Hi I'm Tricia an organic gardener in addition to harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables I enjoy fresh eggs.
Today we're gonna talk about the essentials of raising chickens i have a permanent side shed with a wood floor and a chain link pen. If your not ready for this kind of commitment I'll show you some other options, a pre-built coop like this is a great way to keep them safe from predators if you're going to build your own be sure to cover any window with hardware cloth and secure it with strong staples racoons can reach through aviary wire and they can open a hook and eye latch so be sure all the doors are predator proof. Now that your chickens are safe let's talk about their other needs; you'll need one box for every five hens this needs to be a quiet semi private comfortable place for her to lay her eggs, you need a bar for your hens to roost on about one-and-a-half inches in diameter with rounded edges are perfect for adult hens and you want about ten linear inches per hen keep in mind that your largest piles of manure are going to be right under the roosting bar and make sure you derive a way to clean up that chicken coop like with this removable tray that sits over the mesh floor while the manure is a great nitrogen additive for the compost pile we want eggs.
The food that you feed your hens plays an important role in egg production a pre formulated pelleted organic layer feed will contain a well-balanced mix of everything they need including protein, calcium, fiber, fat and vitamins. Eggshells are made mostly of calcium so the hens need a lot of calcium in their diet in addition to their regular food you can supplement with oyster shell that's ground up that's packed full of calcium. Chickens are omnivores and will eat just about anything except for citrus and don't feed them onions or garlic that will affect the flavor of the eggs they love the corn in this chicken scratch. I'm going to plant some of this omega three three chicken forage blend chickens that eat the plants from this blend will have more omega three fatty acids in their eggs and that's healthy for you if your chickens are in pens you can grow this mix right in the tray and set the tray in their pen. Having water that's not too hot in the summer and not frozen in the winter is essential for chickens you can fill and clean your waterer on a regular basis or you can get an automatic waterer like this one. Position the feeder to be level with the chickens back that way it's easy for them to eat and it keeps dirt from getting in the feeder a loose cover like this will prevent birds from trying to roost atop the feeder and possibly soiling their food.
Hens need fourteen hours of daylight to produce eggs in the shorter days of winter you can supplement daylight with a forty to sixty what bulb and use a timer so that you can turn it on a couple hours before dawn. Hens will start laying eggs in about eighteen to twenty weeks old and they'll lay approximately one egg a day and they'll keep laying until there about four years old. Now all you need are some chickens they are very social creatures so get a minimum of two and remember you do not need a rooster to get eggs you'll get the quickest payoff in terms of egg production if you start out buying a little pullet that's a four month old chicken just about ready to start laying like this little girl. The cutest way is to start from little chicks but that does require specialized chicks equipment and a lot more time if you are planning on raising less than six backyard chickens i think you'll find it more economical to buy pullets instead of chicks and their specialized equipment. There are many great book's on gardening with chickens, raising chickens in an urban space and living with chickens. Your backyard chicken eggs should last about three months if they're in a carton refrigerated so get your omega three fatty acids from your own chicken eggs and grow organic for life!