People raise chickens for various reasons. Some raise chickens for their meat, some for their eggs, and yet others for pest or weed control. Irrespective of the reasons, chickens are birds that are popularly raised across the globe.
The best part about raising chickens is that you don't need a lot of land to raise them as compared to other livestock. Moreover, since their turnaround is quick (10-12 weeks), you can get quick return for your money as well. In terms of time, they only call for 20 minutes of your day for feeding and watering, and another 20 minutes a week for moving the coops and fencing.
However, before rushing into raising these birds, it is better to equip yourself with the necessary information.
Check Out the Law
Before raising chickens for profit, you have to check the local law prevalent in your area regarding livestock breeding at home. To avoid legal prosecutions in the future, it is best to check and make the business legal.
While buying chickens, one has two options: buying full-grown birds or buying chicks. The full-grown ones are easy to raise, however, before purchasing them you need to check their vaccination records to make sure the hens are free from diseases. You should also find out about their egg-laying capacity if they are bought for meat and eggs. As far as buying chicks are concerned, they are more economical and safe. However, you have to provide extreme care for the first eight weeks of their life. Make sure these chicks have hatched from the eggs laid by a clean stock (with no diseases).
Selecting the Right Breed
When your motive is meat production, consider stock that can make optimum use of its feed. If you are raising them for their meat as broilers, then you need a breed that grows rapidly, so that it becomes economical. The Cornish cross of White Plymouth Rock and White Cornish are the best as they gain 4-5 pounds, in just 6 weeks. However, if you are raising chickens for meat and eggs, then, you can consider the Sussex and Plymouth Rocks, as they lay a reasonably large number of eggs and are also large enough for meat production. But, these are good eaters as compared to the layers, so are slightly more expensive to maintain.
You need to have a good chicken coop ready before bringing the chickens home. The coop should be large enough to accommodate the birds and you should also be able to expand it in the future. So, think well before finalizing the construction plan. You also need to remember that chickens need adequate space to exercise, nest, and roost. The chicken coop should provide optimum conditions for growth and production of eggs. It should protect the chickens from wind, rain, and other extreme environmental conditions. Install a fence to protect the birds.
Temperature, Environment, and Cleanliness
For the full-grown bird, it can be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are getting new chicks, then, the temperature in the coop should be 90 degree Fahrenheit. This temperature should be reduced by 5 degrees every week until they become 5 years old. To enhance fresh air circulation, use a circulating ceiling fan. Clean the coop regularly so that the chickens do not catch any diseases due to poor hygiene.
Food and Vaccinations
Food and water should be placed throughout the coop in feeders and troughs. Birds feed on fresh grass cuttings, grains, leafy vegetables, fresh table scrap, etc. You can build troughs to avoid feed wastage and automatic fountains to provide freshwater at all times. Lack of immunity can be induced by poor nutrition, overcrowding, and dirty environmental conditions. Good nutrition and vaccination can counter this problem. Maintaining hygiene in the coop will keep diseases away.
Keep these pointers in mind when you decide to raise chickens. Raising chickens is not difficult, however, taking good care of your birds and maintaining good hygiene around them will contribute to healthy birds, tasty meat, and a fatter wallet!