Are you thinking about getting your first chickens this spring? Meet Counting My Chickens reader and aspiring blogger James Gibbon. James recently returned to his family farm in Montana and started raising his first flock of chickens. He says he has learned a lot about keeping chickens over the last few months, so I invited him to share some of his newfound knowledge with other Counting My Chickens readers who are planning their own flocks. And, as it turns out, James has some great advice. So, without further ado, here are five tips from a new chicken keeper, in his own words.
Tip #1 – Prepare Prior to Purchase
This might seem like an obvious one, but preparing for your chickens before you purchase them is a critical step. We purchased our chickens on Craigslist as starter pullets, and we were not prepared when we arrived home with them. We made the mistake of letting them out into our fenced in area first instead of putting them directly into the coop for the first 24 hours. Our electric fencing failed and we were left chasing chickens for the rest of the day until we finally got them in their coop. Save the hassle and prepare prior to purchase.
Tip #2 – Utilize All Available Resources
There is a lot of information available on the Internet related to raising your own chickens. Utilize all of this information to your advantage. I’m constantly scanning blogs, forums and videos for useful information in regards to our chickens. As a new chicken keeper, listening and learning from others has been extremely helpful. I have been blown away at how caring, giving, and helpful the chicken community has been. Don’t hesitate to get involved, ask for help, and read ahead.
A note from Deb: Here are my top five chicken websites and blogs.
Tip #3 – A Heat Lamp is NOT Necessary
I live in Montana. Montana is cold. When first getting chickens, one of my largest concerns was how to keep them warm. Like most first time chicken owners, I purchased a heat lamp and installed it in their coop. Then I read blogs and articles online, with the consensus that a heat lamp was not necessary. I have since not used the heat lamp and have determined that the most essential thing for chickens during the winter is to make sure they have plenty of food and water. I also line the coop with straw and shavings for warmth. I’m still learning how to best care for our chickens during the winter, but this method seems to be working for us.
Tip #4 – Research How to Respond if Chicken is Injured
When I first got chickens, I never imagined any of them getting injured or hurt. In reality, some chickens aren’t very nice and injuries do happen. In our case, one of our Light Brahma hens was pecked on until she started bleeding. We didn’t know this at the time, but chickens will start attacking when blood is present. With a simple Google search we discovered we needed to separate her from the flock. Thus, it is important to research these types of things before they happen.
Tip #5 – Organic Feed and Supplements
I am someone who really cares about where my food comes from. One of the great things about having your own chickens is that you are in control of how to supplement and feed your chickens. As a new chicken keeper, I have found that organic food and supplements have made a drastic impact on the quality, quantity, and taste of our eggs. There are plenty of organic feed companies out there, but I personally recommend Scratch and Peck, which is based out of the Pacific Northwest.
A note from Deb: I haven’t tried Scratch and Peck products yet, but saw they are available on Amazon. Check out my affiliate link below for more information (and see my affiliate disclaimer at the bottom of this page).
Thanks for sharing those great tips, James! If you would like to hear more from James, check out his blog, Montana Farm Life, where he writes about chickens, Montana, and living on a farm. You also can follow him on Instagram. I know I will be following along on James’ future chicken adventures!