Thursday, April 12, 2012

Backyard Chickens are always an Eggcellent idea

My family has raised chickens for the past 6 or 7 years, and getting new birds is something I always look forward to.  We used to buy day-old baby chicks (purchased in-town at the farm store, or mail-order from a large hatchery), and this is definitely a pretty fun solution.  I especially recommend it if you have a kid or two or more around the house, since they usually appreciate the "watching things grow" aspect of the process.  Having done this a few times, however, I'll admit that I eventually got tired of waiting 6 months for those little peepers to start producing eggs.  My solution?  I started buying year old hens that were already laying.  In our area, it is pretty easy to find someone who is looking to downsize their flock.  $10-15 per bird is usually about the going rate, and so it is reasonably affordable to build up a flock of 4-6 chickens.  Baby chicks will usually cost $3 or so each, so you pay a bit more for older birds, but bear in mind that somebody else paid to feed your new adult birds until the moment they became yours.  All  things considered, buying "used" chickens is the way I'll probably always do it from now on.

Anybody else out there raise chickens?  Or, are there any chicken-related questions that I can answer?


  1. Hi Chris,

    Nice blog - I found it on Blotanical. I also have been raising "used" hens for a few years. Last November I got three 11-mo old pullets - 2 Black Australorps and 1 ISA Brown - to keep my last old girl company. They started laying in Dec, but about 4 weeks ago, my one Black Australorp went broody. I've never had a hen do this before, and btw, I don't have a rooster. So I take the others' eggs daily, and I've let her sit and do her thing, taking her out in the afternoon so she can stretch her legs, eat, poop. If you've had this happen with your hens (and didn't want chicks), any info on how long a hen stays broody? I figured she'd be getting over it by now.

    Charlie b.
    Mixing Creative

  2. Hi Charlie-

    Good question! I have had a chicken go broody occasionally and have always subscribed to the theory that you sort of have to "break up" a broody hen. This means separating her physically and visually from the nest for a couple of days so that her system more or less reboots itself. In the past, I have built a separate "mini coop" using a large dog hutch with food and water in it so that the bird in question could have her basic needs met but not indulge her instincts to nest. Two days in "solitary confinement" usually does the trick, and she'll be back laying in a few weeks.

    While most chickeny matters are kind of speculative by nature, it seems to me that the method you're using is almost guaranteed to produce the results you're getting: if she is allowed to sit on the nest continuously, that isn't really going to be disruptive enough to get her to stop and go back into laying mode.

    Hope this helps!


  3. Yes, thanks for your help, although I did wonder if you meant confining her day and night or if daytime free ranging was okay... I had read about cutting her off, but kind of thought it'd be mean not to let her do what happens naturally. But it's been long enough! Last night I took your advice and started the reboot process. : ) We have a large dog crate, so I found a spot for it and added board/cardboard around 'cause I was scared she'd accidentally hang herself. She fared well overnight. This morning I've let her out to free range, but she'll not have access to the hen house and nesting boxes. She's acting a little less loopy, so maybe she's already going back to "normal". Thanks again!!