The Basics of Keeping Chickens

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

Many people keep their own chickens. Keeping chickens is more of a hobby or the desire to have your own fresh eggs, rather than a business. Individuals can keep up to 20 hens easily but this may be too many eggs for your own household. To have enough fresh eggs for yourself you may only need a few laying hens.

Those interested in starting their own flock should purchase pullets that are approximately 14 to 18 weeks old. You need to ensure that the pullets are healthy and will produce quality eggs. You should speak with others who have purchased pullets to ascertain the reliability of the seller as well as to the quality of the products. Also may be able to buy hens that have reached the end of their commercial laying but still produce eggs, otherwise known as end of lay hens.

Chickens can be kept in rural, suburban or urban setting but you will need to check with your local laws as some areas may prohibit keeping chickens, or you may need to follow some specific guidelines.

Once you have your pullets you can begin to expect eggs once the pullets are about 20 weeks old. Laying hens will produce about one egg a day but after they are 30 weeks old they may produce less. If you are in a cold climate you may discover that egg laying decreases during the winter months. You may find your egg production decreases by about 30%. Healthy hens should produce about 240 eggs a year.

Weather conditions may affect your egg production. Thunderstorms, airplanes, and load noises tend to distract hens and they may not lay any eggs when they are disgruntled. You need to keep you hen’s happy and comfortable if your want them to lay eggs every day.

You should have an enclosure to keep your chickens. This area may be permanent or temporary. Chickens need to be enclosed because they destroy gardens by looking for food and they need to be protected from predators, particularly cats and dogs, though foxes can also be a problem.

Poultry houses are also used and they are basically designed to provide protection from direct sunlight and rain. Poultry housing should be well ventilated and cleaned regularly to prevent ammonia build-up and stop disease. You will find a variety of poultry house designs to chose from.

Each bird should have about 1/3 M2 of floor space. Your birds can enjoy a nice dust bath if you cover the floor with straw or wood shavings. This assist with controlling parasites, as hens are prone to getting parasites from the environment.

Hens like to perch during the night so you need to supply perches. If your hen house doesn’t have perches then your hens will probably crowd to one corner and caked manure patches will form. These caked patches cause the hens and eggs to get dirty. Perches allow your hens to relax and keep everything cleaner.

Hens need a perch at least 60cm from the ground and with about 15cm wide. Most perches are made of wood but wood is the perfect home for the Red Mite parasite. This parasite is dangerous to the hens so you may want to build your perches form other material. A red mite infestation can cause your egg production to decrease.

The type of feed you use is important to the health of your hens. The nutritional content of the feed will affect the size, quality and production of eggs as well as the hen’s overall health. Commercial chicken food is recommended so they will obtain the proper amount of vitamin, minerals and protein. If your hens have good access to grass then you should feed them about 120-150 grams of feed a day.

Besides feed chickens will also eat anything that is green and any household scraps. These food sources can be used as supplements to chicken feed as they do have some nutritional values to chickens. If you feed the hens scraps and green matter then you should decrease the amount of commercial feed. You should check your feeding regime with a poultry feed company to ensure that your hens are getting enough nutrition.

It is essential that your hens have access to clean, drinking water. Chickens will not drink dirty water and a lack of water, even for a short time, will result in a decrease of egg production. If it is hot then you can kill your chickens by dehydration. If the hen has a blue/black colored, wilting comb then you need to give it water immediately as this is a sign of dehydration. You should keep in touch with your local veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.

Be Sure To Subscribe To Our Free Chicken Keeping Newsletter That Will Teach You How To Raise Happy, Healthy, Egg Laying Chickens In Your Own Backyard

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...

Chicken Keeping Book

Leave a reply

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}