How about raising a few laying hens at home? For the pleasure of having friendly birds animate your garden? For the joy of harvesting fresh eggs? To reduce the amount of waste (a hen recycles around 150kg of waste per year)? If you don’t know how to go about it, here are 6 tips to start your breeding off right.
Tip # 1 – The right number of hens to start with
We advise you to start your small farm with two hens. If a single hen is bored, two hens do not require too much maintenance.
A rooster is only useful if you want to have chicks. If this is not the case and you are only interested in collecting eggs, the presence of a rooster is not necessary. In addition, the rooster can be the source of neighborhood conflicts because of its song, while hens, more discreet, are generally well accepted, especially if there are only two.
We still advise you to inquire at the town hall and to make sure that you have the right to set up a small farm in your home: it is better to cancel a project than to have chickens to sell.
Tip # 2 – The most suitable breeds of chickens for a good start
There are a large number of breeds of domestic hens and it is easy to get lost in them. Our advice to get you there quickly is to focus on the so-called breeds. rustic. They will be more resistant to bad weather and disease. It will be less hassle to start your laying hen farm.
A hybrid hen can lay 250 eggs per year and purebred hens, between 150 and 250. These figures are averages over 2 or 3 years because a hen lays her eggs in laying cycles and the length of the cycles varies according to age. , environment, food etc. You must therefore pamper your hen to encourage laying.
When the days get shorter, the light and temperatures drop, the laying is no longer as regular: it’s natural. The drop in laying or even its complete stop remains relatively frequent in small farms. To start and promote regular laying, it is advisable to supplement your animals with calcium and vitamins (without overdosing!).
Tip # 3 – How old are your first hens?
Small breeds of hens (between 2 and 2.5 kg) are the earliest and lay eggs around the age of 5-6 months. Slightly larger hens (between 2.5 and 3 kg) usually lay a little later, around the age of 7-8 months. Most of the time, these are ready-to-lay pullets that you find to buy.
But now, it can happen that hens never lay … At least two explanations can explain such a situation. The first is that of the disease, contracted before the arrival of the hen at home. This can for example be an infectious bronchitis which will have created irreversible lesions on the reproductive system. Unfortunately, there is no solution.
Another explanation is an indelicacy on the part of the breeder from whom you bought your chickens. He will have made you believe that the hen was ready to lay eggs when she was just not yet old enough. In this case, you just need to be patient and take care of your hen while waiting for the first egg.
Tip 4 – Welcome your first hens
If it is common for hens to lay an egg in their transport box, do not necessarily expect your hens to lay their eggs as soon as they arrive at your home. Like all animals, they need time to recover from the upheaval of transport and build their new benchmarks. It is likely that it will take a few days, in some cases a few weeks, for them to adjust to their new environment and your presence.
You will gradually get to know each other. Call them by whatever name you give them, and regularly offer them a small piece of ham or some dried insects, sources of protein and calcium that they love. They will end up associating your presence with a pleasant moment and may even come to you when you come.
Beyond these few treats distributed at the start to tame the animals, take good habits from the start by giving them a balanced diet and the grass at will which improves egg laying. But don’t let it rot: change it regularly.
Tip # 5 – Make the right choices for the chicken coop
To choose the most suitable henhouse, keep in mind that its role is twofold: to protect the hens from bad weather (the front door will be ideally oriented towards the south or the south-east), and to protect the hens from predators, even if you are in town.
Its surface will of course have to take into account the number of hens with which you want to start your breeding. There are all sizes and you will find small henhouses for two hens. It takes 1.5 m² per hen. But it can be more if you have the space. If the course surface is large, the size of the shelter is ultimately quite secondary: the hens sleep tight against each other.
Your attention will first focus on hygiene: you must be able to have easy access to all corners of the henhouse to clean it carefully.
Next, you need to be sure of the strength of the materials used in the manufacture of the chicken coop: they must withstand bad weather and wear. Stone, wood and concrete blocks are suitable but the roof, sloping to ensure the evacuation of rainwater, must not be made of sheet metal because this material does not protect the animals: the henhouse is too hot in summer and too cold in winter.
A good ventilation is essential, favored by the existence of an opening far from the front door. Insulation is not synonymous with the absence of air circulation! But for the safety of your poultry, the openings must all be able to be closed securely at night.
The soil should be dry and easy to disinfect. Concrete is perfect as long as it is covered with a generous layer of straw.
Tip n ° 6 – Arrange the course to preserve the garden
Keep in mind that the presence of chickens spoils a garden, in proportion to their number.
You must plan a minimum of 10 m² per hen. If you have enough area, give more to your gallinaceae. It is preferable that the course is completely fenced to prevent the hens from escaping and to protect them from potential daytime predators such as cats or raptors. The top can be a simple net.
The shelter must remain accessible from the course. We recommend that you separate the surface you have in two. This makes it possible to alternate the occupation of the plots by the hens to give the grass time to renew itself in the resting plot.
By following these few tips, you will be able to start your small breeding serenely. We wish you lots of success and fun!