How to Keep Chickens and Hens
Chickens make great pets, as well as providing freshly laid eggs. If you have children, the fun of collecting the eggs is always there. And luckily, keeping a few backyard chickens is surprisingly easy! Here are some simple things you need to know about how to keep chickens and hens.
What do I need to keep chickens?
You can get all the bells and whistles. You can even get a chicken swing! But all chickens need to be happy and healthy is:
- A chicken coop or hen house
- A Chicken Feeder
- A Chicken Drinker or a source of clean, fresh water
- Nesting material such as straw, wood shavings or even shredded paper
- Access to some grass and dirt
How much room do chickens need?
Chickens can live in a small coop or hen house, but they are much healthier and happier if they have room to roam around. You can let your chickens out to free-range if you have space (and a well-established garden!). Or you might prefer to build a chicken run or yard onto your hen house. If you don’t have room for a chicken run, a chicken tractor is an excellent solution as these coops have a hen house attached to a small run and can be quickly moved around the yard every few days to give birds access to fresh greens and bugs.
What type of chicken house is best?
Whether a chicken tractor or a traditional hen house is best for you will depend on how much space you have and whether you have fences. Both options are great as long as your birds have:
- Protection from predators, including a solid floor at night if you live in an area with foxes or quolls
- Shelter from the elements – hens need to be warm in winter and cool in summer
- Perches to roost on at night
- Nesting boxes to lay eggs in
- Enough space
- Good ventilation
What is the best type of feed for chickens?
Chickens, especially laying hens, should always be fed a complete feed. The feed should be scientifically formulated and support all the vitamins and minerals the birds need. The best feed is a pellet or mash, not a scratch mix (where you can see all the grains).
Chickens also need grit, which is available from feed stores, for their digestion.
Outside of that, you will need a Chicken Drinker and Feeder. Always ensure chickens have an adequate supply of water.
You can give your chickens kitchen scraps and weeds as well, but the majority of their diet should be the complete feed, so don’t give them more scraps then they can eat in 20 minutes or so.