Thursday, July 14, 2011

raising chickens

Karen asked recently if I had any advice
on raising chickens,
so I thought I would mention
it here, rather than just in comments.

Raising chickens {10+years}
 is still a learning process for me,
and we've certainly made some mistakes
along the way.
I started out by reading up on the subject,
and Ashley English now has a nice
book out called
which might be a good place to start.
I've been ordering my chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery
from the beginning.  Great company to deal with,
and I have always had great luck with their birds.
They supply you with good instructions for getting
your baby chicks started.
We began with Rhode Island Reds,
but soon branched out to other breeds.
These are my favorite layers:
Black Australorps
Partridge Rocks
Buff Orpingtons
Speckled Sussex
Buff Brahmas
My Araucana's are my best layers,
and their colored eggs are lovely.
Picking a breed suited to your climate is a good
idea too--the catalog recommends certain breeds
that are good winter layers for those of us in
colder climates.
I think keeping our hen house very clean,
and providing fresh water daily
are two important factors for healthy hens.
The biggest trial we have had with our chickens,
has been dealing with foxes--we lost many
of our hens in the beginning.
We did not make the fence surrounding the chicken
yard high enough, and they were able to fly out.
Many an evening we would have to herd
them back in through the gate,
and not all would cooperate.
Somehow it was much harder for them to figure
out how to fly back in,
and by morning there would be a pile of
feathers left in the yard.
We have since extended the height to about 6 ft.
and it keeps them in.
The fox has also dug under the fence,
so it is important to bury part of the fencing
 below ground level.
I hope this helps a little bit Karen,



  1. Nancy Norton4:06 PM

    I love your pictures of the chickens!  Very cute!

  2. Joy George7:40 PM

    We here in Sth. Australia have terrible troubles with foxes too. One time a fox actually bit a hole in the wire fence to gain access to our point of lay Australorps, all 80 of them!!  Killed them all. At this point I would have given up but my determined Man wouldn't let it get the better of him and built another fence from 3mil. wire, much too thick to bite through. He also bent it into a "L" shape  and placed it against the existing fence so that the bottom of the L was facing outwards, and covered it with dirt. The fox, you see will only dig next to the upright fence, not15 inches or so out. Smart thinking, don't you think? Our chook yard is 25 metres square, so it was not an easy task.
    Sorry about the mix up in Metric and Imperial measurements, I'm an "oldie",  lived with Imperial for almost 70years and then they go and change to Metric.....very confusing.

  3. Oh, yes!  More than just a little.  Thank you, Deb!  I have been doing some research, but now I'm heading to the site to check on ordering.  My 15 year old homeschooler has been doing her own research, too, to learn about it.  I had no idea there were so many breeds (?),  We are in NC, so I will look into what would be best for our area, too.  We have some friends that sort of found 10 white full grown chickens, (the owner passed away with no family around)  and took them in, built them a little fenced area and house that is movable.  They started laying right away and never quit even in the winter. 
    I'm also going to order the book you suggest.  We just moved to where we live now, and the property came with a barn and attached chicken house.  It's pretty run down and we plan to work on it in cooler weather.  It has a fence that I think is high enough, but also a wire covering of some sort over the  yard area.  I didn't think about under the fence.  We'll check on that, too.  If you'd like to see it, I posted a picture of the barn/coop area a few days ago.
    Again, thank you so much for taking the time to write a post for me!  As I said, I've been reading here a long time because you are one of my favorites.  I always enjoy your writing and pictures.  You have blessed me today.  I'm excited to get started on it all.
    (Oh, and we just got 2 free kittens to have as barn kitties.  I remembered that you have/had Bailey the barn kitty.  Have you had any problems with  cats around the chickens?)

  4. Would you mind if I printed your post?  I'd love to keep it in my notes that I have started.

  5. Trixi8:53 PM

    We, too, love our chickens.  I would also say having a good dog has helped us out with predators tremendously.  Since having a good dog that runs off anything that does not belong, we have been able to allow our chickens to free range.

  6. Clreedmarquis9:27 PM

    Good info! We have had chickens for about twenty years and love them. We get our chicks from MM also. Next time we get some I want to get Cuckoo Murans for the "chocolate" eggs. Have you tried those yet? 

  7. Deb,
    Sweet Deb....I want to share this post with a fellow  chicken mama.  I don't know how to link it to  her.  You, my friend, are my inspiration to all things homespun.  We lost our beloved house to the recession.  I don't have a garden as yet so you can understand how I live through blogs as yours.  We will keep marching on and will turn this condo into something akin to "living in the country" or die trying.

  8. lkling11:54 AM

    I love my Barred Rocks and Spotted Sussex as well- the latter are SO tame! Also love Bantams- they are very hardy and so much fun to watch, as well as good mums...we also have put fencing over the tOP of our chicken yard to keep the hawks out...

  9. rhonda hetzel1:56 PM

    Hi Deb, great advice. I too find that keeping the hen house clean and fresh water daily is a great help keeping the girls healthy.  I thought I'd add the Henderson's Handy Dandy chart link. It's a great help when choosing new breeds to buy:

  10. Rain Child3:17 PM

    My dad's been using Murray McMurry for years for his chicks! They are so adorable when they arrive. My favorite breed was the Egyptian Fayoumi. Very hardy breed and very good at getting rid of bugs. 

  11. Julie Lupo11:38 PM

    we had chickens a couple of years ago and are ready to get back to it. Thanks for the info. Take care

  12. Richard5:45 PM

    Id like to invite everyone to read a blog post today of a woman who joined the old order Mennonite church from the outside. I'm extremely lucky in publishing her very first, and most likely last post on Amish Stories. A lot of work was involved in her getting permission to be even able to write anything on the internet, and permission was given by her bishop. So please stop by and read about a woman who gave-up her car and other worldly possessions for the person that she loved. Richard from Amish Stories.

  13. This has nothing to do with chickens, but as I was just sitting and knitting on my umteenth dishcloth using your pattern, I thought I should write and thank you again.  Such a great pattern, and the perfect project to have to pick up and work on whenever.  Blessings on you for sharing it with us all!

  14. Karen, you are very welcome! I would love to see the pictures of your barn & coop. We have never had any problem with our cats being around the chickens, though we do keep the chicks secure til they get a bit bigger in size.

  15. Thanks for your visit Joy! I admire your Man's perseverence--we once lost 20 chicks to the fox, and it was very upsetting. That's when we reinforced around the botton of the fence--your idea is a good one for sure.

  16. Thank you Chris--it's made me happy to share it.

  17. Thanks for the visit Julie!

  18. I think I need an Egyptian Fayoumi--the bugs have been terrible here lately!

  19. Luckily we've only lost a chicken once to a hawk...

  20. How have I not heard about 'chocolate' eggs?!...are they dark brown shells?

  21. Our last two dogs were not very good in that department :) ...what breed do you have?

  22. Karen, you can certainly print it--sorry not to respond sooner.

  23.  Here's the link to the barn/coop pics.  It's a work in progress and we have a long way to go, but it's a start!  We have a lot of trees to take down, as well.  Andy and Barney (kittens) will take up residence there in about a month, once they get some size on them. (we also have a hawk hanging around).  The chicks won't be ordered until the coop is cleaned out and repaired.  Thank you again, Debbie, for taking time out of your busy day to post this!

  24. Danenestewart6:47 PM

    I was wondering what information you keep in your little notebook? Our daughter is the chicken gal, but i have been trying to keep track of stuff for her, on sticky notes. :) Not working very good. Thanks~Danene

  25. Gorgeous chickens! 
    I used to have cochin bentams, soo cute. Will definitely get chickens again when I move to the country. :) Thanks for sharing your experience. :

  26. We've had regular cochins which we really liked. Thanks for your visit!


  27. Ideally, I try to keep copies of my chick order for each year, sometimes I'll cut a little blurb out of the catalog describing the breed. I like to note any chicks/birds that die & why. I used to keep feed receipts, but now log all that on to Quicken to keep track. It's nice to be able to look back at this sort of information, although my record keeping can be a bit sporatic. *Sorry for the late reply*



Thank you for taking time to leave a comment--I love reading each and every one! I will try to answer any questions you have in the comment section. Due to the amount of spam, I am sadly no longer able to accept Anonymous comments....Kindly, Deb


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