10 Ways To Keep Chickens Healthy
It is important to Keep Chickens Healthy
Whether they are pets or you are raising them for fresh meat and eggs, it is important to keep chickens healthy. Your chickens need to be healthy and happy to thrive. Here are a few easy steps we take to keep our chickens healthy.
1. Give Them the Proper Feed
As obvious as this sounds, you need to feed your chickens the right kind of food for them to be healthy and to be more productive. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the age of the chicken and what kind of food should be provided. For example, laying age chickens need a high protein diet for egg production and sometimes need an added calcium supplement (like crushed oyster shells) to ensure a hard egg shell when laid.
2. Ferment Your Feed
Fermenting your chicken feed can help them digest it easier and allow them to absorb more important nutrients like protein from the food. There is also added nutrients obtained during the fermentation process that is highly beneficial. The site Oh Lardy has easy to follow directions for fermenting your chicken feed.
3. Clean Water
Clean, fresh waster is key. Especially during hot weather. Chickens dehydrate fast and need the water to help digest their food. Even during the winter, as much of a pain as it can be to mess with frozen water, it is absolutely important to be sure your chickens always have water available. Never, ever have grain available to a chicken without water. They can over eat and get what is called impacted crop. It can be fatal.
4. Provide a Dust Bath
A dust bath is how chickens clean themselves. The dirt, or sand works down to their skin and feathers. This helps with Parasite control, keeping your chickens bug free! A dust bath is as simple as a patch of loose dirt that the chickens have access to. If you want a cleaner solution, a shallow tote filled with a mixture of sand and dirt is a great alternative. Another way to prevent lice and mites is to dust your coop, roosts, nest boxes and birds with diatomaceous earth, a fossilized organism that has been ground up into a powder. It is food grade and organic, not a pesticide. This stuff works miracles! Lice and mites can kill your birds.
5. Let Them Free Range
Letting your chickens out of the coop for even just a couple of hours every day is great. It gives them the opportunity to get extra nutrients from fresh bugs and grass. If you are not able to let your chickens free range due to local ordinances or predators, at least make sure they have a fenced in area or run. They need the fresh air, day light, dirt, bugs and natural environment to maximize egg production.
6. Worm Your Chickens
Just like every other animal, chickens are vulnerable to worms. As gross as it sounds, occasionally look closely at your chicken’s poo, make sure there are no worms present. There are many inexpensive products that will cure the issue should you find worms. Usually it is an additive for the water. It is ok that all chickens be treated if you find worms. Also, the diatomaceous earth mentioned above helps prevent worms, but smothering larvae that may be in the coops. Some chicken grain also has added nutrients that prevents worms.
7. Clean the Coop
Start here to keep chickens healthy. Keeping the coop clean cuts down the risk of bacteria, infections, lice & mites outbreaks. Shavings are easiest to clean and absorb moisture. A moisture free coop is key to preventing issues. If you wish to use hay, I recommend leaving the waterer outside.
8. Watch for Signs of Sickness or Disease
Even just one bird being sick and transmitting a virus or disease to the whole flock can be devastating. Watch each bird if possible for sneezing coughing, lack of energy, a drop in egg production, or misshapen eggs. If you have concerns remove the questionable bird and place it in solitary confinement, such as a dog crate, away from the other birds. Give vitamins in their water, place it close so they can reach it should they not be moving around as normal.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to your chicken’s drinking water makes it harder for bacteria and other organisms to grow in the water. It will also keep the inside of the water from becoming slimy. The apple cider vinegar has been proven to provide health benefits for the chickens as well. This is one of the easiest, best ways to keep chickens healthy.
10. Give Them Helpful and Tasty Treats
Things like pieces of fruits, berries, vegetables, and even non toxic flowers are packed with great sources of nutrition for our chickens. Meal worms are one of the best treats for a chicken, they are high in protein and can be raised in your own backyard. Head over to Raising Happy Chickens to check out their comprehensive list of healthy chicken treats!
Healthy chickens are happier chickens. Happier chickens are better pets, produce more eggs, and live a lot longer. Keeping your chickens healthy isn’t too difficult. I hope this list of 10 ways to keep your chickens healthy has helped you. Do you have any tips that you would add? Let’s hear about them in the comments!