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How To Raise Chickens

It is no secret that commercially raised poultry is of very poor quality due to the incredibly fast growth, cramped conditions, and lack of a natural diet. Chicken is not supposed to be soft, greasy, and mushy as store-bought chicken usually is.  Farm raised, free ranging birds, on the other hand, are lean and have firm meat. This page gives you information on how to raise your own chickens for meat.

Start With The Poultry Brooder

 
Click on photos to enlarge

As shown in the photos above, for the poultry brooder use one 5 ft wading pool for each 15 chicks.  Use a cardboard box that is about 2ft square and 15 inches deep with thin wood boards fastened in each corner to elevate the box about 10" off the ground.  Cut about a 6" hole at the top and hang a 250 W brooder lamp through the hole about halfway down.  Put about half of a bale of wood chips in each pool. After about a week, you will need to put 2 foot wide chicken wire around the perimeter (shown top right) to keep the chicks from hopping out. Obtain small bottle waterers and feeders for the young chicks.  At about 2 weeks, however, you will want to use large water bottles and feeders as the food/water demand goes up.

Move The Chickens To a Free Range Cage

A free range cage is a 10 ft by 12 ft  by 2 ft high cage that is covered on 3/4ths of its top and half of its side with roofing metal and covered with chicken wire on the other sides.  Each day, you move the cage to a new location so the chickens get a new clean area to pick bugs and grass in addition to the feed you provide. Also, there is no chicken coop to clean!  To make this cage easier to move, I mounted bicycle wheels that slip in to the ends - this allows me to move this enclosure easily and safely (without squishing a bird!). A number of photos are shown below.


Some Tips

  • Move the cage each day!  This keeps their area clean, minimizes smell, and keeps a fresh supply of natural food.  Install bike tires and a handle on the front (as shown in photos) to help in this moving. I obtained a broken bike at a town dump for this purpose.
  • Take the feed out at the end of each evening and return the feed in the morning.  This will prevent the birds from overeating and developing leg problems. Also, it will encourage the birds to eat more bugs.  In addition, I use the feed in the morning to draw the birds to the front so I can safely lift the enclosure to put in the wheels.
  • Place long pieces of slab wood around the perimeter of the cage as shown in the last 2 pictures. At each corner, a spike is dropped in a hole securing the pieces.  This will prevent dogs and predators from digging under the side.  We lost 3 birds early on to a digging dog before I took this measure. The slab wood is available at no cost at a sawmill or lumberyard.
  • You can watch a video of me moving the chicken pen here! Any questions? Email me at

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These plans are copyright protected and are not to resold or republished!  You may use these plans for your own personal use and share them with friends but you may not resell or republish them.  You may not copy any part of this site and place it on your own website.
Copyright 2004 - Michael Sakowski