Basic Chicken Care
There is a world of information out there on how to care for chickens, but we have put together the basics of chicken care for you. It is simply less confusing and great for beginners.
Appropriate chicken care is necessary for the bird’s health and to guarantee proper egg production. Chickens are fairly easy and don’t require much more than food, water and shelter, well … and the occasional treat. As long as you are taking these basic steps your chickens will be happy, healthy and produce a lot of eggs.
Chicken Feed- Chickens require layer grain daily to produce eggs. The grain contains vital nutrients and a high level of protein. Layer grain comes in pellets, crumble and mash form. If you have full grown birds, pellets and crumble are best. For chicks, feed a small amount of mash mixed with a litter warm water.
Full grown birds will eat about a cup of grain each per day. Even if you have only 4 or 5 birds, I recommend buying a 50lb bag to get the best price. Feed grain to the chickens using a standard chicken feeder or make your own using a DIY Chicken Feeder project tutorial.
Feed first thing in the a.m and mid afternoon if necessary. There is no need to feed in the evening, once it gets dark chickens roost and will not eat or drink. Unless you want to fill it so you do not have to in the morning.
Water- Chickens need water all the time. If your chickens do not have water available they can not digest their food properly. Never give chickens food and without water. I recommend using as big of a waterer as your coop or run will allow. This way you will fill it less throughout the day.
During the winter, place waterers outside to ensure no moisture is staying in the coop or this can cause frost bite on chicken combs and feet. We like the bucket style with “nipples”, no water gets splashed around.
Proper shelter- There is such a huge assortment of chicken coop styles available, I recommend first deciding if you will be free ranging your chickens or if there will be a closed in pen, also called a run, attached to their coop. If building a coop with attached pen, you will want to fashion a door that can easily be opened and closed from the coop to the pen. Keep this closed EVERY NIGHT. Predators WILL get in if not. You may think you don’t have predators, but trust me, now that you have chickens you will.
Chicken coops should have a metal or shingled roof to protect from any leaks and moisture getting inside. Build 2 nesting boxes per 4-6 hens. Have adequate roost space available for perching at night. Layer the floor of the coop with hay or shavings, your personal preference. Before winter and once in spring, change the bedding out completely. Turn it over every week or two in the meantime.
For information about coop sizing visit these FAQs
Proper chicken care will not only keep them happy, but you as well. A happy healthy bird can lay anywhere from 200-390 eggs a year depending on the breed. That is a lot of yummy, inexpensive breakfasts!