want to order online, there are lots of other options for acquiring chicks. We have a whole post just about where and how to buy chickens, check it out!

Adding Chickens to Your Flock

What Do Chickens Eat?

When your chickens are young, between one day old and 12 weeks old, they will eat Chicken Starter Grower. As your chickens grow you can transition them to eating grower feed, then when they get close to 6 months old, start feeding them Layer Feed. That’s all you need for the base diet for your chickens. We also love to give our chickens treats including kitchen scraps, insects, and weeds from the garden.

All About Feeding Your Flock

There's a lot of information out there about raising chickens, but that much info. can be overwhelming! We make it easy for you to pick up the basics, with raising chickens for beginners.

Should I Free Range My Chickens or Keep Them Cooped Up?

The choice between free ranging or not is really up to you and your situation. The nice thing about it is, you don’t have to decide right away. If your chickens have a nice chicken run or chicken tractor that they can use, they really don’t need to free range. Free ranging offers a lot of benefits, like free access to grit and foraged food, but it’s not necessary for the health and happiness of your birds. Our friends over at A Farmish Kind of Life have us convinced that it’s okay to keep your birds inside. Learn about the Pros & Cons of Free Ranging Chickens to decide which is best for you.

We hope this article has helped to get you more comfortable with the idea of raising chickens. Raising chickens for beginners can be so overwhelming, and it truly doesn’t need to be. Keep in mind that you’ll never stop learning about raising chickens, and it’s perfectly fine to learn as you go, in fact we encourage it!

If you want to dive in further, our favorite book on raising chickens for beginners is Chickens From Scratch.  It’s a wonderful read that teaches everything you’ll need to know to get started with raising chickens without causing overwhelm.

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Joni Greer

Tuesday 7th of May 2019

I recently started raising 7 chicken hens, 2 genies and 1 rooster. Yes, they will eat almost anything....except bananas. lol I spoil my chickens and they already know the rules. When I come out the door I call "chickee, chickee...chickees" and they all come running. They know it is time to eat. I have one genie named Sammy that lets me pick him up and pet him. My rooster "named Rooster Cogburn after the John Wayne movie" is very calm, but he is the leader of the flock. I have a huge pen/condo in a fenced in back yard and I let them roam during the day. When it starts to get dark, I go out and they already know it's time to go back in the pen. The genes let me know when something is wrong by squeaking loudly......sometimes a black snake is out there in the yard. They also let me know if another animal (cat/dog) is around. I love raising my chickens. They bring me so much joy and it is easy. I also have 3 cats and 2 dogs, but they never pay any attention to my chickens. Everyone in my neighborhood loves to get free fresh eggs and hear my rooster crow. I get really big brown eggs.


Wednesday 1st of April 2020

Do you keep the rooster away from the hens? My husband didn’t want a rooster fearing he would fertilize the eggs

Solomon Otieno

Wednesday 24th of October 2018

This is what I have been looking for, to be associated with people who have a heart for chicken. My love for chicks started when I was a young boy. I was on vacation and went visiting my maternal grand father in the village some place in western Kenya. He gave me a chick to take home to rare. This chick grew and became the darling of the home, out of this one chick we raised many chicken. Eating eggs was fun and occasionally taking chicken for a meal was great deal. I have purposed to raise chicken, so far I have built a place for the few I have. I have started small and it's growing by day. Will share picture later.