By klassact, Jan 18 2016 06:16PM
My first 19 chickens arrived as a birthday gift. Apparently, about 10 years ago I mentioned that I wanted chickens. Someone was selling an established flock on Craigslist and I was told that my birthday gift was in the bed of the truck. Luckily, they were a healthy flock raised by a 4H student who's family had to move out of state. That was five years ago and below are some of the things I've learned along the way. Our flock is now close to 90 chickens, including about six of the original hens.
1. Chickens need a secure place to roost at night. It can be part of their run or a separate structure. Racoons, possums, bobcats, and who knows what else will try to get to the chickens for an easy midnight snack.
2. Most chickens prefer to roost off the ground at night. Place sturdy branches, broom sticks, fence poles, wooden curtain rods 1 to 5 feet off the ground. Make sure they are secure and fairly strong. Chickens like to roost together. Ten 8-lb chickens on a branch is not unusual.
3. Feed one to three times a day rather than leaving food out all day. Rats and mice love to eat left overs as well as snacking on the eggs.
4. Pick up eggs every evening. Avoid temptations for rats and snakes.
5. Chickens need fresh air, sunlight, and a place to get out of the rain.
6. Chickens can live up to 12 years. Peak egg production is between one and two years of age. Egg production declines about 20% each year after two years of age.
7. Choose your source of information wisely. www.The-Chicken-Chick.com is a well researched blog and one of my favorites. www.BackyardChickens.com is a great site, just be careful which advice you take. Some is spot on; some plain wrong.