Note: Now fully closed captioned.
Are you ready for chickens? How do you know if you even want chickens? What do you need to know, and what questions do you ask? How do you make the decision?
How do you get set up for chickens? How quickly do they grow up? When will they lay eggs? How do you take care of them? How messy will they be?
In many parts of the world, people wouldn't think of not having chickens! They've been our companion animals for thousands of years, and no longer resemble their wild cousins. But as we moved into cities, we lost our way and forgot to bring our fowl friends with us. Factory farms produce our eggs, ship them in bulk into stores where we buy dozens of sterilized uniform sized and colored eggs completely disconnected from the miraculous and amazing animals that created them.
Now many of us have moved back out of the cities and we're starting to pick up our ancestors wisdom and bring chickens back. Raising chickens is easy, and it makes sense for some families. I raise chickens for their eggs, and some backyard farmers are even raising their own chickens for meat. As the world goes through a variety of changes, knowing our food suppliers has become an issue. We can practice some small farming techniques by raising our own small flock of chickens.
Each hen provides 12 to 20 DOZEN eggs a year, for at least 3 years, depending on breed.
In this course, I take you on a behind-the-scenes look at real chickens and having a real life with chickens. I've decided to narrate while you watch my flock through most of the course, and I'm going to air all their dirty laundry.
What are some of the benefits of raising chickens?
Come join the party!
About me & my chickens: I free-range my 17 chickens on the outskirts of an upstate NY city on a 1.3 acre rented home plot. I'm a single mom, with 2 college-age kids living at home, and I handle the vast majority of the chicken duties by myself.
Note: This course includes a small number of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects, which are entirely optional and only comprise a small portion of the course materials. They are rough guidelines and ideas for things you can do with upcycled or inexpensive materials that will save you money, time, or enhance your chicken experience. The projects may require tools, supplies, and some experience in handling them, or a friend or neighbor who is willing to help you out. But they are all entirely optional, and you are responsible for your own safety.
Why should you be interested in this course? Who is the right student?
Music "Midsummer Sky" Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech-dot-com. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
More information to set the tone for the course, give the scope of the course and some of my background.
The early life of a chicken. Some of the developmental milestones and behaviors you can expect from chicks until they're "weaned".
Behaviors of "pre-teen" chicks. From weaning (around 8 weeks) to laying eggs (18 weeks).
Covered in this lecture:
An overview of the significant benefits roosters bring to your flock to balance out the loud crowing. Also covers rooster behaviors.
Just testing the most important points in the lectures.
Overview of this section. Honorable mentions: Should you buy or build a coop? Whether to keep birds "cooped up" or let them out.
What do you need when you first get your chickens? Do you need to have a coop before you hatch or get chicks? How many coops do you need? Different types of shelters for different purposes.
A run-down of different features that a coop needs, such as roosts, food, water, nest boxes, ventilation, security features, etc.
Henrietta, my cover image model and favorite 3 year old hen, basically ignores me while I use her as an anatomy model for our next lesson.
Many flockmasters swear by dangling shiny objects around the property to deter hawks. Apparently they also can deter other wild birds and critters. I take you through making your own -- it's a quick and easy project if you happen to have old AOL CDs or old software CDs you no longer need.
If you're not familiar with handling tools, please take extra caution. In any case, I'm not responsible for your safety. You can try this project with someone who has experience in safely handling a drill, etc. This lecture is only to convey ideas for how you can create something similar, feel free to use your discretion, knowledge and skill.
Depending on the size of the buckets and the size of your chickens, these food-safe containers can be modified into inexpensive portable nest boxes that accommodate laying and even setting hens. Recommended for small and medium breeds.
If you're not familiar with handling tools, please take extra caution. In any case, I'm not responsible for your safety. You can try this project with someone who has experience in safely handling a drill, saw, etc. This lecture is only to convey ideas for how you can create something similar, feel free to use your discretion, knowledge and skill.
A general reminder of the choices you can make about how you deal with chickens, how you set up your flock, and so on -- so that you can minimize your chicken habit's impact on your lifestyle.
This lecture is optional!
Chickens are a livestock animal, and while we can treat them as pets and some are quite friendly, there's a certain responsibility I feel a need to explain regarding the life and death of chickens. Culling is the act of selecting & removing birds from your flock for any reason, and by any method. Rehoming and slaughter are discussed.
Warning: I'm discussing death in this lecture. I'm trying to keep it matter-of-fact, with only the essential details.
Transcript is available as a lecture resource.
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