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  • February 16, 2023 3 min read

    The Secret to Keeping Healthy Chickens 

    Chickens are beautiful creatures; not only do they produce an abundance of fresh, homegrown eggs, but they eat our unwanted veggie scraps, produce one of the best fertilisers you can use on your garden, and, if you have horses, scratch and disperse any horse manure. Chickens are also very loving little birds, and if you choose the right breed, they will happily follow you like a dog and sit in your lap. So, if this all sounds pretty good, and you think you would like to add a chicken or two to your household, this article will help you prepare a home for your cluck of chickens. 

    • Preparing the Chicken House 

    Whether you have your chickens in a large enclosure or free range, you must ensure they have a safe space to sleep at night. The pen needs to be properly made to keep any predators out! Consider making their enclosure from solid steel mesh (chicken wire will not do and will only keep chickens out!), with the roof fully covered in either mesh or colourbond for shade. If using a mesh for the roof, consider adding shade cloth for shade. Also, the steel mesh will need to be dug at least one metre into the ground to prevent any sly foxes from tunneling through and into the pen! 

    Once your pen is set up, you must add an area that can house brooder boxes (for eggs) and perches. These are best added in a shed or somewhere that is fully enclosed so that the chickens feel safe and secure. 

    If you aren't the DIY type, then there are plenty pre built chicken coops available for purchase. 

    • Keep predators out 

    Chickens are a meal to many predators - foxes, eagles, and dogs (wild or not!) can be stalking your brood anytime, and ensuring that your chickens have shaded areas to hide from predators up above and secure enclosures will keep predators at bay. Also, you may consider adding sensor lights, automatic doors, and wire mesh flooring. This will all help to keep your chickens safe. 

    • Feed and Water 

    Feeding and watering chickens are relatively straightforward. As we all know, chickens love veggie scraps and eat almost everything. However, it is essential not to feed them avocado, rhubarb, chocolate, onion, garlic, citrus fruits, lawn mower clippings, raw green potato peels, and dried or undercooked beans, as these could potentially be toxic. 

    In addition to veggie and fruit scraps, chickens should be fed a high-quality poultry pellet, which should include added calcium to help support the overall health of your chickens as well as improve eggshell hardness. 

    Chickens drink up to 1 litre of water per day, so you must make sure you have sufficient water available! Water can be made available in a small trough, or you can buy water drinkers made especially for chickens which will stop water wastage and it getting dirty. 

    Just remember, left-out feed or improperly stored food will attract rodents! So, pick up any leftover food scraps and store feed in rodent-proof feed bins to keep unwanted guests out! 

    • Chicken Bedding 

    Having comfortable brooder boxes will encourage your chickens to lay in them, as opposed to under a bush! Brooder boxes can be filled with either sawdust or hay, but this needs to be changed regularly. You can also purchase brooder boxes where the egg rolls in a caged area once laid. This keeps the eggs clean and protects them against getting stolen by a visiting bird or broken. 

    For the outside of your chicken run, many people choose to lay down a layer of river sand, which, if cleaned regularly, will provide a nice bedding. Chickens love to dig and have sand baths, so this is an ideal bedding. 

    To help prevent ticks and mites from breeding in bedding and infesting your chickens and coop, some people opt to spread diatomaceous earth in and around the coop. 

    • Chicken care 

    Chickens will need to be wormed regularly to ensure optimal health. Sometimes, your chicken may fall I'll, and if this is the case, it may need veterinary attention. Chixkens are also susceptible to mite or tick infestations. If this happens, you can treat chickens and the coop with specialised products. 

    At Oakford Stockfeeds, we have a variety of high-quality chicken feed available. We also stock chicken feed accessories, so if you need any help or advice, please visit us in store or online! 

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