Raising Chickens in your Backyard: a sustainable food source
4.3 (56 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
436 students enrolled

Raising Chickens in your Backyard: a sustainable food source

Practicing permaculture & homesteading for urbanites: farming chicks, building a chicken coop, collecting hen's eggs.
4.3 (56 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
436 students enrolled
Created by Criss Ittermann
Last updated 9/2015
English
English
Current price: $9.99 Original price: $24.99 Discount: 60% off
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • 7 mins on-demand audio
  • 1 downloadable resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • You will learn general information on ease of care, and creating your chicken lifestyle.
  • You will be able to decide how many chickens you need for your family's needs, and whether or not to have a rooster.

  • You will understand the life cycles of chickens, their habits, normal behaviors, and have your expectations set for raising chickens.

  • You will learn to recognize normal healthy chicken behavior, and some of the problems that you may face.
  • You will learn the key chicken coop factors to look for to house and protect your new flock.
  • You will have assistance in balancing the decisions you need to make to start raising chickens while still maintaining an acceptable lifestyle.
Requirements
  • Bring your curiosity and a sense of humor to the course.
  • Understand that there are different ways to farm, and this course is not about judging what's right or wrong for anyone else, just figuring out what is right for you.
  • An initial investment in a backyard flock can be anywhere from making do with what you have and buying some feed and making your own feeders and waterers from recycled materials for a rescued flock, through to purchasing a spacious and luxurious barn for show-worthy purebreeds.
  • If you want to do the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects, which are entirely optional and only a small portion of the course materials, you may need tools, supplies, and some experience in handling them, or a friend or neighbor who is willing to help you out. Most projects use supplies that are inexpensive or upcycle used items. Raising chickens shouldn't be expensive.
Description

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?

  • They turn bugs (ticks, cutworms, mosquitoes) & weeds (grass, poison ivy, dandelion flowers) into eggs
  • Overnight composting machines -- their diet is very close to a human diet, they eat my un-popped popcorn kernels, leftovers that are a little too old, toaster crumbs, etc.
  • You get an Easter egg hunt every day!  My 13 hens are routinely giving me 7-9 eggs every day in the spring.
  • Plenty of opportunities for good exercise: walking around, lifting 50# bags of chicken feed and 40# bags of scratch feeds
  • You can save on TV: Watching chickens is much more fun that watching the news
  • And they help with relaxation - watching animals, especially baby animals, raises your endorphins & oxytocin levels. They're also a good focus for mindfulness meditations.

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.

This course is not meant to fulfill requirements for any jurisdiction or issue a certification that is required by law for you to have or raise chickens.  I have not seen the requirements of such a course for your jurisdiction, nor do I condone or issue the certificate that Udemy provides all courses when completed.  The certificate is not a credential saying you are ready to raise chickens or to prove that you paid attention, learned anything, or have met anyone's standards in chicken-rearing.  If you have a list of requirements, contact me with the list before purchasing the course and I'll let you know whether I think this course meets the requirements.

Who this course is for:
  • You have been considering starting your own flock of chickens, but you want more information.
  • You think you may have the space needed to raise chickens.
  • You are ready to have more control over your food supply.
  • You want real information from someone who is raising a small flock in their backyard.
  • You are fed-up with trying to filter through excessive online information on raising chickens.
  • You have someone to take care of the chickens if you are out of town, late coming home from work, or you have an emergency.
  • Your local regulations allow you to raise chickens.
Course content
Expand all 14 lectures 01:25:04
+ Before you get (more) Chickens
6 lectures 35:18

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

Preview 01:28

More information to set the tone for the course, give the scope of the course and some of my background.

Preview 03:57

The early life of a chicken. Some of the developmental milestones and behaviors you can expect from chicks until they're "weaned".

Life Cycles I: Chicks to Pullets
07:21

Behaviors of "pre-teen" chicks. From weaning (around 8 weeks) to laying eggs (18 weeks).

Preview 05:20

Covered in this lecture:

  • The egg-laying cycles of the pullet & hen.
  • Broody behaviors.
  • Setting nests from the hen's perspective.
  • Growing old.
Life Cycles III: Pullets & Hens
09:12

An overview of the significant benefits roosters bring to your flock to balance out the loud crowing. Also covers rooster behaviors.

To Roo or not to Roo - Do you want a Rooster?
08:00

Just testing the most important points in the lectures.

Section 1 Quiz
2 questions
+ Housing Issues
3 lectures 13:49

Overview of this section. Honorable mentions: Should you buy or build a coop? Whether to keep birds "cooped up" or let them out.

Preview 02:13

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.

Which comes first: the Chicken or the Coop?
05:23

A run-down of different features that a coop needs, such as roosts, food, water, nest boxes, ventilation, security features, etc.

Coop Features
06:13
+ Chicken Care & Feeding
1 lecture 04:14

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.

Field Trip: Chicken Anatomy
04:14
+ DIY With Chickens
2 lectures 20:53

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.

Supplies:

  • Many pairs of useless CDs
  • drill
  • A 3/16" drill bit (preferably an auger bit, it has a self-piloting tip to avoid cracking the CD) or a bit that will allow your CD to swing freely on the cable ties
  • a package of cable ties, any color or length
  • twine or acrylic yarn
  • scissors or yarn snips
  • Someplace sturdy & safe to drill into (a piece of scrap wood, for example)
  • safety goggles
  • broom or shop-vac to clean up - this project leaves long nasty strings of CD plastic around -- you don't want your chickens to eat it.

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.

CD Hawk Deterrents
05:01

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.

Supplies:

  • Icing container from supermarket or grocery store's bakery department, washed and dried
  • a lid with gasket that securely fits the icing container, washed and thoroughly dried
  • scrap wood (2x2, 2x4, plywood or shelving)
  • 6-8 screws deep enough to secure wood scraps to the shelving or plywood
  • a pilot drill bit
  • a razor knife, or linoleum knife, sharp enough to easily cut the container lid
  • measuring tape
  • drill
  • saw (circular saw or table saw preferred)
  • straight-edge, t-square, square, or some other way to draw straight guide lines

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.

Icing Container Nesting Boxes
15:52
+ Decisions
2 lectures 10:50

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.

Preview 03:32

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.

Culling - OPTIONAL! - the harsh reality and responsibility of farming
07:18