Backyard chickens are a fun way to have a never ending supply of hyper-local eggs. Here’s how you can start raising backyard chickens on a shoestring budget.
Remember to check local laws first! Many cities stipulate the number of chickens you’re allowed to have.
Set up a brooder
A brooder is like a nursery for chicks. It can be as simple as a sturdy box filled with pine shavings, corn, or another soft bedding. Make sure you give the chicks access to plenty of fresh food and water, too. The brood is complete when you set up either a heat lamp or specialized brooder lamp to keep the chicks warm.
The lamp may not be be necessary depending on your weather and where you’re keeping the chicks. You don’t want them getting too hot!
Buy your chicks
Here’s the fun part! Once you have your brooder in place, it’s time to buy the chicks. Some people buy from mail order hatcheries. In my experience, mail order is cruel for the chicks, and many of them don’t survive the journey. I opt for local farmers and hatcheries for my chicks.
Try to buy sexed chicks if you can. If not, there’s a really good chance you’ll get lots of roosters and few egg-layers!
Build your coop
You can buy pre-built coops at places like Tractor Supply, but if you really want to save money, DIY is the way to go. You can buy cheap building plans online and customize for your needs.
Remember to fill the coop with soft bedding as well as hay for the chickens to build nests.
Raise the chickens!
Once it’s time to move the chickens into the coop, you’re in the business of raising chickens. Get them on a schedule and determine where and when they leave the coop. Their diet can affect their eggs, so keep that in mind. Just because the chickens roam doesn’t mean they’re fully fed. Supply the chickens with a high quality feed to encourage egg-laying.
Chickens are great egg layers for the first two years of life. After that, production either slows or stops entirely. At this point, some people butcher the hens, while others keep them around for bug control.
The bottom line
One of the best ways to homestead is to have chickens. They’re full of personality and will supply you with more eggs than you can dream of. Follow these steps to set up your flock for minimal cost.