How To Start a Chicken Farm

Are you tired of shopping for eggs and chicken at the grocery store?Chicken farming is a sustainable way to have eggs and chickens always on hand.If you decide to sell your eggs at the local farmer's market, the start-up costs for a chicken farm can be made back.You will need to set up a business, buy chickens, and take good care of the chickens before you can sell eggs.

Step 1: Understand the skills needed to start a chicken farm.

Farming is known to be hard work, driven by a practical point of view and a commitment to long work hours.As a beginner farmer, you should be aware of the skills, abilities, and expectations required of you so you are prepared to start your farming endeavor with a good sense of what the role entails.You will need to be willing to work long hours as a farmer.You will need to be prepared for the physical work where you are feeding, cleaning, shoveling, and caring for your chickens on a constant basis.You will need to be prepared for seasonal earnings, where your profits are dependent on when your hens lay and how well you market and sell the meat and eggs produced by your chickens.During your first year as a chicken farmer, your profits may be low and you may need to wait a couple of years to turn a profit.Chicken farmers need to be patient and be okay with setbacks.Problems can be solved by fixing them yourself and relying on your skills as a doer.

Step 2: A business plan can be created.

A business plan can be used to set your farm up for success.Farm expenses include the cost of equipment, feed, and chickens in your business plan.If you need to pay for labor in the form of workers or employees to help maintain the farm, you should consider the cost of the insurance premiums.If you have a certain amount of profit you will need to hit on a month to month basis, this should be the basis of farm income.It is important to have profit goals so you can make money on the farm.Financing is needed to get the farm off the ground.This could be in the form of a savings account, borrowing money from a business partner or family, and/or grants or loans from government agencies.Cash-flow from a part time job or a farming endeavor can be used to pay for expenses and keep your farm running.Disaster plan, as any farmer knows, the weather or a bad season can lead to low profits.In the event of an emergency, you should have a disaster plan in place.Changes you can make to your farm will help you save money and stay in business in the event of a disaster.In the event of a fatal incident, you may want to have a will in place.

Step 3: You need to apply for financing.

Unless you have a large amount of money in your savings account, you will have to apply for financing through a third party.This could be through a grant from the government or a loan from your local bank.Most banks have partnerships with local agencies that provide financing for start up farms.If you don't own the land you are farming on, you can create a contract with the owner in exchange for coverage of your equipment and start up costs.Young and Beginning loans are available from the Farm Credit Services of America.These are made for farmers with less than 10 years of experience.Up to $2,500 is offered for young farmers who are still students.The Farm Service Agency has a complete list of farm loan programs.If your state has a tax-free bond program, you should.If you want to get your farm off the ground, you should check with the USDA Farm Service Agency.

Step 4: Get hands on experience as a farmer by working with a farming organization.

If you would like to get a better sense of the work environment and the expectations in the farmer role, you may want to work with a farming organization like WWOOF.In exchange for working on the farm, these positions often cover your room and board.For a longer period of time, you can get hands on experience in the life of farming, which will help you start your own farm.

Step 5: If you are going to do either of those things, you need to make a decision.

When it comes to chicken farming, there are two options, one of which is in a pasture.You will need large equipment to take care of the chickens when you set up a chicken farm.A small area of land and an enclosure is needed for pastured farming to work.The benefits of pastured farming are that there is very little overhead or start up costs and it can be done with a lot of chickens.Many of the other elements of chicken farming, like selecting chickens and caring for the chickens, are the same for both coop farming and pastured farming.The major difference in pastured farming is that you don't have to build a rooster for the chickens, instead you need small enclosed shelters on a pasture.The animals will be moved everyday in pens.A shelter that has a door that allows the chicks to move in and out of it at will can be used to set up a pastured farm.When you surround the shelter with electric fencing, you will give the chicks access to new areas to pasture.

Step 6: A big chicken house is needed.

The chicken coop is the most important part of the chicken farm and should be large enough to hold forty to sixty chickens at a time.Chickens are good in groups.Four square feet of space is needed for each chicken.An 8 x 8 chicken house can hold 16 chickens.You should be able to gather eggs and shovel manure from the large rooster.Chickens can get cold in a space that is too large, so do not make it too big.Chicken wire windows and wood roofs can be found in most chicken coops.In the wintertime, the windows and screens allow sunlight into the house and in the summer, they allow the air to escape.You can buy the raw materials and build your own chicken house.If you don't want to spend a lot of time building a coop, you can buy one at your local hardware or farm supply store.For a small one to a large one, the cost is between $500 and $3000.

Step 7: There is a large roosting area.

Chickens must have at least six inches of roosting space allotted for each bird.To make sure the roost is 2 12 feet off the floor, you can use a board that is 1 inch in diameter.One box per four to five birds should be used for the chickens' nest.The eggs can't be laid on the floor because of the boxes.

Step 8: Add water containers.

Chickens can't fall into the shallow water containers in the coop if the feeders are big enough for them.You should have at least one water container for every four to six birds.

Step 9: Chicken wire and a chicken fence surround a 20 x 5 foot outdoor area.

Chickens can spread their wings and take dust baths throughout the day if you have an outdoor area to walk and cluck in.Chickens can produce high quality eggs if you have a chicken run.Chicken wire or a chicken fence is the best way to keep the chickens safe from cats and dogs.Try to have the outdoor area close to the chicken house for easy access.The chickens should be close to each other because they spend a lot of time outside.To keep small animals from getting into the enclosure, you should fortify the chicken wire with fencing and line the base of the enclosures with T-posts.

Step 10: If you want to breed your own chickens, buy an incubator.

If you are going to breed your own chickens, you should get one to two incubators to help keep your chickens warm and well cared for.incubators can be expensive and can take up a lot of spaceYou can buy incubators at your local farm equipment store.

Step 11: If you want to process meat chickens, get a feather pluckinger and killing cones.

If you want to process chickens raised for meat, you should invest in a killing cone and feather plucking device.The time for each chicken will be shortened by this.If you don't want to invest in this type of equipment, you can use a hatchet and a pot to kill your chickens.Large meat chicken farms have more sophisticated equipment that makes production easy and fast.

Step 12: Egg washing equipment is necessary for egg laying chickens.

If you want to sell chicken eggs commercially, you will need egg- washing equipment.If you want to grade your eggs, you will need a high intensity candler and a professionally calibrating scale.Egg cartons and egg labeling should be invested in by you.As this will attract more customers to your eggs, you should advertise that they are all natural, locally produced and pesticide and chemical free.

Step 13: If you are raising chickens for meat, go for Ranger or Heritage.

If you want to get meat from your birds, the Ranger breed, which grows moderately fast, is more active than the American white birds that are popular in the chicken industry.The birds were full grown in about 12 weeks.Jersey Giant, Wyandottes, Rocks and Australorps are heritage breeds that are good meat chickens and good dual purpose birds, where you can procure both meat and eggs.They are known to be healthy and tasty.A heritage breed chicken can be ready in 6 to 8 months.

Step 14: If you are raising chickens for eggs, choose a breed that is black, red, or white.

Egg laying breeds have smaller bodies than meat producing breeds and can lay white or brown eggs.White or brown eggs are the same.The Leghorn and Rhode Island Red breeds have many white and brown egg layers.Egg laying breeds like White Leghorns, Black star, and Red star can lay hundreds of eggs a year.

Step 15: If you want eggs and meat from your chickens, consider dual purpose breeds.

You can get both meat and eggs from chicken breeds that are considered dual purpose.If a chicken farmer wants to have both eggs and meat, they should go for a dual purpose breed.There are many popular dual purpose breeds.If you have dual purpose breeds, you need to have a rooster in your flock for every eight to twelve hens.Eggs are produced by most dual purpose breeds in about three to four weeks.The hens of these breeds will sit on the eggs and hatch the chick, which will replenish your flock without you having to buy new chick or eggs yourself.

Step 16: If you're prepared to wait for eggs or meat, buy young chick.

You can buy chickens at a variety of stages of development, including day-old chicks, ready-to-lay pullets, and mature laying hens.Young, day-old chick take the longest to grow and raise and you will need to wait about six months for eggs, but they are cheap, about $3 each from a hatchery.If you are going to run a large scale chicken farm, you should invest in at least forty to sixty chickens.If you are planning on running a small scale chicken farm on your land, you may want to start with only twelve to fourteen chickens.The cost of a ready-to-lay pullets is more than a day-old chick.Eggs will be produced sooner because they are just starting to lay.They can go straight into your chicken house for roosting and laying.It is difficult to get mature laying hens as they are only available if a chicken farmer wants to sell their old hens and replace them.

Step 17: Before buying chickens, ask the breeder about their temperament and noise level.

Chickens can be purchased from a local hatchery, which should be run by a knowledgeable breeder.If the birds are good in a confined space, and if they are very active, you should ask the breeder about the noise level.The breed you choose should be based on your farm set up.If the chickens are high-laying and how long they will take to lay eggs, you should ask the breeder.The Jersey Giant is a breed that requires more room in the coop due to its large size.The Araucanas are quiet and good with confinement, but they produce green colored eggs instead of the standard white or blue.Before buying chickens from the breeder, you should be given all of the information.

Step 18: You can buy feed in bulk.

One of the most expensive supplies for running a chicken farm is feed.Chickens can be healthy with good high quality feed.While you may be tempted to let your chickens go for a walk in the grass to save on feed costs, this will likely lead to fewer chickens and less eggs being produced.Buy enough feed to last two months.This will allow you to save money and make sure you don't run out of feed.

Step 19: Young chicks should be given starter feed.

Most backyard chicken farms start with a flock of baby chickens, so it's important that you give them the right amount of nutrition and care so they grow into healthy chickens.You can find chick starter feed at your local farm supply store.The chick starter feed usually comes in a mash or crumble form and is used to help the chick gain muscle and weight.Give the chick starter feed once a day for the first two days, then give them chick food on the third day.This will help them digest their food.Once they start to lay eggs, you can switch to oyster shell.All chick breeds consume around three pounds of starter feed in the first three weeks.Chickens can drown in the water troughs if they are too deep.They should be cleaned daily.A one gallon waterer is needed for every hundred chickens.One waterer can be used for every six to eight birds.

Step 20: A brooder lamp can be used to keep the coop warm.

The red brooder lamp is necessary for the growth of the chick in the cold areas and drafts.The temperature should be around 92 degrees.The temperature in the chicken house can be lowered by five degrees a week until the chick is six weeks old.Chickens need to be close to water and food.You can spread four inches of pine on the floor and several layers of newspaper.Make sure the feeding trough is full of feed by scattering chick feed on the paper.When the chicks are comfortable using the feeding trough, remove a layer of paper a day.

Step 21: There needs to be enough room to prevent picking.

Picking and cannibalism are common among chickens and chicks.It's possible to prevent this by making sure you have enough space for all of your chickens.If you mix the ages of your flock, you can keep them in one place.If there is enough space for all of them, they should not pick at each other.

Step 22: At about six weeks, switch to grower mash feed.

If you want to raise a fast growing breed, you will need to give your birds grower mash feed that has 25% to 25% of their normal content until they are ready for processing, about six to nine weeks.The fast growing birds can consume 20 pounds of feed from the age of three weeks to nine weeks.If you have Heritage or Ranger breed chickens, you should give them a grower mash with an 18-21%protein content to make sure they grow healthy and full.Ranger breeds can consume 25 pounds of feed at the age of three weeks.Egg laying breeds need a grower mash with a high percentage of protein until they are five months old.If you want to allow the hens to produce strong egg shells, then switch to grower feed with a supplement of oyster shell once they start to lay.

Step 23: Eggs can be collected once a day.

Once your chickens have matured and are ready for laying, you can start to collect eggs from their roosting area.Most hens lay eggs in the spring, summer and fall if they have access to 12 to 14 hours of light.

Step 24: Take into account your target audience.

Do you know who will buy your products?If you specialize in a specific chicken breed, you might be able to market it to high end restaurants in your area.You may be able to sell eggs at a lower price than your competitor.Visit your local farmer's market to find out what types of eggs and meats are available.If you can fill a gap in the local restaurants' supplies, you should look at their menu.You should think about how you will get people to buy your products.You should have everything you need to package and sell your products at the local farmer's market.If your target audience seems to be more in restaurants or the dining industry, you may need to consider using a nearby processing plant that is USDA-approved to ensure you can fulfill large orders for these clients.

Step 25: It's a good idea to advertise online to potential buyers.

To turn a profit with your farm, you will need to focus on marketing your products to local food vendors and suppliers.This will allow you to turn a bigger profit, sell larger units of your products, and work with your buyers.Use local online databases to connect buyers with local farms and advertise your products online to get the word out.You can update your Facebook page with announcements and photographs of your farm.This will allow you to connect with buyers outside of your area and act as free marketing for you.It is possible to create business cards and a website for your farm.You will be able to advertise your farm and keep your customers informed of changes in your products.

Step 26: You can sell your products at farmer's markets.

Chicken farmers will focus on local customers and sell their products at farmer's markets.This is a good option for beginning farms as it requires a very short travel time and you can build a customer base at the same markets.Your products should be labeled with your name and farm logo.You should note this on the packaging if you use organic feed or pasture your chickens.Customers who are health conscious and green will buy your products.

Step 27: Depending on the sales of your products, adjust your chicken selection.

You should re evaluate your chickens after several weeks of selling to your target audience.If one product from one chicken breed is selling more than the other, that's a problem.Changing your chicken selection will increase the number of chickens who produce eggs and meat that sell well.This will make your farm sustainable and responsive to your customers.

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