Thursday, February 2, 2012

Planning for Chicks / Our First Year Owning Chickens

For those who are thinking about getting chickens when they become available at local TSC stores and hatcheries within the next month, this has been our experience with the chicks (including how much it cost per dozen eggs in the first year.)
From Left to Right: Blondie, Latte and Mocha


It is hard to believe that we’ve raised chickens for the past 11 months.  Around this time last year, I was checking out every book from the library on how to raise chickens and trying to learn as much as I could to ensure healthy, productive hens.  Now that we’re 11 months in, I realize how simple it is to take care of these wonderful creatures.  They have become part of the family, and we absolutely love having Blondie, Mocha and Latte.

 The first two weeks were the toughest with the chicks.  Out of 6 chicks, we lost 2 within 24 hours (I think one was sick when we got it and the other was a freak accident.)  As chicks, you have to make sure they are nice and warm with a heat lamp until they begin to get their feathers.  I told Todd on a couple of occasions that I could watch the chickens grow!  They grow up so fast! 

3 Days Old

A Couple of Weeks Old
 We took care of our chickens indoors for over a month until they were getting too big for the large container we had them in.  This is partly due to me being overly cautious as well as waiting for the construction of the chicken coop to be complete.



The chickens were so happy to be moved outside! For a few weeks leading up to the move to being outside permanently, I would take them out in the garden and let them run around eating bugs and getting acclimated with the weather.  In the beginning, they would follow me around the garden everywhere I went.  They didn’t want to venture too far away from mother hen (me!)  But after a few weeks of preparing them, we moved them outside into their chicken coop and they have been happy chickens ever since!

Hanging Out in Chicken Coop
Shortly after moving them into their chicken coop and letting them roam free while we were away at work in a half acre fenced yard, we lost one to what we think was a red fox that had been in our area.  Chicken feathers were found a couple of days later a little ways out from their enclosed area.  We were sad, naturally, but I’m glad we haven’t had that issue since.  We are now down to 3 chickens.

First Egg Laid in Coop
July 1st, one of our hens laid her first egg at 4 months of age (only two weeks after switching them to layer feed.)  I was so excited!  By the end of July, all three hens were laying an egg a day consistently.  To date, the chickens have laid 561 eggs which equate to 46 dozen and 9 eggs eggs!  We have spent $117.31* on the chickens and their food in this time making each dozen of eggs cost us 2.51/dozen!  Last July, the cost per dozen was over $11!

In the state of Ohio, it is law that chickens must be purchased in increments of 6 because they are a flocking bird; however, that may be different in the state in which you live.  You can call your local TSC and inquire about the minimum you would have to purchase.  Our chicks were $2.49/each and they are the golden sex link breed. We really love this breed because the chickens are smaller in size (about 5-6 lbs) and produce nice big brown eggs.  I have read that when it gets cold, the production of eggs may slow down; however, we have had only a few days of 2 eggs versus 3 with the cold weather we’ve had over the last three months.

Rare Occasion the Chickens Are Out in the Snow
Left to Right: Latte, Mocha and Blondie

I {heart} Chicken Butts!
(this was taken before the 4th chicken was killed by red fox)
 We tend to have a dozen eggs on hand at all times with the 3 chickens we’ve got.  We just love these little layer’s personalities and have had so much fun learning and getting to know each and every one of them.  We would love to get 6 more chicks in March, but we have no need for 9 eggs/day!  Maybe in 2013, we will add to our brood.  Until then, we will continue to love and laugh at the ones we’ve got.

Last year, my goal was to learn about how to care for chickens, and quite frankly, it was pretty easy to do.  Chickens are resilient (except when predators get to them) but entertaining and rewarding when they start producing!  This year, I was toying with the idea of learning how to maintain a beehive.  Instead, we decided to forgo the expense of bees and focus on producing enough vegetables to sustain us through the fall, winter and spring from our garden!

Are you planning on learning something new on the homestead this year?   I want to hear all about it!


*Please note, this is just the price of the 6 chickens and the food.  This does not include the chicken coop, which was built for around $200.  The coop will house our three current chickens as well as new chicks in the future for many years to come!

5 comments:

  1. This was so helpful! I love that you broke the cost down too! I'm excited about getting a few. And y'all could expand your flock...just sell the eggs!! :)

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  2. Aren't they something else? We love our little flock too. They are very entertaining. I like the idea of a smaller chicken (requires less feed) that lays a large egg. We might have to look into this breed when we expand our flock. Thanks for the great post!

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  3. Thank you for the compliments! :-)

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  4. ooooo, Love chickens but haven't taken the plunge yet. I know I should too. Keep sharing yours please. :)

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