Tuesday, May 12, 2009
A chicken farming business is a difficult career, partly because of the many steps required to raise and maintain a flock chickens. It's especially difficult if you are trying to breed your chickens as well as raise them, because if you want your flock to flourish and propagate, you will need them breeding and reproducing.
You will need to purchase either a number of fertilized eggs or purchase live chicks. As purchasing eggs is cheaper, we will go with that avenue. Live chicks may be your best bet if you live near a supplier, or you have experience with raising chicks already.
Your eggs need to be incubated in a chicken egg incubator for the right amount of time, depending on the species of chicken. This incubation simulates the heat that the egg would receive from a brooding hen. An egg incubator can be purchased, or one can be fashioned at home. Commercial egg incubators will cost you significantly more than a homemade one, but will also allow an easier time when setting temperature and humidity. Make sure to look up the specifications for your specific species of chicken, and follow all instructions that come with your incubator about temperature and humidity to ensure the maximum successful hatching. For more information about setting temperature or humidity in a homemade incubator, check out the link on the bottom of the page.
When they are born, the chicks are very vulnerable to catching disease or cold and need to be kept in a warm, dry environment. You can either purchase a brooder online or build your own, if you can find blueprints or plans. Be wary of paying for this information, as it can usually be had for free. A brooder is an essential part of raising a flock.
Allow your grown chickens a run (area outside on the ground) where they can freely run, and provide a covered enclosure for them to take cover under at night or during rain (remember, chickens catch cold very easily). Lay down straw on a regular basis because the birds need something to make their bests with. If you want to, you could provide so-called 'nesting cupboards' by building or purchasing them. These give the hen an easy place to build their nests
Egg Selection for Selling
The chickens will be serious about protecting their eggs. Be sure your enclosure allows easy access to the nesting cupboards or boxes with minimal contact to the hens, (chickens catch diseases easily, remember?) and wearing thick gloves is encouraged, as an outraged hen can provide a nasty bite. A full clutch of eggs can number up to 12, depending on the species. Be sure to inspect the eggs carefully for cracks, blemishes, etc, and try to clean them gently with a dry cloth if they are dirty. They can be packaged in any number you like, although even numbers seem to be popular. :)
Egg Selection for Raising
If you are hoping to select fertilized eggs for subsequent hatching or sale, (to other people hoping to start a flock, just like you did) you are going to need several roosters for your flock. When you collect eggs, you will need to check what's inside them, through a process called candling. For more information about candling, check out Candling Chicken Eggs. Your best bet for hatching the eggs is to replace the fertilized ones (you discovered if you they were fertilized by candling) and allow the hen to brood them naturally.
This article is a good primer for the basics of learning how to raise chickens for commercial profit, or how to start a chicken farming business. For more instructions on using the brooder or incubator, feeding the chickens, or any other chicken-raising related questions, check out the links below
For incubator plans, see Homemade Incubators
For a comparison of commercial incubators, see Classroom Incubators
For information about raising quail, see Quail Incubators
Posted by David F. at 10:58 PM