8 Ways to help you raise chickens in your Garden

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Marleny Hucks
Marleny Huckshttp://MyrtleBeachSC.com
Marlene (or Marleny as she is known in Spanish) is a mentor, teacher, cross-cultural trainer, storyteller, writer, and for those who have been under her leadership or simply sat across the table from her, she is a mirror of destiny. Her love of word and image were formed early on by one of her heroes, Dr. Seuss. If you asked those who know her well, they would describe her a compassionate, funny, wise, curious, honest, real, strong, sensitive and totally human which comes out as she teaches and writes. She sees all of life, even the most mundane, through faith and believes that who we become as we live this side of the veil is what matters not the journey itself or our circumstances. Marleny Hucks has spent her life crossing bridges. She comes from a diverse background of ministry roles and contexts as well as has transitioned in and out of the business world. Having lived outside the country as well as traveled extensively she has a fascination with culture causes her to live her life within a global mosaic no matter where her feet are planted. Marlene currently lives in South Carolina with her husband David, who owns a news company but who she says is a “crime fighter”, bringing light into darkness in their systems of their city. Marleny currently works as a content management specialist covering Myrtle Beach News for MyrtleBeachSC News.

If you want a pet that pulls its weight, a chicken is a great addition to your family and can bring plenty of joy as well as eggs, not to mention a variety of other benefits. Chickens believe it or not have their own personalities and can be as cuddly as any other pet can be. Raising chickens will provide you with a more self-sufficient lifestyle and will also help you if you have a mosquito, ticks and flies issue, as they eat these pests. 

If you are considering raising chickens, there are a few things to consider before you get started:

1. Space

Your chickens will need both indoor and outdoor space and plenty of it to really live their lives to the max. Depending on where you live, you may need to ensure that they are safe from different types of predators, but they will need a secure environment where they can roost and plenty of outdoor space too.

People who keep chickens often find that they start with a couple and then want to grow their flock, so a flexible roosting solution such as this easy to  buy barn kit, is a safe option if you want to have enough space for all your chicken-related needs.

2. Food

Chickens are good at scratching around to find food and will happily feast on bugs and beetles in their space, but you will need to ensure that they have a balanced diet with plenty of foods available. While they do make efficient waste disposal systems for some of your kitchen waste, this is limited to fresh vegetables and fruit, and you will usually need to supplement this with commercial food as well.

The main commercial food for chickens consists of grains such as soybeans, corn and oats, which usually comes in a few different forms of mash, pellets and crumbled textures. Not to mention that chicken need vitamins.

3. Additives and supplements

Chickens need access to hard grit to help them digest their food, and this can also be supplemented with oyster shells or similar soluble grits that help keep their calcium levels healthy as well. Another method that many use, is to crush their used clean eggshells up so that the chickens can feed on them. 

4. Water

Your chickens will need constant access to fresh water which may mean several top-ups in the warm summer months and breaking ice over the winter. It is important not to use chemicals to melt ice and give water in special drinkers that prevent young chicks from falling in as this can lead to drowning.

Much like any pet, a chicken will only stay healthy and in its best form, if the proper care is provided. Water plays a large role for chickens as it will help them digest their food, help with bodily waste and like any animal, will help regulate their body temperature. You will find that in the summer hot months, a chicken will consume a much larger amount of water to help combat the rising temperatures on their bodies.

5. Collecting eggs

Most chicken keepers recommend collecting the eggs at least once a day – chickens are pretty food-motivated so will usually hop off their nests for a snack, which makes it a good time to check for eggs. Sometimes a broody chicken will not want to leave the nest, but you can usually move them gently to check underneath them. Most farmers will collect eggs in the morning, and sometimes again in the evening as these are the times the chickens are most likely to lay. 

The weather may affect the number of eggs your chicken lays. You will see a dramatic change in the amount produced especially in extreme heats. If your chicken does continue to produce eggs in extreme heat, take note to be extra cautious as the eggs may be more fragile than normal. This is due to a reduced intake of feed and therefore less calcium to help create a strong shell. 

Overall, a hen usually lays one egg a day. This may differ if you have overfed your chicken as you will notice it lay an average of two eggs a day. This also occurs if you have a young hen, and it is maturing. Typically though, collecting 5-6 eggs a week is normal and what you should expect. 

6. Preventing bad habits

Chickens like to eat eggs which usually starts with one broken one discovered as a bonus treat and once, they realize that they are edible, they can learn to break them themselves to eat them and even teach each other how to do it. It’s important to clean up any breakages immediately and thoroughly and ensure that you collect the eggs regularly to avoid them developing opportunistic egg-smashing habits.

7. Waste not, want not

Chickens are not just lovely pets, they are helpful garden allies, snapping up plenty of pests, particularly in the summer months, and providing high-quality manure to fertilize the next round of crops. 

8. Enrichment is the key to happiness

Happy chickens are a delight to behold, and they will thrive when given plenty to keep them occupied and stimulated. A barren environment will not only be boring for your chickens, but it could promote issues such as fighting and stress which will affect the physical health of your chickens as well. An important note to take is that a healthy happy chicken will lay more eggs. 

Keeping chickens is a great way to supplement your diet with fresh, free-range eggs, but it can be beneficial to your mental health as well. Taking care of animals that respond so well to humans gives you a sense of fulfilment and chickens have such entertaining personalities that it won’t be long before you all know each other’s quirks inside out. Another benefit to raising chickens is that you get your own fresh supply of eggs. In this days economy that may play a large role in your overall yearly savings. 

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