How to look after chickens
Unlike most household pets, chickens give food as well as take it, producing delicious and nutritious eggs for you and your family to enjoy on a daily basis. In exchange, you give them all your food scraps, apple cores, vegetable peelings etc instead of putting them in your bin to sit and smell until the refuse collectors come. It's a good deal!
Why keep chickens?
Eggsare the the most obvious answer, with each bird laying a single egg each day. Nothing is more satisfying than wandering out to the chicken coop and picking up some freshly laid eggs still warm on the straw. Chickens are lovely creatures with the potential to build a strong relationship with you the 'provider of chicken food.' You will be recognised instantly as you walk over to their enclosure and they'll most likely do a little mock fly or flapping hop, depending on how you look at it!
Our family have also taken great delight in letting the chickens out in the garden to scratch and peck in the grass. It's very therapeutic watching them with a nice cup of tea in your hand.
Also it's a great form of entertainment for small children, so long as they are taught how to respect the chickens.
Are they easy to look after?
Yes they are. So long as they have a hen-house to roost in at nighttime, which shelters them from the wind and rain. They need straw filled nesting boxes so that they can return there each day to lay their eggs. They will also need a run which enables them to get some exercise and forage around for seeds and worms. If the chicken run is rather small then let the chickens out into your garden for a peck about. They really enjoy it and if you have small kids, they really enjoy it too.
Chickens need a supply of water which they cannot knock over. We've always put the water pot outside the run but they can reach through the chicken wire to drink easily.
So aside from feeding them daily and ensuring they have clean water and ample space to peck, you will have some very happy chickens with minimal fuss.
Chickens enjoy most food scraps and are thus extremely useful in reducing your household waste. I have fed them all carbohydrate based foods, potatoes, bread, pasta, rice etc and plenty of cake and biscuit crumbs as well as small pieces of meat, fruit and veg. So long as you cut the food into small pieces, the chickens will have no trouble eating it.
We have always enjoyed the most deliious eggs with beautiful orange yolks, their varied diet must have something to do with it!
They also benefit from eating chicken pellets. These are available in most pet shops.
In the summer allow the chickens to peck fresh grass from your garden, or cut it yourself and give it to them in their feeding tray.
As a general rule it's a good idea to feed your chickens twice a day at the same sort of time, once in the morning and the second time in the early evening.
Try crushing up the egg shells and mixing it into their food. The calcium enables them to produce eggs with strong shells.
Have grit in easy pecking distance so that the chickens can digest their food efficiently.
Ensure water is always ample and not left to go green.
Lay a thick bed of straw in their house and in their run during the wintertime, this allows them to keep their feet dry and keep warm in the colder months.