Chickens are not only for farms, in fact they make great backyard pets! Chickens are a rewarding pet, a pet that really gives back, with eggs of course. Although they may not be the most cuddly pet there are lots of breeds that do still like to interact with people and can become very friendly. Chickens also make good pets for kids, teaching them responsibility and also a bit about farming and sustainability.
Here are some helpful tips for keeping chickens as pets;
You will need a chicken coop. You can build your own or buy a pre-made coop. A chicken coop needs to be large enough to hold feed and water containers, laying boxes (1 per 2-3 hens) and provide them with room to move. Ideally there should be an indoor enclosed area, including laying boxes, of at least 4 square feet per chicken and an outside area of at least 8 square feet per chicken. Chickens need an area to dust bath so their housing area needs to include an area of dirt that they can lie and flap in. The coop needs to be safe and able to protect the chickens from predators like foxes, dogs, larger birds and snakes that like to get into chicken pens. Chicken wire around the exterior is a good idea. You need to be able to access the coop in order to collect eggs, feed and water them as well being able to clean the pen. Chickens love to free range and wander around your yard. Keep in mind that they will like to walk off and may not stay confined to your backyard, unless it is chicken secure, so supervision may be needed (your neighbours may not like them scratching in the garden).
To keep your chickens happy, healthy and laying plenty of eggs you need to ensure that they have a well balanced and complete diet. Feeding a good quality poultry pellet supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables is ideal. There are a number of different chickens feeders available including troughs, buckets, bell feeders and treadle chicken feeders which they have to stand on to open. Ensure that food is kept dry, is stable or secured to avoid it getting knocked over, out of reach of other wild birds and is kept as clean as possible. Always provide plenty of fresh clean water. If you have a lot of chickens providing more than one water source is ideal.
There are a few diseases that chickens are susceptible too, unfortunately some you can’t do much about, some that they may or may not be vaccinated against when born. Chickens should be wormed 2-4 times a year with a good quality all wormer like Kilverm. They may also be susceptible to parasites such as fleas, mites and lice which can be treated with Pestene Insect Powder.
Before getting chickens please check with your local council to ensure you are allowed to keep chickens on your property and how many you can have.
View the full range of Chicken Care products available at vet-n-pet DIRECT here.