Hi, I’m Tricia, an organic gardener. In addition to harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables, I enjoy fresh eggs. Today we’re going to talk about the essentials of raising chickens. I have a permanent sized shed with a wood floor, and a chainlinked pen. If you’re not ready for this kind of commitment, I’ll show you some other options. A pre-built coop like this is a great way to keep them safe from predators. If you’re going to build your own, be sure to cover any window with hardware cloth and secure it with strong staples. Raccoons can reach through aviary wire and they can open a hook and eye latch, so be sure all the doors are predator-proof. Now that your chickens are safe, let’s talk about their other needs. You’ll need one box for every 5 hens. This needs to be a quiet, semi-private, comfortable place for her to lay her eggs. You need a bar for your hens to roost on, about 1.5″ in diameter with rounded edges are perfect for adult hens. And you want about 10 linear inches per hen. Keep in mind that your largest piles of manure are going to be right under the roosting bar. And make sure you derive a way to clean out the chicken coop, like with this removable tray that sits over the mesh floor. While the manure is a great nitrogen additive for the compost pile, we want eggs! The food that you feed your hens plays an important role in egg production. A pre-formulated pelleted, organic layer feed will contain a well-balanced mix of everything they need, including protein, calcium, fiber, fat and vitamins. Eggshells are made mostly of calcium, so the hens need a lot of calcium in their diet. In addition to their regular food, you can supplement with oyster shell that’s ground up, that’s packed full of calcium. Chickens are omnivores and will eat just about anything, except for citrus. And don’t feed them onions or garlic, that’ll affect the flavor of the eggs. They love the corn in this chicken scratch. I’m gonna plant some of this Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend. Chickens that eat the plants from this blend will have more omega-3 fatty acids in their eggs, and that’s healthy for you! If your chickens are in pens, you can grow this mix right in a tray and then just set the tray in their pen! Having water that’s not too hot in the summer and not frozen in the winter is essential for chickens. You can fill and clean your waterer on a regular basis, or you can get an automatic waterer like this one. Position the feeder to be level with the chicken’s back. That way, it’s easy for them to eat and it keeps dirt from getting in the feeder. A loose cover like this will prevent birds from trying to roost atop the feeder and possibly soiling their food. Hens need 14 hours of daylight to produce eggs. In the shorter days of winter, you can supplement daylight with a 40-60 watt bulb. And use a timer, so that you can turn it on a couple of hours before dawn. Hens will start laying eggs when they’re about 18-20 weeks old, and they’ll lay approximately 1 egg per day and they’ll keep laying until they’re about 4 years old. Now all you need are some chickens! They’re very social creatures, so get a minimum of 2. And remember you do not need a rooster to get eggs! You’ll get the quickest payoff in terms of egg production if you start out buying a little pullet, that’s a 4-month old chicken, just about ready to start laying, like this little girl. The cutest way is to start from little chicks, but that does require specialized chicks equipment, and a lot more time. If you’re planning on raising less than 6 backyard chickens, I think you’ll find it more economical to buy pullets, instead of chicks and they’re specialized equipment. They’re many great books on gardening with chickens. Raising Chickens in an Urban Space, and Living with Chickens. Your backyard chicken eggs should last about 3 months in they’re in a carton refrigerated. So get your omega-3 fatty acids from your own chicken eggs, and Grow Organic for Life!