Hatching Backyard Chickens from Eggs
Picture an elementary school classroom. On a desk at one end sits a small incubator with a few quiet eggs. Little faces peer with wonder through the glass. As the children watch with rapt attention, a little beak moves. The little chick works. She works and works, poking and pecking at the outside of her shell until finally she's out. Wobbly, she stands next to the broken egg shell as the children cheer.
You don't have to be a child to experience the childlike joy and wonder that comes from watching a chicken hatch from an egg. Anyone can hatch chickens from eggs in an incubator. You can set it up right in your living room. Once the chicks hatch and grow into adult chickens, you can add them to an existing backyard flock, or use them to start one. Hatching chickens from eggs is a fun and rewarding experience. Here's a list of things you will need if you want to get started:
There are a lot of choices for incubators so try not to get overwhelmed. You could buy one from a supplier, or, if you think this is a one-time project, rent one. Try calling agricultural schools, farms or schools in your area go see if they have one you can borrow or rent. If you don't have any luck finding a local place to borrow one from, try searching for incubator rentals online. You can find a place like this one that can rent you an incubator for a short period of time. If you decide to buy, a quick internet search will get you a ton of options. Some things to keep in mind when choosing your incubator:
All your set up efforts would seem kind of silly if you didn't get eggs, right? But where? Again, local agricultural schools and farms are a good resource here. If you go with a local farm, you may not have much of a choice over what kind of chickens you get. If this is important to you, you should probably turn to the internet. Many hatcheries will ship fertile eggs to you, and you can pick the breed of chicken. Pick a breed based on your needs. If you want power layers, go for something like the Rhode Island Red, or another one from this list. If you are working with limited space, bantams are a good option. They're mini chickens, but they can still give you delicious eggs.
Once you've got everything ready, you sit back and… wait. Your incubated eggs will take approximately 21 days to hatch. As they say, the waiting is the hardest part!
Chickens never stop scratching, hunting and eating-and neither do we. Wouldn't it be great if we could share the products of our next harvest with our flock by planting healthy, easy to grow fruits and veggies that would feed all of us? Whether you're planning a backyard garden or have a greenhouse, there are plenty of awesome crops awaiting your discovery. Gardeners and homesteaders alike can take advantage of these fruits and veggies because they're easy to grow, produce large amounts of food, and are packed with the nutrition both humans and chickens need to stay fit and productive.
Top 10 Sustainable Foods for You & Your Brood
Chickens and people love the following easy to grow herbs, fruits, and veggies. The good news is, they are crops that grow all across the country regardless of your gardening zone.
1) Broccoli Greens: Provide flowers for people, leaves and stems with a little grit for the chicks.
Nutritional Values: Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc
2) Nasturtiums: Grows annually with human grade foliage and flowers, plant them alongside your fence for the chicks to munch on.
Nutritional values: Sodium, Vitamin C
3) Beet Greens: Thrives in both warm and cool weather, chickens love these and you can add them to soups just as you would celery.
Nutritional Values: Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin A
4) Carrots: Best of both worlds; carrots for your mirepoix and the healthy greens get gobbled up by the chickens.
Nutritional Values: Vitamin A, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin B-6, Magnesium
5) Clover: White clover for puddings, red clover for tea, chickens love it and it helps your garden by attracting bees.
Nutritional Value: Calcium, Chromium, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Thiamine, Vitamin C
6) Dandelions: Helps support a healthy digestive tract in chickens and people can add them to enhance delicious salads.
Nutritional Value: Protein, Choline, Inulin, Pectin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, B6, Thiamine, Calcium, Copper, Manganese, Iron
7) Greens: Oh, the bountiful harvest! So healthy, so nutritious, so yum and so big!
a) Mustard Greens
Nutritional Value: Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Vitamin C, Vitamin K
8) Berries: Chickens love these sweet treats and they grow very well in containers.
Nutritional Value: Calcium, Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin B-6, Magnesium
9) Sunflowers: Harvest and dry both the flowers and seeds in late summer, they store well and are packed with protein.
Nutritional Value: Vitamin A, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin B-6, Magnesium
10) Pumpkins, Melons, Zucchini, Squash: Grows well during the summer and easily stored for soups, pies and a super tasty treat for chicks.
Nutritional Value: Vitamin A, Calcium, Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin B-6, Magnesium
Hacks for Healthier Hens
Lisa Steele, owner of Fresh Eggs Daily states, "I have been fermenting whole and cracked grain organic layer feed with added oats and cracked corn. The chickens love it and I'm confident I'm providing them THE best diet I can." More good advice comes from Off the Grid News, "Learn how to grow fodder yourself inside. Fodder is an excellent supplement for your chickens in the winter months. It will boost the quality of your eggs, as well."
Adding more chickens to your flock is a delightful way to have more fresh eggs, friendly clucking, and silly antics to watch. In order to achieve a healthy, utopian environment for the whole flock, consider these tips when introducing the newcomers to the rest of the flock.
Chickens instinctively establish a pecking order from a very young age. This process establishes an authoritarian system, and determines dominance and rank. With new chickens in the coop, the status quo changes and the pecking order must be reestablished.
Chickens will fluff their neck feathers, strut, raise their wings, and peck at each other's necks to establish pecking order. The weaker ones will submit to the more dominant ones and effectively give up their rights to eating and drinking first, as well as access to the most coveted nesting boxes. This is a normal and necessary step to how the flock functions, but introductions should be made slowly and with care.
Consider the Breed and Size
Some breeds of chickens are more welcoming to newcomers than others. Hybrids, Buff Orpingtons and Plymouth Rocks are friendly, docile, and take to newcomers easily. On the other hand, Silkies or Rhode Island Reds can be very territorial and may not readily accept newbies.
Be sure to wait to introduce the chickens until they are all about the same size. Introducing younger chickens while they are still small in size will lead to inevitable bullying.
Eggs-amine Your Space
Make sure your chicken coop has enough space to accommodate everyone. This includes adequate space on the roosting bar, enough nesting boxes, free space around feeders and waterers, and plenty of personal space per chicken both inside and outside of the coop. Tight, cramped quarters lead to territorial, cranky birds that are more likely to fight.
When it's time to make introductions it is wise to not rush the process.
If you haven't done so already, check out our post from last week on tips for building a chicken coop; you might get lucky and find a coupon code!
In recent years it has become increasingly popular to have your very own backyard chickens. What better way to buy local, right?! If you happen to be considering starting your own venture into chicken husbandry you'll need to think about housing your chickens and building the best coop for your new clucky friends. We'll talk about size, ventilation, insulation, construction materials, nesting boxes, and all things building your birds their best home.
1. Make it Legal
Before you start mapping out your yard and deciding on placement for your chicken coop, make sure you visit the appropriate local authorities. You'll need to find the laws your state and city have for backyard chicken husbandry before you begin. Some locations have limitations on the number of birds an individual can own and may forbid homeowners to keep backyard fowl period. If your neighborhood has a Home Owner's Association you might want to check in with them as well. While we here at PopWorms! thoroughly enjoy chickens and the benefits of owning them, not everyone feels this way.
According to Claborn Farms there are a few important factors to consider when choosing placement for your chicken coop. The first factor is convenience. Where you place your coop should be easily accessible while still being safe for your chickens. You'll want your coop to be located someplace you're able to easily collect eggs, feed, water, and care for your chickens. The second is shade. If you live in a warmer climate placing your coop in the shade of a large tree, or providing shade another way, will be important for keeping your chickens cool during the hot summer months. Your coop should also be located in an area with good drainage and dry ground for sanitary and health reasons. Finally, you'll want to place your chickens where it most benefits your yard. For farm owners, having chickens is highly beneficial as they can move them around to where they're needed to fertilize orchards, gardens (in the off season) and lawns. Since your coop will likely not be portable, it's important to place it where it works best for you and your chickens.
3. Building Materials
First and foremost, you'll need some building plans for your coop. You can purchase chicken coop plans, or there are websites like The Happy Chicken who offer free DIY chicken coop plans. If you're feeling daring you also have the option to create your own. Once you have your plans you'll need to start gathering materials.
Depending on your design you have a few options for building materials. Generally speaking, you'll need materials for framing, walls, ramps, foundation, doors, windows (if you want them), roofing, exterior finishes, and fencing or screens. Your choice in materials will vary according to your chicken coop plans. What works for someone else's coop may not also work for yours. Coop Design Plans has multiple suggestions for creative material use in chicken coops. They are quick to point out that while lumber works best and allows more creativity in construction, it can often be more expensive. If it is within your budget, it's a great option. Coop Design Plans also states that fencing your chickens in for their chicken run will need to be done with careful consideration. While chicken wire might seem like the most obvious choice, it rusts quickly and doesn't protect your chickens from predators. Chain link fencing poses a similar problem as smaller predators, like raccoons, can still get their hands through the fence. Creating a wood framed and screened chicken run that's attached to your chicken coop may be preferable in this instance. You have endless options for the roofing of your coop as it's acceptable to use just about anything you'd use for roofing on a house. This opens up a lot of options for design, aesthetic, and overall safety.
The size of your chicken coop will depend on how many chickens you intend/are allowed to have. It's important not to build for more chickens than you have the space for. You'll also have to be within the limitations set by your city and state. The general concesus is that you need 2-3 square feet per chicken inside the coop and roughly 8-10 square feet per chicken in an outside run. Make sure you have the space for these accommodations prior to building.
5. Ventilation and Insulation
According to Better Hens and Gardens ventilation is of the utmost importance for chicken health, even in winter. You might be thinking, "But won't my chickens be cold? It's freezing outside!" Truth be told, chickens generate a lot of heat all by themselves! During the winter months your chickens may be spending more and more time inside the coop. Their body heat, breathing, and droppings all create moisture and humidity inside the coop. That moisture in the air can create a multitude of problems for your feathery friends including illness, frostbite, and respiratory tract damage. The amount of ventilation required will depend upon the climate and weather conditions. The hotter it gets, the more ventilation your chickens will need. In places where very hot weather isn't a concern the recommendation is one square foot of ventilation per ten square feet of floor space.
Insulating your chicken coop is easy. Simply make sure to fill in any holes in the walls. Additionally, you'll want to check for any drafts in the coop. If you do find it to be a bit drafty you can use caulking to cover any gaps or cracks in the coop.
6. Nesting Boxes
The folks over at The Happy Chicken Coop make a great point: the nesting boxes are not for the chickens, they are for YOU! Chickens will lay their eggs wherever they feel safe and secure. The nesting boxes make it so you can easily find and collect eggs each day. Otherwise you would be searching the whole area for eggs. The ideal nesting box is quiet, safe, private, and dark. It should be in a low activity area and no more than 18 inches off the ground. The number of boxes you need will depend upon the number of hens you have and size will depend on the breed you have chosen. You have the option of building your nesting box into your coop, purchasing one, or creating one of your own. The nesting boxes create a safe place for egg laying while maintaining convenience for you, it's a win-win!
Deciding to get backyard chickens is a huge decision. It requires a lot of careful thought and planning. We hope this guide gives you a jumpstart in your planning so you can make your way towards creating the dream chicken coop for both you and your charming fowl.
Already have a coop or want to get stocked up on PopWorms! for your incoming flock? Use the code COOP for 20% off PopWorms! ECO 1 lb and PopWorms! Live, good until 3/15/2019!
If you have a small backyard, you may think your dreams of raising chickens will always remain dreams. Luckily, chicken breeds are practically boundless. If you have limited space, bantams may be your answer. Bantam chickens are miniature chickens. They may be as small as half the size of regular chickens. Smaller chickens mean smaller coops, cages, and living spaces. Some of the most popular bantam breeds have docile personalities and are great egg layers. If you are ready to start a bantam chicken flock, here are some breeds to consider.
Whether you are buying your chicks from a hatchery or a local store, bantam chicks are widely available. These tiny chicks are fun to raise and grow quickly. For cooking, it typically takes two of these dainty eggs to equal one regular chicken egg.
Spring is on the horizon, and with it comes a blast of bright fresh hope that stirs an awakening in all of us. What you will do with these feelings of resurgence are of course up to you, but what better time to finally start your own backyard chicken flock! Our next series of posts will be aimed at starting a backyard flock, or expanding your current flock.
The benefits are as plentiful as springtime rosebuds: tasty fresh eggs, the joy of watching your funny little backyard companions, and the satisfaction of knowing exactly where your food is coming from, to name a few. But the task can seem daunting if you don't know where to begin. We're here to settle the old "What came first?" debate to tell you as a beginner, start with the chickens before the eggs. Or at least chicks.
Very soon, stores around the country will begin selling cute fuzzy chicks, and while they are all adorable, not every breed is perfect for a backyard flock. Of course not everyone is looking for the same things out of their backyard flock, so read the reasons behind our list before making your final judgments.
Top 10 Breeds for Backyard Chicken Flocks:
Truthfully you can't go wrong with any of these reputable choices. Nutrition, care, and breeding are always factors in the health and production of any flock. Buy your stock from reputable breeders and you will enjoy all of the attributes a backyard flock brings to your life.
Your chicken's dietary requirements during the winter are vastly different from what they are in the warmer months. Although winterizing the coop is an important step in protecting your chickens from the cold, make sure you have your flock's meal plans sorted out as well!
When it's cold, chickens enter a recuperation phase that ensures they are ready for the following Spring. If you want your hens to be able to perform at their best you need to help them get the most out of their recuperation phase! Laying eggs is very draining, and without proper downtime, they will not be able to keep up the following year!
During the egg-laying season, hens depend on protein, but during the winter, chickens require an increase in carbohydrates to keep their bodies warm. In the winter, they will typically eat 1.5 times the amount they usually do, so stock up on plenty of nutritious food items for your flock!
Foods To Feed For Winter
If you have any additional tips or tricks you'd like to share, let us know in the comments!
Eggs are so amazing! They are gluten free, high in protein, low in calories, and are budget friendly to boot! They perform a myriad of functions within dishes, and are definite kitchen staples. Their versatility allows for imaginative dishes that range from simple to exotic, without breaking the bank. If it is not obvious, I am a true fan of the egg, from boiled eggs to the subtle addition in that perfect holiday cookie. I want to show them some love by sharing a yummy egg recipe that is sure to please this holiday season. This smoked salmon quiche is a shoo-in for success, AND eggs from your backyard girls play a starring role!
I tried a version of this quiche several years ago, and it has been a keeper in the recipe bin ever since, particularly when I get a truckload of much-appreciated eggs from my mother or aunt. Quiches are fantastic, because they are so easy to adapt-you can throw just about anything into the mix and it turns out tasty! Also, quiche is great because it can be served for breakfast, brunch, or dinner, and can even be made ahead and frozen for later use. Perfect, right? The version I make is with a store-bought crust (my grandmother said it is okay, so it is okay), but I have seen some versions with no crust, a homemade crust, and even a potato crust. And, we typically enjoy it at the Jordan abode with rosemary potatoes and a side salad.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Bring the kids into the kitchen, make a mess, and make some memories…Happy Holidays!
Yield: 2 quiches (eat one now and freeze the other! Or, for one quiche, just split the recipe in half)
We hope you enjoyed last week's post on gift ideas for the backyard chicken lover. This week we've selected a variety of gifts for the caregiver and for the chickens as well!
Lixit Chicken Toy
Load the ball up with your chicken's favorite treats such as PopWorms! and watch them happily pursue it, with treats popping out as they go! Reviews show that over 75% of consumers recommend it and it's 100% chicken approved! Beware, some owners have said their chickens learn how this little gadget works but it doesn't seem to stop them from enjoying it!
Available On: Amazon | Chewy | MyPetChicken
A Chicken Swing
Do chickens like swings? It turns out some of them certainly do! The Chicken Swing shines when chickens are in smaller spaces, which is more likely during the winter time when their free-range lifestyle might be limited.
Available On: Amazon | MyPetChicken
The Chicken Chick's Guide to Backyard Chickens
A little knowledge goes a long way! Get the chicken lover in your life this highly rated informative book full of tips and tricks for healthy hens. Reviews show this little paperback book is loved by 100% of the 631 consumers who reviewed it and it's even the number one best seller in the urban gardening category.
Available On: Amazon | Target
Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens...Naturally
Lisa Steele is a well-known figure in the backyard chicken community! She has a beautiful blog full of useful information and has been featured by many media outlets. This book has been rated highly and is considered one of the most helpful resources for those keeping backyard chickens.
Available On: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Single Chicken Nesting Box
Nesting boxes are an essential part of any coop and can make an excellent gift for a chicken lover who is still working on their set up. Miller is just one manufacturer who produces top-rated coops, but we recommend looking around for various solutions that may meet your the chicken lover's nesting box needs!
Available On: Amazon
Thanks for stopping by this week and checking out part two in our post on gift ideas for the backyard chicken lover. If you haven't done so already, check out the post from last week, you might get lucky and find a coupon code!
Any backyard chicken lover knows that the backyard flock is just as much a part of the family as any dog or cat. So when it comes to the gift-giving season, it's only natural to include some special gifts with chickens in mind. Every chicken lover has their wishlist of what they want for their special ladies, so what's on our list?
Countertop Egg Holder
One of the greatest benefits of backyard chickens is their consistent supply of fresh eggs. But the chickens don't exactly supply egg cartons. This spiral egg dispenser allows you to store approximately two dozen eggs, plus it creates a beautiful addition to your kitchen!
One of the not-so-fun parts of raising backyard chickens is venturing out on the cold, muddy days to feed the ladies and collect eggs. Any experienced chicken farmer knows that a great pair of muck boots is essential. We love this pair because of their vibrant yellow color. These boots are waterproof and feature our favorite backyard pal — perfect for the crazy chicken lady on your list.
Egg Gathering Basket
There are plenty of vessels you can use to gather your morning supply of eggs, but not many are as cute as this chicken shaped wire basket. This basket is great for gathering eggs, but it's rustic charm also makes it a great option for countertop storage.
Chicken Boredom Ball Toy
Chickens like to have fun too. Your backyard chicken lover will enjoy watching their chickens run around the yard chasing and pecking at their new favorite toy. Fill it with a special treat like PopWorms! and banish the chicken boredom away.
Chickens work hard to provide delicious eggs every day — they deserve a treat! PopWorms! are an all natural, sustainable source of protein, and each batch is made 100% in Texas. This means you can give your hens a tasty treat without worrying about what's going to end up in your egg. Use the code GIFT and receive 25% off one pound bags of PopWorms! ECO, until December 31st, 2018!
Spoil your backyard chicken lover this year. There are so many great options, the only problem you'll have is figuring out which one to get. What's your favorite chicken-themed gift you have given or received? Let us know in the comments!