The 5 Best Tips and Tricks for Beginners in Chicken Farming
There is an increasing number of family gardens in the UK that feature outdoor chicken coops. While keeping chickens is not overly complicated, there are tips and tricks that beginners should know before venturing into poultry farming.
The following are the most important factors for ensuring the well-being of your chickens:
- Secure the chicken coop for the night: It is crucial to have a safe and secure chicken coop where your chickens can sleep at night without the risk of predators.
- Provide a safe roaming area during the day: Your chickens should have a designated area to roam freely during the day, but ensure it is well protected from potential threats.
- Provide fresh water and suitable food daily: It is important to provide your chickens with fresh water and appropriate food on a daily basis to maintain their health and well-being.
- Perform weekly cleaning of the pull-out tray in the chicken coop to ensure hygiene and prevent the buildup of waste.
- Conduct thorough cleaning of the entire chicken house every one to two months: In addition to the weekly cleaning, it is recommended to deep clean the entire chicken coop every one to two months to maintain a clean and healthy environment for your chickens.
It's important to be aware of vaccination and reporting requirements for your chickens. This entails observing vaccination schedules and adhering to any regulations for reporting diseases or outbreaks.
Raising chickens goes beyond simply purchasing a chicken coop and fencing off a run. It is recommended to spend time with these delightful animals. By investing time and patience, you can develop a trusting relationship with your chickens. Many chicken breeds can be trained to eat from your hand, sit on your lap, be petted, and even learn basic commands such as "retract."
Now, let's dive into the specific tips for beginners in chicken farming:
Tip 1: Choose the right chicken breed: The British Poultry Standards recognize 93* pure chicken breeds, each with varying sizes, feathering, origin, and rarity. Some breeds are more prone to flying, while others are lazy fliers. If you plan to confine your chickens and don't offer an enclosure, it's better to select a breed that doesn't have a strong inclination to fly. A chicken fence that is around one meter high will suffice in such cases.
Additionally, consider the temperament of the breed, particularly if there are children around.
If you have limited space in your chicken coop and garden, opt for a breed with hens and roosters weighing between two and four kilograms.
Tip 2: Ensure safety for your chickens and the coop: Chickens are vulnerable to various predators, including weasels, birds of prey, foxes, martens, dogs, cats. During the day, chickens should have a safe and sheltered area to take cover, while at night, they should be securely housed in a lockable chicken coop. It's essential to ensure that the chicken coop has proper fencing and can withstand potential threats. You can reinforce any weak points with marten-proof wire. Additionally, remember to release your chickens every morning, and consider installing an automatic chicken door for convenience.
Tip 3: Prioritize the health of your chickens: When your chickens have outdoor access, they may come into contact with parasites. Simple hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of diseases like coccidia or salmonella. Choose a chicken coop with an opening ventilation window that has wire mesh. The more openings the coop has, the better the airflow will be, reducing dampness and humidity. Chicken mites can be a significant nuisance, but chickens can combat them through dust baths, such as using toy sand. Fresh water, clean feeding and drinking bowls, regular deworming every six months, and a varied diet with fresh greens contribute to the overall health of your chickens. Leftover vegetables and grass clippings can serve as additional feed.
Tip 4: Fulfill your obligations as a chicken keeper: If you keep more than 50 birds, it is mandatory to register with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Even if you have fewer than 50 birds, registering is encouraged to receive notifications about disease outbreaks, such as Avian Influenza. Detailed information on how and when to register as a poultry or game bird keeper can be found at this link.
Furthermore, there is a general obligation to vaccinate chickens against Newcastle Disease. You have the option of an annual injection at the vet, which is slightly more expensive, or vaccinating via drinking water every three months. Chicken farming clubs often distribute this vaccine to their members and sometimes even to non-members.
Tip 5: Foster companionship with your chickens: Chickens are highly social animals, and having a rooster can provide benefits, such as warning the flock of dangers and indicating feeding areas. While hens can be content without a rooster as long as they have sufficient food and outdoor access, they become even more enjoyable pets when a relationship of trust is established. Treats can be used to build trust, and you can involve children in caring for the chickens and collecting eggs when they are old enough. Children take pride in contributing to chicken care. Suitable chicken treats include dried mealworms or similar feed, chopped boiled eggs, leftover salad or fruit (avoid avocados!), herbs or fresh greens, and crushed grains or feed pellets. However, be cautious not to spoil your chickens excessively, as they may become overly reliant on you.
By following these tips, you'll be well-equipped to embark on your chicken farming journey and provide a nurturing environment for your feathered friends. Enjoy the rewarding experience of raising chickens!