4 Best Practices for Backyard Chickens
You live in an urban area and the thought of moving back to the country and rear some backyard chickens is not in your plan.
You have an amazing spacious backyard and a great idea comes to mind, why don’t you do the rearing here. The chickens can be a pet and also for commercial use but they require the same dedication for maximum comfort.
According to Smithsonian, baby chickens are chicks. Female chickens are pullets until they’re old enough to lay eggs and become hens. Male chickens are called roosters, cockerels, depending on the country you’re in.
These birds are omnivores. They’ll eat seeds and insects but also larger preys like small mice and lizards.
How to raise healthy chickens is not easy but just like anything else it requires work that is hard work. There are various things to keep in mind if you plan to have some chickens either as pets or commercial use.
For you be successful conditions must be met and adhered to. Poultry or birds just like any other animal require some basic stuff to avoid discomfort or death of animal.
So let’s check out what's important for the chicken one by one.
1. Having The Perfect Coop
The coop here being the structure or home of the chickens, First and foremost a coop for the chickens should be a priority. The size of the coop will entirely depend on the number of chickens one has.
The coop of the chickens should be above the ground hence be suspended from the ground.
Nest boxes should be constructed if you have or planning to have layers as part of your chickens. Chicken wire should also be part of the coop. A feeding area and watering point should be available to the chicken.
Water and food are an important aspect for healthy chickens. It’s also important to have a nylon that will be used to cover the coop or anything close to that.
The size of the nylon entirely depends on the size of coop; the nylon acts a blanket for the coop. It is used during the night, cold day’s and rainy days to cover the coop keeping it warm and dry.
According to The Happy Chicken Coop, the must have list for a good coop or what the coop must achieve whether you are building it yourself or purchasing one. The essentials are:
- Sufficient space for the hens
- Keeps chickens in and predators out
- Draft free
- Easy to clean and sanitise with good drainage
- Protection from the elements
Also always keep in mind that your chicken might be more in the future. Do not consider the number of chickens you want to have but prepare for the future too.
If you are more of a DIY person, then the best plans on building a chicken coop for backyard chickens, check out this post on How to Build a Chicken Coop.
2. Having Fantastic Hygiene
Cleanliness is an important aspect to the coop. For one to ensure that diseases do not become a problem, the coop should be clean. If the coop is dirty, diseases will thrive.
Poor hygiene, bad sanitation and a lack of safe drinking water fills half the world’s hospital beds according to Express UK.
It’s important to give your chicken a powdery medicine which it will ingest through its water; it’s used as a deterrent against worms. The coop should be cleaned everyday 24/7, clean water be available every day.
The coop’s surrounding should also be clean ensuring that diseases do not thrive.
According to Backyard Chicken Coops,a freshly mowed lawn exposes the dormant worms to strong UV rays, and believe it or not, this will actually put an end to lose pesky parasites.
This lack of cleanliness can be cause of parasites like ticks and mites thriving and affecting your backyard chickens. Also roundworms will be a threat too.
The first precaution you can make is ensure that the chickens you buy are vaccinated. Do not take the risk of getting chicken that aren't vaccinated.
You are not making the coop clean for the chicken only, but for you too especially if you have kids. You know that they will want to pet and help out in any way they can.
According to CDC, germs from poultry can cause a variety of illnesses in people, ranging from minor skin infections to serious illnesses that can cause death. To protect yourself from getting sick, thoroughly wash your hands with running water and soap after contact with poultry or their droppings.
To prevent most of these parasites, do remember to spray the coop and dust the chickens.
Also having a dust bath area can be great for killing off any mites. A dust bathe area is a place where dirt and some wood ash are present. the birds will come to bathe in the dust.
3. Be Predator Proof
Predators might be quite a problem but it’s always important to keep a good eye out for them. The coop should not have small spaces or openings that would be enough for predators like snakes to have a way through.
These openings also will be an entry to mice and rats which can attack chicks and eggs. Mice and rats can also bring diseases and parasites to chicken, ensure no mice or rat has a safe haven in the coop or its surroundings.
The most common predators to be aware of are mice and rats that can kill your chicks/eat the eggs, weasels, dogs, cats, raccoon, skunk, snakes, hawks, owls.....
The predators might be different according to where you live. But these are the most common predator threat you need to be aware of.
According to Types of Chicken, to protect your flock of birds always ensure that you:
- Close your flock, especially at nights.
- Don’t leave any food outside and nearby your flock.
- Chicken wire can help (although not always) because weasels are known to easily just wiggle through these wires.
- Have more roosters in your flock, they can be a good protection.
- Get a guard dog to protect your flock from predators.
- Guineas are known as great protection of your flock.
- Noises deter the predators from coming around.
- Make sure that there aren’t any access points in your flock. Each hole even the smallest must be fixed.
- Collect eggs daily. Don’t leave them to the predators.
- Fit motion sensor lightening.
- Use electric fences.
- Avoid using toxic chemicals to kill the predator, because your chickens may ingest it as well.
4. Allow Some Free Range Time
It’s also important that you allow your chickens some time to roam outside. The chickens should be out and about maybe twice a week or according to your liking.
According to the guidelines set by the Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), free-range farming means that the chickens need to be let out for a minimum of 6 hours every day.
The importance of allowing backyard chickens outside away from the coop is for them to peck and scratch. While outside they will defecate so it’s important to get rid of waste once they do. It’s also important to have a place where to keep the waste from chicken and eventually get rid of it.
Knowing how to rear healthy backyard chickens will be quite easy with the following tips and knowledge in place. It will be fun and fulfilling and worth all the effort. If you put in the work you will have chickens and successful at it too.
If you do it right, your effort and time will be worthwhile. There is nothing as fulfilling to see that you started with 3 chickens and by the end of a few months you have as many as 10 chickens.
You will learn a lot about taking care of another living being and about your chickens’ personalities.
Have you tried some of these tips already? Do you have any other tips I haven’t mentioned?
Please do tell and share in the comments section below. Also share this with your friends and family, sharing is caring.