Wednesday, May 21, 2014

10 Facts about Backyard Chickens and a Chicken Lecture {Spring Garden 2014}

I attended a chicken lecture a few weeks ago and wanted to share the images from the adorable farm that hosted the lecture along with a few things I learned.  We've had our chickens for a few months now and they're finally laying eggs!  They're the funniest members of our pet family and provide hours of entertainment for the girls.  Anyway, here's the images from the lecture followed by a few from our yard...
The Simple Farm hosted the chicken lecture by Kari Spencer of The Micro Farm Project.
Hard to believe this little garden oasis exists in the middle of Scottsdale Arizona.
Here is their chicken run.
A beautiful blossoming tree, with hard workers prepping the soil.
I love this space for entertaining on the farm; rustic chairs and hanging lights, a beautiful space to enjoy some food grown with love.
I think my favorite part of exploring the garden before the lecture were all the vintage treasures I found.
Anyone know where I could find a working wagon like this one?
Love the potted plants around this gate.
These greens in the raised beds makes me want to commit to raised beds in our yard too.
Oh and the rustic signs?  Need more of those in my life.
More greens please!
Oh and the lecture?!  So this simple hand out had tons of references for backyard chickens including laws, suggestions and references.  I learned a few new things and found it really helpful to be able to ask an expert questions.  I'm a huge fan of talks, lectures and workshops.  I think it's so helpful to have someone in real life explain something, as opposed to reading it on a blog, but you're here reading this, so I'll try my best.  Here are the top 10 things I learned or think your should know about backyard chickens...

1. They need 2 containers for water and food, in case there is any excluding happening, also if one spills they have another option.  I was only using one when we first got them. *Oh! and it helps to add a splash of apple cider vinegar to their water, to aid in digestion*
2.  They need bedding in their boxes, this is obvious but I put it off because they weren't laying yet, but my first few eggs broke because of this and they also ended up laying eggs in some unusual spots while free ranging that were more nest like (like our trash can with fire wood  and dried brush).
3. They need to be purchased in pairs.  You shouldn't have one of a single breed or color, they need to be introduced as a set so they're guaranteed a buddy.  If they are not accepted into the current pecking order, they will be attacked and excluded which can literally kill them, they NEED the flock.
4. Speaking of introductions, when you introduce them you need to keep new hens away but visible to the old hens.  We left ours in a dog crate nearby so they could "get to know" each other without hurting each other.  This needs to be done for a few weeks to even a month to ensure there is also no disease.  
5. You must clip their wings. Which is super easy and doesn't hurt them.
6.  There are different breeds, some are better for eggs but not eating and some are for eating and not laying, ours however are a sweet in-between which means we could eat them after their laying years {about 2 and a half years}
7. Roosters can be de-crowed, so they don't make the noise. I kind of want one.
8. They NEED roosting bars.  Even if you have a great shed for a coop you'll need to invest in some bars, its what they need to feel at home and the higher up they are the safer they feel.
9.  You can feed them COOKED eggs and broken shells.  This might sound weird but it's similar to other animals {and people} consuming placentas.  It provides the nutrients back to the chicken.  I save our shells, because AZ soil is already rich in calcium it doesn't really benefit my compost. I put them in the toaster oven to kill germs then I crush them and add them to their food.  I also cook any eggs with cracks or ones that were out for longer than I'd like, and I feed those to the chickens.
10. And finally, most important, I didn't know you could check your eggs to see if they're still good!  I learned this from a friend a few weeks ago,but if my girls lay an egg in the yard and I'm not sure how long its been there, I can check it by putting it into a bowl of water.  If it's a "good" egg it will sink and stay at the bottom, "bad" eggs will float, and an egg that is jumping around but sort of sinking is on the not safe side and should not be consumed.

So that's what I know about chickens, and we're still learning....
Here are a few of our ladies,  they are about 6 months old in these photos.
And finally after 5 long weeks of having our "ready-to-lay" hens we got our first egg!  Silly girls didn't even go into a nesting box, she just laid it right on the floor in her run, maybe it caught her off guard.  Now 3 of our girls are regular layers and we get about 2-3 eggs a day, in a few weeks we might start getting 4-5 a day but with the heat of the summer maybe not.  I'll update you again in the fall after we've made it through the summer with the girls.

If you have chickens and advice I'd love to hear about it, leave me so love in the comments.



  1. im so happy you joined the chicken world!
    comment: i love the simple farm and kari too! if you didnt try the goats milk carmels, you must do so next time your there.
    comment 2: you do not want a rooster, they are jerks.
    confirmation: I had a chicken die from being a loner. she was white and the rest were racist. she randomly dropped dead.
    tip: put fake eggs in your boxes so they know to lay there.

  2. hooray chickens! I loved raising them when we were living outside of town, and now I spend an embarrassing amount of time fantasizing about urban chickens... I didn't know you had to clip wings for in town birds. It makes sense though. That's a gorgeous looking egg too, I miss those bright yolks! It's so cool that you guys are raising chickens.