Raising your own chickens can save you money and give you the opportunity to eat healthily. How to do it? How much should you invest? What benefits can you derive from it?
Build an enclosure
You must first build a pen to put your chicks in. Note that you should allow one square foot for each chicken. So, if you plan to take care of 20 chickens, count a space of 20 square feet.
To obtain a chicken with two kilos of meat, it will have to consume on average a total of four kilos of food (Editor’s note: this figure includes the diet of the chicken, from the chick stage until it is ready to eat). Be aware that there are several types of food: the starter (when they are at the chick stage) or the grower and the finisher, which are given to them as they grow.
When can we eat them?
It takes about 45 days before you can slaughter the chicken. You can get 1.7 kilograms of meat to eat with a chicken that weighs 2 kilograms during its lifetime.
Check the laws and ordinances in your area
This is not a problem for us in the middle of nowhere, but if you want to do suburban or urban chicken farming, you need to inquire with your city, state, locality and from your homeowner’s association. Some still completely ban the breeding of chickens. Check the laws before going too far down the chicken path.
Configure your brooder
Chances are, you are raising your chickens from newly hatched chicks. Incubation and hatching of the egg are more of an advanced hen keeper affair, and personally, I recommend that you wait until you have a little hen experience before trying it out.
As these freshly hatched chicks will be far from their mother hen, you need to create a hen-like environment for these chicks to grow and thrive – this is called a brooder.
Depending on the number of chicks, we use either a cardboard box or a plywood box and fill it with corn cob litter – it is usually used for horse stalls and can be found in almost any farm supply stores. It’s cheap as everything, super absorbent and easy on the chick’s lungs.
Instead of the heat lamp, we use an electric radiant heat incubator. At $80, it’s definitely more expensive than the heat lamp method, but I love that there’s no worry about fire or inconstant heat.
The brooder lamp works like a mother hen – the chicks run under the lamp when they need to warm up and come out when they don’t.