If you are planning on getting a few chickens, either as part of your small holding or just as pets, there are a few chicken care hints and tips that might be useful to you.
The first thing that should be learnt is how to hold the chickens. Many people believe the correct way of holding them is upside down via there legs, this however can cause injury and even death. Instead you should hold it with your hands under its belly to support its wait and use your thumbs to keep the wings down.
Let your chickens out of their house every morning and fill their chicken feeders with fresh food. Check nest boxes at least twice a day and remove any eggs you may find, otherwise you run the risk of them being squashed and broken. Fill their water bottles with fresh clean water every day too.
Every evening chickens should be moved back into their houses to keep them out of harm when night falls. Make sure you put them away early enough otherwise you might find something has got to them before you have.
Chicken houses should be cleaned at the very least once a week and they should be checked once a day to make sure they have enough clean litter. Houses should also be treated inside and out with wood preserve to help kill parasites, when this is done though the chickens should be kept away for several days.
For more health advice on keeping chickens you can always contact your local vet or ask the advice of local farmers and small holders.
A healthy chicken should have a bright red crown if it is laying. Their feet should be pale if laying, they will be very yellow if not, their eyes should always be bright and beady and the smooth scales on their legs should not be lifted. Their bodies should feel plump and firm and their eyes and nostrils clean.
Like any other animal, chickens are prone to certain ailments and diseases and some of the main things to look out for are:
Red Mite: Red mite is difficult to spot as it only really comes out at night. A sign of red mite is a reduction in egg production and an increase in chicken pecking at the infestation which will be at the base of the bird’s tail feathers. Treatment for red mite should be done on a regular basis.
Lice: Lice eggs will be found around the vent when you check a chicken. The best thing to do is brush them off and rub petroleum jelly around the area. Regular dusting of louse powder in the nest boxes should prevent lice.
Worms: Chickens can get either round or tape worm. You may notice a reduction in egg laying combined with an increase in appetite. Worming regularly using appropriate wormers is a necessity.
Infectious bronchitis: Although rare, it is still possible your chickens may catch this and like many other diseases a drop in egg production could be your first sign. The chickens will sneeze and may gasp along with displaying discharge from their nose. Health should improve over a couple of weeks although your egg production may always be lower than before.