Large scale chicken operations for both meat and eggs remain a central part of the economics of farming in Ontario, and around the world. You might have noticed, however, that chickens are “trending” in a different way these days. Backyard chickens? Urban chickens? Chickens with their own Instagram account? Yes, our domestic chickens, including fancy companion breeds, have entered the animal husbandry scene in a new way, with many now considered an integral part of hobby farms and even stand alone pets.
If you are new to chickening and not sure where to start or have hit some snags in managing your flock, this little series is for you! We don’t have all of the answers, but we surely do enjoy the dialogue and hope you do too. Follow along as we explore some highs and lows, mistakes, regrets, and quality lessons learned from our own experience in adding chickens to the farm. Chickens are, fundamentally, social, joyous creatures, with big personalities! But, chicken challenges can hit hard and we hope that you can benefit from our experiences and experimentation.
We aren’t veterinarians, so please take our thoughts for what they are: opinions and advice from one hobby farmer to another grounded in a love of birds and a desire to give them happy, healthy lives. If you are a nerd like me, you will appreciate that there is no such thing as too much research and we hope that our little pieces can help form part of your collection of tools as you move forward with your flock. On that note, here’s what you can expect to chat with us about over the next little bit:
The Chicks Are Coming! Now what? : Have you ordered chicks for the first time from your local feed store and are wondering what comes next? We have a prepared a “Chick Check List” for you and some tips for preparing your set up for the big day.
So Many Choices! : With over 500 breeds of chickens worldwide, finding the breeds that work for you is a big part of the journey. We have a list of considerations here to help you on your way.
Managing Coccidia: Ewww, sounds gross. Yes, friends, it is. But, it’s also inevitable and can be addressed in most cases with a few key steps.
Eggs please!: Looking forward to the first egg is a big part of the fun! Setting your girls up to succeed is easy and your basket will be overflowing in no time.
Men Folk: Roosters add a dynamic to your flock that can take you to a whole other level of chickening, but they aren’t for everyone. We will discuss our take on the pros and cons of keeping boys.
Chicken Ambulance?: Chickens are resilient creatures, but their health can decline quickly. Obtaining veterinary care for your backyard flock members can be a challenge. We will tell you about our experience and provide some helpful contacts.
Broody Times : There’s not much that compares to a snapshot of a momma hen and her babens. Hatching new flock members is an exciting and rewarding experience, and a chance to see nature at it’s best. We will tell you about our trial and error here and share some of our little successes.
New Additions : Chickening can be addictive and we are anticipating that you will want to grow your flock. We will break down our experiences with adding new flock members and offer some tips to integrate safely and without too much chicken drama!
At all times during this series, we welcome your questions, feedback and photography! Hanging out behind the lens with my chickens is one of my favourite ways to unwind and perhaps it is yours too. We want to see! The more interactive we can be, the more we all learn. Some of the best tips for raising a healthy flock will come from your chickening peers. So, let’s share!
Stay tuned for Coop Edition: Chapter 1 over the coming week…