While chickens are relatively low-key, starting a chicken farm isn't an easy or inexpensive endeavour. In addition to learning everything you can about chicken behaviour and maintenance, you'll need to ensure that you can handle the type of work that caring for chickens involves. If you've never handled chickens, start by visiting local farmers to get an idea of what to expect in your business venture and to get an idea of how large an outfit you can handle.
Contact your city council or zoning department to learn the regulations governing chicken farms. For example, if you intend to house chickens on your current property, you may be required to have at least an acre of land, if you live within city limits. Noise regulations are another concern, if residing in city limits. As well, contact your state's Environmental Protection Agency, as you may be required to hold a pollution discharge permit for water pollution caused by your chicken manure.
Conduct research on various breeds to learn what they eat, their lifespan, how often they lay eggs, how to care for them to include facility requirements, heating requirements, what to look for in selecting the chicks, and other nuisances. Read up on chicken illnesses, causes and cures so that you can quickly identify any illnesses before they kill or harm your flock.
Construct a well-ventilated, raised and covered coop for your chickens, which will keep predators out. Include a roosting area, nesting boxes about 18 square inches in size and a window. Ensure that your coop is easily accessible, as you will need to enter it regularly to refill water, feed and hay and to clean it. You need about 5 to 10 square feet per bird, unless you will have a run area for your chickens, in which case you can get away with about 3 to 5 feet.
Implement a system for handling chicken manure such as a pit beneath the coop or a runoff system that diverts the contaminated water away from streams or ponds.
Visit local feed supply stores to purchase your chickens. Buy one rooster for every 10 hens. Have a veterinarian check your flock regularly to worm them or treat them for fleas.
Insure your chicken business. Contact your current insurance provider or contact insurance companies such as The Hartford or BJS Insurance, which provide insurance for poultry farmers.
Use straw or wood shavings for your coop floor and nest boxes. Clean the boxes and disinfect your coup regularly to avoid disease. Consider placing a heat lamp in during harsh winter conditions or when temperatures drop below about -9.44 degrees C. If you live in a cold climate, consider insulating the house.