Starting your homestead living with chicken, just like any other thing, needs to take it slow. And once you are confident in managing your flock, you should learn how to breed chickens.
Breeding is done for a variety of purposes. Perhaps you want chickens for meat. If your layers are getting old, you could need chicks. As your family grows, you could also need additional eggs to sell or to feed your family.
Yet, a few things must be considered before getting the best result. Your new flock will start out healthy and happy if you are well-prepared and knowledgeable.
Before You Start
It makes sense to think about whether you have the space to hatch chicks and enough shelter to rear them successfully before deciding to breed from your hens.
Do not mix young growers and adult birds. First, they risk contracting a disease (because immunity takes time to develop), and second, smaller birds would be harassed, requiring separate housing.
As they mature, young roosters will fight, but most varieties of chickens will fight, causing harm and frequently even death.
Start with a Rooster
Before learning how to produce chickens, you must understand how to maintain a rooster. A rooster can quickly make you reconsider whether chickens are cute farm animals.
Tips on Handling Rooster
Wear the Same Attire
Respect the Rooster
Don't Be Afraid
How Chickens Breed
Chickens reproduce rapidly.
The rooster circles the hen while lowering one wing in a brief mating dance. It will then leap onto the hen's back while holding the neck in its beak. Before squatting to ejaculate into the hen's cloaca, it "treads," placing its feet on its back and moving them quickly. It ends instantly.
Don't worry if you don't know how to breed chickens; chickens know how to breed chickens, and healthy birds will handle reproduction independently.
How to Safely Breed Chickens
Methods For Breeding Chickens
You now understand how to raise chickens. But how do you raise excellent chickens? Start by only breeding healthy animals. When selecting one, look for a rooster with bright eyes, a tidy red comb, and bouncy tail feathers. He ought to be active and alert.
Planning and creating foolproof techniques for breeding chickens can improve the overall quality of their poultry while also creating a new source of income.
To ensure that the process of breeding poultry is successful, breeders must follow specific stages and procedures.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Breed of Chicken
While selecting chicken breeds for your homestead, consider their purpose first. Are you looking for breeds that lay eggs? For your family, do you need meat but not eggs? Or do you want a breed that can produce both meat and eggs?
If you need egg layers, you should be aware of the following:
- Average Annual Egg Production
Certain breeds can lay up to 364 eggs per chicken (or around one egg per day), while others can only lay 150 eggs per year or less.
- Color of the Eggs
Some chickens lay eggs ranging from light to dark brown to green, blue, and white; some even lay the occasional pink egg!
- Age of Laying
It's crucial to be aware that while most chicken breeds start laying eggs around six months, some kinds start earlier, and some breeds start later, so it's essential to know the average for the breeds you're considering.
If you need chickens for meat, you need to know the following:
- Quantity of Meat
You should also be aware of the processed weight of the meat breeds you bring to your farm, which is the weight of the bird after processing, to estimate how much meat each animal will be able to offer for your family.
- Age of the Process
The average processing period for meat birds is 16 to 20 weeks, but some (like Cornish Cross chickens) must be butchered considerably faster, and others need more time to grow out.
Pay attention to the following details regardless of breed:
- The Hens' Broodiness
You will either need your chickens to tend towards being broody, or you will need to know how to hatch chicks using an incubator to be more sustainable and hatch your chicks.
- Normal Mature Size
If you have a small homestead, the average mature size of the birds is crucial. You might not be able to retain as many hens if you select a breed with a huge frame as opposed to one with a more petite frame.
- Country of Origin
You may or may not think it matters where the breed originated, but it is always a good idea to know the background of the animals you bring into your homestead.
- Changes in Mood
It's crucial to understand a chicken breed's temperament or behavior. While most breeds are friendly and quiet, others can be noisy, energetic, or aggressive. In cases when kids will be near the birds, this is very crucial.
- Is it a heritage breed?
You may or may not find this necessary, but being informed about your chickens' needs is always a good idea. The Livestock Conservancy is a source of heritage breeds.
Consider the location where you plan to keep your chickens. Will it be a problem for you if they can fly? If so, consider building a fence, containing them in a run, selecting breeds that aren't good flyers, or clipping wings.
Your chickens will have less energy during breeding and brooding than usual, so giving them the necessary nutrients is best. Never overdo it with the vitamins you give your chickens and their chicks.
Dry eyes, stunted growth, or a greater vulnerability to illnesses in your chickens could all be signs of a vitamin A shortage in their diet. To avoid this shortage, supplement their meal with broccoli or kale.
To prevent vitamin D insufficiency, ensure your chickens receive more than 30 minutes of direct sunlight daily and give them cod liver oil. The number of eggs your chickens lay may decrease due to this deficiency.
Practical Tips on Breeding Chickens
You can grow your flock of chickens in a variety of ways. It's straightforward to breed your own chickens, which is why many chicken keepers do it.
Choose the breed wisely.
Prepare for spring.
Tracking a rooster-to-hen ratio.
Roosters must be kept with the hens.
The waiting period is key.
Look into the rooster's behavior.
Keep an eye on those fertilized eggs.
Storing and laying of fertilized eggs for more success.
Start Your Flock Now!
Surprisingly, there are numerous approaches to expanding your flocks of chickens. It can be fascinating to plan your chicken breeding strategy. The entire family can enjoy the process as well. Making notes while you research will produce the finest results.
The finest breed of chicken to raise in your backyard is ultimately up to you. The most crucial factor is that rearing your chickens will achieve your initial purpose of breeding chickens.