Keeping backyard chickens as pets or food sources is a growing hobby in the United States. It can be fun and productive and is fairly easy to get the hang of. That’s not to say that it doesn’t require some dedicated work. Like any animal, chickens need constant care and maintenance, but once you learn the basics and figure out some helpful tricks it can turn out to be a very rewarding and enjoyable pastime!
There’s a lot of great information available out there about raising chickens, but we thought we would start with the essential things every new chicken keeper should know from the start. Keep these standard guidelines in mind when you start caring for your chickens and be sure you have everything you need to raise your flock—including one of our quality prefab or custom size coops!
Care for them daily.
You need to check in and spend some time tending to your chickens every day—just like letting the dog out or filling your horse’s hay trough. Daily tasks for chicken care are pretty typical. Make sure they’re properly fed and have fresh, clean water. You can install a feeder and/or waterer to help minimize waste and manage appetite fluctuation, as chickens have different appetites in different seasons.
It’s extremely vital that your chickens have clean water every day. If it’s summertime or a particularly scorching day, check on or refill it twice. Chickens are picky and will not drink water if it’s dirty, or at least won’t drink very much. Ensure they have crisp, clean water daily to prevent dehydration, illness, and even death.
Check in with your flock to affirm that they seem healthy and active. Collect and store eggs daily as well, to protect them from predators and keep hens from sitting on them or having to lay outside the nesting box.
Choose the right breed.
People keep chickens for a couple of different reasons. Sometimes they’re just looking for a fun pet, some people want a productive investment for eggs or meat, or some just want to gain more control over where the food they eat comes from.
Certain chicken breeds are better for eggs, and others for meat—a select few sufficiently serve both purposes. The Rhode Island Red breed, for example, is known for laying eggs and is able to produce brown eggs. The Orpington, while still good for eggs, is more ideal for raising chickens for meat as the hens can reach up to 8 pounds.
Some breeds are suited to particular climates, so do your research and be sure to keep this in mind when you’re planning your flock. They vary in temperament and color as well. Many people opt for multiple breeds to have a diverse assortment of colors to more easily tell their hens apart and cultivate a variety of products.
Keep the coop clean.
You’ll want to ensure your chickens have an ideal home to live in and protect them from the elements, so once you find the right one it’s imperative to maintain it. A clean, hygienic coop fosters a happy, healthy flock.
Promote good health and prevent disease among your hens by scooping droppings and loose feathers daily with a hand shovel. Perform a thorough cleaning approximately every 6 months to keep the environment fresh and in good condition. This includes completely changing the bedding, cleaning and replacing nesting materials, and washing the food and water containers.
Apple cider vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle is an excellent, natural cleaning solution to use routinely to disinfect and prevent a build up of mold and odor. Remember to wear a mask as you clean and wash your hands every time.
Check in on their health regularly.
Visit your flock everyday to checkup on their health and make sure you’re immediately aware of any abnormalities. Get to know your hens and how they interact with one another so you can easily identify when something isn’t right.
Spend quality time with your chickens and let them roam around for a bit to keep them happy and healthy—they’ll produce better quality eggs too. Pick them up and examine them individually once every week or two and watch for changes in feather color, amount of shedding, eating and drinking habits, and any abnormal eggs.
Whether you’re raising chickens to have some fun and feel their love or to generate eggs or meat to sell or eat, they make a valuable contribution to you and your home. Return the favor by taking the time and putting in the effort to properly care for them.
Give your flock the home they deserve with a superior chicken coop from Deer Creek Structures! Visit our website or call us at 254-546-2276 today to learn more!