I’m a chicken owner. You may think that taking care of chickens is easy to do, but sometimes chickens have minds of their own. If you are considering having chickens, there are a few things you need to know.

You need to make sure your chickens are safe at home. You need to have fencing underneath and over the top. You also need a strong, sturdy coop, and you have to make sure predators don’t get in. You must have the coop off the ground. This is because then raccoons can’t get into the coop by digging. You need to have locks that are easy for people to use but too complex for raccoons, foxes and other predators that try to get at the chickens.

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The pecking order: Chickens have something we call the pecking order. The pecking order is an order where there is a top chicken, and the order goes from the toughest, biggest chicken, to the smallest, weakest chicken. The chickens establish this order on their own. Combining chickens is not easy. You have to make sure they are on the same food; otherwise you would have to keep them apart. Our top chicken, Bella, shows the smaller chicks that she is top chicken.

Caring for your peeps: This takes dedication. You need to have medicated chick feed (so they get immune to diseases), a place for them to stay in your house and a special feeder and water holder. I recommend visiting the website Mypetchicken.com to help you here. You can get day-old chicks, or you can get pullets. Pullets are 6 months and older. You need to clean the coop and pen regularly so neighbors don’t complain and to keep the peeps healthy.

At home, my family has seven chickens: Bella, Fudge and Sandy are the older ones. PJ, Butterscotch, Susie and Popcorn are the younger chickens in our group. Bella, Fudge and Sandy all lay eggs. The other ones don’t lay eggs because they are too young. When the chickens are about 6 months old, they start laying. During the winter, the chickens start slowing down laying eggs. This is because the days are shorter, and they mostly lay in the day. During the summer, the chickens speed up their laying process.

Anybody can have chickens. You just have to really know what you are doing and always be prepared. Chickens can bring families together. They are fun and humorous, beautiful and sweet, loving and adorable. They are smart. It’s amazing how quickly they learn things on their own. So why not consider getting some of your own fine, feathered friends?