Sharing all the tips & tricks we learned about how to raise backyard chickens including our favorite chicken breeds, how many eggs they lay, free ranging them & more backyard chicken Tips with pictures.
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Our Backyard Chickens & what Breeds we Have
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We have been blessed to have backyard chickens for over a year now & I am quickly becoming a crazy chicken lady!
Today, I am introducing our newest family members with you guys & sharing all the backyard chickens 101 tips we have learned so far about being newbie chicken owners. 🙂
I grew up in the city & suburbs my whole life so the idea of raising backyard chickens was completely foreign to me.
Keeping backyard chickens seemed like a fabulous way of living out my dream to create a simple farm life in the suburbs for our family.
Backyard Chickens Tip #1 – Ask Lots of Questions!!!
Before getting started with our backyard chickens, I made sure to ask LOTS of questions of my chicken owner friends & complete strangers met at Tractor Supply.
I learned so much talking to other chicken owners & reading books & blogs about rasing backyard chickens.
Backyard Chickens Tip # 2 – Have the Perfect Chicken Coop & Supplies Before Getting your Chickens
Once our chicken coop & chicken run were built & chicken supplies bought, we were ready to get started.
Make sure your chicken coop & run are large enough for your backyard chickens to grow into as well as SAFE!
We made sure the DIY chicken coop we built was large enough for 6 chickens… which is the number of backyard chickens we are allowed to have in our township.
Our DIY chicken coop is solid, built to last & will keep our backyard chickens warm throughout the winter as well as cool in the summer.
We added hardwire cloth & locks to keep predators out.
Backyard Chickens Tip #3 – Chose the Best Breeds
A lovely friend of a friend gifted us with 3 beautiful chickens, 2 Swedish flower hens & 1 Brahma chicken.
The kids named them Emma, Poppy & Buttercup.
Brahma Chicken Breed – Cuddliest Backyard Chickens
Emma, our “head” chicken is a Brahma.
Although she can bit of a bully to her sisters when food is around she is by FAR the sweetest & cuddliest chicken around.
We adore the feathers on her feet & she is ALWAYS ready for someone to pick her up & carry her around the yard.
Swedish Flower Hen Chicken Breed – Backyard Chickens that Lay the Most Eggs
Poppy & Buttercup are Swedish flower hens which is a breed that was in danger of going extinct just a few years ago.
They are much better at foraging, egg laying & hiding than Emma our Brahma chicken is.
We kid that Emma is just here for chicken “eye candy.”
The girls have become regular egg layers & we usually get a dozen to a dozen & a half every week.
Our 2 Swedish Flower Hen Backyard chickens lay on average 5-6 large eggs each every week while Emma usually lays ever other day.
You will be hard pressed to find another chicken breed that lays an egg almost every day & is friendly at the same time.
Poppy is our free spirit, always ready to explore the yard & the first one to leave the chicken run when I open the door.
She is def ready to get out of the run in this pic!
She can fly up higher than the other three & I often find her in foraging under thick bushes in our yard or on top of our tall wood piles.
Buttercup is our peacemaker/ drama queen, making sure to divide her time foraging the yard between Emma & Poppy while being sure to let everyone know about it.
Will Backyard Chickens Fly Away?
At first, I was worried our backyard chickens would fly away but they can’t fly very high or far & have never even tried to leave our backyard which is an acre.
They mostly free range with their chicken coop in sight.
As long as you give them plenty of space to roam either in your backyard or chicken run along with food & water they will never have a reason to leave your backyard.
Backyard Chicken Tip #4 – Free Ranging Backyard Chickens
Our backyard chickens spend most of the day eating, drinking & scratching in their run always ready for their daily or twice daily free range time.
They love following the kids & I around the yard hoping we will show them where all the yummy bugs are hiding.
They also like to double check that we aren’t composting anything good for them to eat. 🙂
Tips for keeping them safe while Free Ranging
STAY CLOSE BY – We make sure to stay close to them when they are free ranging as we have hawks that regularly fly over our backyard.
As long as we are nearby the chickens, they are safe from predators.
Often the girls are under my feet if I a gardening but I usually make sure they stay within 5-10 feet of me or one of the kids.
Thankfully our backyard chickens do not have any desire to free range in the snow or heavy rain days so I don’t have to go with them in bad weather.
PLANT SHRUBS FOR THEM TO HIDE – We have planted many evergreen shrubs around the chicken coop to give us privacy from the road and also give them girls a safe place to scratch & look for bugs where they are not so easily spotted by hawks.
Tip #5 – Backyard Chickens Favorite Snack
A sure fire way to bring your free ranging backyard chickens back to the chicken coop is to figure out their favorite snack!
Our backyard chickens LOVE banana & blueberry muffins as well as dried grubs.
I just shake the bag of grubs & they come running back to the backyard chicken coop every time.
Tip #6 – Care for Backyard Chickens in Winter
A lot of people have asked me about how I care for our chickens in winter.
The winter temperatures here in Pa do go below freezing regularly & our backyard chickens are totally fine with their natural down coats.
The chicken water feeder plugs in their water doesn’t freeze & I make sure to lock them in at night inside our backyard chicken coop.
When it goes below 10 degrees, I usually take hot water bottle down to the coop wrapped in a trash bag so it’s not covered in poop in the morning.
The jury is still out whether it does anything to keep our backyard chickens warm but it definitely makes me feel better. 🙂
When it snows, I do cover the back of our chicken run (the part that isn’t roofed with a tarp to keep the snow out).
Tip #7 – Caring for Backyard Chickens in Summer
In the summer, I leave the windows of our chicken coop open to allow a breeze to come in the coop at night and keep it cooler during the day.
I always make sure they have fresh cool water in their feeder & the kids & I usually bring down snacks of cold fruit & ice cubes on a really hot day.
On days when the temperature gets above 90, I will place their feet in a large bowl of water to cool them off during their free ranging time.
As you can see from our pictures, these backyard chickens are really more like pets than farm animals & have brought us so much joy.
Just watching them interact with one another is extremely calming & peaceful.
In the future, we hope to add a few more Swedish flower hens & Brahma chickens to our flock but for now we are just enjoying our backyard chickens.
I hope this post inspires you, gives you some raising chicken tips & answers any questions you have about backyard chickens & chicken breeds.
If you are thinking about raising backyard chickens of your own & have any questions please reach out & I am happy to try & answer them!
by Tara Lehman
Don’t forget to pin my tips for backyard chickens to your favorite Pinterest board about raising chickens.