Interested in raising chickens, or have a flock of your own? Check out our top 10 tips for backyard chicken owners to help keep feathered friends healthy, happy and laying beautiful eggs.
1. Implement biosecurity practices
Biosecurity refers to practices that help keep your chickens free from contracting diseases that can lead to illness or even death. It’s important to know the top 6 chicken diseases and the associated biosecurity measures needed to keep your flock safe.
2. Maintain a dry and clean coop
Dirty and/or wet chicken coops can cause health problems for your flock, so it’s important to keep it dry and free of droppings. A clean and dry coop prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and supports your chickens’ respiratory health
3. Provide clean water supply 24/7 via poultry nipple waterers
Clean water is critical in keeping your hens healthy. Nipple waterers are preferred as the nipple end’s narrow opening supports keeping the water clean. Watering options with open water surface areas like cups, troughs, or bell drinkers, are prone to be filled with bacteria, fecal matter, and other organisms.
4. Choose feed with ideal nutrition for your flock’s life stages
A growing chick has different nutritional needs than a laying hen, for example. There is no “one size feeds all'' that's adequate nutrition for every life stage. Consult with one of our Manna Pro poultry specialists or feed stores near you for assistance on what to feed your chickens for optimal nutrition.
5. Manage broody hen behavior
A hen’s natural inclination to sit or “brood” on fertile eggs until they hatch can be detrimental to the hen that broods on infertile eggs or an empty nest. It’s important for the hen’s health to stop the brooding behavior on empty nests and infertile eggs as the hen will brood indefinitely. Some chicken breeds are more inclined to broodiness than others - learn more about managing broody behavior here.
6. Check droppings daily
Checking your ladies’ daily “output” for abnormalities will ensure that you can quickly treat any ailments early. A change in the appearance, texture, or color of the “output” may signal a brewing health problem.
7. Offer a dust bath location for feather and skin cleansing
Providing a dust bath “spa” for your hens is important to sustain healthy skin and feathers. The dust bath can be an area of dry dirt or dry sand where your flock has round the clock access to dig and “bathe” feathers and skin.
8. Provide adequate coop ventilation
Fresh and clean air circulation in your coop will help prevent respiratory infections.
9. Provide a safe and secure coop and outdoor run.
Your chickens will thrive in a well-ventilated, draft-free, and dry coop that has adequate space for them to comfortably move around. The coop should include nest boxes for each hen to lay eggs and a roosting area for chickens to sleep. Access to an outdoor run where the flock can exercise and forage for food is also essential for optimal health.
10. Monitor your ladies for stress
Just like us, chickens can experience stress for various reasons like predator threats, poor nutrition, and overcrowding. Stress signals can include declining egg production, excessive picking at feathers, and lessened social interaction.
Bonus Tip: Learn how to winterize your coop
If you live in a cold climate or an area with four seasons, you will need to winterize your coop to protect your birds. Check out this blog for ideas on how to prevent frostbite in chickens and other cold weather considerations!