Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Raising Chickens; New to GardenDesk!

We finally have baby chicks, so our new adventure in raising chickens has officially begun!

We have never kept any kind of farm animal before but have been gardening for over 20 years now. It seems that raising chickens is a natural extension to vegetable gardening as I've seen many other garden blogs discuss chickens. I suppose it is similar in that just like with vegetable plants, you care for the chickens and then "harvest" the eggs.

Our chicken coop will be located right in front of the garden and next to the greenhouse, so they will actually become part of the garden. We will be able watch them and tend to them while in the garden and it will be easy to supplement their diet with veggies and insects from the garden. I am looking forward to having them as my garden companions.

For now, they are in our garage in the homemade brooder that my father-in-law built:

We have 17 chicks in all but there are 5 breeds represented. Among them are Buff Orpington, Silver Laced Wyondotte, Dominiques, Black Austrolorp, and some Polish Crested. I don't know how many we will be keeping. Some of them will join the flock that Renee's parents have. For now we are enjoying them all and watching them change and grow daily in the brooder.

Since we really don't know what we're doing yet, we have been reading a lot about raising chickens. Whenever I start something new, I like to find the great books on the subject. I go to several libraries and check out as many books as I can on the subject - usually twenty books or more. Then we browse through each book and pick out our favorites. Then I read those books in their entirety and usually buy two or three of them for future reference. To begin our chicken adventure, I found many books and have selected these four as my favorites:

The book that most people would recommend is Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens. I agree that it is a wealth of information and I will be buying it.

Another great book for me right now is Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plans for Housing Your Flock since I still have to build our coop. It has lots of great ideas.

My third selection is Keeping Chickens: The Essential Guide because it has good information and beautiful pictures of the chickens and different coop ideas. This is helpful to our family because we are not yet familiar with even how our adult chickens will look.

Last but not least, I am enjoying Barnyard in Your Backyard . It is great because it is written as a guide for beginners. It also covers raising other small animals including rabbits. Rabbits will be our next addition, so I will be buying this book as well.

I love the combination of learning by doing at the same time you learn what to do from books. We will be learning how to raise chickens successfully in this way and we are pretty excited. Hopefully I will have the coop and yard built soon to show you.

There has been much going on in the garden too, which I am behind on posting about. Get ready for rapid-fire posts as the gardening season (and chicken season) is now moving into high gear!

Happy Gardening!

- Marc


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