The Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens (from the Hood to the people)

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Chicken Guest Post

{Special Guest Post Alert!  I’ll let her tell you all about herself, but I’ve asked my friend Hillary to illuminate me on the world of Chickens. I’m impatient to start our own little…ish flock on the Dirt Noise Joys Homestead, but in the meantime, I’ll have to settle for living vicariously through this chicken mama! I have a couple of guest posts coming up over the next couple of weeks, so hold on to your hats!}

About that Hood girl:

Howdy! My name is Hillary and I’m so honored to be guest posting for Brittany! I met Brittany through the world of blogging and although we have lead completely different lives and live in completely different ares of the U.S., we get each other and have become fast friends!

Sadly, this post isn’t about me (darn) but about chickens, one of my favorite things!

I currently live on some land in a small town in Texas and I have a lot of chickens. I love talking about my feathered flock and so Brittany and I decided that a guest post on a beginner’s guide to raising chickens would be perfect (I know she was thinking about getting some herself).

If you want to know more about who I am and what I’m about visit Life in the Hood.

Benny and Hillary. Benny is the short one.

Have you ever wanted to get some chickens of your own but didn’t know where to start?

Good, me too. That’s how I felt about two years ago when I began my journey with my fluff butts. Picture this for a second, a kindergarten teacher, living in an apartment, in the big city of San Antonio who was toting 8 chicks around.

Word of advice:  Don’t get chickens if you live in an apartment complex- it’s apparently frowned upon.

I’m hoping that through this post I can offer you a basic start-up guide for the chicken life.

But I don’t have land…..Can I get chickens if I live in the city?

Surprisingly, it’s possible… but not if you live in an apartment (been there done that but didn’t get caught). At least it’s possible in Texas, but there are rules and regulations that you need to look into.

My mother actually lives in the city and is allowed to have up to 12 HENS (no cock-a-doodle-doos though, aka roosters) as long as their dwelling (chicken coop) is 25 feet from their house and the surrounding houses. So, if you have a little bit of space in your backyard then check with the city you live in to see what their regulations are before you just go get some.

City Chicks Struttin’ Their Stuff

Beginner’s Checklist (starting from chicks)

  • A place for them to live (duh).
  • Chicken feed. If you have chicks then they will need medicated food, aka chick food – it also has more protein in it).
  • Watering system. They sell water feeders but get a big one because your chickens like their water and they look small now but they get bigger.
  • Large container if you are keeping your chicks in a separate container while they are small. I recommend this; we use a large storage container until they are big enough to jump out.
  • Chips/newspaper for the bottom of said large container.
  • Heat lamp depending on how small they are, they get cold super easily- they don’t have their mama!
  • Probiotics/electrolytes for their water.
  • Treats Optional – but they will love you for it.  They love meal-worms.
  • Grit is optional but recommended, for more information see my post on crop issues with chicks.

Things to consider!

  • Chickens poop…a lot! If you decide to on using a large container when they are little, you will have to switch out your chips/newspaper frequently or there is going to be some major STANK up in your house.
  • Chickens love dirt– so much so that they take baths in it! See Brittany? You and I actually have identical lives- your children just don’t have feathers [editors note: YET, They don’t have feathers YET]…..or shouldn’t have them (HAHA). If you have potted plants they will cozy up in them with their fluffy butts and annihilate without apologies. Careful- you may end up frying them up if you don’t brainstorm some ideas. Consider having a “dirt bath” area for them to dig in and roll around in. I have seen baby pools filled with dirt for this which is BRILLIANT.
  • They taste good– and not just to humans either. We have unfortunately lost chickens to snakes and dogs. If you are keeping your chickens outside, make sure it is snake proof.  If you are concerned that your dog will eat your chickens then try your best to train them with the chicks. Unfortunately, when dogs taste chicken it becomes difficult to keep them from killing them. Just make sure you keep them separate.

Other animals that enjoy a nice drumstick: skunks (surprisingly- they definitely love the eggs but will hurt/kill the chickens), opossums, and cats (although the cats seemed to kill more for sport than food- #evil). 

  • Babies grow up fast- Just like puppies and children, chicks grow up too fast! They won’t stay long in your large container- a couple of weeks MAYBE. It all depends on when you get your chicks.

Does the breed matter?

Simple answer, YES! You will want to do some research to find a breed that works best for you and your situation!

If you have kids then you will want a “kid-friendly” chicken – Buff Orpingtons are a great choice! We actually have some in the Hood!

Some breeds are not as docile and easy to handle. Also, different breeds of chickens will lay different amounts of eggs per year. This is important if you are wanting good egg layers. Not every breed will lay as well as others. We have Rhode Island Reds and again the Buff Orpingtons, which are supposed to be good egg layers.

But how long till I get the eggs?

Hens typically take around 5-6 months to begin laying. Don’t be fooled that you will start getting eggs once they grow up. They grow up fast and then take some time to lay.

Also, certain breeds are easily “sexed”, meaning they can tell whether or not they will be a rooster or hen. If you are only wanting hens then don’t pick from the “straight runs” bin if getting them from a local store.

You could technically end up getting all roosters and then you really won’t have any eggs!

Chickens are social birds

You have heard the sayings and analogies! “cackling like hens” or “Mama hen”. Believe me, there is a reason. Chickens have a pecking order… LITERALLY! They will literally peck each other into submission. They are also very curious animals and peck at things that are smaller than them or that stand out to them.

If you introduce new hens to your flock they may get “pecked on” by the others (pun intended). It eventually gets sorted out and they learn their place.

IMPORTANT: We have had chickens that have pecked chicks to death that were new to the flock. Just keep that in mind if you are going to have a rooster and let your chickens hatch their own eggs consider having a safe place for them. In this post, you can see Alex, my boyfriend, snake-proofing a dog kennel for a new momma and her babies to keep them safe from the other hens. We tend to be overprotective but thought I would share our own experiences with ya’ll.

[Editor’s Note Get your own “Pecked to Death” Sign Here]

Chickens are EASY to train!

You have to teach them to put themselves up at night in their coop. It took us only a couple of days of going out at sunset or right before and putting them in their coop and closing it up.

After they learn, they literally put themselves up at night and you just have to close the coop up and let them out in the morning. SO cluckin’ easy (hee hee). What is really nice is that they don’t tend to wander too far from their home. Consider letting them free range if you can. It makes them happy.

Cons to chickens?

By now I have probably convinced you to go order chickens online (yes you can do that and yes they will ship them to you. You must be present for pickup – how inconvenient, right?!)

So is there a downside to chickens? Sure – just like there is a downside to everything.

As mentioned before, they poop A LOT. To think you won’t find chicken poop on your shoes would be naive. I have “coop shoes” aka crocs- I never claimed to be a fashionista – but they are washable!

They get in your plants- also as mentioned before, which is ANNOYING!

You do need to have someone let them out or have a way they can get into a fenced-in area should you choose to have a weekend getaway.

They can be fickle – we have had some problems with ours not laying in the winter and summer; probably because they basically getting roasted in Texas during the summer. Also, as they get older, their egg production goes down.

Roosters can be mean – I swear I have PTSD from a rooster attack at the age of four.

Overall, if you decide to get chickens, I don’t think you will be disappointed. They are awesome and you can name them funny names. A few of our names are Biscuit (for the infamous chicken biscuit from Chik-fi-la), Scramble, Benny (short for Eggs Benedict), and Gertrude.

I hope that you all enjoyed my guest post on Brittany’s wonderful blog!

If you hate chickens and don’t want them at all its totally fine because that’s why I’m just a guest and not the permanent blogger here!

If you liked what you read please go check me out! Also, you can follow me on Pinterest!

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  1. Dixey says:

    What a great guest blogger!!! I am still laughing! Thanks for the chicken lessons!!!

  2. Samantha of Mother Haggard says:

    Okay, I will say right up front that I have no plans to raise chickens anytime in the near future (I’m in a tiny city apartment with a baby, dog, cat, about 4,000 baby toys and already fear daily that we will be evicted for noise) but this was such a fun read! By the end, I ALMOST started ordering my chickens online but then I also remembered I have no money. (But it’d be so fun to name them, wouldn’t it?! Oh, what the heck, I’m ordering 20.)

    I hope you guest post again, Hillary! Definitely going to check out your blog.

    1. Hillary Hood says:

      You have no idea how much this made my day! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! I was honored when Brittany asked me to do it!

      Yes, from experience the chickens in an apartment thing don’t work so well. Although maybe the children noise would drown out any chicken clicks anyone might “think” they hear. But all in all the farm smell should stay at the farm. 😂

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