Raising Chickens: An Essential Guide

"Who should raise their own chickens? Why, you of course! Raising chickens is not hard--in fact, it is a lot of fun and very rewarding. Many people, urban and suburban, are re-discovering the joy of raising their own produce and meat/dairy products. Of course, you should check into zoning laws for your county, town or city, to make sure having your feathered friends around is legal. You must also determine if your environment is suitable to raise these harried hens and cackling cockerels (little boychickens)!

Why raise your own chickens? Ask not what you can do for your chickens, but what your chickens can do for you! First and foremost, chickens give YOU� something in return for all your efforts...wonderful, great tasting eggs.

You'll never go back to ""store"" bought eggs again once you've had your own eggs--they have TASTE! And, since you feed and care for your own chickens, you can have the peace of mind that your eggs are hormone, chemical, and bacteria free. (Have you ever noticed the warning message on your carton of store bought eggs???) In addition to having your own supply of great tasting eggs, you will benefit from having your own recycling center. Chickens

love table scraps! They eat just about any thing! From there, you will marvel at the next by-product from your brooding beauties...nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Your back-yard garden will simply love you for all the nutrients you are putting back into the soil. In addition to all of this, you will have a natural pest-control system, as chickens will hunt and peck out slugs, grasshoppers, ants, and many other unwanted bugs in the garden, or around the house! But perhaps the greatest pleasures of raising chickens is that chickens are actually very entertaining and a joy to watch!

When should you start raising chickens? Well, that is part of the reason I am writing this article. Now is the time to start thinking, planning and preparing for your new chicken ""operation."" You'll need to be ready to acquire your chickens starting anywhere from March to mid-June, depending on where you live and where you get your chickens. Most mail-order hatcheries start mailing their chicks during this time, and you can also find chicks at your local ""feed"" stores during this same time period.

Where should you buy your chickens? There are many on-line hatcheries, or mail-order hatcheries across the United States. I recommend that you find a hatchery that is closest to your home, as these chicks must travel via the postal service. If you use a mail-order hatchery, you should be aware that there is usually a minimum order of 25 chicks. If you do not want that many pullets (girl

chicks) or cockerels (see previous definition), you have a couple of options. Option one would be to split the order with a friend. Option two would be to go to a feed store and pick out the number of chicks you want. The best thing about going through a mail-order hatchery is that you are guaranteed to get the breed of chicken you want, the sex of the chicken, and you can also mix and match your order to include other ""fowl"" type birds, such as turkeys, ducks, or exotic type chickens if you so choose!

My next article will include such information as equipment and housing needs for your chickens, as well as touch on the benefits of certain breeds of chickens."

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