If you’re raising chickens for meat, get a breed that gains weight quickly, such as a cross between a White Cornish (male) and a White Plymouth Rock (female). If your interest is in eggs, get light-weight, egg-laying hens, such as White Leghorns. For both eggs and meat, get a dual-purpose breed, such as Rhode Island Reds or Plymouth Rocks. Housing and health
Day-old chicks are available by mail from commercial hatcheries. If they have not yet been vaccinated, have a veterinarian inoculate them against leukosis and against other diseases that are prevalent in your area.
Keep the chicks in a brooder or a box warmed with a bulb or heat lamp until they are 6 to 8 weeks old. Set the temperature at 95F for the first week, and decrease it by 5F every week.
Once out of the brooder, the chickens will need a waterproof, rodent proof house large enough to accommodate them without crowding. Allow 4 square feet of floor space per chicken for large breeds and 2 square feet per chicken for small breeds.
Chickens will be less prone to disease and cannibalism (pecking one another) if allowed to range freely, but this is only practical if foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and other predators are no threat. If they are, construct an outside run with 6-foot-high fences that are sunk into the ground. If raccoons are a problem, cover the run too.
If any chicken becomes listless or begins to act in an uncharacteristic manner, isolate it from the others and call a veterinarian. If the chickens become prey to lice, dust the birds and the chicken house with louse powder. Feeding
Commercially blended feed is available for every type of poultry from baby chicks to laying hens. But if you feed your chickens commercial mixes exclusively, their eggs and meat will taste much the same as store bought.
As a supplement, feed your chickens scratch grains and table scraps such as vegetables, fruit peels, fat, and stale bread. Also give them grit (for digestion) and crushed oyster shells or another source of calcium if they are laying. Keep them provided with fresh, clean water at all times. Meat and eggs
Meat chickens and surplus roosters will be ready for slaughter when they are 12 to 16 weeks old. Small fryers can be slaughtered younger. Laying chickens will start to lay at around 6 months. A dozen laying chickens should produce about 10 eggs a day.