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Video:Raise Your Own Chickens

with Christie Sobel

Raising your own small flock of free-range chickens requires a minimum of care and attention. See our tips on raising happy, healthy chickens that will give you a regular supply of fresh eggs.See Transcript

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Transcript:Raise Your Own Chickens

Hi my name is Christi Sobel, and today on About.com I will share with you how to keep a small flock of free range chickens.

Chicken Feed

In the morning I feed them organic laying mash and cracked corn. I clean and fill their water container.

Open the Chicken Coop

After they mill about a bit, I let them out through the side door, keeping it open afterwards so they have free access to the nesting boxes and food throughout the day.

I also usually scatter a little corn so they have something to scratch at. The girls run around outside all day, scratching around in the woods and yard, snacking in the compost pile and eating my kale. If you do not want them to eat your kale consider fencing your garden.

Winter Chicken Care

In the winter, they'll stay inside more, and I will also give them kitchen scraps, especially greens and meat bits.

Laying Eggs

When they need to lay an egg, they go back into the coop and snuggle down in one of the nesting boxes.

Chickens don't lay every day, but maybe 5 eggs per week, depending on the breed. When I had 6 laying hens, I would get an average of 3-4 eggs per day. Yum!

You don't need a rooster for eggs, they lay them anyway.

The Chicken Coop

Let's now take a tour of the coop. My set-up is a 4x6 shack. Inside are the two nesting boxes I built for them, each about a cubic foot. I also installed a couple of roosts, because they feel safer sleeping off the ground. It's important to have a feeding trough and a water container.

There's a window for ventilation in the summer, and in the winter I hook up a red light for warmth.

Cleaning the Chicken Coop

I give the coop a thorough cleaning about once per month. You're just in time to see this exciting process.

I don my garden gloves, grab my rake and shovel, and use them to remove the old bedding straw and poop. I compost the straw and chicken poop. One day it'll help fertilize that kale they eat in the garden.

Once clean, the coup gets a new layer of straw, which the chickens will surely be excited to scratch about in. And that's it for the cleaning.

Nighttime Chicken Care

They go back into their coop on their own at dusk, because they are concerned with self-preservation. I just feed them again, and shut all the doors.

It's easy. You need about five minutes in the morning and evening for feeding and letting in and out. Clean the coop once in a while, gather eggs, and talk to them so they are friendlier. And you will be rewarded with delicious eggs and a flock of entertaining hens.

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