Farmer to Farmer


Farm & Ranch Living - - CONTENTS -

Smart farm­ers are full of ex­pert advice for any­one think­ing about rais­ing chick­ens.

A: I’ve found two ma­jor fac­tors to con­sider in start­ing a small chicken oper­a­tion. First, do your re­search to choose a breed that best fits your area’s cli­mate and your liv­ing sit­u­a­tion. Some breeds, such as Buff Or­p­ing­ton and Barred Rock, are hardy enough for colder cli­mates, while oth­ers would need to be bun­dled up just to sur­vive. Also con­sider space and move­ment; a breed like Rhode Is­land Red will flour­ish in ei­ther freerange or pas­tured en­vi­ron­ments. Sec­ond, in­vest in a safe, de­pend­able heat source for the first weeks of life. It’ll save your chicks and your san­ity. We use an ad­justable hover heat plate. We chose cold-hardy breeds since our win­ters can be bru­tal. In the cold weather, our chick­ens, all of which are pas­tured, may spend more time in their coop where there is thick bed­ding and the small heat source. The coop is also set up off the frozen ground and po­si­tioned to block pre­vail­ing winds; the bed­ding helps to re­tain heat. While we’re on va­ca­tion, our wa­terer and feeder de­vices al­low the chick­ens to con­tinue their reg­u­lar day-to-day feed­ing, but we do have some­one check on the flock and top off any­thing that’s run­ning low. One visit a day seems enough, and it helps de­ter any preda­tors keep­ing an eye on the area.


Rhode Is­land Reds love an open pas­ture. Sharon Blum­berg is a re­tired school­teacher who taught Span­ish and English for more than 20 years and now is in­ter­ested in keep­ing a coop of chick­ens. She re­sides in north­west In­di­ana with her hus­band, and she has...

Erin and Michael Par­sons started their flock three and a half years ago. Like many chicken own­ers, they vol­un­tar­ily fell vic­tim to chicken math, and their flock quadru­pled af­ter one year, adding three roost­ers.

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