How Much Time is Required To Raise Chickens?

One of the biggest concerns when deciding to raise a new animal is the time commitment. Raising chickens can actually be done several ways. In this post, we’ll walk through 3 different ways you can raise chickens and how much time each way will take.

Chickens do not require a lot of work. On average, chicken owners only spend 30 minutes each day on chores related to chickens. Chickens are smart birds. They are much more capable of taking care of themselves than larger farm animals. This means there is very little you need to do on a daily basis for them! Food, water, protection form predators, and egg collecting will be what you spend most of your time on.

There are other chores that will need to be done occasionally. Some of these chores will vary depending on how you raise your chickens. You will also need to do some work upfront getting ready for chickens and facilitating the correct environment for your your baby chicks. We will talk more about that down below. Let’s start with the time requirements of the classic homesteader’s way of raising chickens.

How Much Time To Raise Classic Backyard Chickens?

I refer to this method as the classic backyard chickens because this is what you will see on the cover of Country Living magazine. This is by far one of the most popular ways to raise chickens. I live in a small town and several of my neighbors raise their chickens this way. I’ve even been to an Airbnb in a larger city’s suburban neighborhood that had backyard chickens.

All in, backyard chickens take about 30 minutes a day to raise. This time can be shortened if you decide to automate their water and feed. Using big barrels of feed with small openings at the bottom and water with little cups at the bottom will significantly reduce the time you spend each week on feeding and watering.

This is what I do with my chickens. I currently have about 35 hens and I only have to fill up the food and water buckets once every couple weeks (a little more often for water in the summer). The only thing I have to do almost every day is spray out the water cups with the hose (chickens are not very clean birds). You should also seal up the food in the evenings, so it doesn’t attract predators at night.

Besides food and water, you’ll need to let the hens out of their coop in the morning and shut them in the coop in the evening. You will also need to collect eggs. It would also be wise to double check to make sure their chicken run is still secure. That way no chickens get out and no predators get in.

How Much Time To Raise Pasture Raised Chickens?

Pasture raised chickens refer to the raising of chickens without a fence or cages. Pasture raised chickens will still have a coop to sleep and lay eggs in. Ideally, they would also have places that are a little safer from predators. This could be tree cover, brush piles, some sort of cinderblock playground, etc.

This is the way I chose to raise my hens. I find that they are a lot happier and active this way. The only difference between pasture raising and backyard chickens is the use of the chicken run (a fenced-in area made to keep chickens in and predators out). This eliminates double checking your chicken run to make sure it’s secure. You simply let them out and shut them in.

If you use this method in combination with automated feeding and watering, it will only take you about 10 minutes a day! If you use this method without automated feed and water you will spend about 20-25 minutes.

There are some chores you should do periodically such as cleaning out the coop. This applies to all ways of raising chickens. You should clean out your bedding once a year at the bare minimum. This is only if you have bedding over a foot thick. If your bedding is in a thinner layer, you should clean it more often. Cleaning your coop is crucial for the health of your chickens.

Some people clean their coop out once a week. This is way more work than I would be happy with. I prefer to just put a deeper layer of bedding. Regardless of what you choose, you can use common sense to figure out when your coop needs to be cleaned. If your coop smells and/or looks a lot worse than it used to, you should clean it.

How much time it will take to clean out your chicken coop will vary depending on the size of your coop. Cleaning out my chicken coop (an enclosed car port my family calls the chicken fortress) and replacing the deep mulch (which I only do once a year) takes me about 4 hours.

How Much Time To Raise Chickens With A Chicken Tractor?

Using a chicken tractor is the most time consuming way to raise chickens. The use of a chicken tractor is most effective if you have other farm animals. Joel Salatin uses a chicken tractor on his farm and it’s what he recommends to other farmers.

A chicken tractor is essentially a chicken coop hooked up to a tractor. The tractor allows you to pull the chickens around and let them out in a specific area. In order to get them to stay in the specific area, you need to fence them in. The fencing Joel uses is Premier 1 electric netting. This is because it’s incredibly easy to move around. The fact that it’s electric makes it a lot more effective at keeping chickens in and everything else out. I have used this netting for a couple years and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Usually, when you have cows and you move them to a different area, you let the chickens come along behind them and eat the cow pies. This helps offset feed cost and actually helps the soil in whatever patch of land they’re in.

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For micro farm farmers who don’t have cows, this can still be a useful method. For instance, you could plant cover crop for your chickens and let them eat in one place at a time. You could move them from section to section and plant more cover crop behind them. By the time they get back to the original section of land, more cover crop has grown for them to eat. You could completely eliminate feed costs this way!

Not only do you have to move the chickens, but you also have to move their water around. Unless you have a big water barrel in every section of land you drop them off in, you will need to transport water to each section. This will be extremally difficult with a large barrel. You will likely prefer to use smaller, more portable waterers. This does mean that you will have to rinse and fill them up at least once a day. But feed will be less of an issue because they’re being fed off the land.

This number will vary depending on how big of a section you let them in at a time, but your looking at about an hour each day spent on chicken chores with this method.

Preparing For Chickens

The times given above were for a chicken that’s about 6 weeks or older. There is significantly more work and time involved in preparing your farm for chickens and getting them to the 6 week mark than the daily chores of a mature chicken.

Let’s start with preparing your farm for chickens. If you’ve never had chickens before, you need to purchase and/or build two things; a coop and a brooder. Chickens historically roost in trees, so a chicken coop needs to be elevated or have roosting bars. It should also have a place for storing eggs that is easily accessible to you but not the chickens. If a hen does not have access to the eggs, she is much less likely to get broody.

You also need a brooder. The brooder will be your chickens’ home for the first few weeks of their lives. The brooder should be completely enclosed (except for a small opening so you can get to them when you need to) and it will need a layer of bedding like a chicken coop. It will also need miniature waterers and feeders. They need to be low enough to the ground that a newborn chick should have no issue accessing them. You will need to purchase some heat lamps because baby chicks are very sensitive to cold temperatures. These lamps should either be temperature adjustable or you should be able to move them closer and farther away from the brooder.

You need to build the brooder big enough to fit 6 week old chickens. That’s about the time you will transfer them to the coop. If you plan to get twelve chicks, build it big enough to hold twelve 6 week old hens.

You should also think over where you want you chickens to roam, if you want a fence and if so what kind, and set up dust baths which are small tubs of soil for chickens to bathe in (these help keep them free of mites).

Baby Chicks

Baby chicks require a little more time than adult chickens. The first day, when you put them into the brooder, you need to dip each of their tiny beaks into the water. This is so they know where the water is. They are very new and not so bright at this point in their lives. So, If you neglect to do this, they will not find the water and will die of dehydration.

The first few weeks you need to keep a close eye on them. check them twice a day for a condition called pasty butt. Pasty butt refers to when chick poop dries over their butt and prevents them from relieving themselves. If you see this, use a tooth brush and some warm water to brush it away. If left untreated, the chick could die.

There should be a thermometer in the brooder. You need to check this thermometer at least twice a day to make sure the temperature is correct for their age. Start at 95 degrees Fahrenheit the first week and lower it by five degrees each week after (week 2 = 90 degrees, week 3 = 85 degrees, week 4 = 80 degrees, etc.).

You will also likely need to refill these feeders at least once day. You will definitely have to clean them every day (baby chicks are no cleaner than adult chickens). All together, it will take you 30-60 minutes a day to care for your baby chicks.

You should remember that even if you do everything right, some chicks will not make it to 6 weeks. Sometimes they just die. It’s what’s referred to in the chicken community as failure to thrive. There may also be things that happen that are out of your control. On occasion, a chick will be trampled by the others or a girl will break one or both of her legs. I have had to dispatch multiple chicks because I thought it was more humane than watching them slowly starve because they can’t walk. Owning baby chicks is the hardest part of owning chickens in my opinion. It requires a thick skin.


So, how much time does it take to raise chickens? It usually takes about 30 minutes a day to take care of chickens. However, you can shorten it down to jut 10 minutes a day. You also may decide it’s worth it to spend closer to an hour doing chicken chores. It’s really up to you! You need to decide how much time you have to raise chickens. Regardless of which way you choose to raise your chickens, the fact remains that they are one of the lowest maintenance farm animals.

If your curious about something I mentioned on this post comment below! I would love to write a whole post about whatever it is!

I wish you all joyful farming!

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