Learn everything you need to know to start keeping chickens at home.
Chickens are intelligent, entertaining birds that make great pets.
They also lay eggs and give us meat – if we choose to butcher them.
I really enjoy my backyard chickens and have for years.
Are Chickens Easy To Keep?
Chickens are one of the easiest livestock to keep.
They are entertaining and they can even be taught tricks.
As an added benefit you get fresh eggs – and if you choose, meat.
Do Chickens Need To Free Roam?
No, chickens do not need to free range.
In fact chickens can be kept in a cage or a chicken run.
The reason many people allow their chickens to free range is because the eggs they produce are healthier and it costs less to feed them since they can eat bugs, grass or whatever else they desire.
The reason the eggs are healthier is because studies have shown free range eggs have less bad cholesterol and more good cholesterol compared to eggs from chickens raised in cages.
Can You Keep A Chicken As A House Pet?
While it is not a good idea to keep a chicken confined in your house because of contamination risks, it is possible to bring a chicken indoors once in a while.
Most people raise their baby chicks indoors and some put their older chickens in diapers so they can some indoors without making a mess.
However what you need to understand is cleanliness is important when dealing with chickens as they can carry salmonella and Campylobacter, which is harmful to humans.
If you do bring them indoors, keep them away from any rooms where food is prepared and always wash your hands throughly after handling them.
How Do You Take Care Of A Chicken For Beginners?
As mentioned above, caring for chickens is relatively easy.
Here is what you need to do:
- Feed twice a day.
- Water daily.
- Make sure the water stays feces free and if it gets contaminated, dump the water and throughly wash the container before refilling it with fresh water.
- Collect eggs.
- Protect your chickens from predators by making sure they have a predator proof chicken coop.
Do Chickens Attract Rats?
Rats – and mice – are not attracted to chickens.
They will come for the chicken feed however, which is why it is best to keep it in a metal can with a lid that mice and rats cannot get into.
Rats will also steal fresh chicken eggs.
As for mice, chickens will eat them if given a chance.
Are Chickens Noisy At Night?
- Chickens sleep at night, so they are not noisy.
- Hens are generally pretty quiet, but will make noise when they are laying eggs.
- Roosters however will crow early in the morning as the sun is coming up and periodically throughout the day.
- If you do not want crowing, avoid keeping a rooster.
- Hens will lay eggs without a rooster present, however the eggs will not be viable, so you cannot hatch them.
What Can I Do With Chicken Poop?
Chicken poop and chicken feathers make a wonderful fertilizer!
It does need to be aged or composted however as chicken poop is “hot” in its fresh state and will burn a garden or plant up.
Composting chicken poop makes it safe to use around people, plants and pets because, as long as it is done properly, the process of composting destroys the disease-causing organisms that naturally occur in chicken poop.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chickens
Q: Is it OK to leave chickens in a chicken coop all day long?
A: Yes, it is. Not all chickens free range, however chickens left in a chicken coop all day need adequate light, water and food.
Q: How many chickens should a beginner start with?
- Three chickens are a good starting point for a small family.
- Larger families should start with five or six hens.
Q: Is it necessary to lock chickens up at night?
A: Yes, for their safety. Predators come out at dusk and chickens are a tasty dinner. This is why having a predator proof chicken coop is essential.
Q: How often does a chicken coop need cleaned?
A: That depends on what you are cleaning.
- Removing any chicken poop or soiled feed or water dishes daily is the best practice.
- Bedding in the nest boxes is ideally cleaned out and replaced once a week.
- Bedding in the chicken coop itself is generally completely removed in the spring and again in the fall.
Q: Do chickens like wind chimes?
A: As a matter of fact they do. Chickens love shiny objects and once they get used to the sound, it no longer scares them off.
Q: What are some healthy treats for chickens?
A: While it is ok to give your chicken treats, too much of a good thing can ruin their diet, so moderation is the key. Here are some healthy treats they will love:
- Swiss chard
Q: Can chickens eat canned corn?
A: Yes, they can, but be aware the salt in canned corn can cause problems for your chickens, so give it in moderation.