Thursday, 28 January 2010

Secrets to Raising Healthy Chickens on a Small Budget

There are two mandatory ingredients for raising chickens as far as health is concerned. One is food and the other is shelter, which often comes in the form of a chicken ark. Chicken arks are also known as chicken coups, chicken sheds, hen houses, chicken pens, chicken runs, poultry housing or a whole assortment of other names. Once you have purchased a good set of chicken house plans, and after you have built your chicken ark, you will find that the next step, after adding poultry to your chicken coup of course, will be to provide healthy and nutritious food to your birds.

The health of your pullets has a lot to do with the type and quality of chicken ark that you provide for them, but it is also dependent on giving them a high quality feed. To raise chickens that will provide you with the highest production, in other words the highest quality and quantity of eggs, you must be certain that your chickens are healthy and happy by feeding them a well balanced diet.

First, you can let them free range for all of their food. This is easy since all you have to do is provide them a portable chicken coop. Plus it will save you some money. Unfortunately, it will also cause your egg production to plummet. Second, you can prepare and mix your own feed by following one of the many online recipes that will include grains and fish meal. Next, you can buy premixed rations, which will take all of the guess work out of mixing your own. And lastly, you can use a combination of the previously listed methods.

If you are looking to avoid any extra hassle, the easiest way, although it is the most expensive, is to purchase a premixed package.

Chickens need animal protein, which naturally comes in the form of bugs, but it should be supplemented with grains and fish meal. These foods will keep chickens healthy and productive for many years. Some pullets can continue laying for 10 or 12 years when provided with this type of diet.

Allowing them to forage for their own food is a natural and normal activity, but you should also realize that letting them scratch, hunt and peck for food around their chicken ark too long makes it possible to for them to devour too much of this free food. This is a sure-fire way to reduce their egg production and a compromise needs to be made. Allowing your poultry to free range in limited amounts will save you money on feed, while still allowing your chickens to remain healthy and productive in the chicken coup.

Another choice is to buy a prepackaged feed. This is the easiest, but most costly method. All you have to do is read the package to make sure it is for the right type and age of bird. Each feed is specially formulated to give a particular breed what it needs nutritionally. Sex also plays a factor, so if you are raising pullets, you will want to purchase feed that is formulated specifically for them, which means it will contain more calcium along with the proper amounts of protein and other nutrients.

If you are doing your own mixing, you will need to do more research. For beginners it is usually wise to begin their new hobby by purchasing chicken feed at the store. As you become more experienced, you will be able to save money by mixing your own. You will also learn how often to allow your poultry to scratch around their chicken ark for juicy bugs and plants.

An ideal situation for small backyard farmers is to use portable chicken coups. This way, the hens can free range in a small area, pecking around happily for big fat bugs and succulent plants, while still getting their staple of prepackaged or self-mixed food. When you are ready to allow your birds some greener pastures, you will simply move the portable chicken ark and let them do more hunting in the new location. By allowing them free range opportunities, it will save you money on feed while still giving them the protection from predators that portable chicken sheds can provide.

Remember, the two most important aspects of raising healthy and productive chickens are food and shelter. Well-built stationary chicken coups will provide the shelter, while a portable chicken ark will provide the shelter along with plenty of free food that your birds will savor. This can give you the best of both worlds, by lowering your feed costs while maintaining the productivity of your chickens.

Mr. Harding has quite a lengthy history when it comes to raising chickens. He has raised many breeds of chicken along with a variety of other poultry for both meat and eggs. If you are interested in raising chickens in your own backyard, you will find valuable information on his web site at Learn the 3 things you need to know before building your own chicken ark. Also available are entertaining reviews of products about building chicken coups.

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