Chickens are the first farm animal for most rookie farmers. They are easy to care for and inexpensive. They provide you with eggs and entertainment.
How to acquire chickens
Your local farm co-op will sell baby chicks in the early spring or you can order them online from one of the big chick hatcheries such as Murray McMurray. Hens start laying eggs after 5-6 months. The roosters start to try out their crowing skills at this time too so if you mistakenly acquired a rooster this is when you may find out.
If you don't want to raise your hens from chicks, you may be able to find laying hens on Craig's List for sale or even free. However, chickens only lay eggs regularly for 1-2 years as a rule and then start to slow down. You may get stuck with someone's cull that quit laying. In that case, you can make chicken soup or give the chicken away for free.
In the meantime, you will have access to the most nutritious eggs possible since a small flock of chickens fed organic pellets and allowed to roam the back yard live a low stress life where they can scratch the ground and run around as chickens like to do.
Chickens are omnivores which means they eat both plants and animals (like insects and worms). Your eggs will actually have more nutrients than large factory farm eggs and even look better. Your chickens' eggs will be substantial with a bright orange-yellow yoke; not the pale runny eggs you find in the store.
Morning chore time is 5 minutes. Just make sure they have water and some pellets for the day and you're off to work. If you want to go away for the weekend you can leave enough food and water for a couple days and the chickens will be fine. If you will be away for more than 3 days get someone to feed your chickens for you.
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