"Chickens are fun to raise and provide a supply of fresh farm eggs"
Chickens today are bred to produce either fresh farm eggs or meat and some are even both, egg and meat producers.
Most egg producers are thin birds no matter how much you feed them. The meat type chicken becomes plump quicky but they lay fewer eggs.
There are a variety of multi purpose breeds and hybrids. They have a heavy carcass and provide plenty of fresh farm eggs for your family and even neighbors.
You can either start your birds as eggs in an incubator, buy day old chicks or even buy laying hens ready to lay today.
Watch the newpaper, listen to your local radio tradin post or look through farming magazines for ideas to get started. When you buy fertilized eggs, set your incubator up two or three days in advance to get the temperature regulated correctly. It can be frustrating for the beginner and you can not vary your incubator temperature or your eggs will not hatch. You must also turn your eggs twice a day.
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I suggest that you get your birds from a local hatchery or breeder.
You can even buy chicks through the mail. This is very common and may be the only way you can get them.
If you want eggs right away, you can buy starter pullets that have just begun to lay. I love to listen to our radio Trading Post because there are always poultry for sale on it.
Young pullet eggs are smaller then a full grown hen, but the pullet will soon be laying full sized eggs in no time at all.
Chicks that are a day old are cheaper but they require special attention and special equipment until they are grown. They are more vulnerable to predators.
You can get chicks that are either sexed or unsexed. If you just want eggs, buy all females. The hen does not require a rooster to lay eggs unless you want fertilized eggs.
How many eggs does your family consume? Or how many eggs do you want per day?
A good layer will produce an egg almost every day but none during the annual molt(shedding of feathers).
If you want a dozen eggs a day, you will need about 25 hens. Remember, some hens will not lay daily because you are not feeding hormones to them. And they also may be in a molting phase during the hot summer months.
If you decide to buy unsexed chicks, I suggest that you buy twice the number of chickens you want abd a few more to allow for deaths that may occur to some of your young chicks before maturity.
You can always butcher the males for meat when they become full grown at about 5 to 6 pounds live weight. Or you can sell them.
Many people find that they just don't have the stomach to butcher their poultry after they have raised them. I actually don't have that problem. And just knowing where my chickens come from and how they were cared for is a tremendous benefit.
I personally would never buy chicken from tyson or walmart. But then again, I live in Arkansas where both of those companies began.
Try and get your chicks vaccinated against pullorum, typhoid, and any other disease that might be prevalent in your area.
Have a veterinarian vaccinate your chickens if they haven't already been vaccinated.
You may want to buy chicks that have been debeaked to prevent pecking later in life. Especially if you plan to keep your poultry in a confined area. This will prevent them from pecking and wounding each other.
Hatcheries routinely vaccinate and debeak all their chicks.
Make arrangements well in advance before you buy your chicks.
Check with your county agent; she will be able to advise you on what breeds are most popular in your area. Or she will be able to refer you to an expert.
Send in your order early.
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