Gardening Tips and Tricks

Raising Chickens In The Northwest

 

Raising Chickens In The Northwest

Here….Chick, Chick, Chick.  If you have a garden and don’t have chickens yet this is a post you need to read.  We have been raising chickens for over ten years and I can tell you it was one of the best decisions we made.  Not only do you get fresh eggs every day but, you get the best manure ever.  Yes ever!

Chicken Coop

Let’s talk about space.  Chickens need less space then you mightn’t think.  Our chicken coop is 10×10 and has nesting boxes as well as roosts.  These are both very important for your feather friends.  The nesting boxes are filled with hay and that is where they lay the golden eggs.  And the roosts are their beds.  I know sleeping standing up doesn’t sound appealing.  Chickens however, are not know for their intelligence.

Chicken Run

Next you need a chicken run.  This is their outdoor area and should be fairly large depending on how many chickens you have.  We currently have six chickens and they have 20 feet to roam around and scratch.  We used chicken wire as well as 6ft long post to construct this pen and gate. It is really that easy.

Free Range

Well, at this point I am sure your wondering why we have not adopted the idea of letting our chickens roam free and frolic in the green pastures.  It’s simple really.  I would prefer my chickens alive.  Due to their amazing ability to protect themselves we have no choice but, to keep our chickens all cooped up.  Their main predators are Dogs, Hawks, Eagles, Owls, Coyotes, and Racoons.  A chicken vs. any of these= Food.  Keeping your chickens safe and healthy should be your main objective.  Not bragging about your “Free Spirited Chickens”.

Now that we have covered housing and recess time lets talk about breeds.  Obviously there are tons so I am only going to mention a few I think are great egg layers.

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Reds are great layers even in the cold temperatures we have in the northwest.  They are quite friendly and have a beautiful red to maroon color.  The eggs are brown and medium size. These birds can also be raised for their meat however, never kill an old bird and try to eat it.  There is a reason “Tough as an old bird” is a saying.

Plymouth Rock

The Plymouth Rock breed is also great for egg production.  These chickens can get up to almost 10 lbs. and can be raised for their meat as well.  Plymouth’s are known as gentle giant and do well in colder climates.  These birds are speckled white and black so if your looking for a fancy chick this is your breed.

Caring For Your Chickens

Chickens regardless of the breed need the same basic care.  They require food and clean water daily and oyster shells for calcium.  This is vital for the egg shells to harden.  Scraps from the garden are a nice treat and attention never hurts either. Don’t be offended if they don’t return the favor.

Chicken Manure

Now this is the stuff all great gardens are made of…Poop.  Yes… you read it right!  Manure is essential for a great vegetable garden.  So, after you clean out your coop add all the straw and manure to your compost pile.  This will need to sit for a year and break down before you add it to your garden.  Otherwise you risk burning your poor helpless seedlings. After it is broken down and mixed in your vegetables with thrive and you will have only one thing left to do.  Go give those smelly chickens a big hug…if you can catch one.

Good Luck,

Corinne

 

 

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