Dyeing Easter eggs has long been a tradition in not only the popular world celebration of the Easter holiday, but in Christian culture, too. For example, in the Eastern Orthodox churches, eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. The egg symbolizes the tomb, and cracking it open symbolizes the rising from the tomb.
We’ll be celebrating Easter at Stoney Creek Farm, and so we wish everyone a blessed day whose tradition celebrates it, too!
With the popularity of dying eggs on Easter, chicks have become a widespread gift option, too.
Baby chicks are cute (you can see evidence of that in this video I posted on the Stoney Creek Farm Facebook), but fair warning, these adorable yellow puffs do not make great pets.
In many cities, chickens are considered livestock, and likely will not be permitted in residential areas. Additionally, handling chicks can expos the unassuming person to salmonella, a bacteria spread through their feces—preening can contaminate a chick’s feathers with salmonella bacteria, leading to the risk of infection to anyone who holds the chicks without washing their hands thoroughly after. Plus, the precious chick phase only lasts for so long, and then people are left with adult chickens that they are not prepared to raise.
But when it comes to your homestead or farm, chickens are one of my favorite livestock options for so many reasons!
- Eggs are high in protein and provide a great source of income—everyone loves farm fresh eggs and are willing to pay a premium for them.
- Chickens, when compared to other livestock options, require minimal cost investment.
- Chicken manure is a great compost material, providing rich organic material for your garden.
- Chickens are your own personal pest control—they eat bugs in your yard!
- Chicken meat is high in protein.
- Chickens are just plain fun to watch, pet and feed!
Plus, spring is a great time to get started with your own flock! The weather is better, farm stores have a greater stock of chicks, and once grown, your chickens will be laying eggs by the end of summer & early fall.
Here are a few pointers for getting started with raising chickens for your farmstead.
Checking for Regulations
Before picking out your favorite chicken breeds, the first thing you’ll need to do is check for regulations in your area. Even if your city allows chickens, if you’re in a neighborhood, your HOA may have rules in place regarding chickens (and especially roosters… they don’t only crow at sunrise, trust us!).
Choosing Chicken Breeds
For raising birds strictly for meat, we recommend Jumbo Cornish X Rocks or Big Red Broiler.
The Jumbo Cornish X Rocks is a hybrid bird with a quick growth rate, making it a good option for meat. Since it’s a hybrid, it’s not recommended that you breed these birds.
The Big Red Broiler is your go-to when it comes to a pasture bird that has excellent foraging skills.
Eggs & Meat.
The Delaware chicken is a friendly option for those wanting both eggs & meat. The females lay large brown eggs and can be harvested for meat once finished laying, while the males are meat chickens. Because of their friendliness, they make for a great backyard flock option.
For egg production only, two great options are the Rhode Island Reds or the Pearl White Leghorn. If you are like us and want to raise your farmstead birds for mainly eggs (and end of life stewing chickens), then we suggest a sex link breed called Red Star, one of the best brown egg layers of all.
A note on the Rhode Island Reds: This is one of the most popular breeds for eggs as they are great breeders and cost-effective, but from our experience, they aren’t the most docile. If you are wanting a friendly backyard flock, we’d recommend another breed.
You can read about three more great chicken breeds in my post on the Stoney Creek Farm blog.
Acquiring Your Chicks
We do not hatch our own eggs; instead, we order our chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery.
We’ve used this hatchery for years and have always had a good experience with them. The hatchery guarantees their baby chicks in case something happens during shipment. We’ve only ever had an issue with shipment once where a few chicks did not make it, and McMurray quickly amended the situation and sent us a new shipment.
We’re not affiliated with McMurray, we just love their customer service!
Bringing Home Baby (Chicks).
Once your chicks arrive, you will need:
- Chick Coop/Box
- Heat Lamp
The heat lamp is extremely important: The chicks must be kept in a space of at least 95 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week. You can reduce the temperature by 5 degrees after the first week. The chicks must be kept warm for the first couple of weeks because they do NOT tolerate cold well.
Once chickens reach their “teenage stage,” they will need to move to a larger coop with both indoor shelter and outdoor roaming space.
In this post on the Stoney Creek Farm blog, I share with you the coop we use for our chickens once they are “teens” and “grownups.”
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