No. A chicken’s needs are very simple. Plenty of food & water and a warm, dry, predator proof shelter.
Are chickens hard to take care of?
What is a Heritage Breed of poultry?
A Heritage Breed, also known as Heirloom or Old Fashioned, is a purebred breed, not a hybrid. Heritage Breeds must mate naturally to be recognized by the American Livestock Conservancy.
Why choose a Heritage Breed of poultry?
Heritage breeds developed to thrive naturally in their environment. They are good foragers, hardy and thrive in backyards and pasture settings. They generally have plumage that blends well in their surrounding making them less susceptible to natural predators. Although they take longer to mature, they have a longer live spans and are more productive over their lifespans. They are easier to breed and hatch naturally. Many people prefer the taste of Heritage Breeds raised in a natural setting to that of poultry raised in a mass produced, confined setting. It can also be very rewarding to know you are helping conserve a historic breed of chicken.
How much feed will my hens eat?
Feed consumption will vary largely by breed and age. In general laying hens will eat 1.25 pounds per bird per week although larger breeds like the Jersey Giant will eat more than smaller breeds like the White Leghorn. Also, birds will tend to eat more feed as they age. It is most important to make a complete feed available free choice to assure the flock is receiving all the nutrients they need!
How much daylight do I need for laying hens to produce eggs?
Light stimulates the endocrine system in the hen to produce more eggs. The more light exposure the hen has the more eggs she will produce. Maximum productivity is achieved at 15 hours of light per day if that is the goal. Hens may continue to lay eggs in reduced light but egg production will be reduced or the hen will start molting and production will be stopped. If artificial light is provided in the winter months to maintain productivity remember that light in a chicken coop can be a fire hazard.
What is molt?
Molting is a natural process for hens to regenerate their feathers. Molting is induced naturally when daylight is shorter. During the process of growing new feathers the hen will cease egg production as she refocuses her nutrients to rebuild feathers. During this time it is important that the birds have access to a good quality laying feed free choice. Molt will vary by bird and can range anywhere from 3-10 weeks. Once a hen returns to lay she will experience another peak in egg production where she is laying more eggs than pre-molt.
Do I need to molt my birds?
Technically hens do not need to be molted and will continue to lay into the winter months if artificial light is provided. Not molting your flock will shorten their productive lifespan and the birds will not experience another peak in egg production.
How long should I keep my birds?
Hens are typically the most productive in their first two laying cycles however some reports show hens laying eggs up to 8+ years of age. Productive life depends on the breed and the individual bird. If productivity is not your goal, birds will make great pets even after they stop laying eggs.
What is the difference between pellets and crumbles?
Pellets and crumbles are manufactured in similar ways. In fact, a crumble is made when pellets pass through a set of rolls which “crumbles” the pellets into a smaller particle size. Both pellets and crumbles use steam and compression to “stick” the feed together. This assures that each bite of feed contains all the nutrients your birds need without any sorting. Commercially available laying feeds are available in both pellets and crumbles. Selection of feed really depends on personal preference. Crumbles will allow for a smoother transition from a chick starter to a laying feed since most starters are only available in crumbles. On the other hand the process of crumbling does create more fines which can build up in the bottom of the feeder. If you prefer a feed with less fines choosing a pelleted layer feed is preferred.
Can you raise ducks, guineas, turkeys, or peacocks with your chicks?
Different species of birds can be raised together under proper management conditions but it is not recommended. Chickens and turkeys should not be housed together as chickens can carry a parasite that is detrimental to turkeys. Also remember that ducks love water and will typically make the brooder wetter than what is ideal for chicks or other fowl which can increase the incidence of coccidiosis. If multiple species are housed together don’t forget to account for differences is size and aggression. Make sure plenty of feed and fresh water is available and that every species can gain access.
Can you raise broilers & layers together?
Raising broilers and layers together can be accomplished if they are started at the same age but it is tricky. Typically chicks of either type can be started on a similar feed for the first few weeks of life. After 3-4 weeks there will be a huge difference in feed intake and nutrient requirements as broilers are gaining weight at a much more rapid weight. To accomplish matching nutrient requirements it may be best to switch to a chick grower which is lower in protein in energy than a meat bird feed. This will slow your broilers performance down but is the best option for raising them together. If both meat and eggs are desired, the best option is to choose a dual purpose breed that can service both needs.
What breed would you suggest for a newbie who is trying their 1st hand try at chickens?
For a first time chicken producers we suggest starting with a well-known hearty breed like Rhode Island Reds or Buff Orpingtons. There are other breed options that will work well but do you homework if you want to raise them successfully.
When does a hen start laying?
Most breeds will start laying eggs from 16-24 weeks of age. Typically larger breeds take longer than smaller breeds. We recommend switching to a layer feed around 15 weeks of age to provide adequate nutrition (specifically calcium) for egg productions. It is important to provide nesting boxes at this time.
Do I need a rooster to get eggs?
Roosters are not required for hens to lay eggs. However if fertilized eggs are needed to hatch chicks a rooster will need to be present. Mature roosters can be aggressive towards humans and can be avoided if you just want eggs to eat. On the other hand rooster can act as a protector of your flock if predation is high.
What is the difference between organic, non-GMO, natural and conventional feeds?
Organic feeds are produced under strict guidelines provided by the USDA. Organic feeds are not nutritionally superior for your birds but they are produced and regulated by rules published by the USDA. For the most part, organic feeds are made from crops that were raised without synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Organic feeds also do not contain antibiotics. Non-GMO feeds are produced using ingredients from plants that were not genetically modified. Regulation of non-GMO feeds is less stringent and it is recommended to review the standards of each product before purchasing a non-GMO feed. All certified organic feeds are GMO free but not all GMO free feeds are certified organic. Natural feed is not clearly defined. It is up to each manufacturer to define natural. Again, it is recommended that you review the standards for every “natural” feed to make sure they meet your needs. Conventional feeds are the most available and most economical way to feed your chickens. Conventional feed is nutritionally similar to all other feed types. When choosing the feed that is best for you it is important to review the tags and the standards of the individual manufacturer. Nutritional guarantees are comparable across feed types but it all comes down to personal preference.
When can I put my chickens outside?
When your chickens are fully feathered (3-4 months) they can go outside. Just make sure they have a warm, dry, predator proof shelter.
What should I feed my chickens?
Chicks should eat Horizon Acres Broiler Life Cycle Blend or Chick Starter. Adult Chickens should eat Horizon Acres 16% Egg Layer Pellets or Crumbles. You may supplement your chickens’ diet with Hen Scratch, Omega Gold, Poultry Grit and/or Oyster Shell.
What is Poultry Grit for?
Poultry Grit aids in digestion. Since a chicken doesn’t have teeth, they swallow their food and it is ground up in the gizzard. Grit in the gizzard helps the chicken digest more efficiently. It can be fed free choice. Free range chickens will often pick up enough grit during foraging.
Why would I need Oyster shell?
Oyster shell is a calcium supplement intended to strengthen egg shell. Horizon Acres 16% Egg Layer Pellets & Crumbles have calcium as an ingredient however it may still be beneficial to supplement with oyster shell from time to time. Oyster shell can be fed free choice.
Can I feed my chickens table scraps?
Yes. Chickens are omnivores, meaning they eat all manners of things including: meat, vegetables, grains and dairy products. Scraps should be fed as a treat. When fed in abundance they can be counterproductive to proper nutrition. Horizon Acres poultry feeds are expertly formulated to meet all of your chickens’ dietary needs. Scraps are delicious to a chicken but do not make a well balanced ration to meet your chickens dietary requirements. The result can be vitamin, mineral and/or protein deficiency and thus poor egg and meat production.
What is a pullet?
A pullet is a young hen. In other words if you buy a pullet chick it will grow into a hen.
What does straight run mean?
Straight run means a mix of male and female chicks. You have 50/50 chance at getting a rooster or a hen.