When we first moved the our property it had one chicken. I myself had seen chickens before but never held one or eaten a farm fresh egg. But I will say having the one intrigued me. The area that had been set up for her was okay to say the least. The run was large the coop was put together well, I mean for me not knowing anything I thought it was extremely interesting. It was set up with eight nesting boxes, a ladder for a roost, broken water heater needless to say I had my work cut out for me. I couldn't help myself though I went online and found about 15 more hens that needed a home then came the rooster. Did I mention raising chickens can become addicting? I loved my new birds extended what they had from the existing coop and built them a real roost. Took the old cookie cutter nesting boxes and framed them out. They had so much room and I had very happy hens.
The biggest things with getting any animal that you haven't had before is the research. I did soooo much research about chickens and there health. I was almost a chicken textbook by the time I was done. I went from learning to care for hens, cleaning, health,to incubating, hatching, raising, sexing, more learning. I am now hatching well over 100 since last spring. I plan to go over everything I have learned with my perspective and what I experienced. There is so much information out there and so many different ways people want to do things I still change things from time to time just to see if something works better.
My hens I allow to free range. I have the room so for me it is not a problem. I like the fact they have access to insects and I feel having them roam cam be good for my property. If you have them in a smaller area they can tear threw the ground very quickly. My run for instance does not have any grass, the run is the first thing the girls pick threw, but with having so much room my yard has not had any major damage. I have there roost room set up as well as the transition cage we built. I like to allow new birds a place to stay safe but still can see all of the other birds. Since I free range it also helps with training them that this coop is there home so when I do let them out they come back. My nesting boxes are set up with plastic tubs with a bar in front for support and use hay for the nest bedding. For me this has worked great and I have had very clean eggs. I was using pine shaving before for the floor but I have to say when it is time to clean my large coop it was a big job. So I recently changed to sand. I find it works so much better and it can be easier to clean. The best way to keep a healthy flock is to keep a clean area for them. In my opinion free ranging helps, they are not cooped up all day to make such a mess in the hen house. If you do have a smaller flock I would recommend a movable tractor coop just to help give them a clean area every few days when you move it.
Chickens can be such a rewarding addition to your family. Not only for the adults but for the kids as well. Letting the kids learn the simple ways life used to be, where our food actually comes from. The way things are now the thought of where is lost. Honestly anything you buy in the store do you really know what's in it? Do you know what the animal ate? Raising your own you do. I know that when I set my kids down for a meal what they are eating and for a mother it's very comforting. So do some reasearch or read my blogs and I can go over some simple steps to owning your own flock!