Raise Chickens for Eggs and Meat

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs and Meat - A Beginner's Guide

If you’re considering raising chickens to provide fresh eggs and meat in your backyard, the first step you need to take is choosing the breed of chicken that best fits your needs and goals. To help with this decision, we’ve put together an overview of the pros and cons of raising chickens for eggs and/or meat. Then we give you an easy-to-follow guide to getting started with your chickens, whether you want to raise them in your backyard or on a small farm.

Are you an animal enthusiast and got very interested in learning how to raise chickens? But don’t know anything about it or how the hell to begin? 

The simplest answer to this is first of all recognizing the kind of breed you want to raise, recognizing their proper nutrition plans, and giving them a place to grow. Easier said than done, right?

In this article, I will walk you step by step on how to raise chickens.

 The Best Tips to Raise Chickens 

Raise Chickens for Eggs and Meat

  1. Select a chicken breed that fits your lifestyle

In the 21st century, a wide range of poultry breeds may be found.  

Families interested in raising chickens for eggs or meat should begin with popular breeds. Find out what you want to get out of the flock.  

Consider White Leghorn hybrids (white eggs), Plymouth Barred Rocks (brown eggs), Rhode Island Reds (brown eggs), Blue Andalusians (white eggs), or Ameraucanas /Easter Eggers if you're looking for fresh eggs (blue eggs).  

Cornish Cross chickens are best suited for meat production since they grow swiftly.

Plymouth Barred Rock, Sussex, and Buff Orpingtons are all dual-purpose breeds that can produce both eggs and meat.  

Show or pet exotic breeds are the greatest option as well.

You may also read The Beginner's Guide to Chicken Breeds: An Introductory Guide to Choosing the Right Flock from Amazon.

  1. Buying the Chickens

Time to take the leap of faith!

Do you want to raise chickens but aren't sure how to get started? 

You have a few options when purchasing chickens for the first time. 

We'll weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each potential course of action among these - Hatching eggs, chicks, starting pullets, and adult birds are all available for purchase. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, but ultimately, it's about what works best for you. 

The chicks are the most cost-effective choice. 

When you raise a hen yourself, you'll have to pay a higher price for the time and effort that goes into caring for the bird. The costliest chickens are those that are at their peak.  

Hens that have been rescued are less costly than pullets, but they are more expensive than chicks. 

Fertilized eggs must be incubated before they may hatch. 

Inexperienced chicken owners should avoid hatching eggs unless they are confident in their abilities. Even though the process of incubation is very simple, there is a certain level of skill involved. 

  • Chicks: The most popular and sensible option for newcomers. Breeds may be selected as well as when they are to be made available to you. One-day-old chicks are the most common. 
  • Pullets: A four- to six-month-old bird is called a pullet. They have been raised to maturity and are generally sold at the point of lay, which means that the pullet is ready to produce her first egg! 
  • Adult chickens: They are harder to come by since breeders like to get rid of them before they're too old because they consume more. Animal shelters and rescue sanctuaries are frequent places to get adult chickens. 
  1. Establish your desired flock size

What kind of birds you keep may be dictated by local regulations and your aims for raising a family of birds. 

Keep in mind that baby chicks eventually mature into mature birds. 

The time you can spend with your flock, housing the birds, a strategy for collecting and utilizing eggs, and what you'll do with the birds after they stop producing eggs should all be included in your budget.  

Begin with a small flock of 4 to 6 chicks to learn the ropes. 

  1. Finding a chick supplier

Farm supply shops and local farmers are the greatest places for novices to get chickens.  

Eyes that are crystal clear and gleaming should be the standard for all feathered creatures.  

When it comes to their surroundings and you, they should be interested. Feathers or fluff must seem clean and well-colored.

If a bird shows any of these symptoms, regardless of its age, you should avoid purchasing it: 

  • Drowsy and sluggish 
  • Rolled up in a ball 
  • Reluctant to get up and move around 
  • Droppings from the nose or eyes 
  • Clogged chicken vent
  1. Organize your brooder and get it ready for the chickens

A brooder is a warm, draft-free place where you may keep your newborn chicks.  

A heating light should be installed in the brooder, which should be enclosed and have a bottom surface that may be covered with bedding.  

Prevent chicks from being stuck in the corners of the brooding space by avoiding square corners. 

For the first six weeks, each chick requires at least 2 to 3 square feet of floor area. 

Reduce heat by 5 degrees Fahrenheit each week until it reaches a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit after the first week of using the brooder, which should be set at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Once the extra heat source is no longer needed, make sure you have a large, clean coop ready for the chicks. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times, and it should be replaced regularly. 

  1. Plan their diet long term

Chicken meal is available in a broad variety of options, so here's the lowdown. Chicks should be fed the following, according to experts: 

  • Between the ages of 0 and 8 weeks: Crumbles with 18-20 percent protein.
  • Approximately 8 to 14 weeks: Starters and Growers account for 16-18% protein.
  • 15 to 18 months: Finishers with 16% protein.
  • Upwards of 18 months: Feeding with 16% protein.

Medicated and unmedicated chick feed are also available. 

Coccidiosis is a nasty illness that may be prevented by using a coccidiostat in the diet. 

For coccidia-vaccinated chicks, do not give them medicinal feed.

Tips on where to get free/cheap chickens

If you're interested in raising chickens for eggs, visit your local feed store or big box hardware store. Look around the farm section and pay close attention to the materials that you'll need. Some items might include lumber, wire, nails, metal strips, staples, roofing shingles, insulation boards, or even an air conditioner. You might also want a few pliers; wire cutters; metal coat hangers (straightened); roofing cement; posts with anchors if needed.
If you're interested in raising chickens for meat visit your nearest slaughterhouse. If they don't raise any themselves they should be able to point you in the right direction of someone who does raise poultry in their area of business. As long as you have a license from your city/state permitting raising livestock, it shouldn't be too difficult to find somebody nearby who can help you out.
If not then again, as long as you have a license from your city/state permitting raising livestock, it shouldn't be too difficult to find somebody nearby who can help you out. One place I would recommend looking is on Craiglist under Livestock & Animals For Sale.
You could also call up the agriculture extension service at your state university and see if they know of anybody in the area who raises chicken. Your state university should have resources like this readily available on its website.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

1. What chickens are best?
2. How do I raise chicks?
3. Where can I buy chicken coops?
4. What feed should I give my chickens?
5. How much do chickens cost?
6. How often do chickens lay eggs? 2-3 times a week, on average! In most cases, you’ll be raising your chickens as egg layers or meat producers (or both). The type of hen that lays the most eggs is a Leghorn but they aren’t the best meat producer. For meat production, you might want to look at breeds like Cornish Crosses or Barred Rocks which produce more meat but don’t lay as many eggs. If you have room in your backyard, then by all means get both types of hens so that you always have fresh eggs and some birds ready for the dinner table!

Some Pro tips that I have learned along the way

If you live in a suburban or rural area, the ideal place to raise chickens is in a well-ventilated, open-air building. Most farmers raise meat chickens (as opposed to egg-laying hens) with outdoor access but this does take more maintenance. If you are just starting with raising poultry, it is not a bad idea to start with smaller numbers of cheaper types of chicken such as those typically used for eggs and breeding stock.
Another option is backyard chickens which are kept mainly for their eggs but have the benefit of being pets too! Whatever your choice, there are various aspects you will need to consider before getting started. One question that might come up is what breeds are best suited for meat production? Some breeds such as Cornish Cross grow very quickly so they can be ready in six weeks after hatching from an incubator.
What else should I know about raising chickens? The initial investment can seem overwhelming at first glance but if you keep in mind all the money you'll save on store-bought eggs and buy free-range organic feed instead of purchasing expensive processed feed, it becomes easier to see how much money can be saved over time by raising your chickens for both meat and eggs. When raising chickens yourself, one great thing about this industry is that everyone shares information so freely online!

Final Thoughts 

If you’re an aspiring chicken owner then it is no easy feat to grow them, nurture them, and get healthy eggs out of them. You’ve got to feed them properly, know their breed properly and keep them happy if you want to keep them healthy. 

In this article, we walked you step-by-step on how to raise chickens like pros. 

Those steps are: 

  • Select a chicken breed that fits your lifestyle. There are many breeds. Some will lay you more eggs while others have better meat. 
  • Buy the Chickens. You can buy eggs or even grown hens. The choice is yours. 
  • Establish your desired flock size. If you’re a beginner you should go with 4 to 6. 
  • Finding a chick supplier. We recommend buying chicks from local farmers. 
  • Organize your brooder and get it ready for the chickens.
  • Plan their diet long-term.
For more information, I highly recommend you read The Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens: How to Raise a Happy Backyard Flock from Amazon.
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