A Beginner’s Guide to Backyard Poultry

Chicken on the outside of a chicken coop looking in (Photo: iStock - Harlequin129)

No Rulz Ranch Hatchery in Oklahoma lists six things you need to know before raising your own backyard chickens.

1. Choose the right breed: Different breeds of chickens have different temperaments and care requirements. For example, some breeds are more prone to laying eggs, while others are better at foraging and can be left to roam freely in the backyard. Research different breeds and choose one that is well-suited to your needs and climate.

2. Build a coop: Chickens need a safe and secure place to sleep, lay eggs, and shelter from the elements. A coop should be well-ventilated, insulated, and predator-proof. It should also have a run or outdoor space where the chickens can stretch their wings and scratch around.

3. Provide proper nutrition: Chickens need a balanced diet to stay healthy and produce eggs. A commercial poultry feed is usually the best option, but you can also supplement their diet with kitchen scraps, greens, and insects. Fresh water should be available at all times.

4. Keep the coop clean: Chickens produce a lot of droppings, which can harbor diseases if not properly cleaned. Regularly clean out the coop and replace bedding to keep your chickens healthy.

5. Protect against predators: Predators such as raccoons, rats, and dogs can pose a threat to backyard chickens. Take steps to secure the coop and run to protect your chickens from harm.

6. Know the signs of illness: Chickens can get sick just like any other animal, so it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of illness. These can include lethargy, loss of appetite, and abnormal droppings. If you suspect your chicken is sick, consult a veterinarian or poultry specialist for treatment.