How To Master Keeping Chickens
How To Master Keeping Chickens
Chickens are fun to watch and delicious to eat...but not all that easy to raise. Nick Wilcox here shares his tips and secrets to successfully raising your own flock.
If you're thinking of keeping some chickens, the first thing you must do is provide them with suitable accommodation. They must have a decent shed, plenty of ventilation, nest boxes, a supply of fresh water and must be regularly fed. The pen they run into must be of an adequate size for the number of birds you have in the pen.
You will lose a lot of the vegetation and cover in the pen if you have a lot of chickens. If you have just a few you might keep something, but be prepared for the ground to get well scratched up and turned over because the chickens will virtually eat everything. If you're looking to find some chickens, a lot of the poultry magazines will have adverts in there for chicken breeders and supplies.
A lot of your local newspapers will also have this information. People advertising the more standard commercial chickens, your Rhode Island Reds, some of your hybrids, your Star chickens, these sort of things. They will be available quite locally from breeders.
You could also look on the Internet; you can buy eggs by various websites and what have you. So, finding your chicken is not going to be a problem. Make sure that they look fit, healthy and well when you go to pick them up.
They're not sneezing, they haven't got runny eyes, their wings aren't dropped down, generally they look fit and healthy, they rush up to see you when you put a few tidbits in there and they generally look well. If they've got a hunchback and they look a little bit mopy, then they're not a fit bird. When you're keeping chickens, it's often a temptation to have more chickens, then you see something else you like so you buy some more.
It's often, well, it is crucial not to overcrowd the chickens, because if you have too many chickens in the pen or the space they have, then you will start having casualties, things will start just not doing too well. They must be fed adequately, they must have, if it's laying hens, a layer's pellet supplemented with some mixed corn, all the household waste they will also eat, all the potato peelings, your toast crusts, your cabbage peel, everything, everything they will eat that you throw out of the kitchen. And this is a good supplement for them, it does them well.
You'll also need to, if your chickens haven't got access to outside, digestion in schedule, you'll need to provide grit, you'll also need to provide oyster shell, which helps obviously to make up the egg shell if it's for laying hens. All these are available from a reputable feed dealer. Most foods will be available from country stores, animal feed suppliers, look in your local Yellow Pages or something, there are a lot of animal feed suppliers that will be able to supply you with the complete range for your poultry, everything that they need.
Your poultry should also ideally be wormed a couple of times a year. Again, your animal feed suppliers, a lot of them will provide you with the wormers or go to your vets and they will be able to provide you with a suitable wormer for you. There are various tonics and other things that you can get for your chickens, but basically a good variety of food with a good quality pellet, a little bit of wheat and they'll be no problem.
If you're rearing young chickens, chick crumbs is the way to go, fresh water, make sure that everything is kept very clean, you don't want to pick up any bugs. The pens must be cleaned out regularly with the young chicks, or if you're doing them outside, move them onto fresh ground pretty regularly or else you'll start having fatalities, things will pick up bugs. And that's a rough guide on how to start keeping chickens. .