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Raising Backyard Chickens
Keeping chickens in your backyard might seem extreme, but it's popularity is growing rapidly as hen ownership is now the fastest growing group of pet owners in England. While they do make good pets they need far less care and attention than most other animals if allowed to live in their natural habitat. 4-6 hens will provide a good amount of eggs for a family, and will lay eggs for 1 or 2 years. After that their meat will be tough and should only be used in a curry or similar dish which is cooked for a long time. To produce meat both cockerels and hens can be fattened up for between 12-14 weeks. A dozen or so birds is a good number if you intend to eat them.
Chicken coops or runs come in various designs or can be made at home to include these key features:
If you want to build it yourself you should have detailed plans before you start to ensure all issues are dealt with in the original plans. You can buy pre-designed plans for a minimal cost which includes several options in design and size, as well as detailed guides to raising chickens, choosing the right breeds and getting the most from them.How to Build a Chicken Coop is and instructions on how to build a chicken coop are very easy to follow for the beginner, making it almost as simple as putting up a piece of flat pack furniture (which is how most pre built coops come anyway). Then you can house as many chickens as you want, which would cost you a fortune in pre-built coops unless you upgraded to an industrial size. How to build a chicken coop also comes with a guide to raising, breeding and choosing the right chickens for you, and how to get the most eggs that they can produce without farming them intensively. It enables you to build a coop which will last, and prevent issues in the future by dealing with them in the construction of the coop, with detailed advice on ventilation, floor structure and rat proofing.
Other poultry can also be an option if you have more land. Ducks require fresh water and particularly enjoy eating garden pests such as slugs, and Geese are often used as guard dogs. They don't produce many eggs and require more land than other birds, but they provide 80% of their food from the land, are more hardy and live longer than ducks or chickens, and provide delicious meat. Turkeys are more difficult to keep as they are prone to disease, and cannot be kept anywhere near chickens or they will almost certainly become ill.
SmallScale-Chicken-Production.pdf - 91 page eBook on raising Chickens.
Glossary of terms: