Raising Chickens in You Backyard: A Beginner's Guide
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Chickens are one of the easiest animals to raise, even if you have limited space. Whether you’re living on a city lot or a large farm, chickens can be a great addition to your homestead. Learning how to start is easy and doesn’t require much investment. Let’s look at the basics of raising chickens in your backyard.
Coop Requirements: Chickens need some type of draft free shelter, often called a coop. If you’re just getting started, this could be as simple as an old lean-too shed or barn. You can also build something more elaborate like a chicken palace! No matter what design you choose, make sure it has enough ventilation and enough room for your flock to move around comfortably without overcrowding. If they are completely confined you need 4 square feet of coop space per bird. If you are free ranging, you can shrink this a little, but not a lot. 
The coop should also include roosts, this could be as simple as attaching 2x4 boards across the corner of the coop, or using an old ladder found in an old barn. Make sure you have 10 inches of roost space per bird. Nesting boxes are also needed for chickens. Again, this can be as simple as, an old tire or barrel hung up or on the ground. If you want to build one, a 12x12x12 inch box is preferred. You will need 1 box for every 4 laying hens. 
Feed & Water Requirements: Another important component when raising chickens is providing them with fresh water and feed. For water, they need either a tray of water or traditional chicken waterers that are available online or through local feed stores. When it comes to food, chickens are quite forgiving so you can keep it simple with store bought feed or mix together your own ingredients from scratch depending on your flock’s needs! I use a mix of corn, distillers, sunflowers, and oats. They also love kitchen scraps of all kinds so supplementing their diet with leftovers from meals is always appreciated! I’ll give more on feed in a later blog.
The final thing to consider when caring for chickens is predator control. To keep predators away from your chickens, build secure fencing around their coop and run area — this will help keep them safe from potential predators such as raccoons or coyotes that may lurk nearby. If you are wanting to free range, you can, but chickens are easy targets for predators. Having a goose or a good rooster to run with your will help alarm the rest of the flock when danger is near in the sky. If you are on a large space, having a livestock guardian dog deters the larger predators like foxes and coyotes. 
Raising chickens in your backyard is an easy way to provide fresh eggs for yourself while also having fun taking care of them. All they need is a comfortable home (coop), roosts, nesting boxes, food and water – all items which you can easily find around your house or purchase inexpensively at any farm store. So why not give it a try? With just the basics listed above, you'll be on your way towards becoming a happy homesteader!
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