Dairy farmers don’t always raise chickens, but when they do they take great care of them, just like they do with their cows! When dairy farmer Candi Tucker found herself taking care of chickens, she quickly learned how to help them thrive, and although they are a bit different than her bovine herd, they are still a big responsibility. The chickens quickly became part of the family – and taking care of them quickly became part of her daily routine.
Are you thinking of raising backyard chickens? As someone who was once new to raising chickens, Tucker has 5 tips to consider before taking on that responsibility – and to help you out once you have chickens!
Just like dairy cows, you must have a clean environment for the chickens where they are safe from potential predators. In addition to a coop, they also need to be in a place where they have plenty of space to move around. If they don’t have a comfortable and safe place to live, they won’t do well!
Food and Water
When you buy feed for your chickens, you have the option to choose medicated or non-medicated feed. We use non-medicated feed, but it’s nice to know that if you notice any of your chickens feeling under the weather that the you also have option to get medicated feed so they can make a speedy recovery. They also love to eat table scraps! As for water, you need to make sure the chickens have access to plenty of it. Our 24 hens, rooster and duck drink about 5 gallons of water a day!
Just like dairy cows, the chickens love consistency, so they fit in well with our daily routine. My husband and I are always up early to take care of the cows, so once we’ve done some of our chores on the dairy, and the sun is up, we let the chickens out of the coop so they can start doing their thing – pecking the ground, eating and drinking. We also make sure they have water and our daughter picks up the eggs. They always return to their coop by the end of the day, so we shut them in there to keep them safe from predators during the night and start all over the next day! Long story short, keeping your chickens on a consistent routine will be very beneficial for you and the chickens!
Chickens can produce fewer eggs in winter because there is less daylight, but you can solve that by keeping a light on in the coop during winter. The light will keep them happy and in their routine, which helps them keep a consistent yield of eggs!
Remember – They're Pets!
An important thing to keep in mind is that the chickens will become your pets. We make a little money selling the eggs, but the chickens are part of our family, and need tender love and care! We also hatch our own chicks, and love welcoming the new little ones to our family.
In the end, chickens are probably easier to care for than a whole herd of dairy cows, but the Tuckers enjoy the variety – and the eggs!
Do you have backyard chickens? What tips do you have to share?
Check out a few of our recipes featuring eggs and cheese – the best combination of foods we can think of!