(Not veterinary advice, just what we have found best for our chickens over the years)
- Plan for predators, even if you think you don’t have any! Feral cats, foxes, quolls, eagles, and dogs…
- The more space the better! Any small area will soon be stripped of greenery and turned to mud in the wet season. If your birds are living in a smaller space try and have different zones that can be rested.
- Your healthy chickens can live for 7-8 years and longer!
- Cross-breeds are the hardiest, but try to avoid birds who have already been crossed to breed together. E.g. some of our girls are crosses but our rooster is a purebred.
- Common breeds in Australia; Isa Brown, Australorp, Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Orpington and the Barnevelder.
- … Some extra pretty favourites are the Brahma, Wyandotte, Plymouth Rock and of course Silkies <3 !!
WHY, why, why, why? Easy…
- Fresh, healthy, cruelty-free eggs
- Reduced food waste
- Very loving and entertaining pets
- Excellent garden assistants!
- Ensure their door closes at night snugly and there are no spots for predators to dig under, squeeze through or tear open flimsy wire. Quolls and foxes are cunning and will decimate your flock in just a single night.
- Chickens like to roost, up high and out of danger.
- Provide this for them in your chook shed or house with rounded lengths of wood or tree branches to perch on. We just tie in tree branches or recycled, scrap timber and discard them once-twice per year.
- Be sure to have easy access for them to get up and down from these.
- Perches should not be directly above food or water.
- We trained our very first birds by only feeding their grain in their hen house in the beginning.
- If some don’t go in at night (or you are adding new birds), hunt around the garden once it’s dark, pluck them from their spot (chickens are paralysed by the dark… honestly, it’s amazing, they won’t run away) and pop them in the hen house. It usually only takes 2-3 days and they soon get it.
- Similarly the perfect time for health checks, worming or other treatments is when it is dark. So just before sunrise or after sunset, don your head torch… and your birds will be calm, easy to pick up and to handle.
- Bullying can ultimately spell disaster for the victim.
- It is very important to slowly introduce any new birds to each other.
- We gave our latest rooster one week in a safe place for the girls to get to know him.
- You don’t need a rooster to have eggs! However we have found our girls are a lot more settled and far less picky to one another when we have a rooster.
DIET & WATER
- Fresh water daily! Under shelter is best, away from freezing or heating up in Summer.
- Back-up water supplies are a good idea if one fails.
- If you want healthy chickens and lots of eggs… plenty of protein and calcium! There are many different ways to provide this, but a complete ‘layer mix’ is perhaps the easiest place to start.
- YOU MUST keep any grain or pellets away from moisture and rodents.
- MOULD IS TOXIC! Any food that has been contaminated by vermin or mould should be composted far away from your flock. This goes for kitchen scraps too!
- Keep your feed and water supply away native birds and vermin. Other animals can bring in diseases that may affect your flock.
- Shell grit is ideal for busy laying times and keep up the supply of fresh, leafy greens!
- Taking a dust bath is a natural way for chickens to keep healthy and clean.
- They reduce lice and mites and remove excess oils, maintaining the water resistance of the birds.
- If your flock free-range in your garden they will no-doubt find a dry spot under a hedge or tree and create their own. If you need to build them one just make sure that the sand or soil remains dry all year round. Even a simple sheet of tin can create the perfect area and the chooks will do the rest.
… ENJOY YOUR CHICKENS!
They give so much joy, character and life to any family and their garden! Children learn so much from taking care of this long-loved and ever-useful household bird. Take care of them well and you shall be rewarded! ~ Mel & Dan