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BASIC CHICKEN KEEPING

Keeping chickens can be a very rewarding hobby, and can be as easy as you wish to make it. As there are so many views, even from experienced keepers on how chickens are kept. So before embarking on your new found hobby, this is a very basic guide to keeping chickens, and we would recommend that you research chicken keeping as it will become very addictive and rewarding.

First you need to choose your new family members. If they are to be pets the first time keeper would be better to choose a hybrid as they are breed to be human friendly and will lay most days. The choice is vast, hybrids, traditional breeds and bantams whatever you decide its best to buy point of lay (POL) they will be about 16 weeks old and can take up to 24 weeks to come into lay depending on the chosen breed. When that first egg arrives you will be proud of yourself and your hens.

They will provide hours of enjoyment and entertainment for all the family plus the odd egg. 

Your hens have three basic needs:

  1. Secure, clean housing
  2. Space
  3. Food and water

 

Created On  29 Feb 2024 15:40 in Caring for chickens  -  Permalink
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CARING FOR CHICKS

Chicks without a broody hen to look after them will need to be kept in a warm brooder box for the first few weeks of their life as they are not able to regulate their own body temperature. A cardboard box bedded with absorbent wood shavings with a heat lamp suspended above it is usually sufficient.

Chicks will huddle together if they are too cold or move away from the heat source and pant if they are too hot, so ensuring the chicks have sufficient space to do this is essential. A temperature of around 35C is ideal for the first week and can then be reduced by a few degrees per week until the chicks are 6 to 8 weeks of age and able to maintain their own body temperatures without the need for additional heat source.

Good hygiene is essential when caring for chicks as they are particularly susceptible to infections when they are young, so regular cleaning of the brooder and all feed and water containers is vital.

Chicks should have free access to water and suitable food, high protein chick crumbs are recommended for the first 6 weeks and grower pellets can then be introduced and fed until the birds are ready to move on to layers pellets at 16 weeks of age.

Created On  29 Feb 2024 13:26 in Caring for chickens  -  Permalink
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CARE OF ADULT CHICKENS

Learning how to handle birds is important and should really be learnt from a professional. Old methods of handling birds, such as suspending them by their legs can cause injury or death.

Basic care consists of letting the birds out of the house in the morning and filling the feeders with meal or pellets. Nest boxes should be checked and eggs removed at least twice daily as they can become crushed. This is not only a waste of eggs, but could lead to hen's egg-eating. While checking the nest boxes you should also notice if there is enough clean litter in them and add more if necessary.Drinkers should be emptied and refilled with clean water daily and if using an electric fence you should make sure that the current is working.

In the evening hens should be shut away in their house to protect them from predators. Don't leave it too late in the evening or you may find that the fox has been there before you.

The hen house will need to be cleaned out regularly- at least once a week.

Created On  29 Feb 2024 13:19 in Caring for chickens  -  Permalink
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