Experience is what we get when things don’t go as planned. I was raised in one of the largest cities in New York. Growing up, I had a dog and a parakeet for pets. Even cats were foreign to me. This city chick is learning the hard way that raising chickens is not as easy as most backyard chicken blogs make it out to be. Here are ten things that I wish I knew before I bought my first chick.
1) I will never process chickens during the summer again—not ever. The heat and flies were unbearable. Processing chickens will take place in the fall through late spring. I’ll have to plan my egg purchases accordingly.
2) Broiler chickens have no tolerance for heat. Temps above 80 really start to stress out the adults. Arkansas heat is too much for them. I will have to make sure that the last broiler adults are processed in late spring and the next set of chicks will have to be ready in early fall.
3) Ear color is not an accurate way to determine what color eggs a hen will lay. Both of my white-eared hens lay colored eggs. Chicken books say that white-eared hens usually lay white eggs.
4) Australorp and Barred-rock pullets and cockerels can fly. It is not until they reach adulthood does the ability to fly diminish.
5) Hens from Easter-egger and other breeds that lay different colored eggs will only lay one color. If you want a basket full of different colored eggs, you need multiple hens.
6) Hens will never lay eggs where you want them to. They lay eggs where they want to.
7) Never trust an employee from a farm-supply store about the gender of chickens. I purchased 23 pullets. Twelve of them turned out to be cockerels. Next time I will hatch my own eggs. It is cheaper and I’ll get the same gender breakdown.
8) If you purchase chicks instead of adult chickens, expect to get some cockerels (young roosters.) If zoning in your area does not allow roosters, this is a problem. Most breeds will start to crow at about 8-10 weeks. You cannot sell roosters, many times you cannot give them away. No one wants roosters. Keep this in mind if you plan to order straight run or hatch eggs.
9) Chickens love shiny objects—this includes shiny nail polish. If you love long nails with metallic polish, expect your chickens to come after your fingers.
10) Chickens LOVE mealworms. If you ever need to divert your chickens’ attention away from something, mealworms will always work.