Chicken chow is cheap. They fertilize my grass and they eat every last bug they can find (There's no better scorpion predator). I love callin', "Here chick chick chick," in my backyard and seeing them come running. I love the fresh eggs they lay for me each day and I love how their care teaches my children responsibility and respect.
*our chicks at 1 week old
*Yes, even our hamster got in on the photo action this day.
In my opinion, pet chickens make great pets.
*Our chicks at 3 weeks old.
Since I did quite a bit of research on how to raise my hens in a blazing hot sub-urban Phoenix neighborhood, I thought I'd pass along what I've learned so others can partake in the reward of raising backyard chickens.
I have two hens. They each lay one egg a day, so I get 14 eggs a week from these girls! Both of my hens started laying eggs around 20 weeks of age. The eggs were small at first, but after a few short weeks the eggs became big and beautiful. My hens lay in the morning. You could probably set your watch to the time they lay their eggs.
1 Barred Rock Hen- Said to be the most heat tolerant bird. This type of chicken is an excellent choice for the hot climate of the southwest.
Rissy: Short for Rhode Island Steve, named by my 5yr old son ;-)
1 Rhodes Island Red Hen - Also very weather tolerant and another great choice for any extreme climate.
We raised the chicks as hatchlings bought from the feed store. I kept them in the laundry room, in a cardboard box (my make-shift brooding box) with a heat light until they were 3 weeks old. Here is a link with information to make your own brooding box. Then we moved them to the coop. I kept a heat light at night time in the nesting area of our coop until the temperatures were above 70s at night.
Oreoelle & Rissy at 22 weeks:
Both of my chickens lay brown eggs. They are rich and delicious and my bake goods have never tasted so fabulous. I found the cute tractor-green ceramic egg holder at Anthropologie. They had them in at least a half a dozen fun colors!
My Chicken Coop:
I purchased this coop from hayneedles.com
*Regardless of the manufactures description, it is my humble opinion that this coop is not big enough for more than two regular sized chickens. If you plan to keep your chickens locked up all of the time and not let them out during the day, then I would look into a larger style coop.
*Nothin' sexier than in investment baker building a chicken coop for his hick wife. Grin.
*The girls checking out their new home.
*This coop was easy to assemble. We had it put together and ready to roll in under 30 min!
**Important Tip** We put our chicken coop on pavers. This prevents predators from digging underneath and makes it easy to hose out each day (no mud!)
My Poultry Feeder:
This hangable feeder holds 11 pounds of laying crumble.
My Chicken Chow:
I buy Kelly's brand laying crumble in a 25lbs bag from the feed store. The feed is inexpensive and last me a couple of months.
My Poultry Water Container:
This water bowl holds one gallon of water. I have to fill it about once a week.
1. Let chickens out of coop to "free-range" in my backyard during the day.
2. Hose out coop.
3. Check food and water supple.
4. Collect eggs.
5. Lock the chickens back in their coop at sunset.
I live close enough to Camelback Mountain that it is necessary to lock my chickens up at night to protect them from predators, such as coyotes.
I'd love to invest in a bigger coop one day. So in case anyone is interested, here is my dream coop featured in Country Living Magazine:
My Sister lives on a farm in Washington state. Her husband has built what we refer to as The Chicken Cathedral, complete with skylight ceiling!
My sister raises French Maran chickens.
They lay lovely dark chocolate colored eggs.
I hope this post has inspired you to look into raising your own backyard chickens. Chickens are a rewarding pet for adults and children alike. I live smack-dab in the middle of one of the largest cities in America., but when I look out into my backyard, I feel like I'm back on the farm.
Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments. I love to talk about my chickens. Grin.
Here's a video of me calling the girls ;-)
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