Chickens have feelings just like you do. According to studies, they experience negative emotions like fear and also positive ones like happiness.
As owners, you should know how to take care of your chickens on a daily, monthly, bi-annual, and annual basis to keep them happier and healthier. Here’s how:
Daily Chicken Care
Provide a constant source of water
Water is necessary for your chickens’ general health and wellbeing so ensure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times.
Chickens don’t like to drink dirty water, so keep the waterer clean and filled. If there’s any debris or slime in the container, replace the water right away.
You don’t want your chickens to become dehydrated even for a short time because they can become ill or die quickly especially during summer.
Feed the chickens
There’s no specific rule on how many times you should feed your chickens as long as they have enough to eat throughout the day.
A chicken will consume roughly 120 grams of feed each day on average. If there’s a lot left over when they turn in for the night, reduce the amount of food you’re giving them.
As a general guideline, 90% of your chicken’s diet should come from formulated feed to ensure they’re getting all of the nutrients they need. You can also feed your chickens with fruits, vegetables, and other scraps they can eat to provide variety.
Eggs should be collected two to three times daily, at least once in the morning and in the evening. During exceptionally hot or cold weather, collect even more frequently.
Regular egg collection keeps eggs clean and minimizes egg cracking in the nests due to hen traffic. It also helps prevent your chickens from eating their eggs.
Chickens may also get broody if the eggs are not removed from their nest. Because these aren’t fertilized eggs, a broody chicken believes she is expected to hatch the egg and will sit on it indefinitely.
Broody chickens can become dehydrated and hungry due to their refusal to leave their eggs. If your chicken becomes broody for any reason, take care of it immediately.
Observe your chickens
Spend some time with your chickens to ensure they’re in good health. Observing them is best done when they are relaxed.
If your chickens are active, alert, and have bright eyes and smooth feathers, these are positive signs.
Monthly Chicken Care
Inspect the bedding
Your chickens may scavenge for food and knock over their feed or water at times. As a result, their bedding becomes soiled and the chicken coop may have unpleasant odors.
Check in once a week to ensure if the bedding is in good working order. If it isn’t, take out the old ones and replace them with new ones to keep the chickens stay clean and comfortable.
Tidy the Nest Boxes
Hens will lay their eggs wherever they feel safest so you would want to keep your nesting boxes clean at all times. In turn, you’ll continue to get fresher eggs because the nesting is sanitary and attractive.
How do we ensure that the nest boxes they’ll be using meet their own health and safety requirements?
Make sure to clean the nesting boxes clean at least once a month. If your chickens do not sleep in the boxes, poop will be scarce so you don’t have to tidy up every now and then. But if you have determined chickens who force themselves into the nesting boxes at night, you may block the boxes before dusk to prevent them from sleeping there.
Sanitize the water dispenser
Because the water dispenser is in constant use, the possibilities of it containing chicken poop or slime are considerable. So, at least once a month, you should clean the water containers.
Sanitize them with your preferred solution; the most basic is one-part bleach to ten-parts water. Then, using dish soap and warm water, scrub the waterers and rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining bleach and soap before replacing them with fresh water.
You may also use hot, soapy water to clean and disinfect the water dispenser, and two (2) teaspoons of bleach mixed with a gallon of water to sanitize it.
Stock up on supplies
To maintain a consistent supply for your chickens, you may want to take a monthly trip to a local feed store or sign up for a monthly delivery service.
It’s also a good idea to make a chicken supply list so you don’t forget anything important to keep your chickens safe, healthy, and happy.
Bi-annual Chicken Care
Clean the coop from top to bottom
Twice a year, you’ve got to thoroughly clean and disinfect your coop! A thorough cleaning of the coop helps to keep your birds cleaner.
if you plan to relocate your chickens to a more secure enclosure for the winter, give the warm-weather coop a good thorough cleaning by following these steps before the chickens return. This will only take you a few hours to finish!
- Take out all of the bedding, nesting materials, feed, and water containers from the chicken coop.
- Remove any old droppings, feathers, dirt, or other debris using shovels and brooms. Add them to your compost pile.
- Clean the chicken coop with a hose. Remove any dirt or dust that has remained.
- Scrub the surfaces. Disinfect the chicken coop with a bleach solution of one-part bleach to ten-parts water. A strong citrus cleanser will also work.
- Don’t forget to clean out the nesting and feeding boxes as well. Spray everything down with a hose one more when you’re through.
- Make sure the bird coop is completely dry. Remove any excess water with a broom, then open the windows and doors to let everything to dry out. To allow removable nesting and feeding boxes dry faster, place them in the sun.
- After thoroughly cleaning and rinsing the feed and water containers, you may replace them with new ones.
- Make your chickens feel more comfortable in the coop. Add fresh nesting materials and herbs for your chickens to enjoy once it’s completely dry.
- Get food-grade diatomaceous earth(DE) and place them in the coop to help keep mites at bay and the chickens healthy. Don’t worry if the hens eat a small amount because it’s quite safe for them.
Do coop repairs
Inspect the coop every six months and take any necessary steps. It is critical to check the housing or flooring area of the chickens to see if any pieces need to be replaced or fixed or if a larger coop is needed.
You want to be sure nothing is left to chance as predators are always active day and night.
Seasonal Chicken Care
The way you care for your chickens changes as the seasons change. So make sure you apply necessary precautions.
Before winter comes, give the coop a thorough cleaning, pressure wash it, and get all the debris out of it to give your chickens a fresh start.
You should also check to see if the coop is ready. You’ll need to seal any openings that allow cold air, snow, or moisture to enter the coop.
Here are a few things you can do if you live in a really cold region where temperatures drop below freezing:
- Apply petroleum jelly or another rich moisturizer to combs and wattles every few days to prevent frostbite.
- Purchase heaters for the feeders as well as the waterers to prevent the water supply from freezing! This is critical because hens cannot survive for long periods of time without access to fresh water.
- Avoid overheating your chicken coop, as birds can adapt to the cold over time and sudden temperature changes can be harmful. The hens will never grow acclimated to the colder outside temperature if you heat the coop, so if the heat goes out, causing a sudden change in temperature, you could lose your entire flock overnight.
- Consider whether you want to keep your chickens laying in the winter by using a bulb to simulate daylight.
- Make sure everyone has a place to roost, as this is how chickens stay warm.
Birds are vulnerable to extreme heat, so make sure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
To keep the chicken coop cool, you need to provide shade outside and as much ventilation as possible inside, alter insulation and bedding, and strategically utilize cold water and ice.
Feed the birds their regular diet on hot days. Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as scratches, should be avoided because they will make the chickens feel warmer.
Replace used supplies in your First Aid Kit
You should have a first-aid kit for your flock. Accidents and illnesses can happen at any time. Ensure that all medications are up to date and that you are well-stocked, particularly with frequently used items.
Chickens are amazing creatures that are fun and loving to their keepers.
Now that you already know how to take care of your chickens, start giving them the daily, monthly, bi-annual, and annual attention and care that they need. Soon you’ll have a beautiful flock of healthy and happy chickens!
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.