Random Chicken Keeping Tips From Readers

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

Have I told you all lately how smart you are? I get lots of tips from readers in my inbox and thought I’d take some time this week to share some of them with all of you. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to send along your experience.

Dealing With A Hawk

“Our flock was repeatedly attacked by a hawk, resulting in one dead hen. A reader of yours described the same problem. An elderly neighbor advised that we hang aluminum pie plates over our (fairly large) pen. We did this (6 pie plates in all) and have not been bothered since!” ~ Maggie

 Japanese Beetles For Chickens

“I found a wonderful way to rid myself of a major pest & feed my chickens for free at the same time. Japanese Beetle traps! I set up the Japanese Beetle Traps that have the lure type attractants on some plant that they like, but one we don’t care about. We have wild roses along the fence row & it helps keep them off my climbing roses.

As these lures don’t use any pesticides just once or twice a day empty the replaceable bags into a bucket of water, so they can’t escape. I pour the bucket of water with the bugs into a shallow pan & stand back & let them go to work. I get about a quart of free food a day that my chickens just love. Here, everyone is saying that there is no other way to get rid of the Japanese Beetles than to use pesticides. How wrong they are!” ~ Paula Robinson

 Cutting Chicken Nails Too Short

“This information came from a rabbit book but also works great on birds too. If a chicken nail gets cut too short you can stop the bleeding by dipping the nail into Cayenne Pepper. It’s also a pain killer and the animal/bird will only mess with it once.” ~ Kathleen Burton

Feeding Tips To Keep Chickens Occupied

“Even though I give my hens 20% poultry pellets for all the nutrients for egg laying, I still scatter some whole wheat or whole barley on the floor of their coop everyday. They love kicking up the wood chip bedding after the grains – fulfils that foraging need in them. I also save all the greens and table scraps from the house and scatter them around the floor coop as well. They run to meet me when I come in eagerly looking for the scraps.

I get plenty of eggs without a light on and even have 5 hens which are 2 years old that are still putting out 3 eggs a day. Another tip I learned from another chicken lover is to drill a hole through a cabbage. Place a piece of rope or heavy twine through and hang from the coop joists so it is about hen “eye height” – they have fun pecking away at it for fun and extra greens.” ~ Linda Steiger, Forestville, NY

Hen With An Uneven Beak

“I thought I would share my experience of keeping a hen with an uneven beak – feel free to ignore what I say because I am no expert. We have been keeping chickens for 7 months, and now have a dozen. We have them for eggs. They free-range over an acre and a half. We bought them at 16 weeks and choose a little Ranger for her deeper brown colour. It was not until we got home that we noticed her lower beak was longer than the top.

We have had her now for about 4 months and pleased to say she gained weight and is thriving. She certainly forages well with the other hens in garden and hedgerows, and I have seen her enjoying lots of worms. She is also laying an egg almost every day in line with the rest. We have layers pellets available in a feeder all day and she manages this along with the others – mostly early morning.

So my experience has show me that this beak anomaly has not been a problem for the hen or for us – I would give her a chance to manage without intervention. Best regards” ~ Hazel

(Gross) Protien Supplement Idea For Chickens

“Hi Wendy, I really enjoy your newsletter and thank you for your advice recently – I appreciate it.

I was talking in the weekend to a fellow chicken enthusiast, who had this great idea for a protein supplement that also relieves boredom for a flock. I must warn you if you’re queasy about gore don’t read on! :-)

Take a 10litre plastic bucket with a lid (well washed if it’s had anything chemical in it) and drill several 1.5cm holes in the bottom. Then lay a deep layer of untreated sawdust – about 6-8cms. Then bring home some road kill that’s been laying around a couple of days with flies on it (told you it was gross!) and put this on top of the sawdust.

Then layer a thicker amount of sawdust over top of the dead whatever, and seal the lid. Next hang the bucket in the chicken coop higher than they can jump and wait few days. Maggots drop out the holes and the chickens apparently stand underneath almost with beaks open….lol.

When supply of maggots stops, if you have the stomach for it you can re-expose the carcass to the flies for couple days and repeat. Or just bury under a new plant. Here in NZ we have an abundant supply of roadkill in the form of possums which are nationally hated for the damage they do to our native bush and birds, so here we have a double win!

A much nicer idea was to put a few flat shingles or pavers etc in the run and every couple days just turn them over onto fresh bit of run – chickens get whatever insects/worms are on the surface. Cheers” ~ Karen

Whether you're a complete beginner and don't know where to start, or you're a seasoned chicken keeping professional and just want practical "how to" advice on tap our guide to keeping chickens has got you covered...

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  1. I have four new Hampshire hens and two silkies (hen & rooster). I have always had them in a chicken run but was thinking about letting them free range as we have a vacant block of land. I’m just worried about how far they will roam and if they will return to their run at night? There is a house being built up a lane way from the block and a road above that. I would appreciate any help

  2. When they know where their coop is – they don’t go far. Mine are young and keep coming back. I leave the water and food in the coop.

  3. I have almost 1/3 acre and each evening just before sundown all the chickens return to the roost/coop to go to “bed”… I come out and lock them inside…

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