If Canadians knew the unsavory industrial practices of the chicken industry, everyone would be raising healthy chickens at home. That’s one of the common reasons why this practice is spreading.
Backyard chickens provide homeowners with their own fresh supply of eggs, but even more than that, chickens make excellent pets. There are many breeds known for being friendly, just make sure to avoid the aggressive ones. Also, make sure you have the right resources to raise them well.
To find out what chicken-rearing entails, check out the list below.
1. Give Them Lots of Space
One of the major problems with the industrial chicken industry is the lack of space. These chickens live miserable lives in dark, crowded, indoor silos, and bacteria thrive there. These conditions encourage the spread of illness and disease among those chickens, which is why they’re often fed tons of antibiotics.
Chickens need 8 to 10 feet per chicken to run around outdoors. Before purchasing chickens, make sure you have the outdoor space for each of them.
2. Feed Them Properly
The quality of your future eggs starts with the feed you give your chickens. Chickens need different types of feed depending on their age and if they are laying.
Chickens under two months old need a starter feed. After two months, they need a grower feed until they reach a year and a half. Once they start laying, they need a layer feed with calcium to support the growth of eggs.
3. Clean the Coop Regularly
As fecal matter accumulates in the coop, dangerous bacteria, mold, and ammonia build up. Mites, poultry lice, and even rats are attracted to unclean chicken coops.
Droppings should be scooped from the droppings board every day. Sand makes great dry bedding, which should be changed weekly. Every six months, aim for a deep clean to scrub and hose out the whole coop.
If you live in a cold climate, consider purchasing a chicken water heater to keep them warm and healthy in the winter.
4. Watch for Broody Hens
Broody hens are chickens with a determined instinct to incubate their eggs. Without a rooster, this incubation never occurs. This means the hen sacrifices her own health for chicks that will never come.
To break up a broody hen, create a broody hutch that’s raised off the floor in a well-lit area. She should be kept there until the broodiness subsides.
5. Provide Clean Drinking Water
Chickens will drink from anything, even dirty puddles harmful to their health. To avoid this, provide poultry nipple waterers with a constant, fresh supply of water.
Keeping Healthy Chickens Happy
Raising healthy chickens is a little more intense than raising other common pets, but it’s just as rewarding. Perhaps even more so, as chicken owners will find they have more eggs than they can even eat. Consider starting a side business at the local farmer’s market to make some extra cash.
For more useful pet guides like this one, check out our page.