My grandparents had a dairy farm in Norway, Maine. My favorite memories are going out to the barn with my Grampa to collect eggs and feed the cows. It amazed me that my Grampa could hold five eggs in one hand when I could hold only one. We’d come in from the barn, through the mudroom, and pile into the kitchen with our eggs. My Mimi would use them to make our breakfast. There was something very satisfying about getting our food right from the land we were on. Most of the food we ate came from the farm. Even now, I get that same feeling of satisfaction when I can make a meal from my backyard. If you have a garden, then you understand that feeling. I wanted to go even further than creating a vegetable garden with my kids. I wanted to raise chickens like my Mimi and Grampa!
Raising and caring for chickens is fun and fairly easy. Doing it as a family can make some special memories. Here’s how to get started raising chickens:
Step 1: Choosing a Chicken Coop
The prices for chicken coops range from $100 to over $1,000. Lower priced coops can be bought online and delivered assembled or in a box. Be careful, many chicken coops online are smaller than they look and can only hold one or two chickens. Coops are in such high demand right now, it’s hard to find one made of wood. If you have an old shed or a playhouse, you can convert it into a nice home for your chickens.
Step 2: Make sure they have an outdoor run
Chickens need to be able to get out of the wind, they need fresh air and sunlight. Having an outdoor run is important.
Step 3: Have the Ability to Fence Your Chickens in at Night
Predators are everywhere, even in busy neighborhoods. It’s important to fence in your chickens at night. I’ve lost chickens to foxes, weasels, raccoons, hawks, dogs and a Fisher cat (which is a weasel, not a cat).
Step 4: Choose Your Chickens
Buying and raising chicks is so much fun. You can buy them at Agway, Tractor Supply, or through the mail. It’s best to buy them locally because shipping really stresses chicks out and it leads to problems and some usually die. There are so many different kinds to choose from. Do some research to find the right chicken for your area and for what you want. Some types are more cold tolerant, some lay more eggs, some are noisier or more aggressive than others. My favorites are Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Black Sex links, and Wyandottes because they are quieter than some, lay lots of eggs and are winter hardy.
Step 5: Create a routine with your kids.
“Time to feed the chickens!” Creating a routine of feeding the chickens and looking for eggs is a fun routine you can start with your kids. My daughter and son love going out to the chicken coop to look for eggs.
Step 6: Get Support as You Need
Lastly, there are many Facebook groups Youtube videos, and websites for chicken owners for support and more information.