Farmer to Farmer
SHARON O. BLUMBERG MUNSTER, INDIANA
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.
ERIN PARSONS COLFAX, INDIANA
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.