Backyard chickens are so much fun! And, they are pretty darn easy, even easier than a dog in my opinion. But there are some helpful tips and tricks that you’ll want to know before you buy your chickens. Trust me, it will make your life easier. Check it out.
So, we’ve had backyard chickens for about five years now. These feathery friends are one of the only pets that give back (I’m talking scrambled, hard-boiled and over-easy). Here’s some tricks to make the entire process easier for everyone.
#1: Find a SMALL backyard chicken coop
Originally our chickens took up a huge corner of our backyard, then we wised up. Chickens don’t need a ton of space. Here’s a post on how to build a chicken coop for less than $15. Or you can buy one here.
#2: Clip your chickens’ wings
Chickens can fly, not very far, but far enough to escape out of the coop. That’s why you need to clip their wings. It’s super easy. Check out the video below for details.
#3: Chickens lay eggs everywhere
When our chickens are confined to their coop, they will always lay their eggs in the coop. However, when we leave their coop open and allow them to wander around the backyard, sometimes they find creative places to lay their eggs. So, if there aren’t any eggs in the coop, start searching.
#4: Chickens will eat ALL of your garden
We like our chickens to be free range as much as possible, but they will absolutely ruin your garden. Even when you only have seeds in the ground, they will find them and eat ALL of them. So, keep your chickens in the coop while your garden is growing.
#5: It is possible to catch a chicken
Those little ladies are fast! But, sometimes you need to catch them and put them in the coop. So, here’s some ways to catch a chicken:
- Herd them towards the coop with a long stick
- Wait until dusk when they start roosting
- Pull out some chicken feed. They will follow you.
- As a last resort, recruit your kids (they run faster)
#6: Don’t stress if they wander away
Chickens always come back to their coop at night (or close to it). Sometimes our kids will leave the back gate open and the chickens get out. If that happens, we leave the fence gate open and when it starts the get dark, they come right back to their coop. You can also try looking around your house at night. Most likely are roosting in a nearby bush or tree. They don’t run away when they are roosting so you can just grab them off the tree. Easy!
#7: Buy feed with high protein
It is possible to let your chickens feed themselves off the bugs in your backyard, but if you want a lot of eggs, you have to give them good feed. I like to buy chicken feed that is in pellet form and has 20% protein. If the chickens knock over the feeder, they can still eat the pellets off the ground. The mash just spreads everywhere and is wasted. Don’t forget the pine shavings in the coop too (so you don’t get poop all over your fresh eggs).
#8: Fresh eggs can be stored on the counter
Freshly-laid chicken eggs have a film on them called bloom. Bloom is a natural protective layer that coats eggs. It seals the pores to reduce moisture loss and prevents the development of bacteria. This keeps eggs laid by healthy chickens fairly safe from disease and remains intact until the egg is washed. So, don’t stress if it has been a few days since you checked for eggs. In fact, you can even keeps them on your counter as long as you don’t wash them.
#9: Do the “fresh egg check” if you’re worried
There is a simple test for determining whether an egg is still fresh enough to eat. Drop an egg in a bowl of cold water. Fresh eggs will sink, “bad” eggs will float.
#10: Watch where you’re pointing those butts
Chickens poop all the time. So if you like to hold your chickens, make sure their butts are faced away from you. They have impeccable aim.
Hopefully these tips will help you as you start your backyard chicken adventure. You’re going to love it. Here’s some other great info about backyard chickens.
- Eggtastic Backyard Chickens for Beginners
- How to make money with chickens
- Five chicken coop mistakes that will cost you
- Backyard Chickens: A practical handbook to raising chickens
- DIY Chicken Coops
Related link: Pruning backyard raspberries in 1, 2, 3!