Beginner’s Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens - The Happy Chicken Coop (2023)

Raising chickens can be many things: therapeutic, rewarding, fun and for beginners maybe a bit nerve wracking!

There is literally tons of information about raising chicks and chickens and it is hard to sort through it all to determine what is right, what is not and what is just plain weird.

In this definitive guide, we have put together everything you need to know to care for your birds – from chick to chicken to help you along the way.

Believe me when I say that you will never stop learning or smiling once you have chickens.

We have tried to distill it down to basics so that it won’t become confusing for you. You are encouraged to read and ask questions…

Raising Chicks

How To Raise Chickens

Common Chicken Problems

Starting Out Q&A

Before you get your chicks or chickens, you need to ask yourself some questions:

  • Why are you raising them? – Eggs, meat or pleasure?
  • Where are you going to put them?
  • Are you prepared to spend time with them?
  • Are you ready to ‘muck out’ their coop when necessary?
  • Who will take care of them if you go on vacation?
  • Are you allowed to have chickens – if so, how many?

These questions might seem frivolous, but many folks did not realize how much chickens involved work and time in taking care of them and the birds suffered accordingly.

Chickens need care and attention, much as any pet does – even through the winter when the snow is high and they need fresh water, are you prepared to do it?

Once you have asked yourself these questions and have decided that yes, you can do this and want to do this, your next move is research.

Choosing the Correct Breed of Chicken

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Here we are in the twenty first century with a stunning array of chickens to choose from.

How many different breeds are there?

Truthfully, no-one really knows, but it is estimated to be in the hundreds. There are birds that have been specifically bred for enhanced egg laying, quality meat, fighting and plumage.

Whilst there are lots of breeds of chickens, they all fall into one of four categories:

  • Heritage Breeds: The Livestock Conservancy defines a Heritage chicken as a natural breeding chicken that has a slow growth rate and can live a long, productive outdoor life. The breed must also conform to the American Poultry Associations standard for that breed.
  • Egg Laying Breeds: These hens have been bred to produce large quantities of eggs through their short production lifetimes. Leghorns are a good example of prolific egg producers as are Australorps.
  • Dual Purpose Breeds: These hens are the best of both worlds in utility terms. They are productive in the egg department and grow large enough to be used as a meat bird later in life.
  • Meat Breeds: As the name suggests these breeds of chicken are bred for meat purposes. They grow very, very quickly. They put on weight at an alarming rate and are ready for slaughter at around nine weeks.

If you’d like to know more about breeds, then please read our complete guide to all chicken breeds here.

Why research, all chickens are the same right?

Wrong! You will be sadly disappointed if you want egg layers and have bought a bunch of Sultan chicks because they look pretty. They will lay an egg per week if you are lucky!

Planning and Buying Your Chickens

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It’s time to take the plunge! You want chickens and know which breed you’d like but aren’t sure where to start.

When you get chickens for the first time you have a few different choices.

We are going to look at the good and bad of each option. You can buy hatching eggs, chicks, started pullets or adult birds.

Each choice has its merits but it’s really about what you feel is best for you.

Financially, the cheapest option is the chicks.

Pullets will cost you more because of the care, feed and time expended to raise the bird. Adult hens in their prime are the most expensive. Rescue and ex-battery hens are usually cheaper than pullets but more expensive than chicks.

  • Hatching Eggs: These are fertilized eggs that you need to incubate. If you are new to chickens, I don’t recommend that you get hatching eggs unless you really know what you are doing. Although incubation is fairly straightforward, there definitely is an art to it.
  • Chicks: This is the most used and wise choice for novices. You can select which breed(s) you want and when you want them. You typically get chicks at one day old.
  • Pullets: Pullets are birds aged between four to six months. The chicks have been reared to adulthood and are usually sold at point of lay, meaning the pullet is about to lay her first egg anytime soon!
  • Adults: Adult hens are more difficult to come by as breeders like to move birds out before they get too old since they eat more. A common source of adult hens is animal shelters or rescue sanctuaries.

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How Many Chickens Should I Get?

You can generally average out how many chicks you will need. If your birds are for eggs only, you just need to think how many eggs you currently use in a week currently?

One hen will average four to five eggs a week. Throw in a couple of extra chicks for ‘just in case’ and you have your number!

For example if you want 16 eggs a week you would need 6 hens (4 would normally do this many eggs but I’ve included 2 ‘just in case’ chicks).

Where Do I Get My Chicks?

The best place for beginners to buy their chickens from is a local farmer, hatchery or farm supply stores.

Though you want to purchase your chickens from further away, the USPS has been shipping chicks for about one hundred years and will ship chicks that you purchase online.

Read our guide on What to Ask Breeders before Buying Chickens here.

What Should I Look Out For?

All birds should have clear, bright eyes. They should be curious about their environment and you. Feathers or fluff should look clean with good coloring.

If a bird, regardless of age exhibits any of these signs you should avoid buying it.

  • Sleepy, lethargic
  • Hunched into a ball
  • Sitting by itself
  • Reluctant to move
  • Any nasal/eye discharge
  • Blocked vent

Chicken Coops 101

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Chickens are not very demanding when it comes to houses.

They don’t need running water, electricity or carpets. A modified basic wooden box will do in a pinch, but there are a few crucial things you need for your flock to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

If you want to build your own chicken coop read our guide here; you can get 44 chicken coop plans here.

1. Basic Shelter Requirements

This is the most basic need of all, a place where they are able to get out of the blistering sun, howling wind or blowing snow.

The coop needs to be water resistant as there is nothing more miserable than a wet chicken.

2. Adequate Amount of Space

Adequate space for birds to co-habit peacefully is essential. If they are crowded together they are likely to start anti-social behaviors like picking and pecking each other. The worst time for these behaviors is winter; hens get bored and create mischief.

3. Temperature Control

Ideally, the coop should be cool in summer and warm in winter. Correct ventilation of your coop is crucial when it comes to temperature regulation. A good flow of air will keep the coop at an optimal temperature for your hens. If you think it’s too hot you need to add more ventilation holes.

4. Nesting Boxes

With nesting boxes you will need approximately one box for every three hens, but it never hurts to have more. There is always one favorite box that they will squabble over, so more is better. Read more here: Chicken Nesting Boxes 101.

5. Roosts

Roosts are simply the place where the birds congregate to sleep at night. They will all generally sleep on the same perch (roost), although some do prefer to be by themselves if they feel perfectly safe.
You can read what perches are and why your hens need them here.

6. Outside Roaming/Pen

In addition to a secure coop, your chicken will need access to some outside space; regardless of whether this is contained or free range.
You can read all about should I free range my chickens here. If you don’t want them to free range you could always use a chicken tractor.

7. Security

A strong and formidable coop will keep your girls safe at night. Do not think, even for a minute, that predators won’t be bold enough to sneak into your yard and try to kill your birds – they will and they do, with catastrophic results for your birds and heart break for you.
Check out our article on how to predator proof your coop whether you build it yourself or buy one.

How to Raise Chicks

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Now that you have done your research, decided on your breed, what happens now?

If you have ordered them online, the website you have ordered them from will likely carry all the things you need to make your chicks a home.

If you are buying from a farm store, make sure you have everything you need for the chicks in advance. Farm stores usually sell a large amount of chick related items.

Make sure that you know what to get otherwise you could be parting with hard earned cash for something you don’t want or need.

It helps to break things down into needs and ‘extras’ so that is what we have done here for ease of reading.

Brooding Box

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This can be as simple as a cardboard box. It needs to be tall enough to keep the chicks from jumping out. It needs to be large enough for a food dish, water dish and the chicks.

It also needs to be draft proof – cold drafts can kill chicks very quickly.

Brooding boxes come in all shapes, sizes and costs. If you are not sure whether you will be brooding chicks again, get the cheapest brooder to start with – you can upgrade yourself later.


Something soft like pine shavings. These are sold in small bales at most farm stores and they are inexpensive.

If your brooder box has a slick floor (like plastic), lay some paper towels under the bedding so they can grip and stand properly otherwise they may develop problems with standing and walking.


Chicks require warmth – lots of it.

They do not have true feathers until they are around 6-7 weeks old so cannot regulate their own temperature, so you must help them.

You can use a heat lamp or ‘Electric hen’ heat plate.

They will need to be warmed for around 6-7 weeks or until the ambient temperature is roughly the same as the brooder.

During the first week the temperature at chick level will need to be 95F. This will reduce by 5 degrees each week until ambient temperature is reached.

How do you know if they are warm enough?

If they are all huddled in a bunch, they are too cold; if they are spread to the brooder’s edges, they are too hot; if they are dotted all over, they are just right. A thermometer will help you with this too, but base your judgment on the chicks’ behavior.


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Chicken food comes in a wide array of choices that can be confusing, so here’s the scoop. It is recommended that you feed your chicks the following:

  • 0-8 weeks: 18-20% starter feed crumbles
  • 8-14 weeks: 16-18% starter/grower
  • 15-18 weeks: 16% finisher
  • 18 weeks upward: 16% layer feed

Chick feed can come as medicated or un-medicated.

The medicated feed is medicated with a coccidiostat, which protectsthem from coccidiosis – a terrible disease.

If your chicks have been vaccinated at source for coccidia, then do not use medicated feed.

Chicks are messy; they will scratch their food all over the place, poop in it and get their bedding in it, so you need a feeder that will eliminate some of that mess.

For more details see our article on feeders.

Once they start eating greens such as short grass or dandelions, they will need a small dish of chick grit to help their digestion and make sure they don’t get an impacted crop.


Water is essential to the wellbeing of all creatures, chicks are no exception. The water should be at Goldilocks temperature – not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

You will need to dip the beak of each chick into the water at first so they know where it is, after this they should all be able to find the water dish. Do the same with the food dish too.

If your chicks are just a couple of days old, you will need to add some clean pebbles or marbles to the water dish so they can’t fall in and drown. After a week or so you can remove them since the chicks will now be big enough not to drown themselves.

You can add an electrolyte/vitamin supplement to the water for the first few days to get them off to a good start.

Change the water frequently (several times per day) as they will kick bedding etc. into the water regularly.


Whoever said ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ never kept chickens. I have already told you that chicks are messy, so you get to be ‘room service’ for them!

It is imperative that their brooder area, feeder and waterer be kept clean. The poop needs to be removed daily, change litter as frequently as you need. Once it becomes wet, it must be changed.

Remember, the brooder is very warm, there is poop and it is wet – it is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Wash and sanitize the feeder and waterer at least every other day. If your chicks are as messy as mine, you will have to throw out a good amount of feed too. Once they poop in the feeder – out goes the feed.

Of course, don’t forget to sanitize and wash your hands before handling food or them!


Your brooder full of chicks needs to be somewhere safe from predators – and I include house pets as predators too.

If you are keeping them in the house you will need to ensure that Fido and Fluffy can’t get to those little balls of fluff, perhaps keeping them in a separate room or a secure lid to the box.

Try to avoid keeping them in areas such as the bedroom, dining area and kitchen. They kick up a lot of dust and dander, people who are allergic to dust may have problems with them in the house.

If you intend to keep the chicks in an outbuilding, you need to exclude any predators you may have in the area.

Rats like a chick snack as do foxes, weasels, raccoons and a host of other carnivorous creatures.

They will need you to care for them intensively until they are around 12 weeks old. Some folks say sooner, but I err on the cautious side.

Going Outside for the First Time

If you are thinking of putting them outside for a few hours every day you will need to have something like a dog crate or even a mini-chicken run for them.

Of course it will need to be predator proof – and that includes hawks and owls as well as digging creatures like foxes.

They will need to have a shady area where they can escape from the sun and keep the food and water cool.

How to Raise Chickens

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So now your chicks have grown up into real chickens!

Managing your adult flock may sound like its complex, but it’s fairly simple to do in reality. The hen does all the work and you take care of her needs. However, there are certain things you should know before you get overwhelmed by hiccups in the process.


Water is essential to all living things and chickens are no exception.

A hen will drink about a cup of water each day. She will take frequent small sips throughout the day. Too little water can affect egg production among many other things, so make sure they have plenty.

There are approximately fifteen cups of water to one US gallon, so if you have many birds, you will need a couple of drinkers for them. For example, I have around forty birds and put out four drinkers in various places, which ensures they all have access to water.

You can place the water in any sort of plastic container, but the easiest way is to buy a drinker.


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In addition to water the other key thing a chicken needs is food.

Giving your chickens the correct food will keep them happy and turn them into an egg laying machine. Give them the wrong food and it can lead to all sorts of problems including bullying and weight loss…

Read our complete guide to chicken feed here.

You will also need a feeder to store the food in; you can read chicken feeders 101 here.

Hen Morning and Evening Routines

Unfortunately most people lead busy lives and don’t have all day to tend to their chickens.

In the morning you will want to let your chickens out of the coop, check on their feed and water, and have a general look around to make sure everyone is ok.

When the sun comes down, it’s time to start the evening routine. This will include locking your girls safely inside the coop and also collecting the eggs (if you haven’t already done so).

Of course this is the ‘bare minimum’ of caring for your girls. There will also be weekly tasks like cleaning the coop and tending to the nesting boxes…

How To Raise Chickens for Eggs

You can basically apply what I just went through making sure they get enough food and water. But there are a few extra tips I would like to provide

Pick The Right Breed For Egg Production

This is the most important. If you don’t get the right breed. You can’t force a chicken genetically predisposed to lay less eggs to lay more!

If you need help on choosing those breeds we’ve put together a guide on The Best Egg-Egg Laying Chicken Breeds.

Get High Protein Treats For Egg-Laying and Molting Season

Chickens that lay a lot of eggs need more calcium and protein to make up for what’s lost when they lay all of those eggs for you.

You can feed them black soldier fly larvae or mealworms which is a complete treat that covers both bases for you.

You can also feed them eggshells or oyster shells. If you feed them eggshells you need to crush them into a powder so your chickens cannot tell they’re eating eggshells.

We don’t want the dreaded egg-eating habit to kick in.

Common Chicken Problems

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Unfortunately, it’s likely your chicken’s will have some sort of problem during their life, whether that is broodiness, predators or bullying.

Several common problems occur when you have chickens. If you aren’t prepared for them they can seem frightening or overwhelming.


Molting is the process of losing all old, worn out feathers and replacing them with new plumage. It happens to all birds including roosters. Some birds can take up to two years to complete a molt, but the humble chicken is usually done in three months. Read our guide to molting here.

If they are losing feathers and it isn’t molting read; Chicken Feather Loss: Cause and Cure.

Stopped Egg Laying

We all love our feathered friends, but one of the main reasons people keep them is for the eggs.

When they stop laying eggs it can be alarming; make sure to read 7 Reasons Why Your Chickens Stopped Laying Eggs.


What is a broody hen? You will know it when you see it! She will sit in the nest constantly, if anyone approaches her she will grumble, squawk and puff herself up, she may give you an almighty peck too. What exactly is a broody hen and how to stop it?


The pecking order is so called for a reason. Every bird in a flock will have their own place. Those at the top get to eat first, those at the bottom eat last. It is a straightforward but effective hierarchy so that all members know their position.

Bullying does occur to a small degree each day because of this. If a chicken goes out of turn she gets a quick peck to the head to remind her of her status.

If the bullying gets out of hand read; How to Stop Them Pecking Each Other.


Even if you live in the middle of the city, there will be a chicken predator in your neighborhood. Foxes, coyotes, raccoons and the ‘pet’ dog down the road will likely all want chicken dinner and these are only the ground predators.

The key to your flocks’ safety is coop security and awareness of predatory animals and the area in which you live.


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So there you have it – the complete guide to raising chicks and chickens.

We have tried to distill it down to basics so that it won’t become confusing for you.

You are encouraged to read and ask questions, especially if someone nearby has been raising chickens for a while.

Sometimes things work better one way than another; don’t be afraid to change things around a bit – no one fits all situations.

We wish you much happiness and fun in your chicken raising endeavors – write and let us know how you get on in the comments section below…

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How do I keep my chickens happy in the coop? ›

Five ways to keep hens happy
  1. If you've ever spent any time with chickens, you'll know that they are social, curious creatures. And like all animals, they're at their happiest when they can express their natural behaviours. ...
  2. Let them mingle. ...
  3. Encourage play. ...
  4. Give them plenty of space. ...
  5. Provide shelter. ...
  6. Go cage-free.
Sep 13, 2017

How many chickens do you need to keep them happy? ›

Chickens are extremely flock-oriented, so a good starter flock size is no fewer than three chickens. You should collect about a dozen eggs from three laying hens. A flock of five or six hens is a good choice for slightly larger families.

What are 3 important things that must be observed when raising chickens? ›

Nest boxes for egg laying – approximately 2 boxes per 6 chickens. Sturdy latches to keep predators from opening the coop doors. Good ventilation, primarily along the roof line to allow ammonia odor to escape and to keep dust from accumulating in the coop.

Can chickens get over a 6 foot fence? ›

However, if they're startled by another chicken or a predator, separated from their feathered friends, or just really unhappy with something on their side of the fence, they can jump over 6 feet to get to somewhere more appealing.

What makes chickens stay in the yard? ›

Add wire fencing or mesh on top of existing fences to help keep your birds inside. You can also install an electric chicken fence to provide extra security from predators. Some chicken keepers also use overhead poultry netting to ensure their flock stays within the yard at all times.

What do chickens love the most? ›

Lettuce, kale, turnip greens and chard are great greens options. Watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries make healthy snacks for chickens when fed in moderation. A few flock favorites include: Vegetables: Lettuce, beets, broccoli, carrots, kale, swiss chard, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers.

Should you keep food and water in coop or run? ›

It is done both ways. My personal preference is to keep feeders and waterers inside, if the coop is large enough to allow it. The reason is that outdoor food can get rained on, and wet food can mold. Bad for your birds!

Do chickens get cold in their coop? ›

Chickens are well-adapted to survive even very cold winter weather. Their feathers provide excellent insulation, and the birds can fluff their feathers to create an even warmer coat. They may even tuck their bills or feet into fluffy feathers to keep those bare parts warm.

Do chickens need attention every day? ›

They Need Attention Every Day

Like most other pets, chickens are tying, and you need to make sure someone is there every day to feed and water them. This isn't a problem if you have people close by you trust who can care for them while you are on holiday.

How can you tell if chickens are happy? ›

Healthy chickens are social, curious and should feel energized to freely move throughout the coop, run or backyard. A lack of movement, low head carriage and overall depressed appearance may be a sign that something is wrong.

How many days can you leave chickens alone? ›

First things first, chickens should only be left alone for a maximum of three to four days at the very most.

What is the best bedding for chicken coop? ›

Wood shavings are popular and fairly common bedding to use in the chicken coop. They are usually economical to buy and can be sourced from local farm stores. Wood shavings are also absorbent and will help manage moisture from droppings.

What are 6 reasons a chicken becomes stressful? ›

Stress stems from single elements: toxins, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, dyes, antibiotics and basic synthetic chemicals in the air, feeds, water and cleaning agents.

What do you put on top of chicken run? ›

Chicken Wire or Hardware Cloth

A sturdy wire can be extra helpful for the top of your coop. It is cheap to purchase, easy to find, and only takes a few minutes to install on the top of the chicken run. Hardware cloth is of better quality with more durability, but the chicken wire is enough to keep chickens inside.

What is the best chicken fence to keep out predators? ›

Welded wire (or hardware cloth as it's sometimes called) is the safest option for your coop and run. It's impervious to even larger predators such as dogs, coyotes and foxes, but will keep out the smallest of predators including weasels, snakes and mice.

What is the best fencing for free range chickens? ›

Steel Hex Web Fencing is the most common type of fence used for backyard chickens. This steel fence contains 1" x 1" mesh holes to keep chickens securely inside while keeping away predatory animals that may try to harm the flock.

What smell do chickens hate? ›

What smells do chickens dislike? The answer to this question will come down to the individual personality of your chickens. In most cases, chickens tend to have a disinclination towards smells like citrus and herbs with strong odours, such as lavender, catnip, spearmint, marigold, or chives.

What is poisonous to chickens? ›

Foods That Are Toxic To Your Chickens And Ducks
  • Bread. Although we all grew up feeding ducks bread, it is, in fact, not good for them at all. ...
  • Raw Meat. ...
  • Raw eggs. ...
  • Avocado pits and skins. ...
  • Fruit pits and seeds. ...
  • Rhubarb & Rhubarb leaf. ...
  • Garlic and onion. ...
  • Raw potatoes and peels.
Aug 12, 2022

What plants won't chickens destroy? ›

These include: borage, calendula (pot marigold), catnip, chives, feverfew, lavender, marjoram, Mexican sage, peppermint and spearmint, rosemary, sage, salvias, St. John's wort, tansy and yarrow.

What is the healthiest food for chickens? ›

Select fruits, vegetables and grains will keep chickens happy and ensure they are receiving a nutritionally balanced diet. Good choices include leafy greens, cooked beans, corn, non-sugary cereals and grains, berries, apples and most other fruits and vegetables.

How do chickens show love to humans? ›

A chicken will exhibit affection by scratching at your skin or rubbing its beak against your leg. Some chickens will also rub against your legs, try to get closer to you, and even lie right next to you. When a chicken gets close to its owner, it will start grooming. A chicken can even start grooming you.

What is a chicken's natural enemy? ›

Predators include coyotes, foxes, bobcats, weasels and their relatives, birds of prey, racoons, opossums, skunks, rodents, and snakes. Domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, can also be predators of poultry.

How often do you clean chicken coop poop? ›

How often you should be cleaning a chicken coop? You should provide fresh food and fresh water every day, and you should clean the bedding out once a week or once a month(the deeper the bedding layer the less often you have to clean it out). It's best practice to do a total clean-out at least twice a year.

Should I put straw in my chicken Run? ›

Straw is one of the best materials for bedding. It has the same advantages of pine shavings and provides something for chickens to scratch and peck through. Either of these materials can be found at your local feed or farm supply store.

What temperature is too cold for chickens at night? ›

How cold can chickens tolerate? Chickens can handle very cold temperatures. Some experts say chickens don't really start suffering until the temperature inside their coop falls to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

What temp is too hot for chickens? ›

A good rule of thumb is that when temperatures rise between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to begin cooling off your chickens. If temperatures are closer to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or beyond, it can be dangerous.

Do chickens need a heater in their coop? ›

Thankfully, chickens don't need an additional heat source anyway, so it's more of a danger than a help. Chickens inherently know to come together and keep themselves warm with their body heat when it's cold outside. You can help them by adding a roosting area up higher in their coop where more heat tends to linger.

Do chickens recognize their owners? ›

Surprisingly, yes - chicken really do seem to recognise their owners. In fact, research has shown that chickens are capable of recognising up to 100 human faces, so it won't take them long to learn who their owner is.

Do chickens like to be picked up? ›

While they may not seem like the most obviously affectionate of animals, most backyard chickens grow very accustomed to their owners, often delighting in being picked up, petted and talked to in a soft and gentle manner.

How do you bond with chickens? ›

How to Get Chickens to Like You
  1. Spend Quality Time. One of the best ways to get your flock to trust you is to spend time with them. ...
  2. Announce Your Arrival. Every time you go out to take care of them, let them know you're coming. ...
  3. Bring Treats. Chickens love treats. ...
  4. Know Your Chickens. ...
  5. Feed Them Premium Chicken Feed.
Sep 15, 2022

What noises do chickens make when happy? ›

Happy Chicken Sounds

Chickens tend to make a purring or trilling sound when they are content. They will also make soft sounds as they go about their daily activities. A sick or depressed chicken will make no noise. Alternatively, a chicken in distress will scream and make significant noise.

Do chickens know when they are full? ›

Will Chickens Overeat? Unless they are broiler (meat) birds, most chickens will naturally stop eating their feed once they feel full. The main cause of obesity and overeating is often due to excessive amounts of treats, table scraps, and scratch grains.

Should chickens have food all the time? ›

Your chickens should have a constant supply of food throughout the day. Chickens will eat when they need it and should go to bed with a full crop as they need lots of food to produce eggs. A fully grown chicken will typically eat about 120 grams of layers pellets a day.

Can chickens be fed once a day? ›

If you are retired or spend most of your time at home, you can feed them pellets several times throughout the day. However, if you work or are away from your home throughout the day, then you are best feeding them once in the morning and then again during the evening when you're back home.

What time of day should you let chickens out? ›

Morning Chicken Keeping Routine

Normally around sunrise is best, but if your work schedule dictates that you leave before sunup, as long as your run is predator-proofed, you can open the coop door and the chickens will come out on their own when it gets light out.

How do I keep my chicken coop warm at night? ›

To help small coops retain heat, cover them with blankets or tarps during the coldest months. In a huge coop, you might lower the ceiling or erect temporary walls to shrink the space occupied by your chickens. Finally, provide a warm, dry floor with biodegradable bedding.

Is coffee grounds good for chicken bedding? ›

It is completely safe for your animals. There is no caffeine or anything harmful in our coffee grounds. Our bedding makes your coop smell like your favorite local coffee shop, it doesn't decompose and break down into dust, and it acts like a cat litter for your animals' droppings, making for a quick and easy clean up!

What animal will protect chickens? ›

The most common one to use to protect chickens is the goose. Geese are very territorial and can be quite aggressive. You don't need to train them to protect poultry like a dog, either. Even if the predator is too big for your goose to fight off, they can make enough racket to get your attention!

What do chickens do when bored? ›

Egg eating, feather pecking, aggression, even depression - standing still staring into space, for example - are all examples of what can happen if chickens can't express natural behaviours(1,2). Providing boredom busters can help lessen the problems.

What stress reliever can I give my chickens? ›

Lavender has the marvellous ability to calm your chickens! It's a brilliant as a relaxant for your feathered friends - and for you as well! So if your hens are a bit highly strung, place some lavender up into their nesting boxes - it'll help calm their senses and give them a bit of DIY aromatherapy.

What do you give a stressed chicken? ›

Make sure that your chicken has access to plenty of clean water and food. You may want to bring a few bottles of ice water to provide your birds if it will be really hot. The cold water will help to keep them cool and prevent heat stress. Vitamins and probiotics can help to keep your chicken calm.

Why is it not advised to raise chickens at home? ›

However, chickens and other poultry can carry germs such as Salmonella, even when they appear healthy and clean. These germs are found in the chickens' faeces (poo) which can contaminate the chickens' feathers, the environment they live in, and the surfaces of their eggs.

What are the risks of having chickens? ›

It is common for chickens, ducks, and other poultry to carry Salmonella and Campylobacter. These are bacteria that can live naturally in the intestines of poultry and many other animals and can be passed in their droppings or feces. Even organically fed poultry can become infected with Salmonella and Campylobacter.

Do chickens damage lawns? ›

Free-ranging to avoid chicken waste buildup and toxic spaces doesn't give us permission to fill our yards with even more chickens. Raising too many chickens in a backyard actually will destroy your yard, just like well-meaning former farm kids will tell you of their own larger-scale farming experiences.

Do backyard chickens pose any health risks to humans? ›

Although keeping backyard poultry can be fun and educational, owners should be aware that poultry can sometimes carry harmful germs that make people sick. These germs can cause a variety of illnesses in people, ranging from minor skin infections to serious illnesses that could cause death.

How do you clean poop off chickens? ›

Place the chicken in the bin with soapy water. Cup some water with your hand and wet the soiled area. Yes, there really are not too many feathers there once wet. You will then be able to loosen to poop off the affected feathers by rubbing each feather between your fingers.

Can humans get parasites from chickens? ›

Zoonotic diseases that backyard poultry may spread to humans include salmonel- losis, campylobacteriosis, and avian influenza viruses. Since the 1990s, numerous widespread outbreaks of human Salmonellaspp infections linked to contact with backyard chickens have been documented in the United States.

Can dogs get mites from chickens? ›

NO! Lice and mites from chickens can not live off human or dog blood, so do not infest dogs or people in the same way they do chickens.

What wood is toxic to chickens? ›

Pine bedding is unsafe for chickens due to the damaging effects of abietic acid on the respiratory system, the damaging effects of terpene hydrocarbons and aromatic compounds on liver function, and the carcinogenic nature of pine dust.

How do you keep chicken disease free? ›

13 ways to prevent poultry disease
  1. Keep it clean. Clean, scrub, and disinfect your poultry house on a regular basis. ...
  2. Change the litter. ...
  3. Be careful adding birds. ...
  4. Monitor visitors. ...
  5. Keep wild birds wild. ...
  6. Use quality feed. ...
  7. Learn about vaccinations. ...
  8. Keep a cozy coop.
Mar 19, 2013

Can you leave chickens alone for a weekend? ›

Further to this point, it is only safe to leave your chickens unattended for three to four days if you have done the necessary preparation in advance, just like you would with any other pet, like a cat or a dog. Chickens are reasonably simply creatures that just need food, water and adequately secure shelter.

Is chicken poop good for grass? ›

So, can you use chicken manure for lawn fertilizer? Absolutely. Other than the fact that your lawn may stink a bit (yes, even if you use pellets), chicken manure is one of the best organic fertilizers in the world.

What is the best ground cover for a chicken run? ›

Ground cover within the coop can be anything from wood chips, straw and grass to bare ground. Organic materials tend to break down quickly and plain sand is a popular choice for its durability. Whatever you choose, make sure the chickens may easily scratch and dig.

Do chickens like lawn clippings? ›

Giving your hens the odd handful of freshly snipped grass that you've cut yourself that morning is a lovely treat for your hens, and quite recently has proved very good for their welfare and overall health.

Why do I feel sick after cleaning my chicken coop? ›

Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in bird and bat droppings. People usually get it from breathing in these spores when they become airborne during demolition or cleanup projects.

Is chicken poop good fertilizer? ›

A good soil amendment, chicken manure adds organic matter and increases the water holding capacity and beneficial biota in soil. A good fertilizer; chicken manure provides Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium to you plants (more than horse, cow or steer manure).

What are the signs of salmonella in chickens? ›

If your flock has a salmonella infection, your poultry will be lethargic, weak, have little to no appetite, and be very thirsty. Birds laying eggs will have reduced production, and you may see some chickens with swollen eyes, blindness, or swollen joints.


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