Raising Chickens?!?- REPOST

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Raising your own chickens? Are you serious? Who would do that? We did! And we loved it!! About 3 years ago I worked for a family who lived on about 5 acres of land with a horse, a few chickens, cats, etc. After a while I kind of liked the idea of all those funny little chickens running around, and my husband & I decided- let’s try it! So we talked about it- and decided to buy some baby chicks!!

First, we went online- YES- we bought our chickens on the internet!! I couldn’t believe that you could buy live poultry online! Why not- you can buy everything else on the internet? It was SO awesome- we bought 12 hens from Mt. Healthy (another great place to buy your birds is  McMurray Hatchery.). We chose a mixed variety of female chickens since they were the cheapest. We spent about $30 for our 12 “ladies” AKA pullets, and they were shipped directly to our local post office. Sure enough, a few days later at 7 AM….the phone rings and wakes us up. We hear a very confused man from the post office (being drowned out by the sound of very loud chirping!) letting us know we had a delivery- and he was pretty sure they were baby chicks. 🙂

So we all rushed to get dressed- and run down to the post office to pick up our day old chickens!! I think everyone at the post office got a chuckle out of it! We were SO excited!! We ran right home and spent the rest of the morning setting things up. The first few weeks, before their wings are too long, you can just put the chickens in a large plastic tote, with a little hamster litter on the bottom, some fresh food & water, and a nice heat lamp on them to keep them warm. You don’t even need a lid yet! Once they got big enough, my husband actually built a beautiful coop outside for our ‘ladies’ to live in! We used to spend so much time outside just watching them, petting them, and throwing them treats to eat! (ah the life before kids!)

What did we feed them? Well, a bag of chicken feed (crushed pellets) cost about $12, and we also bought them a large bag of treats (called scratch- basically just corn kernels) which ran about $8. And of course everything we had as food scraps in the house got thrown out to the girls. Yes, we even fed them cooked chicken & eggs! 🙂 Once the hens hit about 6 months old they started laying eggs. Our very own FRESH ORGANIC chicken eggs! YUM! They were fabulous! I picked up some free chickens that were posted on craigslist, so we were running about 24 hens…..which means 24 eggs- EVERY DAY! What in the world was I supposed to do with all these eggs?? So we decided to start advertising on craigslist for our organic chicken eggs! We sold them for $2 a dozen…..brown eggs, pinkish eggs, spotted eggs, blue-green eggs! The different colored eggs represented the different breeds of chickens- but they all tasted the same. We were selling eggs so quickly that we had more than enough money to cover all of our chicken feed expenses-plus some!

Believe it or not- chickens do not smell much at all. We don’t live on a farm, but we are just outside of city limits- so there is no restrictions on what kinds of animals we have at our house. And hens do not crow loud like roosters, so none of our neighbors knew about our 24 little treasures in the backyard! (well, except for the neighbors we sold eggs to!!)

It was a great lessons for our oldest son- he was probably one of the few 1 year olds that could run around and catch chickens like a pro! We taught him how to feed & water the chickens, as well as collect their eggs. We used to spend hours outside sitting in the yard hand feeding the girls blades of grass! Sweet memories!

Unfortunately after about 2 years our new baby was very very sick and we had to sell all our ladies- and yes, I cried! We really miss them, and have just recently bought 2 more hens to free-range, but are dreaming of the day when we can afford to have another 20 or 30 birds in the back!

Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About Chickens & their Eggs

  • The color of the egg determines the breed of chicken.
  • Different colored eggs taste the same.
  • Some rare chicken breeds have eggs that sell for over $12 a dozen!
  • Chickens live about 3 years.
  • The chicken eggs you get in the grocery store are about 2-3 months old when you get them!
  • Fresh chicken eggs can stay OUT of the refridgerator about 14 days before starting to turn bad.
  • A hen DOES lay eggs EVERY day- even without a rooster! (they only fertilize with a rooster however)
  • Buying baby chicks cost about $2 each, whereas an adult chicken can sell online for $75 (off craigslist about $20!- we sold 12 of our ladies for $250!!!)
  • Chickens are the EASIEST animal we’ve ever owned! Put a bucket of food out once a week, make sure they have water- and that’s it- REALLY! 
  • If you walk too close to a chicken and they are scared- they do a “Chicken Squat”! 
  • I had several chickens die……of chicken pox! (not like our chicken pox, but a poultry variety!)
  • Chickens take baths in the dirt to keep bugs off of them.

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  1. Great post! We would love to do this, but right now we live where any type of farm animal is restricted. 🙁 Maybe someday…

  2. Tractor Mom says:

    I know the feeling… We have about 5 hens and 4 roosters. We had more but we have had problems with stray dogs getting our chickens! I totally agree with everything you say… We are looking at getting 100 hens in another month so that we can sell eggs…we know, we crazy!!

    One thing I will warn you about…don't call your eggs organic, eventhough they might be! You must be certified organic before you can do this. I had an extension agent tell me we could be fined big time if we did this. His suggestion, call them farm fresh or grass-fed. You cannot use free-range since you must be certified for that also.

    I really hope you get to get more hens soon!!

  3. So what happens in the winter? Do you still keep them outside? Do they get too cold?

  4. The Teacher's Wife says:

    @Debi- our area doesn't consider chickens farm animals….they consider them "native birds". pretty funny huh? 🙂

    @Tractor Mom- WOW didn't know that! We used to sell them as "organic"! good thing to know for next time around- I will certainly change the wording around!

    @Annie-well we live in FL, so unless it gets in the 20's we left them outside. Because the sides of their chicken coop was tarped and we had hay in there you wouldnt believe how warm it actually was! And when you have 20-30 chickens huddling together in warm hay it really isn't that cold for them. Now that we have only 2 we put them in the garage overnight if it gets below freezing. But I've heard of a lot of farmers keeping theirs out in the snow w/no problems….if your temperature is terribly cold they do make outdoors heat lamps-but we have never needed anything like that.

  5. Heather (The Menu Mama) says:

    Wow, this is such an interesting post! I would love to have some chickens, someday when we have a little land. Although I would be afraid my dog would chase them.

  6. Teacher Stuff says:

    I love my chickens. In the winter, we don't get any eggs from the since it's too dark for too long. But come spring, it's nice to have the eggs for baking and eating. My husband just bought 4 baby chicks last week so they will be ready to lay in summer. Unfortunately, they are living on my kitchen table for now til it gets warmer for good (even though we have been in the 80's for the last few days). Ours aren't free range since we have dogs and hawks that like to pick on them!

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