Chickens have been used to eat bugs for farmers for centuries. And there is nothing more entertaining than watching your chickens scratch and peck. Many say chickens are the gateway bird to other livestock but perhaps you’re just considering a few hens. Whether it’s three hens or ten, look no further!
Chicken expert advice
When it comes to raising chickens, the experts and staff at our stores can help with advice ranging from feed to feeders. There are a lot of different breeds and varieties to choose from for your flock and the staff can answer questions about which are best for laying or meat. Chickens are also like potato chips! You’re going to want more as time goes on. For example, Orpington’s are sturdy birds and productive layers.
What you need when raising chickens
Our stores carry a variety of feed options from Scratch & Peck. They offer certified organic chicken feed for whichever variety of bird you have – from layers to baby chicks. There are also different veggies and fruit you can give your birds from your own kitchen! Like watermelon and broccoli.
- Herbs: You can also give your birds herbs! They can be scattered all over the coop and added to nesting boxes.
- Feed storage: You’ll need metal tins for feed storage (you don’t want rats eating your feed), oyster shell as a calcium supplement, and grit.
- Chicken anatomy: Chickens don’t have teeth, apparently, they are very rare, so to grind down their food, they use a strong muscular organ called a gizzard.
- Grit: Chickens pick up grit while foraging, which is kept for a while in the gizzard to perform this grinding process.
- Fermented Feed: Fermented feed has increased levels of Vitamins B, C, and K. It also has increased protein which can help with egg production. Our staff can advise you further on these steps.
- Chicken Coop: Your coop must work for the chickens and humans. There must be plenty of places for them to roost, 1-2 nesting boxes and it must be set up so it’s easy to clean!
Treats! worms & bugs
They love bugs! You can help attract bugs into the coop by adding fresh grass clippings and sticks from the yard. Or ask our staff as we sell bugs too (they’re dead). My birds love mealworms and will do anything for a handful during the day.
Chicken behavior is fascinating:
What should you do about the ‘rooster’?
The rooster’s role is invaluable. Protecting the ladies is their full-time job. It takes time to build a relationship with your flock but one of the most important things you can do in the beginning is simply watching them and listening to their various noises. You’ll be amazed at how they communicate with each other and over time you will appreciate how the rooster tells them if he found a yummy bug or to run into the coop – “there is potential danger outside!” – a hawk perhaps!
Of course, roosters are not allowed in all counties so check the rules first. You don’t need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs! At the end of the day, raising chickens is work but they’re smart and the eggs are delicious. They can even be clicker trained.
If that sounds like fun and you’re a behavior junkie like all of us, please ask our staff about raising chickens. Head over to the garden center at Fang! Pet & Garden Supply so you can choose some herbs that your chickens will love! Grow some calendula or lavender in your garden and feed it to the hens.
What about a chicken first aid kit?
According to Hobby Farms, here are the essentials for your chicken first aid kit.
A plastic container with a lid works perfectly to hold first-aid supplies. Your first-aid kit should include:
- antibiotic ointment (without pain control ingredients that can be harmful to some birds)
- disposable gloves
- dog nail clippers (for trimming beaks or toenails)
- Epsom salt (for soaking some injuries)
- eyedropper or syringe (for hand-feeding water, medications and liquid nutrients)
- LED flashlight
- non-stick gauze pads
- powdered baby bird formula (for hand-feeding)
- self-sticking bandages
- styptic powder (for bleeding nails/beaks)
- super-glue gel (to repair broken beaks)
- vitamins and electrolytes (for shock, heat stress and dehydration)
Remember that chickens aren’t complicated but you need a plan for a sick or injured hen. Please ask our staff if you have any questions.