Raising Chickens for Dummies

Henrietta all grown up.

Okay. I admit it. I love my chickens.

Of course they were adorable as little chicks. All fluffy and sweet. I cracked up every time one would fall asleep under the heat lamp, chin on the ground, bottom in the air.

But I was NOT prepared for how fascinated I am by them as they grow up.

Each chicken has it’s own fun personality. We have the aggressive “Queen” Henrietta, the shy Yolko, the standoffish Fergie, the struttin Bad to the Bone (my boys named that one). It’s hilarious.

I have a mother’s pride in how big they’ve gotten and how beautifully their feathers have grown in. Seriously. Can you imagine how boastful I’ll be when they actually lay eggs? Should be sometime in the next month.

Bad to the Bone's feathers are so pretty.

Now that they’re older I still crack up at their sleeping habits. I have to hurry some nights to feed them before they put themselves to bed. It’s true chaos to wake hens up once they’ve turned in for the night.

I knew nothing about raising chickens, so this has all been an enormous learning experience. But, as usual, a good book at your side and a willingness to go for it pays off.  After a bit of research I chose Raising Chickens For Dummies. And a good choice it was.

At first I battled the book. I tried to just search the glossary for what I thought I needed to know. Not a great approach. I realized that there were nuggets of great information throughout the entire book. I really needed to just sit down and read it. I marked pages for future reference. I know I’ll go back to this book over and over again.

Raising Chickens for Dummies guided our decisions on everything from what kind of chicks to buy, to how many to buy, to how to take care of them, to when to move them to their coop, to what we needed in a coop, to what kind of nesting material to buy, to what to feed them, to watching for certain health issues, to chicken anatomy etc, etc, etc. And, it is well-written. Super easy to read.

Do bring a little common sense with you though. Some of the advice is truly just advice not necessarily a rule.

I’m finding that stressing about cleanliness and chickens could drive a person insane. They are filthy little ladies. Clean water is muddy within the hour. Poop will be everywhere. Dry and ventilated seems to be the key.

The coop is great. Nesting boxes are enclosed behind the doors with an open air top. Airy, dry and plenty of room. The floor has wire underneath the dirt to keep out predators.

Our coop is working out great. Plenty of space for the girls. It’s covered, so it’s dry but open air flows freely.

I’ve started adding pine shavings to the nesting boxes for them to play in. I left one box empty and that seems to be the “litter box” which actually keeps the nesting material clean and ready for eggs.

I’m feeding them daily with weeds, garden cuttings, kitchen scraps and an omega 3 layer grain with crushed oyster shell. The hens seem healthy and happy.

For seven hens I invested in a bigger water container that lasts 2 to 3 days. Definitely worth the extra money.

Looking forward to my next report which will include pictures of eggs.

Previous “chicken” posts: Needing Some Chickens and We’ve Got Chicks, Yes We Do