Is keeping Chickens Easy?
IS IT EASY TO KEEP CHICKENS?
We often get asked this from friends and family so we thought we would put together a little-list of all the tasks.
- Check the water and clean/refill as needed. You'll want to make sure your hens always have a clean source of fresh water. Shavings, straw, and poop can get in the water and make it pretty disgusting. There are various types of waterers on the market, whichever one you choose, make sure you clean the waterer especially if it's slimy. Use dish soap and water or white vinegar if you prefer the natural route, a good microfibre cloth can also remove all nasties. This is important, as chickens don't like to drink dirty water.
- Feed the chickens. You can free feed with a large hanging feeder and add the chicken feed as necessary, or feed them a set amount each day, they even love to eat your leftovers so don't throw them in the food waste bin, they especially love berries and porridge oats! However, here is a list of foods not to give to your chickens.
- Potato Peels
- Raw Potato or green potato
- Citrus fruits
- Avocado skin or pit
- Dried lentils or beans
- Uncooked rice
- Raw Eggs
- Salty foods
- No spoiled or mouldy foods
- Collect eggs. Collecting eggs daily ensures that they are as clean as possible, minimises cracked eggs and maximises freshness. And if you have children, we have found this is something they love to do.
- Observe them. Spend some time with the flock observing them to make sure they are healthy. Bright eyes, smooth feathers, active, and alert chickens are a good sign. Look out for a sniffly nose, puffy eyes and sneezing…
- Manage the bedding. How you do this depends on the litter method you are using. For back garden and smallholdings, you'll want to change the bedding in the coop at least monthly. Rural and larger flocks can use the deep litter method. For this method, you begin with three to four inches of bedding. Each month, or when droppings build up, you add more bedding until you have six inches or more of bedding. With this method, you remove all the bedding twice a year and start over. You can compost chicken litter for a season and use it in the garden. It is rich in nitrogen & certain plants love it!
- Freshen the nest boxes. When the bedding in the nest box becomes soiled with poop or broken eggs, pull out the wet or soiled parts and put in fresh bedding material. This helps keep your hens laying in the nest boxes as well as keeping eggs as clean as possible.
- Clean and sanitize waterers. Scrub the waterers with dish soap and warm water, rinse well, and sanitize with your choice of sanitizing solution. At Titan we like to keep it as natural as possible and use a microfiber cloth to remove dirt, bacteria and viruses and a recipe of white vinegar, baking soda, and sunlight, which can all do an amazing job of killing bacteria, mould, and pathogens, if however, you wish to use bleach, we don't recommend it and avoid it, it's 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. The frequency of this chore depends on your personal germ philosophy. You should do so at least monthly.
Every 6 Months
- Clean and sanitize the coop. Once or twice a year, remove everything from the coop and wash down all surfaces with your solution made with white vinegar & water, however if you fancy a better smell, try this citrus peel version.
o 1 or 2 litres
o A spray bottle (a repurposed one is just fine!)
o White vinegar (around 1-2 litres)
o Orange, grapefruit, lemon, or lime peels (any combination will work, too)
o 3 -4 drops of lemon, grapefruit, or orange essential oil (optional)
- If unlike us you would rather use bleach, you can add one-part bleach to 10 parts water.
- You should also give this deep clean in between flocks. Some people like to add a sprinkling of diatomaceous earth (DE) in the coop to cut down on mites and keep the hens healthy. Get food-grade DE and don't worry if the hens eat it; it is perfectly safe and even good for them.
How to Clean a Chicken Coop
Shovel and scrape all of the manure, dirt, shavings, cobwebs, and feathers out. It’s important to be thorough in this step, since the vinegar won’t exactly vaporise the actual particles of manure, etc. We found a gentle jet wash and square shovel to be incredibly handy in scraping the floor. Old, dried chicken manure can be like cement!!
Take a hose to it. Give the walls, floors, roosts, and nesting boxes a good spray down to remove the fine dust and soften any stuck-on manure or dirt.
Scrape & shovel again. Do a final sweeping/scraping of any remaining, softened manure or dirt, then allow the water to drain, or sweep it out the door.
Elbow grease, lots of it... Mix up equal parts white vinegar and water in a bucket OR just slosh straight vinegar onto your wet floor. I preferred the sloshing method personally. Take your broom or brush and give everything a vigorous scrubbing, making sure to distribute the vinegar solution as thoroughly as possible.
One more rinse…Perform a final rinse, then allow water to drain or sweep it out the door.
Air dry - Open up the doors and windows and allow everything to dry and air out. Sunlight also acts as a disinfectant, plus, fresh air is always beneficial. I like to have plenty of ventilation in my coop anyway
Prepare for the winter. Making sure your hens are ready not just to survive, but thrive in the winter, is an important part of maintaining your flock. Get heaters for your waterers if necessary. Consider whether you want to use a light to keep your hens laying in winter or are happy for them to have a break. Make sure you have roosting space for everyone; this is how hens stay warm. Hen’s don’t need the 5* treatment so there is no need to heat your chicken coop.
Keep on top of these chores, it will keep your hens happy, healthy, and laying plenty of fresh eggs.