If you’ve finally convinced yourself and your partner that it’s time to complete your family, then this article is for you. Chickens can be great companions, while also serving you fresh eggs and mostly taking care of themselves. There are only a few things you’ll need to supply your chicks and chickens with, and before you know it, you’ll be one big happy family.
Housing and Bedding Necessities
The first thing you’ll need to prepare before you bring home your chickens is the coop. Don’t worry, it’s much cheaper than preparing a room for an infant. Before you set up your coop, make sure you check into city ordinances. You might need to get a permit or follow certain regulations for the structure of the coop. It’s also a good idea to build the coop in a place far away from neighbors so that the noise isn’t too much of a disturbance for them. If it’s an option, put the coop near a bedroom window so you’ll hear if any predators get inside the coop.
Always use treated wood to house your chickens. A small closed-in space works just fine for a coop, although the more space they have to walk around in, the better. It might suit your chickens best if they have a small closed-off area for when you’re not home to monitor them and for when they’re sleeping. Around their sleeping quarters, a slightly bigger outdoor area where they can walk around will keep them healthy and happy. Free-range chickens are happy chickens!
As for their bedding, chickens don’t require much, but providing them with nesting boxes can make collecting their eggs easier for you. You can find out all the pros and cons of various types of nesting boxes at chookcity.com/best-chicken-nesting-boxes/. Some nesting boxes have a roll-away feature that allows the eggs to safely roll to a collection area before any of the chickens eat the eggs—they can get competitive and resort to this kind of behavior! It also frees up room in the coop and gives them more walking-around space.
Get some pine shavings to sprinkle on all of the surfaces of the coop. Newspapers are a common method, but are ill-advised, as it will get slippery and have adverse physical effects on the legs of your chickens and chicks. Pine shavings are inexpensive and absorbent enough to keep your feathered friends waddling around with ease.
Hardware cloth is key in keeping your chickens safe. Line your coop with this to ensure that predators, both big and small will not make their way into the coop while you’re sleeping or away. It’s possible that at least one or a couple of your chickens will die as a result of another animal’s hunt, but hardware cloth will minimize the chances of this.
If you’re housing baby chicks, then you’ll need to set up a brooder in a safe area inside your home (garage, basement, or warehouse). This is just a small, cardboard, or plywood box that encloses all your chicken’s necessities, which are warmth, food, water, and clean space.
Use cob bedding instead of pine shavings, as they have less negative effects on the chick’s lungs. A heat lamp will work fine for keeping the chicks warm, but it’s a fire hazard. An electric radiant heat brooder, while rather expensive, will absolve you of this risk and keep your chicks warm and cozy. The water containers are cheap, but make sure you set them up on a piece of plywood so the chicks don’t mess in their water.
Nourishment and Hygiene
There are several factors that come into play when deciding what to feed your chicks and chickens. You’ll definitely want to give your littlest peeps some Chick Starter, which will aid in their growth and health during those early stages of life.
Other kinds of feed you supply your chicks with will be dependent on what purpose your chickens serve in your life. Some types of feed are best for egg production, some for fattening up your chickens before they reach your plate. Figure out what particular needs your chickens have, and then decide from there what to feed them. Whatever you choose, make sure you add grit to the feed, as it is a necessary addition for proper digestion with chicks and chickens.
Vitamins can also be helpful for keeping your chickens healthy. Chickens are vulnerable to many germs and bacteria that come from living outdoors and in close range to their feces. If your chicks or chickens seem to be under the weather, try researching their problems and finding some dietary solutions. It’s not a bad idea to regularly supplement their food with vitamins as a preventative measure.
For feeders, a mason jar will work just fine. Put the lid on and flip it over into a dish that will gradually release the food. The same option will work for water. Containers can also be purchased at your local pet store. Make sure you keep both the feeder and waterer off the ground to keep the food free of droppings and dirt. Troughs are not a good idea for chickens and they may try to nap or bathe in the food. The containers used for food and water should be cleaned weekly to avoid an overgrowth of bacteria.
Diatomaceous earth is a necessary element that should be sprinkled inside the coop. Chickens can often be seen rolling around in the dirt, but this isn’t because they’re dirty animals. It’s actually how they attempt to keep themselves clean from lice and mites. Your chickens will greatly appreciate this addition to their coop, as it will keep them safe from pesky parasites that would make them quite uncomfortable otherwise.
As long as your chicks and chickens are provided with all the housing, feeding, and hygiene necessities, they will generally function just fine on their own. It’s a good rule of thumb to remember that they’re a game species and will easily be hunted if not kept in a safe, closed-off environment. If you can fulfill their basic living needs and house them safely, then you’ll be on your way to completing your home with many feathered friends.