Often I receive questions and emails about getting started with chickens. I get so excited for new chicken keepers and love welcoming them to this community. Some people that I hear from, start their chicken keeping adventure with day old chicks. Others want to skip the baby stages and welcome pullets or hens that are already laying eggs into their lives. Keeping chickens is not difficult, it does not require a lot of space or time. With a little bit of research, it is easy to get started sooner than you think! In fact, it’s possible to even do in a weekend.
Step 1 Research Keeping Backyard Chickens
Before you begin, it’s best to research the basics of chicken keeping. There are many wonderful resources available to help get you off on the right foot. Try starting with online research and a visit to your local library or bookstore. Chickens do not require a great deal of space, so even with the smallest of backyards you can still welcome a few birds into your life. Be sure to check into local laws too. Sadly, some places prohibit or limit chicken keeping.
Step 2 Find Your Flock, Are Pullets Right for Me?
Some people prefer to start off with day old chicks. But for those not wanting to care for baby chicks, pullets are a great option. Pullets are hens under one year of age that have just begun to lay eggs. For a family of four, four pullets are perfect. To find pullets, I would suggest reaching out to reputable local farmers, breeders, as well as online hatcheries.
Step 2 Purchase and Set-Up a Coop
Pullets are easy because they don’t require the pampering that younger chicks require. Rather, they can be introduced to their new home as soon as they arrive. To simplify, consider purchasing a pre-fabricated coop.
Select a coop that houses the number of birds that you are interested in keeping. A small chicken tractor, like the one below can be moved around the yard. When selecting a coop consider predator proofing, durability, ease of access, required coop up-keep and what will work best in your climate and weather.
Also, consider ease of coop cleaning and coop access when making your decisions. For example, this sweet coop called an Eglu Cube is plastic. This makes it easy to hose off and it even has a drawer to collect droppings that slides our for easy cleaning and washing.
Step 3 Make a Home Sweet Home
Once you have the coop assembled, add the final touches. Spread some kiln dried pine shavings in the nesting area/boxes and coop floor. Then, provide your pullets with egg layer feed, fresh clean water, poultry grit and crushed oyster shells.
Step 4 Add Chickens!
Introduce the pullets to their new home. Sit back and relax. Chicken watching is very fun! We like to call it chicken t.v. around here. Enjoy as the chickens explore their new home, locate their food and acclimate to the coop. Before you know it, you’ll find fresh eggs in the nesting boxes.