Friday, April 2, 2010

Answers to the Top 10 Chicken Questions

Here they are!

1. Do I need a rooster for my hens to lay eggs? The answer is no. But if you want to produce baby chicks, you do need a rooster.

2. How long do chickens live? The answer is from 8 to 15 years.

3. What do I need when my chicks arrive? The answer is a container (at least 18 inches high) to hold the chicks that gives them ample room, pine shavings for the floor, food and water containers, and most importantly 250 watt red glass infared heat lamps to maintain the temperature at 95 degrees for the chicks (that temprature will decrease as they age).

4. At what age do hens start laying and how many eggs will they lay? The answer is that they will start to lay around 5 to 6 months old and will lay approximately 200-300 eggs per year, depending on the breed. Peak production occurs at 2 years old and diminishes there after.

5. How much feed do chickens eat? The anser is a typical laying hen will eat 4 to 6 ounces of feed each day. This increases in cold weather and decreases during warm weather. If you free range your chickens you can expect that amount to decrease significantly.

6. How big does my chicken coop need to be? The answer is 2-3 square feet per chicken. You also need space for the chickens to roost at night and for nesting boxes. Think of the coop like your bedroom, you spend most of your day outside of that room.

7. How many nest boxes will I need for my hens? The answer is one nest box for every 5 to 6 hens.

8. What is the best way to deal with internal and external parasites? The answer is you want to use natural products assuming you eat the hen's eggs. Food grade diatomaceous earth can control both. You can dust the chickens or put it in their food. There are also natural products on the market that will take care of parasites.

9. What is the best way to protect my chickens from predators? The answer is a well built chicken coop. You need to prevent predators from crawling in small spaces and digging under the coop.

10. How do I get my chickens to go into the coop at nights? The answer is that chickens instictively go into the coop at night. You may need to help in a few stragglers and most importantly, you need to remember to shut the door for them at night.

I hope you enjoyed this Q&A from Backyard Poultry magazine. I encourage anyone interested in raising chickens to pick up an issue. It has been extremely helpful and informative for me.

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