Raising Chickens

If there is a cold, hard winter, the insects die and don’t’ come back in the summer as bad

That wives’ tale isn’t true.

We had the coldest, snowiest winter here yet and the ticks are in abundance this spring. I think the snow just gave them extra insulation from the cold.

That’s one of the reasons I would love to have a few chickens. They keep the bug population to a minimum.

The second benefit would be really fresh eggs. I could go outside and gather eggs each day. We have a neighbor we buy eggs from and there still is a difference from the store bought eggs, but the truth is, I really don’t know how old her eggs are by the time we buy them.

Those two reasons to have chickens are tempered with two very good reasons we can’t.  Emma and Sade. They would compete with the coyotes here raiding the hen house.

Raising chickens will have to remain a dream for me for right now, but if you want to have some hens and a rooster running around, Jerome D. Belanger’s book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raising Chickens” has all the information you need. Whether you want to raise them for eggs, meat or both, this book has it all.

(I admit to being a bit squeamish at reading the meat chapter).

You can register for a chance to win Raising Chickens right here on Living Large!

Just make a comment on this post between now and 5 p.m. CST on Monday, May 31, telling us why you would like to raise chickens.

You can live anywhere, even outside of the U.S. I will draw a winner and announce the name on the post on Wednesday, June 2. If I don’t hear from you with your contact info by Thursday, June 3, I will draw another winner.

We are going to be really busy this Memorial Day weekend and I am taking Monday off for the holiday.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday! In between the bar-b-ques, picnics and the fun official kick off to summer, don’t forget to remember those we have lost.

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44 Responses

  1. small gardens are very cute and does not cost much to setup-~*

  2. small gardens are very cute and could be well managed easily. we have 2 small gardens at home.*,”

  3. My mother tells us a story of her mother, who raised chickens in the Bronx. (Country Club section, which has large plots of land and private homes.) She fell in love with one chicken in particular while she was helping her mother feed them. Then one day her uncle came for her. It was time, he said, to use the chicken for what it was originally intended. My mother cried for days…

    I agree with you: We had a cold winter, too and the bugs are vicious this year. Ugg.

  4. RDLong70 says:

    We have 5 aces of new land. Don’t have chickens yet, but they are on the “to get” list. Fingers crossed we can raise them. =P

  5. We are learning to grow crops in Florida, on a city lot organically. This is quite different than any garden we have had in the past and quite a challange. Our goal is to be able to suppliment our food supply, we can’t grow all of it since the lot is so small.

    Chickens would help with the manure to suuplement the seaweed we harvest for the large compost bins we have. Help with controling the huge varieties of bugs that Forida is so famous for provide eggs for our diet. We have raised beds so they could be Tractored on the beds between crops to fertilize, clean and turn over the top layer of soil and rid it of the various insects that try to destroy our crops.

    Not to mention we think they would be interesting to raise.

    I think we will be adding chickens this year to 0our little micro farm we are so looking forward to having them.

    Have a great summer!

  6. Marianna says:

    I think it’d be a good experience for my kids to take care of some living things other than a dog – and I’d love to have fresh eggs!
    mannasweeps (at) gmail DOT com

  7. Marianna says:

    I think it’d be a good experience for my kids to take care of some living things other than a dog – and I’d love to have fresh eggs!

  8. Marty says:

    To be honest, I just like chickens. I loved to visit relatives’ farms as a child and go into the chicken yards to look for eggs. My grandmother frequently had a box of biddies under a light bulb on her porch, and later she branched out from bannies to more exotic breads. I thought they were all great, and now I’d like to have my own. I can hardly stand to buy eggs at the grocery store anymore, and it would be great to have fresh eggs from our own hens!

  9. pam dewolfe says:

    thanks for this offer, it was so much fun to read everyone’s responses…pam, chief chicken tender, Red Wagon Farm

  10. Deb says:

    My sister and her family had chickens for probably around 15 years. They lived on a busy road and sold eggs. I don’t remember them being let out of their fenced area.

    I don’t remember the details but I read a book about chickens years before they met. One idea that made sense to me (having never raised chickens) was this: If you have enough land for two garden plots side by side, put your chicken coop across the two plots, so that the coop has a door to each plot. One year you garden one side while the chickens clear and fertilize the other side. As you weed the garden the weeds are tossed to the chickens. When the garden winds down, the coop is opened on the other side so the chickens can start clearing this year’s garden, and the gardeners turns their efforts to the other side.

    My sister’s family didn’t have room for such an arrangement but when they gave away the chickens and got rid of the coop, they extended the garden into the coop area. The plants there were so robust, larger and greener than anything growing in the previous garden area. Looked like proof to me, but of the few chicken coops I have seen, none were like this. Has anyone tried this?

    • AJ in AZ says:

      Sounds like a great idea. I did read about someone who winters his chickens in his greenhouse. They get more light in the darkest part of the year, and fertilize for the spring garden at the same time. You dont have to compost chicken manure before using it as long as you use shavings on the coop flour and the chickens poop into them. Then once or twice a year, rake out the poopy shavings and put on the garden. Instant mulch AND fertilizer in one.

  11. Brian says:

    We are slowly moving our lifestyle this direction. Already only get eggs from friends who are raising chickens. Would be nice source of info when we are ready to get our own.

  12. Sheryll says:

    Chickens are so fun! We have six hens, the “girls” are; Dottie, Sookie, Zebra, Sparky, Sexy, and Lucille. I love them for their personalities as much as the fresh eggs! Lucille is absolutely smitten with my husband, follows him everywhere, even onto his workbench or into his work-truck! Visitors are always so surprised at how silly and entertaining they are, I don’t think I could ever kill one to eat though, they are my friends!

  13. Bev says:

    I don’t know that chickens eat ticks, (especially the nymphs… size of a pencil dot), but for your sake I hope they DO!!!! Guinea hens are known to eat ticks.

    Ticks are to be avoided at all costs. Because we don’t have hard freezes much, they are more prevalent than ever, and the Lyme infection rate is going up big-time.

  14. Susan says:

    Right now my dream would be to build a “tiny house”, with a small yard that doesn’t need to be mowed and a small garden. A few chickens for fresh eggs and to “debug” the garden would complete that. I grew up on a farm in Iowa and we always had chickens. I gathered eggs every day and remember the thrill as a kid of finding every new egg.

  15. Susan P. says:

    I live on 2+ acres and am really interested in doing more sustainable living and making use of the land. Raising happy, healthy animals that provide us with food would be ideal. I’ve read a lot and ready to read more…..thenI need to make a plan to bite the bullet!

  16. Tony R says:

    We just got chickens and we love them! Never hurts to learn more about them 🙂

  17. Bill says:

    I want to start a farm in Alaska. Chickens would be great for fertilizer, clearing ground, and benefit from eggs and meat. When I was a kid, we had chickens, including a pet we raised from an egg. She was small, but ruled the hen house.

  18. Fresh eggs are always a hit in our home. Not having to buy them would e even better.

  19. Gary and Judy Long says:

    We are tired of the “iffy” quality and conditions under which our eggs and chickens are produced. The thought of feeding ourselves on animals that have been so cruelly mistreated is no longer acceptable. We have been learning organic farming from a master gardener and are ready to start learning about chickens!

  20. AnnaMarie says:

    I finally convinced my husband that we NEED chickens for the Manure. Eggs and Meat will be a bonus but getting good quality manure for the garden is expensive. We’re hoping to build a coop early in the spring next year.

    Of course we have a large garden so once he realizes there is not enough manure from the chickens I’m going to talk him into goats.

  21. Tepary says:

    Pick me! Pick me! I’m an idiot and we’re raising chickens.

    Proof: We have a dozen chickens. We have plenty of places to share the eggs.

    I have a feeling that my life will become about collecting eggs once they start laying.

  22. Julie says:

    I found your blog through the Tiny House Blog. I live in a tiny house in Kansas (I call it the Little House on the Prairie) and we want to raise chickens. I have an aunt that gives us fresh eggs, but I want to have chickens of our own. We already have a huge garden, and chickens would add to that farm feeling.

  23. Allison says:

    My husband and I are complete novices, as my blog states and is modeled after!! And we want to raise chickens for eggs and to compost their ‘droppings’ for our gardens! So this book would be perfect for us!

  24. Sean says:

    We would love to raise chickens for the eggs. We’ve been buying from a local farm, but as cool as it is to go see his operation and be able to get the eggs right out of the nest, it would be even better if the coops were in the back yard and not a half-hour drive away.

  25. Reader says:

    The world of chickens in Hawaii is very different. My next door neighbor raises fighting chickens. Wild chickens are more common than wild cats. Before we got the magic trash bin (automated pickup), the wild chickens got into the trash bags put out at the curb more than dogs did!
    We are looking into building a “chicken tractor” – for both eggs and fertilizer. It’s an interesting concept.
    Have a great holiday!
    Aloha, Dee

  26. Nick S says:

    My mom lives out in the boonies of N GA. The chickens are running around wild anyway, so they might as well get some eggs from them!

  27. Susan says:

    I would be interested in this book as well. One neighbor in our neighborhood raised chickens for awhile. We have Muscovy ducks that run wild, that are forever laying in my planter box or on the side of the house. They are cute but very nasty, duck poop all over our porches and driveways.

  28. Tim says:

    I am hoping to return home to Maine to live in a Tiny home on our familys farm sometime in the not to distant future, as a way to reduce expenses and for the fact fresh eggs are great I would love to be able to raise my own, I am certainly interested in this book.

  29. Kylie says:

    My town just revised it’s chicken laws and we can now keep hens within city limits and I want to start a backyard flock. Being a city girl this book would be a great starting point for me. I own and love their guide to beekeeping!

  30. Barbara says:

    I am gathering info and supplies to begin my really frugal, small footprint, self sufficient lifestyle. I have had a few chickens before but would like to be more informed this next go-round. I’d love to win the chicken book. This is my first time to your site – very nice place you have here.

  31. MarkBY says:

    Bugs, Bugs, Bugs, I live on a New Mexico mountain with Desert-like summers and mountainy, cold winters.. and still our seedlings are getting eaten as fast as they can grow. I’ve trained our three yr old daughter to collect snails but I suspect that chickens might be more dedicated.

  32. Rickles says:

    Our neighbors have chickens and guineas, both seem to work quite well at controlling small bugs and other misc. insects.

    The guineas are really odd, I saw them gang up on and kill a snake last summer. I couldn’t believe it but a little google fu showed that it’s very common.

    The book sounds really good, I looked it up on Amazon too.

    Great site BTW!

    Have a good long weekend!

  33. Beth Brown says:

    I love my chickens! For the entertainment, for the eggs, for the bug control……they are like little dinosaurs storming across the yard –

    Please enter me in the drawing!

    Beth Brown oneoldgoat

  34. Jenny says:

    I’d like to raise chickens because I think they are funny, beautiful creatures — there are so many varieties, and their plumage is often spectacular. I like watching birds, and chickens just seem like big characters. And then, as if their quirky antics weren’t enough, they all supply EGGS! My favorite breakfast food! Yum!

  35. Annette says:

    I too love chickens, for so many reasons: bug control, eggs, & companionship. Our hen house is almost done (it turned out HUGE) and the pen will be equally large. The ladies will not be allowed to totally roam free unless someone is out with them – too many other critters out and about. =)

    thank you for offering the giveaway!

  36. Kathleen Winn says:

    I love chickens Kerri! My parents and grandparents always had them. Going to gather the eggs was a chore we fought over as kids. I don’t know what it is about those silly birds, but I can just look at one and it makes laugh- there is something comical about the way they strut and cluck. I am currently entered in a contest at Grit magazine, to win a deluxe chicken coop though I have no idea what I’ll do with it if I win!
    My sister, a committed animal lover and constant rescuer of strays, just recently got about a half dozen chickens to keep at her barn. Even her chickens are rescues! She got them from a farmer who was going to butcher them because their best laying days are behind them. But my sister figured that she doesn’t need many eggs anyway, for just one person. If they only lay a couple of eggs a week, that is fine with her.

  37. Kim says:

    My husband got the chicken bug after visiting the Baker Seeds spring festival this month. He’d love a copy of this!

    (Me, I’m still trying to get to a place where I’m willing to be the keeper of a flock of anything other than toddlers. But I’m working on it. Maybe the book would help.)

  38. Senda Daniels says:

    I have a friend that lives in Liberty that want’s to get some Chickens, we used to hatch and raise chicken, Quail, Pheasants when we were kids, it is a lot of work, you definitely have to be devoted!

  39. Matt says:

    I would like to get start raising/growing the majority of the food I eat. I have heard backyard chickens are a good place to start in getting your feet wet with raising animals, also I live in the city and I’m not sure if the neighbors could look over a couple of goats as easy as a couple of chickens.

  40. Alexandra says:

    I have heard guinea hens are best for ticks. Apparently they made a lot of noise, so not good if there are close neighbors. I would love to have chickens but fear I could not handle them along with everything else, so this book is for me.

  41. Sandy says:

    I have a black lab who loves to mess with my chickens but my cranky ole rooster does a pretty good job of herding them in the coop if Nina starts to chase them. Really though, over time the dog has actually figured out they are part of our family and will run back to the coop and smell around but she really doesn’t try to eat them. Plus when I let them out, most of the time I tie Nina to the porch while they are outside roaming around.

    Plus if the chickens feel in any way threatened they go back in the coop.

    Our coop is actually about 20ft from our back door. Surprisingly it really does not stink. Only when it’s really humid does it occasionally reek of ammonia. Plus our coop is really small. I have 5 hens and 1 rooster.

    We also have foxes, coyotes, possums, raccoons, snakes. But I think because we let Nina roam around in the back yard and woods they can smell her scent. We’ve never had a problem. But I also placed rocks around inside the perimeter of the coop so nothing could dig in.

    You could put it by our studio…I’ll put some pics on my blog so you can see how we did ours. 3 hens would probably give you enough eggs to feed you and the spouse easily. Chickens are really low maintenance. Food-water-roam. Plus they love food scraps and provide fertilizer!

    I say go for it!

  42. S.A.B.L.E. says:

    I have enjoyed the chickens but prefer to keep them in the coop as they always seem to like to nibble on my favorite plants and scratch the bunny poop everywhere in the barn. I do enjoy the fresh eggs. I currently have one old rooster that after losing his status as top rooster in the coop is now hanging out with the some of the dogs and roosting in the garage with them at night. He often follows me about the place and joined me for morning coffee on the back porch last week. He’s now a pet and not just livestock.

    Have a great weekend!

  1. May 28, 2010

    […] Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raising Chickens. Just leave a comment on her post about the book (click here) between now and noon (CST) on Tuesday, June 1 and you’ll be […]