Beginner’s Chicken Keeping Guide

In the realm of self-sustenance and green living, raising your own flock of chickens has become an increasingly popular choice for many. The joy of collecting fresh eggs and the therapeutic value of caring for these feathered friends is unparalleled. This Beginner’s Chicken Keeping Guide will equip you with everything you need to know to start your chicken-keeping journey.

Chickens in the Garden

Why Keep Chickens?

The resurgence of chicken keeping has less to do with economic benefits and more with the lifestyle it offers. The freshness and quality of home-laid eggs far surpass supermarket offerings. Not to mention, chickens are great organic pest controllers and offer endless amusement with their antics.

The Commitment

Before you embark on your chicken-keeping journey, it’s crucial to understand the commitment it requires. Chickens, like any other pet, need daily care and attention. Besides, you need to ensure their housing is secure, and your garden is chicken-friendly. Also, you must familiarise yourself with the laws related to chicken-keeping in your area.

Choosing the Right Chicken Coop

The chicken coop is probably one of the most significant investments you’ll make in your chicken-keeping endeavour. It should be a safe, cosy, and comfortable environment for your chickens. When selecting a coop, consider factors like its size, the quality of wood used, and how easy it is to clean. See our Chicken Coop Guides.

Positioning the Coop

The positioning of the coop can impact the wellbeing of your chickens. Ensure the coop is sheltered from prevailing winds and has some protection from the sun. Raising the chicken house off the ground can provide an area of shade for your hens while also ensuring that the base of the coop doesn’t sit directly on the ground, which can lead to damp, cold conditions.

Coop Maintenance

Regular maintenance of the coop is essential to ensure your chickens stay happy and healthy. Droppings and wet patches should be removed daily. A thorough clean should be carried out every two-four weeks depending on flock size.

Chicken Flock

The Chicken Run

Chickens need fresh air and sunshine to stay healthy. Therefore, providing them with a safe and secure run is crucial. A chicken run could be the whole of your back garden, or a tiny fenced area or pen. Do remember to provide them with a substrate material like hardwood chips or sand to keep the ground dry. Read more about Chicken Runs.

Feeding Your Chickens

The average adult hen needs 100-120g of feed per day. Chickens should ideally be fed a complete chicken food of either pellets or meal to keep them in top laying condition. Fresh food should be provided daily to reduce the chances of it getting stale or damp.

Treats and Scraps

While it’s tempting to treat your chickens, there are some things to be aware of. It’s illegal to feed your hens kitchen scraps in the UK, even from a vegan household. This is due to the theoretical potential for cross-contamination of diseases – unlikely in the back garden setting, but DEFRA have chosen to make this applicable to all keepers alike whether commercial or not. Hens should be fed nutritional treats designed specifically for them.

Essential Chicken Care

Routine handling of hens means you’ll quickly pick up on any health issues. You should also be aware of their behaviour. Hens should be active and alert, not huddled with fluffed up feathers or eyes closed. Droppings should be firm and dark brown with a white urate cap.

Routine worming should be carried out three or four times a year using a licensed product.

Integrating New Hens

New chickens should be placed inside the house and kept in until the next morning, then released into a run so that they will be ‘homed’ to the house and therefore go back to perch at night.

Protecting Your Chickens

To keep your chickens safe from predators, you should consider attaching a secure run area to the house or using an electric poultry net.

Breeds to Choose

The choice of breed is very personal and depends on several factors. Some breeds are more suitable for beginners, while others may require more care and attention. Read more about Chicken Breeds.

In Conclusion

Taking on the responsibility of keeping chickens can be a rewarding experience and hopefully this Beginner’s Chicken Keeping Guide along with our other comprehensive articles will have helped you get started. It requires commitment and a fair amount of effort, but the rewards are well worth it. So, gather your supplies, do your research, and embark on your beginner’s chicken keeping journey.

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