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Backyard Chickens for Beginners

The Martha Stewart Show, Episode 5128

Chickens are relatively easy pets to own, but they do require regular care and commitment. If you're ready to raise chickens in your backyard, follow these steps from My Pet Chicken founder Traci Torres to get started.

Getting Your Chicks
Baby chicks can be purchased from your local feed store or an online resource. The chicks will be mailed through the U.S. Postal Service, just as they have been for more than 100 years. Tens of thousands of chicks are sorted, sexed, vaccinated, and shipped on the same day they are born, and they can be safely shipped because they are still absorbing their yolk sac for the first three days. Your local post office will call you once the chicks have arrived so you can go pick them up.

Stocking Supplies
Baby chicks have special heating requirements and need specialized feeders and waterers, which are designed to limit waste and stay clean. Hens also need nesting boxes where they'll lay their eggs, and a secure coop and run. For bedding, pine shavings are the healthiest option. When it comes to food, manufacturers have formulated "complete" feeds that contain all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your chickens will need.

For more information on raising chicks and purchasing supplies, visit

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