March 16, 2021

Are you looking for a quick Dummies Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens?

My husband actually relented this past fall after years of pestering me to get backyard chickens, and here is the dummies' guide to raising backyard chickens.

Here is a guide to raising backyard chickens at home.

I made all the usual arguments: the kids will love them, we'll have fresh eggs every day, I'll scrub the yard and coop, no, it won't stink, believe me — and so on.

I'd give her pictures of cute chicken coops in the hopes that she'd want one someday and would magically say "yes" to my order. 

Unfortunately, this went on for almost five years, with the same arguments. We don't have enough room in the yard.

They can, in reality, stink. Who would be responsible for cleaning up after them? You're so preoccupied. 

Yet I didn't want to lose this fight of attrition.

My tactic was to reassure the kids that it would be helpful to us and that they would be able to select the ladies.

Last October, I was able to get the family down to Portage Bay Grange, which is home to all things backyard chicken and more in Seattle's University District.

I realized I'd won when I showed my family the newly hatched chicks. Who would resist a cute little chick, after all?

But we took three of them along, along with all of the necessary equipment, and set up shop in the basement.

We handled them as if they were young dragons from Game of Thrones after naming them.

Get Plans for a Coop and Build It – Or Just Buy One

I should have learned better than to try to build a chicken coop without a blueprint.

I had visions of building a cheap coop out of scrap wood and old wine cases that could be moved around the yard as needed.

I constructed a battleship for $500 and about 60 hours of work.

Yeah, it's sexy, but it's also overbuilt and ineffective.

The wheels are lying on my porch, unable to accommodate the huge quantities of timber and nails that went into this bad boy.

Find Out Who The Nearest Chicken Specialist Is for Guide Raising Backyard Chickens

My backyard chicken endeavors have been spared due to the aforementioned friend, the owner, and his crew have all been supportive and have a lot of experience.

Find a nearby poultry purveyor and be through with it until you spend endless hours searching fowl message boards diagnosing chicken issues.

In the very least, one of your chickens would perish.

This tragic incident has occurred not once, but three times.

It occurred in December, when the chicks were between the ages of eight and ten weeks. 

When her parents were away in Korea, our family was responsible for dog, a horrible little puppy.

It was a Jindo, which is known for hunting and killing small game, fleeing, and simply being cruel.

Unfortunately, we were exposed to all of these qualities during her visit.

One fine day, I stepped away from the place where the chicks were held, and the little bugger crawled in and killed three of them in a matter of minutes, happily laying one at my three-year-old son's feet.

She also chose to flee and run away five times in a three-week span. 

Every time, we searched for her out of regret rather than want because we didn't want her to disappear while we were watching.

There's a chance you'll have a Rooster in the bunch.

When we first got our flock, we realized that sexing chickens was just a 90% possibility.

We were also overconfident (and hopeful) that we will not have a rooster in our flock, since it is both illegal and uncomfortable to have them inside Los Angeles's city limits.

I've been awakened by the neighbor's rooster at ridiculously early hours on many vacations around the world.

They are my foe.

Before my wife learned that Scarlett, our Rhode Island Red, was a rooster, we had been calmly growing our flock for weeks.

I laughed at the idea until a few days later, when I heard the first stirrings of a cock-a-doodle-doo around 5:30 a.m.

He mastered this party trick over the next few days and was appropriately renamed dude. 

Over the next few days, he mastered this party trick and we appropriately renamed him "dude." I suggested devouring him, but my wife and kids overruled, and the farmer most likely devoured him back at the farm.

Your chickens are not laying eggs as you want them to.

This is everything I looked at. I also made a spreadsheet with the chicken breeds that should be laid between 17 and 26 weeks highlighted.

Those are the breeds I purchased. I'll be damned if three of our six backyard chickens don't start laying after 26 weeks. 

One has yet to lay a single egg despite being 34.29 weeks old at the time of this writing.

I've begun to sow the seeds of her being supper, but the family has once again turned me down.

Maybe if I take them all on a vacation and just get her to myself?

She's a Cuckoo Maran, and I think a French chicken will make a fantastic coq au vin.

Still I'm getting ahead of myself. When backyard chickens plan to lay eggs, there seems to be no rhyme or explanation.

They might lay every day for a month, then take a few days off before laying every other day.

Make sure they're eating a balanced, whole-grain meal of at least 17% protein, and leave the light on until you go to bed.

Hopefully, it will suffice.

You'll look at what's wrong with your chickens as if they were your own children.

Have you ever had a nagging series of symptoms where you couldn't figure out what was wrong with your child?

You have ever spent hours trying to find out what's wrong with them on the internet and looking for a Guide Raising Backyard Chickens?

Preparing to do the same for your chickens is a smart idea.

There must be as many "chicken pages" as there are "parenting advice boards," I promise.

The Chicken Chick, Backyard Poultry Magazine, Backyard, Oh Lardy's Backyard Chicken Collection, and Pam's Backyard Chickens are just a couple of the places you'll see.

The trouble is that your chickens can't speak, and any illness poses a serious risk of death and/or plague for your entire flock.

You'll waste hours researching, asking for, and seeking random suggestions about what to do with your chickens from strangers. It's a shambles.

If a chicken looks ill or feeble and you can't find out what's wrong, I'd recommend cutting your losses and getting the axe out.

With this simple cure-all solution, you might just save the rest of your flock.

Chickens Can Be Smelly and Dirty

No I don't mean your feet after a day of dirty socks and worn-out shoes. I say, they have a distinct odor.

They pee all over the place, and it piles up like crazy.

Yeah, you should apply more straw and also diatomaceous earth (D.E.) to help with the stink, but those are just band-aid remedies.

Then there are the flies that turn up at the party.

My backyard now consists of two fly traps (that smell like dead fish), 100 square feet of three- to four-inch-deep straw, and D.E. twice a week.

This is helpful, but the only real alternative is to clean and replace your straw on a weekly basis.

Purchasing high-priced items such as Dookashi, which may or may not aid in the resolution of the issue.

Don't even get me started on the joys of chicken coop sweeping...

Guide Raising Backyard Chickens: You Should Feed Chickens

This, in my opinion, is the most compelling excuse to get backyard chickens.

The eggs are delectable.

The yolks are a vivid yellow color and hold up well. It's a wonderful feeling to get a bowl of fresh eggs on the counter to choose from.

The colors of the shells are lovely, and picking them up warm from the brooder is the best sign of freshness one might hope for.

New eggs are a sublime culinary experience. You should have your own chickens just for this occasion.

It's a Zen Experience to Watch Backyard Chicken Television.

I never thought I'd admit it, but I enjoy seeing my chickens interact.

They're amusing, and they all have distinct "personalities."

They chase each other, throw each other back, ride a hundred feet in the air before landing, roll in the mud, poke and peck each other, and so on.

For some reason, sitting on the porch and staring at them makes me smile. 

I'm not sure whether it reminds me of happier days or encourages me to fantasize about life on a farm. In any case, I like it.

I've joked about it before, but now I'll be serious.

Hens lay for about two years until their productivity drops and they become freeloaders.

When the cost of feed exceeds the savings of chickens, you'll need to do a quick cost-benefit comparison in your head.

Animals that are no longer usable are disposed of on a true estate (eaten). 

Since you're a gentleman farmer, you can make a much more subjective judgment based on factors like your affection for your birds and their importance to you as pets.

Nonetheless, they're tasty little morsels, and stewed chicken and dumplings is delicious.


We now have a half-dozen chickens who live in our backyard and happily cluck away all day, creating a number of beautiful colorful eggs that are delicious.

We had to replace the three chickens killed by the wicked dog and the rooster we returned to the farm in order to get to the six remaining chickens. 

Oh, and there was another little girl who died due to an unidentified illness.

Guide Raising Backyard Chickens

So far, we've acquired 11 chickens of varying ages, breeds, weights, and colors to arrive at our present half-dozen.

Guide Raising Backyard Chickens is easy.

About the author 

Happy Quails

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