Are you wondering How to Care For Chickens? They’re pretty easy to care for, believe it or not! The best part is that they have fantastic personalities and they lay eggs! Yay for breakfast!
How to Care For Chickens
First, you’ll need to gather some supplies to help you care for your chickens. However, don’t worry because I’ve made a list below!
Your new chickens will need to learn where to sleep. The first week it’s best to keep them fenced. Otherwise, they may end up roosting in trees instead of in the coop.
Generally, you may have to place them in the chicken coop at night. They’re in a new place and you kinda have to show them where to sleep during the first week.
Soon the chickens will be acclimated. Then, they should get into their chicken coop by themselves. Usually, they will get into the coop around dusk.
Baby chicks are a lot of work. For the most part, baby chicks are a lot of fun. However, they can be messy.
For example, they may decide to stand on top of the waterer and when they jump over, down goes the water too. Giant mess!
Subsequently, if you’re just learning how to care for chickens, I suggest you start with some laying hens.
They can be a little more expensive but totally worth it.
Learn more about Raising Baby Chicks
What to Feed Chickens?
By the way, I linked to Amazon to the feed so you can see them. They are quite expensive on Amazon though. So I suggest buying at your local feed store.
Each of your chickens will need about 1/2 cup of feed every day. You can give them scratch, but only as a treat! Scratch is not food! Learn more about What do chickens eat, and what they shouldn’t.
Chickens need plenty of water to stay hydrated. Especially, when it’s hot outside.
If you live in a hot climate, make sure your chickens have plenty of shade. You can also provide some chilling treats for them too…
Adult laying hens eat what we call layers. In particular, we use this feed for them because it has extra calcium to keep those eggshells nice and strong.
Many people feed roosters layers too. There is some research that says that extra calcium may not be good for roosters. I’ve never had issues with it.
They don’t make rooster feed, however, you can give them flock raiser instead…
Otherwise, if you have a mixed flock of chickens, ducks, and other fowl, you can use Flock Raiser. As a result, you might want to add some extra calcium back into their diet.
After I boil up some eggs for us to eat, I usually pop the eggshells in the oven on low for 15-20 minutes or until they are crispy. Then, I store them in a jar to give to the chickens later.
Therefore, the calcium in the eggshells are given back to the chickens…
Baby chicks should eat Starter/Grower feed until the hens start laying and then switch over to layer feed or flock raiser as I wrote about above.
Snacks For Chickens
- Chicken scratch is pretty popular. Just don’t mistake it for feed! This is ONLY a treat!
- Mealworms – Your chickens will go crazy for some mealworms!
- Crickets – Sometimes we like to stop by the local bait shop and pick up some crickets for the chickens. Its fun to watch them try to catch some live bait.
- Speaking of live bait. I’ve seen people fill a pool with water and fish for their chickens! Yep, chickens eat fish! (LOL) Surprisingly, they’re good little fishers too!
- Kitchen scraps – Chickens love many things that we might throw in the compost.
- Watermelons & Pumpkins – Chickens love these! I like to go to the pumpkin patch after Halloween and get free pumpkins!
Just like any diet, it needs a good balance. Remember that feed should be their meal. Too many snacks could leave them malnourished.
Necessary Supplies to Care For Chickens
- Transportation – You’ll need a cage to transport them in the vehicle, right? I use a large dog cage.
I like this one because it has two doors. They are supposed to be side doors, but I turn it so that one of the doors is on the top, making it perfect for loading and unloading with new farms animals, err um I mean chickens.
I may or not be wanting, goats, pigs, turkeys, and more! Lol 🙂 If you don’t know yet, I might as well tell you chickens are the gateway animals to homesteading/farming.
- Chicken coop – I suggest making your own chicken coop. The ones you can buy in-stores and online are usually crappily made.
Check out our chicken coops, we made a truck topper chicken coop, and we turned an old horse trailer into a chicken coop. I also wrote about chicken coop inspiration!
- Bedding – You will need bedding. Pine shavings work great, they are my favorite thing to use.
- Feed – Laying hens and roosters will eat what we call layers.
Starter/grower is for chicks, and finisher/grower is for meat birds who are not yet laying.
- Water- Yes, tap water is just fine. I fill up their waterer with the garden hose!
- 5 Gallon buckets or equivalent to hold the food, and treats.
- Feeders and waterers (These are the ones I have and like!) – Make sure you have enough for the amount of birds you have.
- Treats – scratch, mealworms, and even scraps from your kitchen are all wonderful treats for chickens.
Avoid anything moldy, like moldy bread. Yes, the chickens will eat anything. They are like trash compactors!
Only give a small amount of treats per day. Too much can give chickens diarrhea.
- Chicken First Aid Kit – It doesn’t hurt to be prepared for wounds and sickness.
Chickens Shouldn’t Eat…
- Dry beans
- Mold is a big no, no.
- White potatoes – Some sources say that chickens should not have them due to a toxin called solanine which is what is a toxin found in green potatoes and on the “eyes” of the potato.
- Green tomatoes
- Avocados – some sources say they can eat only the meaty part of the avocados can be consumed by a chicken and even then in moderation. They should not eat the skin or the pit! Other sources say to avoid avocados all together.
- No apple seeds, Johnny! – Apple seeds contain cyanide. So do the pits in cherries, pears, peaches, plums, and apricots. Avoid them if possible.
- Rhubarb – is said to have oxalic which can possibly soften the shells of our precious gift that the chickens give us. Soft eggs are no Bueno!
- Onions, may cause anemia, jaundice, and even lead to death.
- Citrus and spinach are said to limit calcium absorption. This would mean soft eggshells.
- Iceberg lettuce can cause diarrhea. Stick to higher nutritional contented greens such as kale, cabbage, or collards.
- Other ideas of things to steer clear of: Anything that is not healthy for you ie; candy, fried food, super salty, or super sweet foods; also think about keeping their pesticides and other chemical exposure to a minimum!
Using organic fruit and/or vegetables will help! Limit things like rice, pasta, and bread because they have very little nutritional value.
- Dairy, chickens don’t drink milk, not even from mother at birthright? So they really don’t have the stomach for it. It is a good idea to avoid it.
There was something going around on Facebook about giving chickens yogurt for a healthy gut. Here’s the thing, a little yogurt shouldn’t hurt, but just a little.
Free Range or No?
The next thing I want you to think about is are you going to free range. There are so many things to think about. Check out my blog post on this very topic. Should I Let My Chickens Free Range.
It’s very important that you think about this and have an answer before your birds arrive. There is no wrong or right answer, only what works for you and your girls.
Now that you’re prepared with all of the supplies, let’s go over what it’s actually like during the day to day while caring for chickens.
How to Care For Chickens | Morning, Noon, and Night
First thing in the morning you’ll need to go out and open the coop door. If you’re free ranging your birds, you’ll also be opening the chicken run door.
Check to make sure they have food and water. My hens expect a snack in the morning. They have fasted all night and apparently for that, they deserve a treat!
I usually grab two handfuls of scratch and throw it on the ground for them. Along with some feed of course
Throughout the day, I usually check for eggs. I like to check on them also, just to make sure they are all ok throughout the day.
You don’t have to do this, you can pull eggs just once a day if you like…
Every night, usually around dusk the chickens should all get into their coop, but you should lock it uptight. There are many predators that like chicken.
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