Caring for Chickens
Caring for pet chickens is quite
simple! They have the same basic needs as most other pets. For a detailed guide on caring for chickens and
building them a quality chicken coop, check out:
Building A Chicken Coop
Here are the essential items you
will need to provide for your chickens:
Waterer and Feeder
The best kind of waterer you can purchase is one that automatically refills itself so you do not have to concern
yourself about your chicks every day once they have been transferred to their coop. Make certain that the coop is
designed in such a way that they cannot poop in the drinking trough and they cannot overturn it. The same applies
to the feeder, make certain they cannot overturn it as well.
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on Caring for Chickens
Chicken feed is readily available at pet stores and farm supplies and provides the complete blend of
vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fat baby chicks require. You have a choice of organic as well as
traditional varieties and, when your hens begin laying eggs, there is also a layer feed available for them.
Scratch, a combination of corn, wheat, oats and rye, is regarded as a treat for chickens. You normally just toss
scratch on the floor for them to peck at. However scratch should not be a regular part of their diet because it
does not include all of the nutrients they require.
As chickens do not have teeth, they need to have something else such as sand or gravel which they store in their
crop to help them digest their food. You can mix grit with their feed or place it in a special container for easy
Bedding keeps your hens content and healthy. It gives your chickens a soft surface area to walk on as well as to
soak up droppings and odor. The nest should also have bedding to prevent the eggs from breaking when they land on
the nest floor. The best recommended bedding is pine wood shavings which should be at least one inch deep.
If you plan to let your chickens out from their coop, you do not have to set up a dust bath for them. However,
if they will be kept in the coop, then you will need a container approximately 10 to 12 inches high filled with 6
inches of equal parts ashes, road dust, sand and loose earth. Hens love to have dust baths since this is their
method of stopping parasites such as mites and lice from setting up home in their legs and feathers.
Next we will cover the daily, monthly, semi-annual and annual chores associated with keeping chickens.
- Always keep the feeders filled and the waterers full.
- Make certain the waterer is clean. Chickens do not like to drink filthy water and dehydration can make them
sick extremely quickly or even worse can be a cause of death! Check your birds frequently to make sure they are
lively and healthy. If in doubt, contact your vet.
- Collect eggs and store them in the fridge pointy side down.
- Each time you let your hens out of the coop into the run, double check the door when you lock them in to be
certain it is secure and that predators cannot get in.
- TIP: Chicken eggs usually have minor traces of dirt or chicken waste on them. Do not scrub them clean! The
exterior of the egg has a delicate membrane known as the bloom which holds off bacteria and other foreign
matters. Scrubbing will damage this membrane.
- Change the coop’s and nest bedding once a month to maintain hygiene and prevent the build up of ammonia.
Ammonia accumulation is dangerous as it can result in respiratory disease.
- Remove the chicken droppings. You can place them in a compost bin or make use of it as eco-friendly
fertilizer for your plants.
Twice a Year Tasks
You need to thoroughly clean the chicken coops every six months from top to bottom!
- Remove all bedding and nest materials, feed and drinking water containers. Hose down and scrub the coop
from top to bottom using a combination of 10 parts water mixed with 1 part bleach and 1 part dish soap.
- Perform the same cleansing procedure with the feed and water containers, making certain they are completely
cleaned and rinsed properly before replenishing the feed and water supply.
- After scrubbing, rinse properly and allow to dry before replacing the bedding and nest materials. This
should only take about 2-½ hours at the most.
This is covered in much greater detail in the top selling guide, Building A Chicken Coop.
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