The delight and joy that raising backyard chickens can bring to a home is immeasurable.
These easy to care for critters are full of antics and frequently become more like pets than farm animals. But we were wondering, are you doing these 5 things to keep your feathered friends healthy?
Observe Them (simple, right?)
The more you get to know your girls, the better off you will be. You will start to see who’s shy and who is downright mischievous. I suggest everyone watch their flock daily as they feed. You will notice healthy chickens are lively and pecking, eating, drinking, bizzley dusting and always trying to keep the pecking order. If you notice any hens off to the side, being lethargic, that’s a sure sign they are having an issue. Take note of their combs and wattles. They should be a bright red waxy color. Their feet shouldn’t have any cuts on them. If you notice any you should make sure they aren’t serious because such cuts could lead to infection. Lastly, you should check their skin by parting their feathers to ensure there are no lice or parasites. I do this skin check about once a month.
PRO TIP - the properties of apple cider vinegar alter the PH levels in the water. This makes it unappealing for foreign organisms to grow, thus keeping the water nice and fresh. It will also help your girls digest their food better as it acts as a probiotic in their digestive system. I add 1-2 Tbsp for every 4 litres of water.
Cleaning and Dusting
Plain and simple, chickens like to be clean. They love dusting, shaking off the dust and then preening themselves. Coop cleanliness should be a top priority, so remove all the dropping and loose feathers from their coop, daily. Since harmful disease causing organisms breed in wet bedding, be sure to remove that from the coop a few times a week. I recommend completely mucking out and replacing their bedding once a month, but some of my friends do this more like every 6 weeks. If dust, mildew, odors or mold is an issue inside the coop, have no fear. You can use an apple cider vinegar and water inside a spray bottle, to spray and wipe areas that need extra attention.
Making sure your girls are fed a nutrient rich diet is most important if your goal is for them to lay lots of farm fresh eggs. First things first, they need lots and lots of fresh drinking water. See above for the ACV trick to keeping that water clean. Be sure to check their water levels twice a day during the hot summer seasons. The feed you give you chickens should match their developmental stages. The order goes like this - starter feed (just hatched & up to 8 weeks), grower feed (adolescents up to 18 weeks) and lastly layer feed. Never feed layer feed to young hens! I also like to supplement my hen’s feed with FLYGRUBS.
Fun and Freedom
Research shows that free range eggs are healthier, so let your girls roam around your yard. They love to forage, and moving around more keeps them healthier. Happy Healthy Chickens = Healthy Eggs!