Choosing the Right Poultry
Poultry is the most popular type of farm animals to raise because the birds are both easy and profitable for breeding, eggs and for meat. Out of all the poultry, chickens are by far the most common poultry raised. A Fowl’s Home has information about various poultry types, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, quail and other birds.
There are no special knowledge or requirements necessary to raise poultry, but that does not mean you will not need to study up and know what it takes to raise the birds you choose. We recommend reading through our pages and purchasing a book or two to assist in gaining knowledge.
You must first decide what type or types of birds you wish to raise. Once you have decided on the types of fowl, you will need to gain the knowledge needed to raise these birds efficiently. Chickens, Ducks, Turkeys, etc… all have different needs, because the birds need different types of care, feeding and shelter. You will also have to decide what your ultimate goals are. Are you raising the birds for enjoyment, eggs, meat or a combination of all of these. Are the birds being raised to sell eggs or maybe you will sell the birds themselves. Know what you want to do before you start.
Caring for the birds is an important aspect in raising poultry. Know your local ordinances and regulations for raising and selling poultry. This is crucial in order to avoid fines and having other problems, like sour neighbors. Now you want to keep some chickens or other poultry on your small farm, homestead or in your backyard? Ask yourself some important questions.
Should I raise chickens?
What about ducks or maybe geese?
Are chickens right for me?
Can I raise chickens in an urban environment?
What are my local ordinances concerning poultry?
Chickens are a great bird for a first time poultry owner. They are easy to care for, inexpensive and very rewarding. There are a some really good questions to ask before you purchase your baby chicks. Do I have the time and devotion needed to give the birds the care they need?
Will you let your chickens roam your yard or fields, or will you keep them confined in a coop and/or run? Your space limitations may determine the answer to this question. If you live in an urban or suburban setting, you probably want to keep the birds confined with a fenced run outside their coop for fresh air and sunshine.
Chickens will eat and scratch in flowers and garden plants, so you’ll need to be careful if you let the birds free range. If you want them to eat fresh grass and have room to roam, but want to protect your crops and garden, you can build or buy a chicken tractor and use portable electric net fencing to enclose a perimeter around the tractor. Then every few days to a week, depending on how many hens you have in how much space, you move the portable fencing and chicken tractor to fresh ground.
There are many possibilities for chicken coops. They can be small and simple, made from salvaged material, massive and complex, or beautiful enough to exist in a city backyard. They can be purchased pre-made or built yourself. The important features are: adequate size, protection from predators, roosting poles, adequate ventilation, and nest boxes.
Choosing the Right Breed of Poultry
There are 100’s of varieties of chickens available today from the smallest bantams to the large Jersey Giant. When choosing a breed or breeds for your flock, consider climate, breed temperaments, egg production levels, and whether you want a dual-purpose bird that is good for eggs and meat, or if you want the chickens for eggs, then choose an egg producer.
Combining multiple breeds in one flock is fine. They’ll all get along, and whether you have one breed or seven, they will establish their pecking order. If you want to breed your flock you will want to either raise a single breed or house each breed separately.
Will You Need a Rooster?
No. Hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster. They are kept for several reasons. Roosters are needed for fertilization. If you plan to breed and raise chicks, you will need a rooster. They are also good when chickens are free ranged because roosters are the watch dogs and will alert the hens of any pending danger. The third reason is for the fun of a rooster. They are colorful and entertaining but check with local ordinances as they may be banned.
Raising Baby Chicks
Caring for baby chicks in the first few weeks is a time-intensive process. You will need to keep them under a heat lamp and monitor their temperature and make sure they have clean food and water at all times. Each week you lower the temperature of the heat lamp about 5 degrees until it matches the outside temperature. Then you can remove the heat lamp and move them outside into the main coop. Be careful if you have other chickens already in the coop as they may bully the young ones….also known as setting the pecking order.
If raising day-old chicks is not for you, you can purchase started pullets or full grown hens.