Becky’s Guide to Raising Chickens – Fresh Eggs & Fun Pets In Your Backyard


– Welcome to Becky’s
Guide to Raising Chickens. Today I’m gonna talk about what’s involved in raising backyard chickens for eggs. You’ll learn how to chose
and care for baby chickens, how to set up your coop,
and what to feed them so you get lots of eggs; everything you’ll need
to know to get started. Let’s go. (upbeat music)
Welcome to Becky’s Homestead. Have you ever had a real egg?
(rooster crows) They’re so delicious and nutritious. A real egg has a yolk that’s
so orange it’s almost glowing. Real eggs are the best
for baking and cooking. You’ll notice a big difference. If you want real eggs you don’t have to go to a fancy store and pay $6 a dozen. You can get them right in your backyard from your own pet chickens. Chickens make great pets
because they’re fun to watch with their little antics
and their big personalities. They’re so funny. It’s amazing how quickly
you get attached to them. They’re also very kid-friendly. The kids will love to feed ’em, watch ’em, and collect their eggs. What are hens and roosters? A hen is a girl chicken. The hen is the one that lays the eggs. A rooster is a boy chicken. A hen doesn’t need a rooster to lay eggs. She will lay eggs without a rooster. The difference a rooster makes is he can fertilize the eggs. If the hen sits on the fertile eggs, in 21 days they’ll hatch into baby chicks. Rather you have a rooster or not, the eggs are edible either way. The rooster has no effect on whether you can eat the eggs or not. You don’t need a rooster at
all to get farm fresh eggs. You can just have hens in your
henhouse and enjoy the eggs, plus it will be quieter without a rooster. Roosters are very noisy. (rooster crowing) Some neighborhoods don’t
allow roosters at all, but the let you have hens. After all, it’s called
a henhouse for a reason. In the store, they separate
chicks into three groups: cockerels, pullets, and a straight run. Stay away from the cockerels; those are the roosters. Price-wise they’re the cheapest. A straight run is a mixture
of hens and roosters, but let me tell you,
they’re mostly roosters. You’ll be lucky to get a
couple of hens in there, and they’re mid-price range. Last but not least you’ll see the pullets. Those are all hens and the most expensive. It’s unlikely, but you could
still get a rooster in there. If you walk into the store
and say give me 10 pullets, there might be one rooster
in there by accident. So to sum it up, I’m recommending you just start out with pullets which are the girls, the hens. Where do you buy chickens? There’s four places you can buy chickens. A big super store like
Tractor Supply and Rural King, a smaller store which
is a local feed store, and you can google that
to find one in your area. You’re going to need a feed store anyway so you can buy chicken feed and supplies. The third is the flea market, but if you’re a beginner I would stick with the super store and
the local feed store. Last but not least, you can buy online. They mail the baby chicks overnight when the babies are first hatched. They’re very delicate but
they are able to get shipped. The nice part is there’s
more breeds to choose from when you order online. How do I take care of baby chickens? Shopping for baby chickens is so much fun. You can get carried away because
they’re just so adorable. When you go in there and you see ’em all, you’re just like oh, I want some, and you just can’t help yourself. But the truth is it does
take a little bit of skill to take good care of
’em so they don’t die. They are very fragile when they’re little. There are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned through the years that I want to share with
you so you can have success. My method is so simple and inexpensive that practically any family can do this and then enjoy the healthy,
fresh eggs from the backyard. Get all this set up before
you go chicken shopping. The first thing you need to know is keeping the temperature
for the baby chicks even. It’s very, very important. The biggest mistake people make is cooking the babies or freezing them. The most important thing
is getting a thermometer and a heat lamp. I like to use a temperature
controller like this one. You set it and it’s automatic. It takes out all the guesswork, and you can get one like this on Amazon. The babies need it to be 100
degrees for the first week, drop it five degrees every week until it’s about 75, 80
or maybe room temperature. At that point, this heat lamp would probably only come on at night when the little chickens need it, but that’s what makes this very convenient is it’s automatic; you don’t have to worry about turning the light on
or turning the light off. This heat lamp, as you can see in there, is not a light bulb, it’s a heat bulb, so it won’t turn a light
on the little chickens, it’ll just warm them up. That’s really nice about this bulb because that way they’re not under the bright lights like oh, 24/7, they can actually get some good rest. You’ll see the stores
use the red heat lamp which are really hot, and
they’re in a big warehouse so at nighttime they
might need that much heat, but it’s very strong and I
personally never use those. I like to use these heat bulbs, and you can get this
bulb on Amazon as well. The next thing you need
is a big rubber container. You can use a tote, you can use even a cardboard
box with high sides. Just make sure it has high sides because within a week or so
they can start to flutter and jump higher than you think and you don’t want ’em getting out. You can use a water trough, you can use a tote, or
even a cardboard box. Just make sure it has high
sides because in about a week the babies start fluttering
their little wings and they jump out of
there surprisingly easy. The first thing I do is
I put sand in the bottom and then on top of that I’ll
put a little cedar wood chips. You can buy a bag of sand at
any home improvement store or since I live here in Florida, I just get the sand outside in the yard. What’s really nice about this sand is when they’re little
teeny weeny baby chicks they can use the sand,
the little particles for grit when they’re tiny. We’ll talk more about
grit in a future episode. You have to make double, triple-sure the heat lamp only covers, only
heats half of the container because that way if the
little chickens are too hot, they will move to the side over here where there’s no heat lamp. There has to be a hot side and a cold side in the little tub. So that’s why you don’t use
a teeny weeny little box, because then the heat
lamp just heats that up and that’s how you cook ’em. That’s why this controller
is very, very practical and very convenient, is it helps you in determining the proper temperature, setting the proper temperature
for the baby chicks. This is the thermostat, the thermometer. So what you do is you put
this under the heat lamp. The heat lamp plug is plugged
into this device right here and then this goes into the wall. Next you’ll need some
kind of a little waterer. You don’t want a deep waterer because the little
chickies will drown in it. These are very nice. You can buy ’em at a feed store. The little plastic bottom part was literally like $1.50, and then I just use my own mason jar as the glass part on top. Very inexpensive and it works really well for the baby chicks. For the food, I like to use just the lid to a mason jar here, it
just came from this jar, and as far as the food goes,
the little chicks just pick and scratch and they’ll kinda
make a mess out of the food. So don’t be too picky about that and you want to see them pick and scratch, that’s good for them and
we want to encourage that. So the lid just keeps
it very simple and easy. It’s easy to clean and no problems. With the sand in the bottom of the tote you don’t have to worry
about a little water or a little feed spilling in
there because it works perfect. So you can just use a lid
from an old mayonnaise jar or just whatever you
have around the house. It’s very simple, you
don’t have to be too fancy. To feed the baby chickens I use this. You can buy this
commercial feed right here. I always buy non-medicated. That is what I look for when
I’m looking for chick starter. Non-medicated. There is no point in
medicating the baby chicks if they’re not sick
and they don’t need it. It’s just ridiculous. You don’t wake up in the morning and take medicine for no reason. So we’re not gonna do it
to the animals either. You can buy this chicken
food or make your own. I talk about making chicken
food in a future episode. It’s amazing how much
those little chickies will pick and scratch. (laughs) That’s why I love this setup because it’s very simple
and easy to keep clean. Once grown, the chicks will
move outside to the coop. But how will you know when they’re ready? Depending on where you live
and what the climate is in your area, a good rule of thumb is to wait until they’re fully feathered. They won’t be a full-size chicken when they’re fully feathered, they’ll be about the size of a grapefruit, but they’ll be fully
feathered; no more chicky fuzz. Depending on where you
live, you might still need the heat lamp at night, so
you’ll have to move that out into the coop. I wanna make a good point here. You cannot take the babies that
are the size of a grapefruit and just put them into a coop with already has hens and
maybe a rooster in there. The problem with that is the older hens will definitely pick on
the little baby chicks. So when I say move ‘me out into a coop, what I mean is just an empty
coop when you’re starting fresh with your first batch of chickens. A chicken coop has two parts. It has the enclosed weather-proof henhouse where they sleep and lay their eggs. The second part of the
coop is the chicken run where they get exercise,
sunshine, and fresh air. This is a full-size coop and
this is quite a large henhouse. I personally like a
large henhouse and coop because I keep a lot of chickens. And when I enter to gather the eggs, feed them, and clean up, I
don’t wanna bump my head. So I love a big, large henhouse. Plus, my hens have plenty
of room to get in there and deep, dark shade for the hot summers so they don’t overheat. This is the run I have
coming off my big henhouse. This has quite a big run as well. I like to give the chickens plenty of room so they can run back and
forth and get exercise. You can see I put the water
tub over here at the end and little Pepper (laughs)
is sitting on the water tub. That works well for me
because I can empty it and refill it with water. You want to make sure
they have plenty of room to run back and forth and get exercise, fresh air, and sunshine. They do need deep, dark
shade in the henhouse, but they need sunshine in the chicken run. That’s very important to
remember, they need both. This is our flip coop. This size coop holds two
hens and one nest box, and this is for somebody
that has a smaller backyard but still wants to enjoy
the farm fresh eggs. This works absolutely perfect for us. This is very easy to build
yourself with the blueprints. There’s many, many
different kinds of coops and henhouses of a variety of sizes, and you have to find one that
fits good in your backyard. The most important thing
is making sure your coop is big enough so they can
get away from each other. The number one mistake
people make is over-crowding, having too many chickens in a small coop. They will start pecking on each other and then they will become stressed out. In the henhouse you put
the roost where they sleep, the nest boxes and a hanging feeder. The roost is a wooden stick attached to both side of a henhouse. It’s basically a big
perch like in a birdcage. The chickens sleep up there. The roost has to be long enough
so they can all fit up there with plenty of space between them so they don’t start pecking each other and knocking each other off. It also has to be wide
enough or fat enough so that they’re not
teetering on a tightrope while they’re trying to sleep. Now you’re all set up
and everything’s perfect. The chickens are growing. So, when are the delicious eggs coming? I tell this to everybody. Be patient. Give your young hens a chance. It could take up to 10 months for them to lay their first egg. Some will start laying
as early as four months. Some will lay their first
egg at 10 to 12 months. If your hens take 10 to 12
months to lay their first egg, it doesn’t mean that there’s a problem. It could just be late-maturing hens. They’re all different, just like people. What they need to lay
eggs is a balanced diet with enough calories,
plus peace and quiet. Let’s talk about that now. I feed mine a combination of crimped oats, whole corn, alfalfa pellets,
or fresh alfalfa hay, plus a non-medicated,
commercial egg laying pellet. For the commercial feed I look
at the ingredients on the bag and try to find one without
soybean oil or soybean in it because I don’t want
to eat that in my eggs. I use a hanging feeder. This keeps the bugs out. It keeps them from crawling
up and eating the food. It hangs about four inches off the floor. They need access to commercial feed 24/7. Then I throw them oats, whole corn, and alfalfa hay by hand every day. Also, make sure they have plenty of clean water at all times. Grit is very important
because the chickens need it to digest their food. Chickens have to have grit at all times. It comes in a bag and you can
just dump some on the ground or you can use some sort
of a little grit pan. You want to make sure
you nest boxes are nice and cozy for the hens. I use these totes with a
hole cut in it for the door, then screw it to a board. The chickens just love them. Make sure your boxes aren’t too big or two chickens will sometimes
get in there at the same time and then they kind of
break each other’s eggs; that does happen. Make sure your chickens
have peace and quiet. They need this to lay their eggs. For example, you can’t have the dog running up and down the coop
barking at the chickens, you can’t have the kids
chasing them around the yard trying to catch ’em, and
you can’t put anything shiny or reflective like the car near the coop. All these things stress them out. So think about this when you’re deciding where to put your coop in the yard. You’re going to love
your backyard chickens. They’re so much fun and the
healthy eggs are delicious. This is just the quick start-up guide. Next, I get into more
detail about each topic in the following episodes. Thanks to all my Patreon supporters. I couldn’t do these videos without you. If you’d like to become
a Patreon supporter and get special perks and rewards, the link is in the description below. If you enjoyed this
video, here’s a playlist with some more Homestead
videos you might enjoy. Thanks for watching. Happy homesteading. Bye bye.

About the author

Comments

  1. When my hens were babies I didn't use a thermometer thing or sand.I used a regular bulb for the lamp.I cleaned out and old candle glass and used that for their water.
    I think I saved ALOT of money.

  2. Been thinking about having some chickens, your vids are GREAT! I guess a guy can start smaller with 5 or 6 and go up from there! As long as the coop is big enough. Glad I found your vids!

  3. When I was working for a nursery school in the 80s, we visited a lady who had a few chickens and a lot of goats. She sold the goat's milk for people who couldn't drink cow's milk. She had a smaller yard than we had in our house in the suburbs.

  4. how do you keep foxes from stealing the chickens? They can climb and jump very high fences and also dig under into the coop.
    Any advices for a beginner?

  5. SO YOU ARE LITTERALY EATING CHICKENS THAT HAVENT BEEN BORN YET. I AM REALLY UPSET BECAUSE I AM STRICTLY VEGETARIAN. I WAS CONSIDERING SUBCRIBING, BUT NOW IM NOT SURE IF I CAN.

  6. Becky you are truly the most wholesome human being on this planet please never stop making videos they bring joy to my heart

  7. I have one remaining hen fully feathered, of 7 siblings 3 roosters 5 hens total.I found them two by two wandering in a field, mother had gone up in the tree, they were one or two days old.
    Too many chickens as they grew, one little rooster found dead…dehydrated , l kept one and got rid of the rest to a Farm center.

  8. Actually, the reason they use red bulbs is because when they are chicks, if they have sores, they pick at each other and eventually end up killing the other chicks but the red light hides the sore to the other chicks. If your worried about this I'd use it. Just a tip

  9. You say feed them bread . At the cost of bread now days . There's has to be a better way . Plus store bought bread I don't know everything that in it . Unless I can find a bakery that will allow me to get there throw aways.

  10. I bought 23chicks and after 3 weeks they started dying one by one with saliva coming out from their mouth. Feel so bad. 😔

  11. When i was a kid my mom would buy two baby chicks for us and we had to care for them. We use to put them in a tub and at night only we use to place a bottle with hot water in to keep them warm. They were just fine and cozy. We never lost any. Now days there are so many things that stores recommend! I believe chicks do get climatized into weather temps. If too cold give some extra heat but i think they will be just fine in warmer parts of the country. As with everything, the more we baby animals, the less strong they become.
    Thank you for all the info you provide. So helpful! Don’t you have problems with predators in your area? I notice your coop is completely open and can’t lock chickens in, or the run doesn’t have a net on top.

  12. Hi Becky,
    We had 2 hens, and a rooster
    One hen has 5 chicks
    And the the hen laid 4 fertile eggs.
    Then the hen had died
    We are confused what to do please help Becky

  13. Lol my dad always had chickens when I was a kid and he never did any of this stuff. Turns out chickens know how to survive on their own and dont need much human intervention

  14. Hello there,

    Your videos have been some of the most helpful and inspirational of the entire world wide web. We are starting out and looking forward to a future filled with chickens. Your energy and enthusiasm is absolute. Thank you.

  15. @ 9:50: non-GMO has nothing to do with medication for chickens. It means those seeds have not been genetically modified.

  16. Can you list what you feed your chickens? I feed mine the bag of feed from the store, but would like to give them more. I also give them the meal worms as treats. I enjoyed watching your video, and can't wait to watch more. Also, my chickens are starting to eat their eggs, any suggestions on how to get them to stop this?

  17. Thanks for a very informative video. I just found out that hens can lay eggs w/o a rooster !  So it would be practical to have chickens in the backyard, as long as the law allows it. Well, I might just do that, because I love chickens. I even have a bumper sticker stuck to the side of my fridge that says just that. I bought it some years ago when they still had "The Chicken Store" in Key West. Key West has lots of chickens that run around loose and at one time they had to pay a guy I knew to catch them so they could be shipped upstate because the people were complaining about the roosters making too much noise.

  18. Hey Becky. I got new chickens for the first time. How do I know when I can incorporate them in with our existing flock? I had a friend that did it too soon and the other chickens killed them. (They are all hens) My existing flock are Rhode Island Red and Golden Comet. The new ones are Americauna's.

  19. I have 3 road island reds and i was wondering if you could telp me a way to to tell if they are roosters or hens

  20. I use the heat lamps. 250 watts for a dozen chicks. I used my barbecue thermometer to monitor temperature. One cool side, and one warm side. Works great. They sleep regardless of the light.

  21. I got a hanging, gallon waterer, and one gallon feeder right off the bat. after one week, I put them both on bricks and they don't kick shavings in there.

  22. You can actually turn your 2×4, wide side up, for their perch. They actually rest their breastbone on the perch, so a flat surface 3.5 in wide is perfect😊

  23. I have a treadmill for my chickens. It gets them in shape for any defense of their area, they may need to provide. They are quite athletic now, and can defeat most predators in their environment.

  24. Your videos have been a big help to me. I really enjoy the detailed, practical information from someone who obviously know what she is talking about. I am about to buy my first chickens and you have saved me so much time and trouble. Thank you.

  25. Hi Becky, we have had Chickens for a long time. We love our Chickens. We don't have a Rooster. But…. the Hens are starting to eat their eggs.
    Why do they do that? I also have lots of oyster shell in the coop. So they have free choice on that. Thank you Connie

  26. This is a nice video! I do love collecting eggs as well. Over time the eggs can load up to a lot of money in a store but with chickens, they can be more expensive because, you have to keep providing food and I’m already &1000 Into six chickens. Becky, you have a very very good point though because the eggs you buy at the store can add up to the same amount you paid for your chickens. You have helped me also save a lot of money. Thanks for teaching me how to raise baby chickens properly, and teaching me the ways to spoil my chickens!!

  27. Roosters help, by being like a watch dog.
    They sound an alarm when any predator comes near and they can save your hens from hawks, racoons, foxes etc.
    The hens go running for cover when the rooster gives a warning danger is near.
    It's a built in instinct the chicks, hens have.
    Crow like a rooster and you will see even 6 week old chicks run for cover. At least my Rhode Island reds & Buff Orpingtons did.

  28. Nice henhouse and run👍😊. But with all respect you need some environment in your run. Some plants, some stones, some small hills, some branches, some leafs ect. Hens comes from the jungle and not from a desert. It’s very important because it makes happy hens and you run will not look so boring. Thanks for sharing😊

  29. QUESTION: Becky, can I feed my chickens the remains of rabbit used as stock? There are tiny bones in the spine etc. Is that good or bad for them?

  30. Lovely informative video. ♥️ Great for the dummies of the world, so they don’t kill poor little things…people are too lazy to do research. 😢

  31. This is the most informative video by far!! I’m planning to have a couple of hens for my backyard and have watched dozens of videos but still struggling with how to start, and now finally got really helpful ideas from this video! Thank you very much🤗

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