Contents: Backyard Chicken Supplies
- What Supplies Do You Need for Chickens?
- Chicken Coop & Run
- Chicken Coop Protection
- Chicken Feed
- Poultry Grit
- Oyster Shells for Hens
- Chicken Feeders
- Chicken Waterers
- Supplies for Chicks
- Conclusion: What Do I Need To Raise Chickens?
What Supplies Do You Need for Chickens?
If you don’t live on a farm but you want to enjoy organic, farm-fresh eggs, then this is the place for you!
When planning on raising chicks and adult chickens, one of the first things you need to do is make sure you have the proper
poultry supplies. This includes everything from the chicken coop and run to the feed and water they will need.
In this article, I’ll share with you my basic “must-have” list of what you’ll need to get started with your flock.
About This Poultry Supply List…
All the chicken-keeping supplies I list below are products I personally use to keep my chicks, pullets, and chickens very happy and healthy.
Please note that most of my favorite chicken supplies listed here are from Amazon for two reasons:
- I don’t have a poultry supplier near me, so it’s really hard for me to shop for supplies without going online.
- I just couldn’t find some of these items in stores, like Predatorguard (Amazon), a solar predator control light.
- I can get great ideas of what I might need for my chickens by looking at Amazon’s “Best Sellers in Poultry Care Supplies” page.
1. Chicken Coop & Run
Chickens need a place to feel secure from predators while they move around and stretch their legs just like any other animal. This is why a chicken coop and run (Amazon) is so important for your flock.
Some coops come with a run attached, but if yours comes without one or you want to allow them to forage in different areas on your land, a chicken pen/cage (Amazon) is an amazing thing to have!
A chicken coop and run are 2 important structures that provide a safe place for your chickens to rest, socialize, roam freely, forage, have dust baths, and get some exercise. Plus, a chicken run also gives them some much-needed fresh air and sunshine.
A good rule of thumb is to give each chicken at least 3 to 4 square feet inside the coop and a minimum of 8 – 10 square feet of space in the run, depending on the breed. And if you can, double or triple that space!
For more information on this topic, check out my post: How Much Room Do Chickens Need?
Is It Cheaper To Buy or Build a Chicken Coop?
You may be wondering if it’s cheaper to buy or build a chicken coop.
The truth is, it depends on if you have access to materials, including cheap lumber and tools. If you have all those things, then building a chicken coop will definitely be the more economical option. (I saved more than 50% of the cost by building my own.)
However, if you need to purchase new tools, then buying a ready-made coop may be less expensive.
What Supplies Do I Need for Inside the Chicken Coop?
Usually made with 2×4 lumber, a chicken roost is a perch that chickens sleep on at night.
Chickens will favor a flat roosting bar. A flat wooden roosting bar that is at least 2 inches wide (but 4 inches or more is better) is good for them to roost all night, even in cold weather. Just make sure that the wide side is facing up and have at least 8 to 12 inches of roosting space per chicken.
The roost should also be high enough off the ground that the chickens feel safe and out of reach of predators. It should also be higher than the nesting boxes because chickens will roost in the highest spot that they can.
Removable Droppings Pan
Since chickens tend to poop a lot when sleeping, a removable dropping pan (Amazon) or board placed underneath the roost at night will keep the coop clean and dry.
Without a dropping pan, cleaning out a chicken coop is much more difficult and time-consuming.
Nesting Boxes & Liners
If you have chickens, you need nesting boxes (Amazon). Plain and simple. Nesting boxes provide a place for your hens to lay their eggs in peace and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of the coop. But not all nesting boxes are created equal.
First, consider the size of your flock. You’ll need 1 nesting box for every 4 hens. So, if you have 20 hens, you’ll need at least 5 nesting boxes.
You’ll also need something like nest box liners (Amazon) to protect the eggs from cracking. (I’m not a fan of straw inside of nesting boxes because it can house pests like mites and lice.)
Nest Box Curtains
Hanging a curtain in front of a chicken’s nest box is a good idea because it provides the chicken with a sense of privacy while she is laying her eggs. Plus it keeps the other chickens from either eating the eggs left in the nest box or from attacking the chicken who’s presently laying an egg.
Chicken Coop Heater
As the weather gets colder, you may be wondering if you need to invest in a chicken coop heat plate (Amazon).
But, do you actually need a chicken coop heater?
The answer is: it depends on the breed and where you live.
If your chickens are a cold hardy breed, and their coop is well-insulated and draft-free, then your chickens should be able to withstand moderate cold temperatures without a heater. (My chickens are content when the chicken coop is 40° F or above.)
However, if your chickens aren’t cold hardy, and the coop is not insulated or it’s exposed to drafts, or you live in an especially cold climate, then a heater may be necessary to keep your chickens warm during the winter months.
So you really have to do your research on how cold is too cold for the specific breeds you have.
Litter (sometimes called bedding) is an important part of a chicken coop. Adding litter to a coop’s floor helps to keep the coop clean and dry, which helps prevent diseases in chickens.
There are many different types of litter that can be used in a chicken coop, but my favorite is dust-free, uneven, gritty medium to coarse-grained sand because it’s easy to clean and dries quickly.
A long-handled poop scooper (Amazon) is also useful when sifting the poop out of the litter.
Sand for Coops & Runs
*You can buy the sand from places like hardware stores or garden centers. It’s sometimes called concrete sand, coarse sand, river sand, mixing sand, etc. As long as it’s not like the fine-grain stuff you’d put in a kid’s sandbox.
What Is the Best Material To Use on the Ground in a Chicken Run?
There are many materials that can be used on the ground in a chicken run but, after 30+ years of keeping chickens, my favorites are dirt, sand, and peat moss. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so I use them in different spots of my very large run.
If you’re like me and you live in the middle of nowhere, on land that has never been lived on, then you can just use the dirt that is naturally there. If the land is grassy, the chickens will enjoy scratching through the grass. If you have areas of weeds, they will scratch in those as well.
However, if you moved to a house where you don’t know if the previous owners sprayed or treated their yard with chemicals, like pesticides, you want to lay down a layer of topsoil.
I use the same kind of sand that I use inside the coop (see litter).
Sand drains well and is easy to work with. However, it can get very hot in the summer sun. So, I only put sand in some spots of the run.
I also have sandboxes full of sand underneath my chicken coops where my chickens love to have their dust baths.
Peat moss is absorbent, so it helps to keep the run dry. So, if you find that the run has some spots where it stays muddy after it rains, spread a thin layer of peat moss on top of the soggy ground and it will help keep the run dry.
Once you find the area is starting to get muddy again, just layer some more peat moss. Luckily I only have to do this twice a year.
Peat moss is also relatively cheap and easy to find (hardware stores, gardening centers, etc), making it a good option for many chicken owners.
2. Chicken Coop Protection
Predator Proof Locks
Raccoons have paws that work a lot like human hands and they’re very smart when it comes to opening your chicken coop door! So you’ll need a complicated lock, a padlock with a key, or a combination lock for your chicken coop.
Also, to protect my chickens from all sorts of predators, I never use chicken wire for my runs and coops because raccoons and other predators can easily rip it apart.
Instead, I use hardware cloth (Amazon) that’s made of a 1/4-inch a 1/2-inch mesh and I secure them with poultry staples (Amazon), which is safer than using staples. I also use hog rings and a hog ring plier (Amazon) if I need to fasten 2 pieces of fencing material together.
Predator Deterrent Light
If you really don’t want nighttime predators to be around your coop in the first place, what really works for me is this thing I bought on Amazon called PredatorGuard (Amazon).
I had a lot of trouble with raccoons in my yard and this little gadget fixed that problem! It also scares foxes, deer, wolves, coyotes, skunks, and bears.
PredatorGuard introduces a pair of flashing red lights that animals assume is a set of eyes. It scares them and keeps them out of your yard.
I attached 4 of these little gadgets around my chicken coop, facing out in all four directions. Works perfectly!
3. Chicken Feed
In the wild, chickens would forage for their food, eating anything from insects to berries. However, most chickens today are raised in captivity and therefore do not have access to such a varied diet. This is why it is important to get good quality chicken feed for your chickens.
Good quality chicken feed will provide your chickens with all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and happy.
Without these essential nutrients, chickens can suffer from health problems such as anemia, poor feather growth, and weak bones.
In addition to being nutritious, good quality chicken feed should also be palatable and free of harmful toxins or chemicals.
Here’s how you should feed your chickens:
- 0 to 8 Weeks Old (Chicks): Their diet should contain around 18-19% protein. You should feed chick starter (Amazon) or
- 8 to around 18 Weeks Old (Pullets): Their diet should contain around 17-18% protein. You should feed them a high-quality grower feed (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon) until they’re 18 weeks old or they start laying, whichever comes first.
- 18 Weeks or Above (Egg-Layers): Once chickens start laying eggs, they require around 16% protein in their feed. You should feed your hens layer feed (Amazon) to help them in their egg-laying.
- Broiler Chickens (Chickens Raised for Meat): These types of chickens require a higher-level protein feed (Amazon) for maximum growth (approx. 19%-24%).
- Mixed Flock: Feed starter grower feed (Amazon) and oyster shells (Amazon) should be made available, in a separate bowl or feeder. If egg-laying eggs need extra calcium, they will eat the appropriate amount of oyster shells. Do not feed extra calcium to non-laying poultry as it can be detrimental to their health.
And every once in awhile you can throw a variety of treats on the lawn, like a chicken scratch (Amazon), so your chickens can have fun foraging.
4. Poultry Grit
It’s very important that chickens have access to poultry grit (Amazon) if anything other than commercial feed is offered.
Chickens don’t have the means to grind their food since they don’t have teeth. Without grit in their gizzard, the food would not be broken up into small enough pieces that are digestible by chickens.
Just like chicken feed, you must make sure that the grit is the right size for the chicken’s age. Chick grit (Amazon) will be much finer than poultry grit given to adult chickens.
For more information about chicken grit, check out my post: Do Chickens Need Oyster Shells and Grit?
5. Oyster Shells for Hens
When it comes to oyster shells, only laying hens need it. Chicks, older non-laying hens, and roosters should not have any oyster shells added to their diet.
Oyster shells are a great source of calcium for laying hens and they help build strong eggshells.
For more information about oyster shells, check out my post: Do Chickens Need Oyster Shells and Grit?
6. Chicken Feeders
One of my favorite feeders for my pullets and layers is Grandpa’s Feeders (Amazon).
I had trouble with wild birds and squirrels getting into my chickens’ feed and this feeder stopped this problem (although it doesn’t help against raccoons). It’s also supposed to keep their food dry, but I still have mine under shelters.
The feeders were a bit expensive (I got 3 to stop a bullying issue my chickens were having), but they paid for themselves because I’m not losing any more feed to pests.
Storing Chicken Feed
Please keep in mind that if you’re leaving your feed out at night, you’ll most likely be feeding predators (like those pesky raccoons) and encouraging them to make a home in your yard.
I always bring in my feed and water inside my garage and I keep my feed in a metal bin (Amazon) so that rodents won’t chew through it. I had rats chew through a thick, plastic bin once. But since I got metal bins and plugged in an ultrasonic pest repeller (Amazon), I haven’t seen any rats or mice at all.
To stop predators from being drawn to your yard, it’s also a good idea to stop them from invading your garbage and compost bins. It’s easy to do this by using a bin strap (Amazon). Even when tipped over by animals, the lid won’t open.
7. Chicken Waterers
One important thing to know as a chicken keeper is that you won’t get any eggs if your hens are dehydrated. Chickens need access to clean water throughout the day.
Most basic chicken waterers with a no-roost top (Amazon) will do just fine during the warmer seasons. No-roost top waterers are my favorite because it keeps my chickens from roosting on top of the waterer and pooping in their water.
And, like the feeders, I have more than one waterer to reduce bullying.
Another issue I had with my chickens’ water was trying to figure out how to keep the water from freezing in the winter. I didn’t have the time to check the water every few hours and the water kept on freezing. So I got a no-roost heated waterer (Amazon). I’ve only had it for one winter, but so far so good.
8. Supplies for Chicks
If you’re going to be welcoming baby chicks into your life, you’ll definitely need a brooder. I’ve been using this reusable and washable brooder for a while now and I love it! I put it inside a kiddie pool so that it’s easy to clean.
This brooder is big enough to make sure several chicks have enough room for some exercise as they’re growing and it keeps them safe. Just make sure to put some hardware cloth or some kind of netting on top of the brooder when you’re not there. You want to keep predators out (like rats) and the chicks in.
Other Supplies for Chicks
You’re also going to need a heat source, like a heating plate (Amazon), for your chicks, a thermometer to help regulate temperatures, bedding made with pine shavings (Amazon) – make sure it’s NOT cedar or newspaper, a waterer (Amazon) designed for the chicks’ safety, a plastic feeder (Amazon), and chick electrolytes (Amazon).
Conclusion: What Do I Need To Raise Chickens?
Not only will you need poultry supplies for raising chickens, but chicken keepers need time and patience with their flock’s needs. With both of these things, plus the supplies listed in this post, you’ll be well on your way to raising healthy chickens.
So go ahead and take a look at the best-selling chicken supplies on Amazon. And, most importantly, have fun with your new feathered pets!