Growing vegetables was a great start to homesteading. But while we are waiting for them to produce, we got to thinking about other ways we could save money. We don’t have enough space right now for large livestock, but then we thought, CHICKENS! We eat eggs like nobody’s business, so this could be a real money-saver for us.
We don’t have a lot of space to dedicate to chickens, because E and her friends are still young enough to enjoy playing in the yard. Plus, as a (current) household of three, we don’t need many. We aren’t planning on selling them (yet), so we don’t need a bunch of wasted eggs. I shudder to think of what nefarious uses E and her friends could find for the extra eggs.
First, we had to decide what kind of chickens we wanted. Who knew there were a million different species (literally, everyone but us). We went to our local hardware store to decide which type to buy. We also aren’t planning to eat the chickens once they stop laying (E would literally die – she doesn’t even want us to kill crickets). Therefore, we didn’t need “meat” chickens. We chose Leghorns because they can lay large eggs, up to one per day, and their eggs are white (T has a thing about food looking strange). We bought two chicks, because E didn’t want one to be by itself, and three seemed like too big a commitment.
At this point, it was still chilly at night, so we decided to keep them inside until they get bigger. Their initial setup was in a small galvanized tub with wood shavings. We also got a heat lamp, since chicks need to have access to 95°F when they are small until they grow feathers.
We equipped them with water and a feeder. We started them on a starter feed since they are so small. As you can see, they immediately started kicking shavings into their water, so I eventually elevated it to keep it clean. Chickens can be jerks.
Although the Leghorns started out yellow and downy, they quickly lost the down and turned to their signature white color. I was constantly sweeping up the down (aka, stirring it up in the air and not actually cleaning anything).
They grew fast. Within a week, they were perching on the edge of the tub, and eventually flying out. I’ll spare you the details of me chasing tiny chicks around my laundry room. It wasn’t pretty. So, after two weeks, we decided they needed an upgrade.
We had an old rabbit cage from last Easter. E’s bunny escaped (actually escaped, not the “escaped” your parents tell you about when your bunny goes to Bunny Heaven), so it’s just been sitting in the shed. It was a perfect opportunity.
As you can see, they’re quite a bit bigger than just 3 weeks ago. They still haven’t grown their head feathers, so they aren’t ready to go outside yet. But soon, my friends, soon. Next, we’ll tell you the (hilarious) process of building their final home, the chicken coop!
Any advice or words of wisdom for raising chickens?