I’ve wanted to raise my own farm-fresh eggs for years now, but the hens on our farm (and the delicious eggs we get from them!) are a relatively new addition. Why? Because I was not sure about actually keeping chickens! Would I have time? Would I get tired of them? Would it be worth I? So if you’ve ever wondered if you could raise your own fresh eggs, read on!
As it turns out, I LOVE having chickens! Odd as it seemed at first, they are fun. AND they provide wholesome food you can feel good about feeding your family :-). Totally worth it! Plus raising chicks was an amazing learning experience for my kids. Still on the fence? Let’s talk logistics!
To begin I’d say that having chickens is about as much work as having a dog. Of course, if you are like my sister who spends hours each day with her
spoiled well-loved golden retrievers, then chickens will be way less work! Daily they will need food and fresh water. You will check for eggs and scan to see that all is well. You may open their door in the morning and shut it again at night. Pretty doable really.
My best tip for quick care is to purchase two watering containers so you can fill one up in the house before you head out and bring the empty back in for next time.
Weekly I clean the coop a bit. I use the deep litter method, meaning that by adding clean bedding over the soiled stuff, the decomposing straw adds heat to the coop. How cool is that?! Not everyone likes this method, so if cleaning out the coop is your thing, go for it.
Seasonally you will have other chores. The down-side to deep litter is clearing it out in the spring and fall. I winter-proofed my coop for cold weather and I don’t have electricity so when temps are below freezing I supply the girls with water often. In the summer I fill a plastic pool for them. Some people spend lots of time babying their hens– me, not so much!
(Warning: once you have the chickens you will inevitably spend more time just watching them. They. are. hilarious.)
The biggest investment in time and money is setting up. If you can afford a pre-made chicken coop, that’s the route I’d take. I spent a LOT of time making a cheap coop because I wasn’t sure of the whole thing just yet. My project was more than I expected because I needed to rethink the design to thwart predators. Still, it was fine for starting.
In the beginning you’ll also need to acquire and set up feeders, water dishes, bedding, feed, grit, calcium, scratch grains, and nesting boxes if they aren’t included in the coop. Now that my flock is established all I really do is stop by the farm store once every couple of months and get a few bags of feed.
If you chose chicks instead of full grown hens there will also be several weeks of taking care of the fragile babies! You can order chicks online and they come in the mail for you to pick up at the post office. They need somewhat intensive care for a few weeks, but they are SO cute you won’t mind ;-). Setting up a brooder in the house cuts down on work too. Unless you have to send all your time guarding your chicks from the kids that is…
I’m hoping this break-down of the time and effort it takes assures you that you CAN raise your own fresh eggs. Start by getting a how-to book from the library, or try this guide from Orscheln’s Farm and Home store. After that the internet provides all the info you’ll ever want to wade through. Or leave me a comment or question and I’ll be sure to answer!
Maybe I’m ready!?! I’m still trying to make sure I can keep up with the laundry, but it sounds like this is something I can do! My 6 1/2 year old daughter says she wants chickens and will take care of them… I keep buying animals for her to donate to World Vision instead of getting them for us!! 🙂 I’ll let you know!!!