Caring for Grown Chickens

Caring for pet chickens is pretty easy! They have the same needs as most any other pet. In this section we’ll fill you in on daily, monthly, semi-annual and annual chores, as well as other nuances of chicken husbandry.

Daily Chores

  • Always keep the feeders filled and the waterers full.
  • Make sure the waterer is clean. Chickens do not like to drink dirty water and dehydration can make them ill very swiftly or worse can be a cause of death! Monitor your chickens regularly to make sure they are active, and healthy. If in doubt, call your vet.
  • Collect eggs and store them in the refrigerator pointy side down.
  • Every time you let your chickens out of the chicken coop into the run, double check the door when you lock them in to be sure it is secure and that predators can’t get in.
  • TIP: Chicken eggs normally have slight traces of dirt or chicken feces on them. Do not scrub them clean! Outside the egg is a delicate membrane called the bloom that holds off bacteria and other foreign matters. Scrubbing will damage this membrane.

Monthly Chores

  • Change the chicken coop’s nest bedding once a month to maintain cleanliness and avoid the build up of ammonia. Ammonia buildup is dangerous as it can cause respiratory illness.
  • Remove the chicken droppings. You can put it in a compost bin or use it as fertilizer for your plants.

Twice a Year Chores
You have to clean the chicken coops every six months from top to bottom!

  • Remove all bedding and nest materials, feed and water containers. Hose down and scrub the chicken coop from top to bottom using a mixture of 10 parts water mixed with 1 part bleach and 1 part dish soap.
  • Perform the same cleaning process with the feed and water containers, make sure they are thoroughly cleaned and rinsed well before replenishing the feed and water supply.
  • After scrubbing, rinse well and allow to dry before replacing the bedding and nest materials. This should take only about 2-½ hours at the most.

Foods You Shouldn’t Feed Your Chickens
Although chickens can eat leftovers, there are some foods they should not eat such as:

  • Citrus fruits and peel
  • Bones
  • Any large serving of meat, or meat that has gone bad
  • Garlic and onion
  • Avocadoes
  • Raw potatoes
  • Chocolate
  • Morning Glories and Daffodils are poisonous to chickens; make sure to keep an eye on your flock if you have these plants in your yard.

Treats You Can Give Your Chickens

Like children and adults, chickens also need treats that will motivate them to live healthy and happy. But! Unlike children and adults, the treats for chickens are different and are more nutritious. Compared to human treats that mostly comprises of chocolates, candies, and other sweets, chicken treats are more on veggies and fruits.

Yogurt is a classic favorite of them birds. They are tasty and are very good to the intestines. This is also a good source of calcium that can contribute greatly to the structure and health of the eggshell. But the most favorite and is very popular among every living chicken is the worm! They will eat it so fast and not a single evidence of it will linger.

Chickens, even with puny brains, have in it the command to like or dislike a certain treat. Below are some of the things that in general, chickens will come running for. If the first one didn’t work, scratch it off then proceed to the next. Bon appetite!

Apple. May come in raw type or in applesauce. The seeds contain a small amount of cyanide but it’s so small that it can’t affect the chicken’s health.

Banana. One of the good treats. This is also high in potassium thus; it is good for muscle activities.

Live Crickets. You can choose to hunt it or otherwise buy it in a pet or bait store. This is also a nice treat to give them. You can watch them run around chasing the critters plus it is a good source of protein.

Mature Cucumbers. Give the mature ones because they love it when the seeds and flesh is soft enough to peck on.

Fruits. There are exceptions. But the best fruit treats are peaches, pears, cherries, etc. Some say that it is not wise to give fruits to egg laying hens but some would beg to differ.

Leftovers. When we say “leftovers”, it must be something that came from a human’s plate minutes after mealtime is over. It must be edible. Anything that came out of your fridge that is considered as moldy or spoiled is not advisable. Don’t give anything salty.

Catching and Handling Poultry
Handing chickens is an art, and practice makes perfect! The secret is a combination of being gentle and firm by letting them be aware that no matter how much they wriggle or squirm, they would not be able to get away.

Always guide the chicken towards the exit of the cage by placing your dominant hand over its back to make it face the opening of the cage. When you are ready to take the chicken out of the cage, place your other hand under its body with your forefinger between the legs, and grasp one leg with your thumb. Maintain your dominant hand on the chicken to restrain it and slowly bring it out of the cage.

In this position, the bird can be examined for culling, checked for external parasites, or evaluated for the other purposes.

With the same hold, the chicken can be comfortably carried resting on the arm against the holder’s body or restrained by holding the bird against the body with the arm.

Winter Safety Measures
There is no need to heat chicken coops during winter as chickens adapt readily to cold weather. In fact, their body metabolism actually changes according to the seasons.

However, there are some steps and precautions you should take during really cold winters to make you and your birds happy!

Apply petroleum jelly or heavy moisturizer every 2 or 3 days to the combs and wattles of your birds to protect them from frostbite.

Ensure that their water supply is not frozen! Chickens will surely die if they have no water for long periods of time. To prevent the water from freezing, bring it inside the house overnight and return it to the chicken coop first thing in the morning. Check at least twice daily to see that your chicken’s water supply has not frozen.

Summer Safety Measures
Extreme summer heat is very risky for your chickens.
Ensure that your chickens have access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Provide your birds with adequate shade in their run.
Ensure that there is as much ventilation as possible inside their coop.

What to Do if Your Chickens Get Sick
Most illnesses of chickens are curable if they’re caught and treated in time! If you notice that one of your birds is sick immediate isolate her from the rest of the flock to prevent the sickness from spreading to other flock members.

Give adequate water and food to the isolated bird so that she can have access to both on a 24/7 basis.

Then, you should immediately contact your veterinarian so that the proper diagnosis can be made and medication can be prescribed.

The following may be symptoms of illness:

  • Abnormal stool, including blood, visible worms, diarrhea, droppings that are all white. Normal stool is brown with a white cap.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of energy or depression
  • Mangy appearance
  • Sneezing
  • Stunted growth
  • Visible mites

NOTE: Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides can cause illnesses and may contaminate chicken eggs which you definitely do not want. If you really want plants and flowers in your front yard, use organic fertilizers.

Things you should NOT worry about:

  • The first time you chickens lay eggs, the first eggs will be small, shells will be weak and brittle and some may not even have shells. This is no cause for alarm and not a sign of sickness.
  • You will notice that once a year, your chickens will lose and re-grow their feathers. This is perfectly normal and is called molting.
  • A tiny speck of blood in an egg is normal and no cause for worry. However, if it becomes frequent, or there is a significant amount of blood, then it’s time to get an appointment with the veterinarian.

Remember, disease prevention is the most important part of keeping your chickens healthy. It is highly impossible however to totally eliminate the chance of illness but the probability of nipping it in the bud is very high since you will be checking your birds on a daily basis.

Whenever you handle your flock, make use that you wash your hands thoroughly after contact and wear gloves when dealing with chicken droppings. It may also be a good idea to wear rubber boots or shoes for the purpose of going inside the chicken coop and the chicken run in order to eliminate the spread of fecal matter inside your residence.

Learn More About Building A Chicken Coop Here…

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