How to Raise Chickens On Your Small Farm

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Many feed stores carry baby chicks in the spring.
Many feed stores carry baby chicks in the spring. (Image: John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Chickens are low-cost farm animals that offer added benefits of fresh eggs and insect control. Ask your feed store if it carries baby chicks; many do in the spring. When selecting how many you get, remember that as babies they need a container allowing 6 square inches per chick. Once grown, they need 2 to 3 square feet inside their coop and about twice that in their outside space. Once they start laying, they can lay for about five years but live several more.

Things You'll Need

  • Baby chicks
  • Heat lamp
  • Large container
  • Two shallow dishes
  • Pine shavings
  • Chicken coop
  • Chicken fence
  • Chick starter feed
  • Chicken feed

Set up your box, crate or other container in a secure location where you can hang a heat lamp. Place pine shavings in the bottom, then add your water and feed dishes. These dishes should be shallow so the chicks don’t fall in. Add the chicks.

Prepare your chicken coop and yard. A simple shed that gives the chickens protection from predators and a place to roost, eat and drink is all you need. Spread pine shavings on the floor and add your water and feed dishes. You will need larger ones than the ones you used when they were chicks. You can buy waterers at a feed store or just use a dish. If you enclose a yard, make sure your chicken fencing is tall enough so they can’t fly out of the fence.

A good chicken coop protects chickens at night from predators.
A good chicken coop protects chickens at night from predators. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Move your chicks to the coop when they are three to five weeks old. If you currently have chickens you should separate the younger ones, as the older ones can hurt them. If the weather is extreme, keep them inside for another week or so. At about two months old, your chicks can eat chicken grower food. You can also give them vegetables, and they’ll find insects on their own.

Check for eggs when the chickens are about 20 weeks of age. Chickens commonly lay eggs at sunrise but can lay at any time. A good routine is to check in the morning, then again in the afternoon to ensure your eggs are fresh.

Check for eggs twice a day to ensure freshness.
Check for eggs twice a day to ensure freshness. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Check your local laws to see if you can have customers on your farm to purchase eggs. If not, you can sell your eggs at local farmers’ markets if you have too many to use yourself.

A farmer's market is a good venue for selling your eggs.
A farmer's market is a good venue for selling your eggs. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Tips & Warnings

  • When the chicks are maturing, clean their water dish twice a day and their food dish once a day.
  • Have a veterinarian nearby who has experience with chickens.
  • Check your local ordinances or homeowners’ regulations to verify chickens are allowed or if there is a limit on how many you can have. Small acreage in planned communities might have limits on poultry numbers, especially roosters.

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