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Expert tips and tricks for backyard chicken keeping

Tasks to complete as a backyard chicken owner

General, Getting started

As a backyard chicken owner, you know all too well that raising and caring for backyard chickens isn’t always easy. It requires hard work and a willingness to do that work every day. You’re responsible for your chickens, and you don’t get to take a holiday from that responsibility.

Daily tasks:
1. Check that there is sufficiently cool, fresh, clean water available.  Chickens don’t like to drink dirty water, and they can dehydrate if they’re without a clean drinking source even for a short time. Shavings, straw, and poop can get in the water throughout the day and muck it up. Refresh the water if you notice any debris or sliminess in the container.
2. Top up the feeder. Chickens should have enough food to eat when they need to.
3. Give your chickens a visual check-over to make sure they look lively and have no obvious signs that would indicate a health problem. Chickens can become ill quickly and it is always best to stay on top of such matters. If you notice that your chickens do not appear to be bright and healthy, it is important to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
4. Collect eggs -this will maximise their freshness and help avoid broodiness and egg-eating in your flock. There is no need to scrub your eggs; in fact, this can actually remove a delicate membrane that is meant to protect the egg from bacteria. You can gently rub them under warm water to clean them.

5. Treats! Don’t forget to treat your flock. Chickens love treats.  They are a great source of entertainment, prevent boredom and also diversify their diets.

Weekly tasks:
1. Clean out dirty nests and any droppings in the hen house. This is essential to minimise the risk of disease and fly problems.
2. Remove any damp litter or soil and replace it with clean, new material which will significantly reduce the risk of nasties like coccidiosis.

3. Brush or wipe roosts to remove any accumulated droppings

4. Check over the hen house to make sure there are no new gaps or faulty latches which might allow predators in at night.
5. Check for signs of rats or other pests.

6. Shell Grit – This important supplement is necessary for chickens to make strong eggshells and digest their food properly. They should have a constant supply that they can take from as they need. Small mounted plastic dishes work great for this.

Monthly tasks:

  1. Deter mites and lice by using natural mite and lice spray or one of the over the counter ready to use sprays. If you are going to use bulk supplies, look into the concentrates.
  2. Thoroughly clean out and sanitise nest boxes.
  3. The bedding in the nesting boxes and chicken coop will need to be changed at least monthly for sanitary reasons. Although, make sure to change any damp bedding weekly. If the bedding is not changed fairly frequently it can cause ammonia to build up and this can be dangerous to your chickens, resulting in respiratory illness.
  4. Fix up leaky drinkers or taps. Damp conditions promote the build-up of internal parasites in the flock. Sanitise the waterers. At least monthly, you should give the water containers a deep clean. Sanitise them with your choice of solution; the simplest is 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Then, scrub the waterers with dish soap and warm water, and rinse well to remove any remaining bleach and soap before refilling with fresh water. Or try our natural cleaner here.
  5. Dust chickens with Pestene powder or Diatomaceous Earth to repel mites and lice

Seasonal tasks:

See our post on Spring cleaning the coop!

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