Taking care of hobby chickens is quite easy! They have the same needs as most other pets. In this blog we will inform you about daily, monthly and biannual tasks for chicken farming, to keep your chickens as happy as possible.
What to do on a daily basis
- Keep food and water bowls full.
- Make sure the water bowl is clean. Chickens are less likely to drink dirty water and a dehydrated chicken can get sick or die very quickly.
- Check that they all look active, bright and healthy. Make an appointment with your vet if they don't.
- Collect and refrigerate the eggs pointed side down for maximum freshness.
- If you've opened the door to the coop to let your chickens out, make sure to always close it and secure it at dusk (when they've all returned!) to make sure predators can't get in. (Tip: If you have a cell phone that allows you to set a recurring alarm, try that as a reminder.)
Keep in mind that you can leave your chickens alone for a few days, provided they have enough food, water and space for the duration of your trip. The eggs they laid during your absence should still be good to eat. Fresh eggs can be kept for several days without refrigeration. Surprised? Consider this: Hens lay an average of 10-12 eggs per "clutch" (the group of eggs a hen sits on to incubate). They lay one egg a day and at the end of a 10-12 day laying period they roll all the eggs together to hatch them. That means the egg laid on day 1 is still good enough on day 12 to become a live, breathing chick - so it should be good enough for you to eat too!
Egg Tip: Your eggs may have light traces of dirt or chicken droppings. Resist the urge to scrub them clean! Outside the egg is a delicate membrane called the "bloom" that repels bacteria and other foreign matter. Scrubbing will damage this membrane. If you are one of those type A people who needs perfect looking eggs, rub them very gently with your fingers under warm water. Then wash your hands thoroughly.
What to do on a monthly basis
- Change the bedding in the hutch and nest. This is necessary for sanitary purposes. Excessive ammonia build-up is dangerous for poultry and can cause respiratory disease.
- Remove the stool. We put ours in the compost bin or use it as manure.
What to do on a semi-annual basis
Twice a year you really should scrub your chicken coop! Remove bedding, nesting material, food and water bowls. For a cleaner, we recommend a mixture of 1 part bleach, 1 part dishwashing liquid, 10 parts water. A strong citrus cleaner is also sufficient. After cleaning, rinse well and allow to dry before replacing with fresh bedding. Do the same with the food and water bowls: clean thoroughly and rinse well and replace with a fresh stock. You should be able to do all this in a few hours!