Intro: Fresh Eggs
Here are the steps we went through to get five fresh chicken eggs everyday.
Step 1: Do Your Homework
Are chickens allowed in your neighborhood/city?
Do your neighbors mind if you have chickens?
Do you have a feed store nearby for chicken feed?
Do you have room for chickens?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then ask:
What kind of chickens do I want?
All of this will cause you to ask more questions and then you can ask your significant other, "Honey, do you mind if we get some chickens?"
Step 2: Get a Coop
There are several types of chicken coops available to build or buy. Purina offers a great free chicken coop plan on their site that I really liked. But since my husband was going to be the one building it and I was going to have to buy the materials, I spent a couple weeks trolling craigslist until I found one just like if for $75 and rented a trailer. My husband was more than happy to spend a morning picking one up instead of two weekends building one from scratch and I saved about $150 in building materials.
Step 3: Get Some Chicks
There are several places to order chicks from. I recommend you visit sites and read the reviews about the temperament and laying habits of the different breeds to find out which will suit you best. I used Murray McMurray Hatchery in Iowa. They shipped me my one day old chicks on October 1. They arrived at the post office the next day. The US Post Office was excellent in giving me a call to let me know they were there. I could hear them chirping in the backroom when I arrived.
When they arrive Murray McMurray has awesome support tips on their website to ensure you can take care of them. Basically you dip their beaks in food and water and they figure out the rest.
Be sure to put a lamp on them as they need to stay over 90 degrees. Here in Texas we still have 90 degree weather in Oct, but we kept a lamp on them anyway.
Step 4: When They Stink and Jump Out of the Box - Put Them Outside
Pretty soon, like in 3 - 4 weeks they start hopping out of the box (or brooder) and they need to go out to the coop. Plus they stink.
Step 5: Watch Them Grow
The next 3 months are spent trying to determine how the heck you can keep them from soiling their food and water. After several debates we decided on a 4 inch PVC pipe with a Y connection on the bottom strapped inside the coop for their food. Once they could get out of the coop we left their water outside.
Step 6: Make Sure Everyone Is Getting Along
The last thing you want is drama in the hen house. Any stress will cause the gals not to lay and lead to bad relations all around. Anyone that is too noisy will cause your neighbors to call you in as owning a nuisance pet. These birds make better dinner guests.
Step 7: And It Just Happens...
Then on February 8 we got our first eggs. The first two held four yolks. Now most of them have one yolk and they give us five eggs a day.
Step 8: Meet the Girls
We kept five hens, Lily, Ivory, Ebony, Ruby and Dotty. They will have to do their own instructable about how they make the eggs. It amazes me everyday that they just create food. They are very sweet, get along with the dogs and greet me when I come home from work. They eat bugs out of the yard and are just easy going nice pets that offer food too!