Let’s get real. I made so many mistakes as a new chicken keeper! I wasn’t prepared! Is that you too? It’s okay, I learned from my mistakes, and I’m here to help! We’ll get through this together, you GOT THIS! I want to help you to get past the 5 Mistakes New Chicken Keepers Make.
Mistakes New Chicken Keepers Make
1. Not Having Supplies Before Getting Chickens
Do you have all the “stuff” needed for chickens? When you first get chickens, it’s great if you have everything they need. Make sure you have a chicken coop setup for them, and plenty of feeders and waterers.
The chicken coop should be big enough to accommodate not only the chickens you intend to buy initially, but it’s a great idea to have a bigger chicken coop to start with. WHY?
Well, the thing about chickens is that they are simply amazing and you’re sure to fall in love with them. You’ll most likely want MORE! I know I did! This is called #CHICKENMATH.
It’ll be cheaper in the long run if you start out bigger, plus more room is fine for the girls. It gives them space to sleep comfortably.
- Chicken Coop – You can make one like our Horse Trailer Chicken Coop or the Truck Topper Chicken Coop or BUY ONE.
- Chicken Feed
- Chicken Scratch (this is ONLY a treat and not intended to be feed)
- Bedding: Wood shavings, to soak up and catch poop below the roosts.
- Coop Refresh! – *Optional. Keep the coop smelling fresh and clean. Or click here to learn how to make your own coop refresher!
Commercial Chicken Coops
I wouldn’t recommend buying a commercial chicken coop unless you’re going to spend thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, the first chicken coop I received end up being made of “cedar”.
There’s a “cedar” made in China, that is crap. Thin crap that molds and warps, and will deteriorate in about 6 months. This coop costed about $800. At that price it should last years, not months.
Unless, you buy a quality built coop, something that is NOT usually found in stores, made with REAL wood, not this thin paper stuff mine was made out of, you’ll be wasting your time.
Feeders & Waterers
About the feeders and waterers… If you live in a hot climate, the girls and guys will drink a lot more water in the hotter months.
2. Can You Legally Have Chickens?
There are a couple of things you should do before you get chickens, like checking the local zoning ordinances.
We live outside the city. If we lived in the city, we would be subject to following their rules which say we wouldn’t be able to own a rooster. Mostly because it would break the noise ordinance. It’s not too bad.
Some cities don’t allow chickens at all. The last thing you need is the neighbors calling on you & being tattletails.
Neighbors Can Be a Pain or a Blessing
Speaking of neighbors, do you have them? Mine are about a few acres away. The people in front of us have chickens, the people behind us don’t.
When I spoke to them about us getting chickens they were excited. My neighbor actually said he was looking forward to the noises of the chickens because he enjoyed it.
Most neighbors are not excited, let me tell you… You might want to check with your neighbors if they are close by. Having an open dialog may help, plus you can help them learn more about chickens.
If they say that the noise would bother them, maybe you can tempt them with free eggs.
3. Predators | Mistakes New Chicken Keepers Make
Being unprepared for predator attacks is one of the mistakes new chicken keepers make. Here at our new homestead we have dealt with bears, raccoons, opossums, & coyotes.
For a raccoon scaling the 6 foot fence is as easy as slicing soft butter. They can open latches, rip a head off with precision and not think twice. They also love to eat chicken food and chicken eggs!
A bear tried to rip the roof off the chicken coop. The opossum stole a couple of chickens. The coyotes, haven’t done any damage on OUR property yet, but we’ve heard sounds as if they did get something like a small dog in the field next to us.
So how do you prepare for predators? Making your coop undiggable by laying hardware cloth at the bottom is a great tactic. Some people bury it in the ground horizontally a few inches into the ground. When a predator starts digging they quickly realize it’s futile and give up.
You can also place your chicken coop in a fenced area, that has a roof over it. That way they cannot gain access through the roof, like they did ours.
Livestock Guardian Dogs
Dogs… Many people use Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs). These dogs are bred to protect livestock. They live, eat and breath this work. It’s what they live for.
They usually live outside. I have a friend who has one of them, and their animals are never locked up tight, and she says she’s never lost an animal. It’s hard to believe, but hey I’m not judging, I just wish I could afford to have an LGD myself!
4. Starting With Baby Chicks
Starting out with baby chicks might be a little difficult. It can be done, for sure. It’s just better to start out with laying hens, in my opinion. Why?
Because they have the ability to give you eggs right away. Babies, are a lot of fun, a lot of poop, and needy at times. Laying hens are just easier. They need and want less from you.
Also, with baby chicks you need the space to raise them. You’ll need a special brooder, special waterers, feeders, feed, and even a heat lamp! It’s a lot of special accessories that you’ll really only use for baby chicks, and as they get bigger you’ll have purchase adult supplies.
Check out How to Raise Baby Chicks to learn everything you need to know about raising baby chicks!
5. Wounds, Disease, and Disorders | Mistakes New Chicken Keepers Make
Not being prepared for dealing with a sick or wounded bird, is one of the biggest mistakes new chicken keepers make. Right now I have Fat Boy in Quarantine. Why?
Because he is bleeding from his wattle. The girls kept pecking at it, making it worse. Yes, this is something that happens more often than you might think.
Usually, it’s minor and only needs a quarantine for the better part of a day, but this time Fat Boy is bleeding pretty badly. I cleaned it up with some Vetericyn and wiped the blood with a clean cloth.
Blue Kote is another good item to have for wounds. It’s a little messy because, yes it’s BLUISH-PURPLE! It’s works really well to cover up blood to help keep the pecking down. Chickens will peck things that are red naturally, but they seem to leave this bluish-purple color alone.
Then, I added some first aid ointment. I will have to keep him quarantined for a few days until the wound improved.
Do you have a place setup for quarantined birds? I use a dog cage, with two doors. I like two doors because I can turn one side pointing up, so it’s easier to put birds in and take them out. Plus, you can add food and water, without them trying to escape.
These hanging bowls are perfect way to add food and water to the cage.
Check out the Chicken First Aid Kit for more information about being prepared for chicken wounds, diseases, and disorders.
5 Mistakes New Chicken Keepers Make
- Not having supplies before getting chickens – This is a really important step. Being ready is one of the most important steps and that’s why it’s #1!
- Not checking the local zoning ordinances – You can dream about chickens all you want, but before you buy that beautiful chicken coop, make sure it’s legal to have chickens in your backyard!
- Unprepared for predator attacks – There are day and night predators. Is your coop prepared to keep out predators at night? Do you have any defenses for the daytime?
Some people use Geese, others use Great Pyrenees or other livestock guardian dogs. The other thing you need to do is prepare yourself.
Prepare for the loss of life, prepare to see wounds, blood, and guts even. It hurts to see your favorite chicken slaughtered by a predator.
Even if you plan to eat them later! The best way to prepare is to tell yourself that some will die. Remind yourself of this. Some people refrain from naming chickens, especially meat birds.
- Not researching and being ready for sick or wounded birds – What if a bird is hurt? What do you have to help your sick or wounded birds? Check out the Chicken First Aid Kit post, to learn how to put one together.
- Starting with chicks – You may pay more for an adult hen, but there are many supplies little chicks need like chick feeders, waterers, starter feed, brooder, lamp, and all the time it will take for them to grow into adults.
Starting with adult hens can get you eggs a lot sooner, and you’ll be able to gain the experience needed for taking care of them.
You can always try chicks later on, and by then you will have a regular supply of fresh eggs already coming in. Also, check out How to Raise Baby Chicks and How to Care for Chickens.
- Not researching and being ready for sick or wounded birds – What if a bird is hurt? What do you have to help your sick or wounded birds? Check out the Chicken First Aid Kit post, to learn hot to put one together.
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