If you have considered getting backyard chickens and not fully committed or have decided to but not yet started we hope this article will encourage you to jump in and get started! Meet Joey Harding, father, sales professional, suburbanite, and chicken enthusiast! Just over a year ago, Joey, made a decision to raise chickens in his North Carolina home’s backyard. When asked “why raise chickens?” Joey answered, “I have always loved caring for pets. Years ago I had chickens and recalled what fun they are. I also wanted my kids to get exposed to chicken raising.” Simply put, Joey wanted to return to his past when he enjoyed his backyard and specifically raising chickens. Now that he has his chickens we are excited he is willing to share his chicken experiences and challenges with us at www.chickfliccoop.com.
How did Joey get started? First, he did his research on what he would need to raise little chicks in a brooding pen. He then researched types of chickens, dietary needs, protection against elements, parasites, and predators. Joey wanted his chickens to thrive and grow in his backyard which he described as a, “perfect setting.” His backyard offers grass, trees, and shrubs allowing his chickens to enjoy the sunlight or scratch for food in the shade.
Needing to start with a Brood Chamber and other supplies, Joey visited his Tractor Supply Co. for equipment like heat lamps, feeders, litter and don’t forget the baby chicks! Next he needed a coop for them to sleep in each night once they were grew big enough to regulate their own body heat. With the help of his neighbor, Joey built a beautiful chicken coop. It stands 8ft x 16ft x 10ft. If you are like this author and not as handy as Joey you can purchase a coop yourself or order one delivered from Urban Coop Company or one like them.
Ventilation was considered with openings in the sides and at the peak to let the North Carolina evening heat dissipate. When the chickens are in the coop each night harmful ammonia can build up so bedding amendment, Chick Flic is recommended. Why eliminate ammonia near your chickens you ask? For their well being is the short answer. To explain further, ammonia is produced when enzymes breakdown uric acid in your chicken’s droppings. That ammonia is constantly being produced as long as the chickens droppings are present along with moisture and warm temperature. The chickens inhale that ammonia as it rises from the floor. Chick Flic, when sprinkled on the coop floor where your chickens make their droppings, will dry out the area and its active ingredient transforms ammonia into a safe compound eliminating the harmful threat to your chickens.
Continuing in the area of ventilation, Joey decided upon industrial strength metal screening in the opening to protect his sleeping chickens from nocturnal predators. “I didn’t want anything getting inside and after my chickens.” Joey told us.
After investing in the materials, Joey protected the coop against water damage with 5 coats of paint and caulking in every possible junction. As shown the coop was built on stilts with the waterers and feeders suspended from bottom side of the coop floor. It is obvious when you walk around his coop, that Joey put thought and time into planning and building it. His chicken coop is sturdy and protected. A safe, dry and comfortable environment for his beloved chickens.
Now he was ready for his chickens. Joey wanted egg layers so he started with 6 pullets which included a Buff Orpington and Leghorn as well as others breeds. Since then Joey has accumulated chickens from PoultryHollow.org and two more hens from the humane shelter. Yes, you can rescue chickens also! Several of Joey’s exotic chickens were rescued from a puppy mill that was raided. Chickens were discovered and given to the humane shelter who then turned them over to Joey’s care. Below are a few of his 12 chickens. Joey has a mix of domestic and exotic hens that are interesting and fun to be around. The patterns and colors on their feathers are absolutely beautiful. One could sit and enjoy their uniqueness for hours.
Two of his more unique chickens are “Frostie” and “Nilla”. They are Silkie chickens and among his youngest and smallest. “they don’t go into the coop each night like the other chickens.” stated Joey, “they are interesting in behavior and appearance.” The white Silkie, Nilla, is very quick to run away when approached. The gray Silkie, Frostie, is the opposite allowing children to pick him and showing patience while they struggle to get a proper chicken holding grip. Joey thought both his Silkies were hens but to his surprise recently Frostie let out a weak crow revealing he is actually a rooster. Joey is crossing his fingers neighbors won’t mind and that Frostie isn’t the loudest of roosters.
When asked what else he likes about raising chickens he quickly said, “they are good pets and they eggs they provide are healthy.” Joey went on to explain, “when chickens are happy (safe and well fed) they lay eggs.” As for diet Joey has used Organic layer pellets he gets from Whole Foods Market. Dumors Laying Pellets from Tractor Supply Co. . He also recommends Oyster Shell for the calcium it provides and meal worms for a social snack time.
Joey spent time planning, preparing, and building a great environment for his chickens to live in. He is quick to invite friends over to meet his chickens and other pets. “I had about 100 people come by this past Spring in the Urban Chicken Loop. They really enjoyed it.” From the brooder to the chicken coop, Joey worked on his chicken’s home and obviously enjoys providing a nice habitat for them. A few of them seem to understand the time he put into their home by climbing up in his lap when he sits down to thank him. Or maybe they are just hoping for a snack. Either way, Joey, thoroughly enjoys caring for them and the company they provide.
Check back here at www.chickfliccoop.com for Part 2 and Part 3 of Joey’s story. In part 2 we will examine Joey’s coop, ammonia levels we found along with the results Chick Flic provided. Part 3 we will delve into Joey’s “hawk prevention system” he devised after having his flock nearly decimated by those high flying predators.