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So, you decided to grow your own chickens. After reading this article, you can learn this process from scratch.
There are many advantages to breeding their chickens. Homemade eggs are a real temptation. They are fresh and tastier than those sold in stores, and are also ideal for baking. The shell can be thrown directly into the compost pile. Most of the day the birds are left to themselves. They walk around the yard, pecking bugs and worms, and then we collect these wonderful eggs.
However, remember: nothing good is given easily.
Preparation for own production
Before buying the first pets, you need to carefully think through and prepare:
- To begin with, you need a chicken coop. It should install a feeder, a drinking bowl and a nest box for every three birds. Its size should allow you to stand inside freely, collect eggs and shovel the droppings.
- Chickens need food and water every day. Food costs about $ 20 for a 50-pound bag from my sellers. But how much it is enough, directly depends on the number of your birds.
- In spring, summer and early autumn, chicken is held in the air for 12-14 hours. You can collect eggs one, and sometimes two times a day.
- Be prepared for the fact that it is necessary to remove manure all year round.
- If you plan to leave for a long time, then you need to hire a reliable nurse for a period of absence. By the way, it is often easier to find a chicken's teeth than such a person.
How to start breeding chickens
These are very communicative birds, so the number in 4-6 individuals will be optimal. Make sure that the space that comes with each one is at least 2 square meters. feet. The more space, the happier and healthier the chicken will be. If this is neglected, the birds will more often ache and lose feathers.
Any chicken needs enough space to "spread its wings for example, a 20x5-foot paddock, or a whole back yard. (My pets spend a lot of time on the street. They have enough space to lie in the dust, and soak up the sunshine).
In any case, all the space must be protected to keep the chickens inside and not to miss predators from the outside. Thus, include in the shopping list a wire fence and pillars.
All this costs money. Materials for building and finishing a chicken coop with a pen will cost $ 300 - $ 400. If you do not have enough carpentry skills, you will also need skilled hired workers. Want to increase your flock? Nestlings require a brooder lamp for heating. As they say, chickens in the fall are.
Acquisition of chickens of different ages
You can buy birds at different stages of development. It all depends on how much you are willing to wait for the eggs:
- Daily chicks can be purchased in incubators. Most suppliers for farmers take 1-2 orders for chickens per year. Thus, you can pick them up at the moment when you go for food. Each will cost you $ 3. In this case, the eggs will have to wait 6 months.
- Milk at the age of 20 weeks is ready for the first oviposition. They cost more than daily chickens, but you can get eggs much earlier. Such chickens can be immediately put in a chicken coop, they are all female. They are also purchased at the incubator stations from suppliers.
- With mature chickens laying hens the matter is more difficult. Is that someone from your friends wants to replace their old chickens and sell them to you. In other cases, you are most likely to find only chickens or young. (broiler chickens are not successful candidates for the herd, since they are kept in cages and used to produce eggs in such quantity that they die at the age of 2-3 years).
Taking care of chicks is not difficult, and in detail to think through each step is not required. Along with feed and clean water, chickens need a brooder, protected from drafts. It is necessary to have a red brooding lamp, which is always on. It will maintain a temperature of 92 ° F two inches above the floor surface (the probability of feathering and cannibalism among the chicks is also reduced).
When the chickens are shed, start to reduce the temperature by 5 degrees a week until they are 6 weeks old. After that, replace the starter with a growth diet.
Instead of buying chicks every year, you can breed them yourself. Of course, you will need a cock to receive fertilized eggs. Check that the room is correctly zoned: the cock should not be near the chickens during the hatching of the eggs, they will perfectly cope without it.
You will also need a chicken hen. Nasizhivanie is the chicken's instinct to sit on the eggs until they begin to hatch. We always had a pair of chickens, which sat tightly in the nest, and began to peck at our attempts to take away the eggs. Chicken bentamki are famous hens, they also incubate eggs of other layers.
A home incubator is a great alternative to a hen-hen. From the beginning of the incubation period to hatching, 21 days pass. (By the way, there are more favorable dates for starting the incubation of eggs or for placing them in an incubator). Watch your future pets, because if soon after hatching the chicken out of the egg, not getting it out of the incubation box, it will die of dehydration and hunger. We had a case where one hatched and tried to climb through the fan's protective grid. As a result, he died from the blades.
A few tips for a happy chicken coop
For the successful breeding of chickens, keep in mind my recommendations:
- There is an opinion that it is impossible to keep birds of different ages in one herd. However, we never had any problems with changing old chickens to young ones, and vice versa. They successfully hatch chicks. Often, the cases of burlap are due to too many birds in a small area, so give your pets more space.
- Next to the chicks there should always be a source of water and food. Place a 4-inch layer of pine sawdust on the floor, and on top of it, put several sheets of newspaper. Then scatter around the chicken feed on the paper and fill the feeders. Take one sheet every day, and by the time the last one is left, the chicks must already learn how to eat from the feeder.
- Use only red lamps, since under their light you can not see any wounds. In normal lighting, any blood spot immediately provokes the bite reflex. Chickens joyfully and quickly imprison each other to death.
- At the corners of the corral put cardboard sheets to round the walls. (you can also make a round pen) This will not give chicks the opportunity to get into a heap and prevent possible choking.
- Make sure that the drinkers are cleaned and the depth is small, otherwise the chickens can drown. My suppliers recommend using 1 gallon drinkers for a hundred chicks. I always had two or three of them to avoid crowding.
- For the young, I used one drinker for 6 - 8 birds and a feeder, which along the length allowed to accommodate all at once.
Collection, cleaning and storage of chicken eggs
It is worthwhile you once to try farm eggs, and it will be extremely difficult to return to the factory ones. Regardless of whether they are made by free-range chickens or not, the yolk will be bright, and the taste is simply gorgeous. To make the shell more durable, add chicken to the feed of ground oyster shells or other calcium supplements that can be bought at farmers' stores.
Collect eggs every morning: loud clucking is a clear sign of the completion of laying. Usually I check the layers again in the afternoon.
Chickens like to eat eggs as much as we do. Most egg-eating chickens learn this on broken shells and, in consequence, begin to break the eggs themselves. Chickens are opportunists and will peck everything that looks edible. If you immediately throw out broken eggs and straw, where they lay, you can prevent the development of this bad habit in the herd. The hen, which started to eat eggs, can not be cured. Moreover, the rest can follow suit. You want to eat eggs yourself, and not feed them birds!
It is possible to determine in advance the color of the egg that the hen is hatched, according to the color of her ears. Yes, exactly, ears. Unlike humans, in birds the auditory organs are located inside the head, so pay attention to the oval area of the skin next to the auditory opening. If it is white, then the hen bows white eggs, if it is red, then the eggs will be brown. Between them there is no difference in taste or composition, but white eggs look lighter when using dyes in Easter.
Cleaning and storage of eggs
The egg shell is covered with a "bloom which is a natural protection against bacteria. If possible, do not rinse it off, but wipe it with a dry, coarse cloth.
Small spots with residues of manure can be peeled off with a damp cloth. Very dirty eggs can only be washed in warm water, scraping the litter brush with natural nap. Cold water causes the egg to shrink inside the shell and attracts germs.
Allow the moisture to evaporate completely before cleaning the eggs. (I like to sort them by color, from dark to light)
Place the product in the egg boxes labeled with the current date and store in the refrigerator on the shelf. In the door they should not be stored, because every time the eggs are opened they will fight. If the boxes are only partially filled, you can write a pencil on each egg with the date when it was collected. Keep in the refrigerator is best not more than a month. Eggs for the incubator can not be placed in the refrigerator. keep them separately in a cool dry place for no more than 7 days.
To the note to the chefs: to cook stuffed eggs, take a week or older, but not collected the morning of the same day. They are better cleaned.
Farmers live from 4 to 7 years and carry eggs all this time. However, every year in the winter there is a break because of a lack of sunlight, necessary for oviposition. Chickens return to the usual rhythm with the advent of spring.