Chicken Care.

Housing.

Poultry Housing should be dry, draught free and secure from predators and pests.

Housing should include permament food and water access, nesting boxes for laying and perches for roosting at night.

Chicken Tractors are small portable cages, that can be regularly moved allow access to fresh grass and clean ground on a regular basis. This can reduce the amount of cleaning and floor coverings needed, as well as provide you the opportunity to control where they are scratching, a great bonus for those into gardening. However the open floor also leaves them more vunerable to access by pests and predators. Therefore the tractor must have a secure area with perches, in which the chickens can be locked at night.

Chicken Coops are small permanent cages, designed for poultry that spends the majority of its day free ranging. Due to this they only require the basics inside and do not need to be very large. Chickens will benefit immensely from the chance to free range but can feel restrained if they are unable to be released.

Chicken Pens are large permanent cages, suited for poultry that is not free ranged or allowing them to be free ranged at leisure. This is particularly useful when you prefer only to free range when you are home or during fair weather.

Choice of floor covering will vary, depending on personal choice, size of cage, number of chooks and the amount of time they are in the pen. These will also influence how often you clean, as well as the age of the chicken. Suggested frequency of cleaning would be between 1 - 3 weeks dependant on circumstances. Young chicks are more vunerable than adults and should be cleaned more reqularly. Hay or Straw is a commonly used substrate, but is not highly effecient as it does not absorb well. Should you be lucky enough to have a concrete or solid floor, sawdust is fantastic as it quickly absorbs mess and is easily turned over, leaving the chooks with cleaner, drier feet. Becareful to only use sawdust that is safe, pet specific sawdust can be purchased that is free of dust and metal filings. For earth floors mulch is a better option. Although not absorbant as sawdust, it encourages scratching and therefore gets turned often. It is also more suitable for large areas as it generally be obtained cheaply.

Prior to sunset, chickens will always return to their cage to roost, Whilst they will do this on their own, it is still important to lock your chooks up securely each night for their own safety. It is a well researched fact that the number of foxes living in suburbian areas is way higher than in rural areas.

Nesting Boxes should have a deep layer of sawdust or straw, to encourage use and keep the eggs clean. They should make the hen feel safe and be placed in a quite, draught free area. Cages with larger numbers of hens will require multiple laying boxes. Where you do have multiple boxes. it is good idea to place them at different heights and entrance angles, as all hens will have different preferances.

 

Water.

Feeding.

Parasite Preventatives.

Broody Hens.

Most hens, especially docile breeds may go broody during the breeding season. When this occurs they will spend most of their time sitting on the nest and will steal eggs from other hens to add to their clutch. They will also become very possesive over the eggs and will fluff their feathers out, make threatening noises and peck at you if you try to collect the eggs.

It will vary greatly amongst individual chooks as to how determined they are to stay broody. Some will be so upset by having their nest moved that you could not get them to sit back on eggs even if you wanted to. Others having had all options taken away will proceed to sit on the floor on nothing.

They will generally leave the nest only once or twice during the day to have a frenzied feed and dustbath before returning to the nest. You will also notice at this time that they leave a giant dropping the size of an egg, due to fact it is an entire days worth.

There are a few options of what actions you can take with a broody hen.

One would be to break the brood or convince her to stay off the nest. Old well known methods can include dipping the hen in cold water or hanging her up in an open wire cage. Seeing as a hen's trigger to go broody is a raise in body temperature, those methods do make sense, but do would not be very pleasant for the hen. Placing frozen ice packs under them in the nest would be nicer for the bird. Locking the hen out of the nesting area can often be successful, but can stress any other hens still laying if they have nowhere to lay. Whilst if you offer an alternative nesting area, stubborn chooks will just sit in there instead. Taking away all nesting boxes at night and forcing the hen to roost is also effective and causes no inconvenience to the other hens, but once again particularly determined hens may just proceed to sit on the floor.

Another is to place fertile eggs under the hen. This means acquiring eggs from a pen that contains an active rooster.

 

Baby Chicks.

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