I’ve been quite fascinated by our chickens here and what’s involved in keeping them happy and thus receiving an abundance of healthy eggs from them. I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learnt along the way, from both observing them and also binge watching YouTube videos on all things chicken! We now have 18 very happy and healthy chickens here on the small holding.
So here are my chicken learnings (so far)…
- They like to sleep up high (the more dominant ones up the highest)
- There seems to be a head hen, as well as the Rooster being in charge
- They return to their coop by themselves at night
- They aren’t vegetarian (they need animal protein) – I’m about to start breeding meal worms for them
- They lay eggs when they are happy with their conditions
- They all have their own little characters
- To stop them having worms (which is noticeable from pooh on their eggs) sprinkle a small amount of diatomaceous earth through their food or a few drops of apple cider vinegar in their water
- Sprinkling ash (from the wood fire) around their coop reduces issues with mites etc
- The Rooster is their protector, not just their impregnator (they will often sacrifice themselves to save the flock
- They are terrible food thieves!!
- They don’t like newbies in the flock, so introduce new chickens to them at night when they are all half asleep
- Once it gets dark chickens are seriously sedated
- They love dust baths
- You can feed them back their own egg shells for calcium (just crush them up small)
- Don’t let them see you take their eggs, they will start to hide them and you’ll find yourself in a daily egg hunt
- Don’t disturb them when they are laying eggs as this stresses them out and can reduce the amount of eggs they lay
- You can and should ferment their food (making it more nutrient dense, probiotic and reducing your food bill). I do a 3 day ferment on all there seed and grain and they also eat left over sauerkraut, kombucha scobies and kefir grains
- Chicken manure is amazing for your onions (and the whole onion family)
- You don’t need to buy straw, just put grass clippings, ferns or weeds (green or dry) into the coop as bedding instead (they’ll love looking for bugs in these too)
- If you are unsure if your eggs are fresh or not you can put them in water and if they float they are not
- If you put your eggs upside down (pointy side down) in your egg boxes they will keep longer
- If you wash your eggs they won’t stay fresh for very long (as you open the pores in the shell of the eggs)
I’ll be adding to this list with time, we have two chickens laying on lots of eggs at the moment, so there will be a whole new list of learnings from the chicks that hopefully hatch soon too.
Thanks for reading and do ask any questions or add any additional learnings you have below.
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