Whether or not you want to keep chickens for meat or for eggs, there are a few tips to keep in mind for your chickens.
These tips include having a high enough fence, providing a chicken coop for your chickens, providing enough heat for your chicken coop, keeping out any drafts from the chicken coop, providing protection from outside predators, cleaning out their chicken coop on a regular basis, using the same routine each day with the chickens, feeding your chicken’s crushed eggshells, clipping their wings on a regular basis, considering whether or not you want roosters, providing a dust bath for the chickens, checking around the chicken area regularly for eggs, and making sure your chickens aren’t eating their eggs.
Reading and following the below suggestions will help you establish your chickens and get the most out of them.
Have a high enough fence
Like most barnyard animals you are going to have, chickens are very adventurous and they don’t like staying in one place for very long, especially if they don’t have everything that they need.
So you may look out into your backyard at some point during the day and find your chickens are walking around an area of the backyard that they aren’t supposed to be in.
This means that you need to have a higher fence.
Chickens can jump up to 6 feet, so you may want to consider building a fence up to that high if you want to keep your chickens in.
So if you get yourself an 8-foot post and you bury it up to 2 feet into the ground, then you give yourself 6 feet for your fence.
And since your chickens will not be running through your fence, you can use poultry wire, which is going to be quite a bit cheaper than other fence options you might have.
You are also going to want to check your fence on a regular basis to make sure there aren’t any holes, because if a chicken finds a hole, they are going to exploit it.
But once you have the fence all set up, your chickens should stay in their area for the most part.
Provide a chicken coop for your chickens
According to Dummies.com
The minimum rule of thumb is about 2 to 3 square feet per chicken inside the chicken coop, and 8 to 10 square feet per chicken in an outside run. More square footage is better.https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/hobby-farming/raising-chickens/how-to-determine-your-flock-size-and-space-requirements/
So don’t go too crazy when building or buying your chicken coop.
We have a flock of 8 chickens, so as described by Dummies.com, we should have at least 24 square feet for our chickens.
So a 6 by 4 feet or 8 by 3 feet chicken coop is going to be plenty of space for all those chickens.
You can also make it a little bit cheaper by building your chicken coop up instead of out to fit more chickens in.
But making sure they have enough room is very important to make sure they are laying enough eggs.
Because if they feel too cramped in their space, they aren’t going to feel comfortable enough to lay in the coop
Provide enough heat for your chicken coop
Depending on who you ask, you may or may not want to have a heat lamp in your chicken coop.
If you are living in a place that is pretty hot year-round, like Arizona or California, the temperature isn’t going to vary enough to really make a difference to your chickens.
Plus, if it’s 90 degrees outside the coop, then inside the coop is going to be even hotter and your chickens are going to be uncomfortable.
But if you live in a place that gets cold in the winter, or even gets snow, you will want to consider a heat lamp for your chicken coop.
Chickens are dependent on being comfortable to lay eggs.
And while their feathers do provide some heat to them, in the snow it may not be enough for them to be comfortable.
Also, chickens are very particular and if things change for them too much, they also aren’t going to lay eggs then.
So if one day it is really hot inside the coop and then the next day, it is cold, then they aren’t going to lay as many eggs.
So consider getting a heat lamp for your chickens for the winter.
Also, make sure your cords are covered so in case it rains, you are shorting anything else and no one is getting hurt.
Keep out any drafts from the chicken coop
Just like mentioned above, chickens are dependent on the heat to keep them comfortable.
So providing a heat lamp is going to be helpful in that respect.
But the heat lamp might be null and void if there is a draft in the chicken coop.
The draft will bring cold air into the chicken coop and make it so the chicken is getting cold.
This also includes not only when the chickens have a heat lamp, but also in the summer.
During the summer, the chicken coop can have a draft in, which again will leave the chickens cold.
Therefore, ensuring the chickens aren’t laying as many eggs as they should.
So, regularly walk around the chicken coop and make sure there are no drafts.
This would include any cracks or crevices in the corners of the chicken coop.
If you find a crack or crevice that is creating a draft, get some wood putty and fill in the cracks so there is no more draft.
Provide protection from outside predators
While chickens can be strong and fast, that is better for getting away from us humans instead of predators like hawks or other predators of chickens.
Hawks or other flying animals can usually swoop in and take away a chicken before anyone or anything realizes what just happened.
You can avoid this by providing a fence or ceiling above the chickens throughout the day so none of these flying animals can get to them.
Foxes and raccoons are other predators of chickens, but they won’t be coming from the sky.
These predators will typically find holes in your fence or will dig underneath the fence to get in.
So the first thing you do is make sure to fix the holes in the fence.
Second, make sure you bury your fence about 6 inches under the ground.
Once you have it buried 6 inches under the ground, you are going to want to make the fence roll out at the bottom.
What I mean by this is that 6 inches of the fence go straight down and then another 6 inches or so go out away (parallel to the ground) from the fence.
This makes it so when a predator attempts to dig underneath the fence, they end up running into the fence going out.
Once they hit this particular area of the fence, they will give up digging.
That way, you won’t wake up one morning to find most of your flock gone.
Clean out their chicken coop on a regular basis
Chickens like their area nice and tidy.
This means you need to go out and clean out their chicken coop.
Not only do chickens not want to lay eggs where their poop is, but the smell there will also get to be unbearable.
So you will need to go out there on a regular basis and clean out the chicken coop.
As part of cleaning, most sure to get out any pine bedding and replace it with new pine bedding.
Then, put the old pine bedding and chicken poop into your compost pile.
Use the same routine each day with the chickens
As we have already established, chickens are creatures of routine.
They like to be fed at the same time every day.
Not only feeding them food but also filling up their water every day to make sure they have enough.
In addition, make sure that their water feeder is nice and clean.
We had a case where our chickens were not giving us eggs for a week or two and we couldn’t figure out why.
Eventually, we decided to clean out their water feeder, and then the next day they started giving us eggs again.
So if you establish a routine of when you are going to clean their water feeder, then you won’t have to worry about whether or not they are going to give you eggs.
Feed your chicken’s crushed eggshells
This may sound weird, but it is actually pretty good for your chickens.
However, one thing that everyone agrees on is that laying hens need a lot of calcium. Every single egg that is laid contains an enormous amount of calcium. If the hen is not being provided with an extra source of it, then the rest of her body will suffer.https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/10/can-you-feed-eggshells-to-chickens.html
Eggshells are a great source of calcium for your chickens since they are giving off a lot of calcium each time they lay an egg.
That calcium needs to be replaced.
So why not give the chickens back the eggshells that they’ve given you?
Now you can’t just give the eggs back to them and not expect any repercussions (see the last point in the list).
But there is a way you can mediate that.
Instead of giving the eggshells to the chickens whole, you need to grind them up first.
This might mean taking a rubber mallet to them or using a knife to crush them up.
Once you are done crushing the eggshells, throw them in with some scraps that you can feed the chickens.
Then the chickens won’t know the difference AND they will be getting the calcium that they very much need.
Clip their wings on a regular basis
Chickens might not be flight animals, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t clip their wings.
Them being able to get upwards of 6 feet in the air means they are using their wings to glide up that high.
And if you aren’t regularly clipping their wings, then they are going to be jumping over your fence.
Now, don’t just go out there and start clipping away.
There is a method to how you want to clip their wings.
First, you have to have a good pair of shears.
We purchased ourselves some heavy-duty sheep shears.
Now if you haven’t cut your chicken’s wings before, you will want to go about halfway up the feathers and then cut.
If your chicken’s wing starts bleeding, then you’ve gone up too high and scale it back a little bit.
Once you’ve done one wing, you are done with that chicken.
You see, if you keep the wings unevenly cut, then the chicken can’t float and glide like it normally would.
And that way, it won’t fly over your fence.
Consider whether or not you want roosters
There are a few reasons to get a rooster.
The first being to protect your chickens.
Roosters, for the most part, do a great job of protecting your chickens from predators that might kill them.
The second reason is to fertilize eggs.
Now, most people who are keeping chickens at home do not get their chickens from fertilized eggs, they get chicks from the store and then raise them.
While roosters are good at protecting your chickens, they can also attack your chickens quite a bit.
So if you are going to keep roosters, keep a close eye on them to make sure they aren’t killing your chickens.
Next, make sure you know that roosters will crow in the early hours of the morning.
If you live close to neighbors, they might not like it.
And if the chickens stay near to your bedroom window, you might not like it.
So think about it carefully before you get yourself a rooster.
Provide a dust bath for the chickens
Dust baths are actually very useful for chickens.
You see, it helps them to get rid of any critters that might be tagging along on their feathers.
It also helps them to get rid of any excess oils that they might have on their feathers.
So make sure to provide your chickens with plenty and dust and dirt for their bath.
If you don’t, then they will go looking for it.
And that means chasing them around your yard to get them back to their area.
Check around the chicken area regularly for eggs
Now all that time you spent building them a chicken coop, making it nice and warm for them, and clearing out all the poop, and your chickens are still going to look for other areas to lay their eggs.
This could be in the chicken area or it could be outside.
The chickens are going to look for a secluded area, somewhere hidden, where they can lay their eggs in peace.
We had family in town the other day and I was talking to my brother-in-law in your front yard.
I just happened to see something out of the corner of my eye and I started walking over to it.
It was one of our chickens hiding out under a bush in our front yard.
I had never seen a chicken there before.
After I got that chicken back in the chicken area, I went back to the bush and saw 7 eggs there.
So if your chickens are getting out or if you are getting as many eggs in your coop as you are expecting, check around the area to see if you can find any hiding spots.
Make sure your chickens aren’t eating their eggs
Chickens can get hungry, especially if they are not being fed enough or the normal schedule isn’t being followed.
This can sometimes lead to the chickens eating their own eggs.
There are a few things you can do to avoid this.
First, make sure you are giving the chickens the nutrients that they need, including the calcium from their crushed up eggshells.
Second, provide your chickens with a fake egg or two in their brooding area.
If they decide they are hungry and try to eat the fake again, they will get hurt and not try to eat an egg again.
But you need to stop it before it happens, because if one chicken decides to eat an egg, then all of your chickens might do it as well.
Chickens might seem like a lot of work, but they are actually pretty easy to keep and maintain.
Following the items from this article will help you so you can have a happy flock and get all the eggs you could want.