Raising Tips: Gearing up for Chickens

Your chickens are ready for their happy homestead! Here are a few fun tips from us at The Chicken Chef. Living with birds is a lifelong learning journey. We hope to get you started on the right path- let’s scratch up some fun. Chickens are intelligent and curious birds.  Keep them entertained and they will repay you with joy and affection.

1. Food

Continue feeding the chicks prepared chick “started feed.”  These fixed formulas provide the right nutrition that your chickens will need like  – carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and minerals. Laying pellets or crumble contains too much calcium for baby chicks. Whether you decide on conventional or organic, both can be purchased online or at an agricultural poultry store.

When the birds reach 4 or 5 months old switch to a layer grain and provide oyster shell.

2. Water and Feeding

Many folks choose to purchase a waterer and feeder that are suspended from the ground. They should hang at least a couple inches off the floor to prevent bedding and manure from soiling the feed or water.

Feed and water must be kept fresh. Water needs to changed daily – at a minimum. Always provide clean water and be sure to change the water if it becomes soiled with dirt, feed bedding or manure. Scrub the waterer whenever it gets contaminated with manure. Never allow feces to remain in the water – this can cause the birds’ to contract serious illnesses…and it can cause death.

Wet or moldy feed should be thrown out. Do not feed any grain that has become moldy or seems “off.” Insects in the grain are not great! Throw out this feed too.

3. Bed!

This doesn’t mean that you have to buy sheets from Best Buy – but soft and comfy substrates come in a few readily available forms.  Sand, wood shavings and sawdust are the most common types. Do not use cedar as it is irritating to he birds. Straw, or hay, are never good choices due to their propensity to go moldy (they are also hard to clean).

Bedding the coop provides chickens a soft surface to roam on. It also absorbs the odor and droppings and makes them easy to clean You don’t want a fowl-smelling coop! Coops should be picked of manure several times a day and the bedding needs to be refreshed or stripped once a month.

4. Dust Baths

Aaaah, the dust bath! If you see your chickens digging a shallow hole and creating a mess with dirt, they are dust bathing! Chickens enjoy bathing in silt. But…did you know that when chickens take dust baths, they are actually protecting themselves from parasites and removing excess oils from their plumage.

Dusting feels great to the birds. They stretch out and shuffle the dirt throughout their feathers. This is a good time for a quick nap, and most birds will purr and sigh as they relax in their soil spa!

If you have a dry area in your chicken run, take a shovel and loosen up the dirt. You can add diatomaceous earth or clean wood ash (no paints or any toxins – just pure wood).

Keep cluckin’ and make sure those birds are happy! They depend on us to provide a safe and fun home.

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