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Caring for your chickens.

Whether you're a first time owner or have looked after chickens or birds before, there's always lots of new tips and tricks to learn. And because every breed and bird is different, sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to get things perfect for your flock.

Read some of our most commonly asked questions about how to look after your chickens and some useful information about their nature and behaviour. If you have any questions about caring for your chooks, don't be afraid to get in touch - we're always on-hand with some friendly advice. 

  • How easy is it to keep chickens?
    Like any "pet" chickens are a commitment. They need fresh food and water daily, and a clean and dry house. Chickens also aren't without illness or injury, so you need to pay close attention to any changes in their health or demeanour.
  • What do chickens eat?
    It’s important to feed your chickens a wholesome diet, it’ll not only keep them healthy but can also help improve the quality of their eggs.Here’s our tips on what to feed your chickens, and how to give them a healthy and varied menu Pellets, Mash & Crumble The most common form of chicken food you’ll see in the store is Chicken Pellets. These are protein dense and nutritious feed made especially for chickens. Although the ingredients will differ between brands, it’s generally made from a mixture of grains, legumes, fat and added amino acids. These little nuggets of food will provide your flock with the added vitamins and minerals they need to grow and stay strong and healthy. For your chicks, you can also get Mash. This is basically the ingredients of Pellets, before they get processed into pellets. This is much softer and can be added to water to create a sort of ‘chicken-porridge’. And in between the two is Crumble, not too soft and not too hard. There’s no definitive answer to which is best for your chickens, so let them be the taste-testers. Starter, Grower and Layer Feed When buying your Pellets, Mash or Crumble you need to make sure you choose the right variety for your chicks and chickens. Here's the most common varieties, but always check the packet before you buy your feed: Starter Feed - This is for you chicks, it has higher protein content to help them grow Grower Feed - Once your chicks get to 6 weeks old, you want to move them to this lower protein mix until they are ready to layer Layer Feed - Once your chickens are starting to lay (from around 20 weeks) they are ready for this mix which has extra calcium added to it Chicken Treats If you want to spoil you chickens every now and again, you can buy chicken treats such as Chicken Scratch or Mealworms in pet and farm supply shops. However they are also a big fan of cooked pasta, watermelon, pumpkin, banana, blueberries and even oatmeal. Remeber! Just like humans, chickens suffer from weight-related health issues too - so don’t treat them too often! Chubby hens do not lay!
  • Are any foods poisonious to chickens?
    Yes - there's lots of foods which you should avoid feeding your chickens. Here’s a few common foods to avoid: Rhubarb - It contains oxalic acid which is harmful to birds Chocolate - Is toxic to chickens Avocados - Although the flesh is okay, the skin and stone contain toxins Dried or Raw Beans - They contain a toxin fatal to chickens Green or Mouldy Potatoes - Or anything mouldy for that matter! You can also read this useful list of chicken treats to avoid from The Happy Chicken Coop. It's also very important to know that it is illegal to feed kitchen scraps to your hens, want to know more then read the Gov Guidelines. Chickens are farm animals, despite being our garden friends.
  • Can my chickens and other birds live together?
    Yes. Generally chickens, ducks, guinea fowl and all your feathered flock can live together once they are old enough - from about 8 weeks old. When you first put them together, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them while they work out the pecking-order. You also need to make sure they have plenty of space so they can keep to themselves when they need to and avoid any confrontations.
  • How do I protect my chickens or birds from foxes?
    Never underestimate the guile of Mr Charlie Fox, you may not see him, but he is there - checking for weak spots in your fencing or waiting for you to leave the door open! From personal experience, electric fencing is the most effective, but if not be sure to bury the chicken wire at least 1ft beneath the ground and have it as high as 6ft around the perimeter. It's also best to put a lid or roof over the top too. If a bespoke chicken house and run are not feasible then you could invest in a poultry ark - a hutch you can move around the garden to keep the ground fresh - plus you'll be able to spot any holes being dug out by our cunning friend! He's a few more of our top tips for keeping your birds safe and secure: Use strong wire mesh or multiples layers of wire, as a fox can chew through a single layer of standard chicken wire Check the perimeter regularly to look for any signs a fox has tried to get in, or any damage to your coop - and fix any issues straight away Consider installing sensor lights in your yard or garden, as this will startle foxes when they trigger them Don’t attract foxes by leaving out bins or rubbish bags near your flock Don’t let your birds out too early either, foxes are still be hunting at dawn - like we said, they're always watching!
  • How often will my chickens lay eggs?
    How many eggs your chickens lay will depend on lots of factors, such as the breed of chickens, the age and their health. Some chickens will lay almost everyday, whereas some might only lay once or twice a week. Hens start to lay at around 18 weeks of age. The first eggs may be tiny and some eye wateringly large!! In the winter months you may also notice that your chickens are laying fewer eggs, or stop completely. Egg production is guided by sunlight hours, daylight simulates the pituatory gland and the hen begins to lay, artificial light can be used in the coup if you wish.
  • How many eggs do chickens lay?
    Depending on the breed of chicken the amount of eggs they lay will differ. Hybrid breeds will lay over 300 eggs a year, whilst the more ornamental breeds can lay as little as 50.
  • What bedding should I use in my coop?
    There’s a few options of bedding to choose from to keep your chickens comfy, including: Straw - Very comomonly used, but you must change it regularly as it can become mouldy quickly Hay - Is a NO NO, it gets too warm and harbours pesky pest that will agitate the bird. Hemp - There’s lots of benefits to choosing hemp bedding, it’s absorbent and can act as a natural pesticide Wood shavings - Shavings are ideal as they are highly absorbent and hygenic, and not too expensive Newspaper - It’s not very durable, so is only a good temporary solution Most importantly, remember to clean your coop or hutch regularly to reduce the risk of mold, pests and diseases.
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