I can’t tell y’all how stoked I am that a good many of my friends in town are catching the farming bug and want to know about chickens. What kind they should get, how many, do they need a rooster and things of that nature. Well, I’ll be the first to tell you I’ve learned most of my lessons the hard way, which kind of makes me an expert on what NOT to do. After many breakthroughs and breakdowns, I finally ran across several books by Joel Salatin at the library. The man is a genius. Luckily I was smart enough to follow his advice and in the process learned a few lessons in success. So if you live in town and are thinking about getting into chickens for the first time here’s my advice.

First of all, go for it. Don’t let nay sayers get you down. In fact I’ve found farming can be the most useful tool to weed out negativity in one’s life. Start with a positive attitude and let yourself have some fun.

Secondly, don’t mess around with roosters. They’re really noisy which might upset your neighbors and cause them to tell on you. Stick with three to five hens and chances are you’ll be much happier.

I have found silkies are a wonderful addition to the urban farm, especially if you aren’t technically allowed to have chickens. The reason I suggest silkies is because their wings are so small they can’t fly. And they are really friendly. Silkies are so cute. They have feathery feet and a poof ball on their heads. They are moderate layers which means you could count on 3 eggs a week per chicken. Silkies are also very motherly which causes them to go “broody” during which time they sit on their nests and won’t lay any eggs. I’m not sure how to prevent broodiness so my advice here is to get a couple more chickens than you think you’ll need. Silkies are addictive so a few more will just add to the fun.

I know a lot of folks who get their chicks from commercial hatcheries and that’s fine but I recommend buying from a local breeder/farmer. If you’re getting baby chicks, make sure to get pullets (females) and not a straight run (both males and females). Once again I recommend checking craigslist to find someone in your area. One of the most important benefits of getting your chicks locally is developing a relationship with your farmer. Later when you have questions, and you most certainly will, you’ll know just who to call. Another great place to find egg layers is at a county fair. The local 4-H chapters often raise chicks and show them at the fair as 16-18 week old pullets. After the pullets are judged they are auctioned off in batches. These hens are probably the most pampered birds available and are usually ready to lay within a couple of weeks. And you can feel good about supporting your local 4-H chapter.

I also recommend using a chicken tractor, which I’ll blog more on later, rather than “free ranging” your chickens. This comes from my own experience with our free range chickens who decided to live on our front porch rather than out in the grass. Chickens are so special.

Read as much as you can but don’t be afraid to jump in there. You will learn as you go what works for you…and what doesn’t.

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