We have compiled a simple 7 step guide for new owners of chickens, to help make sure you have all of your bases covered!
1. Provide your hens with a feeder filled with layers pellets or layers mash, this contains all the right nutrients and vitamins that they require to lay eggs. The feeder should be topped up so that the feed is available at all times for the hens to eat as and when they like. Chickens are very good at knowing how much they want to eat and are unlikely to overeat, however it’s best to only put out enough food for them to graze on over the day and top it up later so that it does not spoil and/or attract pests and rodents.
2. The hens must always have access to fresh drinking water either from a water feeder or from a clean bucket in their run. You can add extra products to their water to help keep internal parasites at bay as well as aid their general health. Popular products on the market include Apple Cider & Garlic Vinegar. Apple cider is great for the immune system, energy boosting, provides probiotics, aids mineral absorption and digestion and helps with respiratory problems; while garlic is antiviral, antibacterial, worm preventative and treatment, infection preventative and an egg laying stimulant.
3. Grit and oyster shell can be mixed together and left in their run for them to peck at as they choose. The insoluble grit performs a grinding action in their gizzard which aids digestion and the oyster shell will provide them with calcium and ensure a good hard-shell on the eggs.
4. Corn is a great treat for chickens, this can be mixed in with their feed or sprinkled in their run so they have to forage for it. This gives them an activity to focus on, something they would do naturally, and it keeps them busy. Corn also comes in the form of Pecker Blocks which can be hung around the run for them to find as they wander around.
5. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also popular treats for chickens, these can be hung around the run on string or sprinkled on the floor. Again, keeping the hens busy and offering added nutrients and vitamins. Make sure you check if an item of fruit of vegetable is suitable for them to eat before feeding.
6. Chickens should have a clean, dry house that they have access to day and night. Wood shavings are the ideal bedding to use as they are easy to clean out, and doing so often will prevent the risk of holding mite if there is an infestation. However if your hen has respiratory issues, it would be best to explore a bedding without sawdust. You can also use cleaning products for hen houses that will keep away mites, lice and other pests.
7. It is recommended that chickens are wormed with a licensed product at least twice a year, the best times would be going into Autumn and in the Spring. This will prevent them from getting worms, or if they are already infected, it will treat them.
Signs of a healthychicken:
Being bright and active
Showing signs of natural behaviour e.g. foraging
Eating and drinking regularly
Laying eggs with a hard shell
A red perky comb (on the top of their head)
Perching at night in the hen house
Dust bathing in the daytime to keep bugs away
If your chicken shows any of the following signs, they may needworming: