Backyard chicken sales have exploded. Everyone wants to get in on the act. Chicken are fun for kids, plus they supply a steady stream of eggs. Families raise chickens in every neighborhood, from rural farmland to urban balconies. However, what do chickens have to do with homeschooling? What does your family need to know before buying those adorable chicks. Here’s a guide to backyard chickens and why your homeschool will benefit.
Getting Ready for Backyard Chickens
First, you must check local ordinances. While you can raise hens virtually anywhere, it doesn’t mean you are allowed to! Contact your local municipal office or town hall. Find out any regulations and parameters for housing your feathered friends.
Next, decide which chickens you want to raise. Chicks are so cute, but they also require significant work. Hens vary in size and needs. Also, do you want a rooster? (Tip: you don’t need a rooster to get eggs!) Chicks will need a brooder to keep them safe and warm, inside. Pullet hens can safely go outside but are not ready to lay quite yet. Research what breed will suit your family and location.
How to Create a Chicken Friendly Yard
You will need a sturdy chicken coop. Chicken coops provide protection for chickens from predators. So, be sure to get one that can adequately house and protect your flock. Also, coops usually include nesting boxes where hens lay their eggs. If your backyard chickens are free range, they must be coxed into the coop in the evening.
Poultry will eat ticks and other pesky insects. However, they can also wipe out a garden, lawn, or landscaping. So, make sure to set up barriers around any plants you wish to protect. Grass and other grains are part of a healthy diet, though. So, consider rotating where the flock is let loose. For hens that stay within a run all day, you can protect the ground by putting chicken wire on the floor and allowing the grass to grow up. Alternatively, you can grow pans of grass or other meadow greens and place them within the run each day.
Meeting Backyard Flock Needs
Have a sturdy fence, protective covering, and ample space for each chicken. Also, provide the best feed for your breed and flock’s age. Routinely clean out the coop. Also, collect eggs every day. Keep watering apparatus full and clean. Also, provide snacks for the hens such as mealworms, grasses, and vegetable scraps. Give the flock plenty of room to run. Since chickens like to scratch, (and find insects) a patch of wood chips makes a perfect “playground”.
Backyard Chicken Learning Opportunities for Your Homeschool
Learning should be fun, it can also be tasty. Raising backyard chickens doesn’t just provide eggs and tick protection. In fact, it is a perfect learning opportunity! The best lessons are hands on. We remember what we live, and grow through experience. So, any family adventure is fraught with lessons. Here are some ways to use your new pet project to teach your kids.
- Join a 4H Poultry Club or request project materials from your state extension office
- Witness and document a chicken’s life-cycle
- Collect and sort eggs
- Hatching eggs
- Hand raising chicks in a brooder
- Personal responsibility
- Caring for animals
- Learn about predators and protecting your flock
- Sell eggs to neighbors
- Plant forage for the chickens (gardening skills)
- Keep track of expenses and profits
Your backyard is full of learning opportunities. Now, you can explore backyard chickens and why your homeschool will benefit.