Decide which chicken breed you would like to have.,
Decide whether you want to incubate eggs or buy hatched chicks.,
Prepare the brooder and coop before you bring your chicks home.,
Find out where and how you are going to buy your chicks.,
Observe the chicks if you are buying from a store or breeder.,
Figure out where you want to get your eggs from.
There are many different chickens out there and, as with all animals, they all have unique personalities. Do some research in the different types of chickens available, as different breeds will meet your needs and your lifestyle. For example, some chickens are considered to be better for egg-laying and others are kept for meat. You can also get a dual-purpose breed which is good for both eggs and meat. A decent book on chicken breeds from your local library will help you to sort out which breed you would like. Once you’ve decided on the breed, you will need to work out whether it’s available in your area, so it’s recommended that you choose a few different breeds, just in case you don’t get your first choice.
Good egg laying chickens include: Hyland, Shaver and White Leghorns.
Chickens that are good for both laying eggs and for meat include: Barred Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, Black Orpington and Light Sussex.
Keep in mind that some breeds of chickens you like might not be available in your area but you might find a breed alike instead.;
, If you incubate eggs, you will most likely get some male chickens along with females but when you buy already hatched chicks you might get to know the gender of the chicks you buy. Moreover, you’ll need more equipment for incubating eggs, which should be factored into the cost of raising the chickens and keeping them. It might be a good investment if you plan on a large egg production effort or if you plan on continuously raising chickens for many years to come.
Check online trading or auction sites for secondhand incubators if you’d like to save money. You can also check out newspapers, magazines and newsletters devoted to farming and that include advertisements for used items.
Roosters are good if you want to breed your chickens but they do make a lot of noise, fight and they may be hard to sell or get rid of. On the other hand hens make little noise, get along better, lay eggs and can be sold easily.
, The brooder should be 95 °F (35 °C) at first. Chicken coops should be built to a size sufficient to house the chickens. Also check local laws about housing chickens, as there may be rules on size, placement and such for the building, along with limitations on the amounts of chickens you can have.
Consider having a generator backup in case of power failure, so that the incubator keeps humming along if this should occur.
, You can order chicks by mail, online (such as trading and auction sites or from breeder’s websites) or buy them from a local farm store or a breeder.
When buying chicks online, there is a chance that you will get some poorly ones. This becomes a matter of deciding that you want to care for the sick chickens or taking them to the vet for fast and kind disposal.
When buying chicks from a breeder or store, you can inspect them and pick out the healthiest ones. If you’re unsure, take along someone who is already experienced with raising healthy chickens.
If you are buying from a local farm store they may only have chicks in springtime. Call ahead to find out about availability.
Another possibility is to rescue chicks from a local poultry farm or from the abattoir. Call ahead and let such places know that you’re after unwanted chicks; just be aware that they may have problems, such as deformation or illnesses, so this is a labor of love as much as about getting eggs from them later.
, To tell if a chick is healthy, look for the following signs:
They are active but do sleep more than fully grown chickens.
They shouldn’t be dirty.
They should not be panting or piling on top of each other.
They should have bright and non-dull eyes.
Chicks who occasionally eat and drink are normally healthy.
, Just like hatched chicks, you can buy them from a local farm store, breeder or online but there is a risk of the eggs not hatching.