How Long Do chickens Live: Factors That Impact Lifespan

how long do chickens live

Chickens are peculiar creatures that are loved by many. Whether you are thinking about owning chickens or are just curious about them, you may have a few questions. One of your top questions may be, “How long does a chicken live?”. While the answer may seem cut and dry, that is not actually the case. We will dive into the chicken lifespan and some major things that can impact that lifespan.

History of a Chicken’s Life Expectancy

Chickens were not originally bred to be pets. Chickens, specifically hens, were bred so that they could help feed a family or provide a family with a source of income. These chickens were bred from wild birds.

The breeder of the wild birds would choose which birds would produce the most favorable offspring. This process would then continue. The goal was to breed out the wild behaviors of the birds and produce a bird that produced a quality food source.

What Factors Affect Life Expectancy?

chicken lifespan

Today, a backyard chicken can live anywhere from three to ten years. The chicken lifespan can vary depending on a variety of different factors. These factors can be related to breed or may be related to the level of care that the chicken receives. The top factors that affect the chicken lifespan are listed below.

Disease

One of the greatest factors influencing the chicken lifespan is disease. Flocks of chickens may succumb to parasites, including mites, lice, and worms. These parasites can cause a chicken to become uncomfortable and even fall ill. This could even lead to the death of a chicken.

While there are some diseases that cannot be prevented, advanced technology has led to many preventative options for chicken owners. These preventative measures may include frequent cleanings or inspections of the flock.

You may also perform regular preventative maintenance to individual chickens. In theory, the more closely your flock is watched, the healthier they will be.

How They Are Housed

How you plan on sheltering your chickens will make a difference in their lifespan. If they have nowhere to go or are housed with other animals, many things could happen to your chickens. This includes becoming too cold and freezing to death or being crushed by other animals.

Without proper shelter, your chickens may also be exposed to the elements or to predators, hindering the chicken lifespan. However, not every housing arrangement is an optimal one. Chickens that are kept on commercial farms generally suffer more from respiratory illness and have a limited quality of life.

It is typically recommended that chicken owners find a suitable chicken coop to help house their flock. This will provide them adequate shelter from predators and allow them access to the outdoors at their leisure for them to breathe fresh air.

Their Environment

What environment your chicken is living will affect how long they live. You could utilize a quality coop for your chickens, but if the environment containing that coop or the surrounding environment is negative then this will negatively impact your chickens.

For example, you do not want to place a chicken coop in a horse barn or a warehouse. Instead, you want to place the coop somewhere where the chicken has access to clean and fresh air that circulates. The area should also be relatively dry and be able to keep the chicken warm.

A chicken kept in dirty and unkept conditions is more susceptible to illness or medical issues. A healthy and clean environment will help the chicken lifespan last longer.

Tips for a Healthy and Happy Chicken Coop

lifespan of a chicken

Having a great chicken coop for your chickens can sound like a daunting task. However, it does not have to be challenging. With these helpful tips, you will be sure to have a healthy and happy chicken coop for years to come for your chickens to enjoy.

  • When deciding on bulbs, always choose red. This is because red bulbs will not show any bloody spots on a chicken, preventing pecks from other chickens.
  • When there are chicks present, block off any corners. This will help to prevent suffocation.
  • Chicken Waterers need to be kept shallow and clean to avoid chicks drowning.

What They Eat

Chickens have a much better diet than they did fifty to a hundred years ago. Chickens in those times lived on whatever morsels they could scrounge up, which typically was not much. Nowadays, chicken feed is manufactured. This provides chicken owners with an easy way to supply their chickens with the nutrition that they need.

Chicken food can also be found for every stage of a chicken lifespan. However, overfeeding your chicken can also cause an issue. Overweight chickens can not only cause the chicken some discomfort but can also prove to be life-threatening.

Weight issues can lead to leg problems and even respiratory issues. You will want to make sure that you are feeding your chickens the proper amount and watching their treat intake as well.

Veterinary Care

Prior to the 20th century, the welfare of the chicken was not often considered. These backyard animals were looked at as disposable and their health was not taken into account. Nowadays, advancements in poultry medicine and recognition of certain health issues have made the quality of life of the chicken better.

The study of issues related to chickens is ongoing, providing chicken owners with preventative measures to take proper care of their flock. If your hen is experiencing a serious health issue, you will want to bring your chicken to the vet that sees barnyard patients.

If you are planning on owning chickens, it is important to read up on issues that commonly affect them. This way, you will be able to identify a serious issue if it arises. This will also allow you the ability to provide first-aid care for your flock. Your flock may need tended to, but do not need to visit the vet.

They may need to be administered medication, have their feet cared for, or have a wound taken care of. Minor issues can be addressed at home, while serious issues will need to be addressed by a vet.

How Long do Chickens Lay Eggs?

how long do chickens live for

When a chicken starts laying eggs can varying, depending on several factors. However, chickens generally start laying eggs around the time they are 18 weeks old. Shorter windows of daylight may cause a chicken to not lay as many eggs. This is especially true when it is the winter months, as the days are usually colder and darker.

Chickens that are healthy will usually lay eggs for around two to three years. Egg laying will begin to slow down after this time frame and then taper off. During this period of less egg laying, the eggs may be larger. If you are wanting something more specific, you can read our article: How often do chicken laying eggs.

What to Do When Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

Once a chicken has stopped laying eggs, there are a few different options you have. Even though a chicken has stopped laying eggs, you may still use her to contribute in other ways to your flock or to keep around as a companion chicken.

A chicken that is older will still be a great bug catcher and could help control the weeds in your garden. Older chickens will also help to keep eggs warm or raise chicks, providing the flock with more experience than the younger hens may have.

You may also decide that once a hen has stopped producing eggs that it will be time to use the chicken for meat. While older chickens generally have tougher meat, the meat will still be useful for stew or other dishes. However, if it is the winter time, you may choose to wait. Generally in the spring, hens will begin laying once again.

3 Popular Breeds and Their Life Expectancy

When deciding on what chickens to have in your flock, you may have considered one of these three breeds. Listed below are three of the most popular breeds and their chicken lifespan.

Rhode Island Red

chicken life spans

Rhode Island Red are some of the most popular chickens and you have most likely seen them before. This type of chicken can live around 8 years. They are most common for beginners or those who wish to keep chickens for a long time. Read more about Rhode Island Red.

Golden Comets

how long does a chicken live

Golden Comets are most well-known for how many eggs that they produce. They typically produce an egg a day. However, these chickens are more prone to developing reproductive issues. They can live up to five years old. Read more about Golden Comet.

Easter Egger

chickens life span

Easter Egger are a hybrid type of hen and are sought after due to their eggs that are laid in a variety of colors. Since they do not lay as many eggs as the Golden Comets, they generally have a longer chicken lifespan. Easter Egger can live around 8 years old. Read more about Easter Egger.

Summary

Chickens are fascinating creatures that can make excellent backyard pets or utilized as a barnyard animal. Whichever the case, proper care of your chicken will ensure that it lives out its chicken lifespan properly.

How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs

how long do chickens lay eggs

The trend of producing one’s own food has brought the farm into the city. One such area that has grown in recent years is the keeping of backyard chickens for fresh eggs. Once people have tasted just how much better “home-grown” eggs are, they never want to go back to plain old store eggs.

Like any keeping of livestock, though, people must plan ahead so that they have a steady supply of eggs, as hens have a limited working life span. How long do chickens lay eggs?

There are several factors that affect the production of eggs by a hen:

  • Breed – Varieties bred as layers will produce more consistently than meat varieties. Some varieties produce larger amounts for a shorter time, while others have a longer laying span with a lower peak production.
  • Age – Once mature, around five months of age, a hen will lay an egg roughly every day and a half until she is around two or three years old, after which production tapers off.
  • Rooster to Hen Ratio – Multiple roosters will vie for dominance, stressing the hens, making them produce less.
  • Housing – Hens kept in a safe area with adequate lighting and access to shelter will lay longer.
  • Diet – A steady supply of eggs requires a proper, balanced diet to be consistently fed.

Choosing your Breed

chicken that lays eggs

In the above list, age and breed of chicken are the top determiners of how long a hen will lay. Breed determines how long an individual chicken will produce. Large-scale producers use varieties that begin to lay at 16 to 18 weeks.

The chickens produce large amounts of eggs for a year and a half or two before laying drops dramatically. Examples of this kind of chicken are Lohmann Brown, Black Star, and Freedom Ranger.

On the other hand, heritage breeds mature more slowly, beginning to lay at 20 weeks. These chickens produce fewer eggs, but they do so longer than production breeds. Thus they are a good choice for backyard egg production.

Varieties in this category include Rhode Island Red, Fayoumi, Barnevelder, and Barred Rock. These breeds lay consistently for three to four years on average, but Rhode Island Red chickens have been strong producers even at 5 or 6 years, with some still laying at 7 or 8 when living in optimal conditions.

Some breeds are known for particularly high disease resistance, which has a positive effect on their laying lifespan. Please note that there are variations in egg production among breeds in this category. Read up on average egg production for any breed that interests you so that you are not mistakenly disappointed by a low yield.

Put a lot of work into planning for your flock. If possible, buy chickens from different breeds and both categories to ensure that you have a steady supply of eggs as soon as possible and for as long as possible. Mix Black Star, for example, with Rhode Island Reds and Australorps so that you are not stuck waiting for a new shipment of chicks to mature and start laying eggs.

Provide a Comfortable Coop

chicken that lays eggs

A good chicken coop is necessary for chicken safety; after all, if a predator grabs one, it will not be laying for you. The predators also stress chickens, causing them to lay less.

This coop also makes gathering eggs much easier and is considered necessary for flightier breeds, such as Fayoumi, that would otherwise leave eggs in random spots in your yard for an unpleasant surprise later. There are many ways to build coops, but there are foundational features that you need to include for a productive flock:

  • Enough space, 5-8 square feet per bird if fully confined
  • Light to stimulate egg production, around 16 hours a day
  • Insulation for cold weather, if needed
  • Adequate ventilation to prevent ammonia buildup and its nasty consequences
  • Proper flooring that is easily washed, such as plywood covered with Tyvek
  • Nest boxes, which should have an opening of 10 by 10 inches and be easily accessible
  • Roosting perches, so they can sleep safely

When you see to the comfort of your chickens in their coop, they will lay for years, going to the end of the range with ease.

Above all, make sure you keep the coop clean and in good repair. A clean, safe environment takes much stress from your chickens’ lives so that their energy is directed in a useful way, that is to say, egg laying.

Ensure that your chickens have as much space as possible to roam. After all, the term “cooped up” has negative connotations. If you have the space, let your chickens run free during the day.

Some people who a raising chickens in a more suburban or urban environment confine chickens to a fenced-in spot or use a chicken tractor or portable run so that they know where their chickens are at all times.

The recommended wire mesh size is a half inch square, as that will keep out most predators, even smaller snakes. If desired, you can add roofing to keep your chickens out of talon’s reach.

Chickens require food to make eggs, but what should it be? A laying diet needs large amounts of protein and calcium, much of which comes from commercial poultry pellets. These pellets have a grain and seed base and should comprise around 16 percent of the diet.

The rule of thumb is that four pounds of feed will be needed for one dozen eggs. The calcium comes from a supplemental source supplied separately. If your chickens have little room to peck and roam, it is particularly important to ensure their food has everything they need.

Even with free-range chickens, there are a number of things you can add to their diet to ensure a productive working life. Most fruit and vegetable scraps are a dandy way to get your birds more minerals.

The only forbidden ones are raw green peels, such as those from potatoes, and citrus fruits. Processed whole grains, such as pastas, are also part of a healthy diet. Make sure you use high-quality feed that, if possible, is organic, as certain hazardous chemicals have a negative effect on health and egg production.

Chickens also enjoy a treat now and then. Foods that are often used as such range from what you’d consider eating, like apples, broccoli, and pumpkin, to downright gross, like worms.

Feeding to lay strong

chicken eggs production

In general, your chicken can eat what you do, but there are exceptions. Never give anything fatty, sugary, or salty, such as highly processed snack foods. Rhubarb, avocado, and garlic are not good for them and should never be put in the feed trough. If you do, your bird will not lay eggs for long.

Food should be presented in a proper fashion. Although the image of scattering grain on the ground is popular, it is not always a good way to feed chickens. If your chickens are confined for some reason, invest in a feeding trough to dispense their food.

In doing so, rather than simply scattering seed, you will not mix feed and droppings. This prevents nasty parasitic infections, such as coccidiosis, from starting, spreading, and eventually killing your chickens by malnutrition.

Chickens need a lot of water to produce eggs. Make sure that they have access to a steady supply of clean water. If neglected, you will have to wait around a week for them to begin laying again.

Protect hens

Hens will lay eggs without the presence of a rooster; one is needed certainly if you plan on breeding your hens. However, their presence can sometimes cause problems. In fact, too many roosters increase the stress of the flock by their fights for dominance, stressing the chickens and decreasing the amount of eggs they lay.

The optimal ratio is one rooster per six to nine hens. If you keep around a single rooster for six to nine hens, he will warn the flock when predators come, giving them time to find cover. They will also take on predators occasionally, keeping your chickens from an untimely demise.

YouTube comments are replete with stories of roosters who died to protect their flock from hawks and the like. Having a rooster or two is having a built-in warning system and guard.

Summary

Many people enjoy chickens in their yard. The thought of enjoying fresh, tasty eggs makes the work worthwhile for many. How long do chickens lay eggs that owners can enjoy? In general, it is around two to three years before production tapers off.

However, by seeing to the cleanliness and comfort of the chickens’ surroundings, you can make the most of those years and possibly extend them. Some breeds lay more than others, but a clean, low-stress environment will do any chicken good, regardless of age or breed.

What Do Baby Chicks Eat?

what does chicks eat

Raising chickens from hatchlings to adult hens provides numerous benefits; chickens provide pest-control and weed-control, offer a means for easily disposing of kitchen scraps, produce natural fertilizer that is great for gardens and flowerbeds, and, of course, can offer a ready supply of fresh, tasty eggs and nutritious, all-natural meat.

But to get those benefits, you need to start them off the right way with the proper diet that they need as chicks.

Chicks grow rapidly in their first few weeks and so require correctly formulated food to ensure healthy development. So what do baby chicks eat? And why is the right diet important for them? These guidelines can help make sure that you are feeding them what they need when they need it.

Feeding Newly Hatched Chicks

What do chicks eat when they first come out of their shells? The answer might surprise you: nothing. For the first 48 hours after they hatch, baby chickens require no food or water. They are still being sustained by the nutrients from the egg yolk, which their body has absorbed and is still processing up until they break out of the shell.

After the chick has hatched, it should be allowed to rest and dry out in the incubator for six to 12 hours before being moved into the brooder, where food and drink are first introduced.

Beginning with Starter Feed

what do baby chicks eat

Baby chicks should not be fed adult chicken food: adult food lacks sufficient protein to help the chicks grow and remain healthy in their critical, vulnerable early weeks. Adult food is also too high in calcium for baby chicks; consuming too much calcium can lead to serious medical complications in young chickens, including an untreatable and potentially fatal form of kidney damage.

Baby chicks should be started on what is known as “starter feed” or, sometimes, “chick crumb”.

This commercially available chicken feed is designed to balance precisely the nutrients that baby chicks require, including an optimal range of between 15% and 20% protein, as well as amino acids for development, prebiotics and probiotics for immune health, and vitamins and minerals for bone health.

The best brands of starter feed are organic and non-GMO, containing only natural ingredients and no artificial fillers, preservatives, or chemicals. Most are available from a local feed or farm store, or they can be ordered online from specialty retailers.

Ideally, the starter feed that you use for your baby chicks should contain only unprocessed whole grains. Avoid the products that are filled out with soy and corn, which can provide a great deal of starch but very little nutritional benefit to your chicks.

You might be tempted to try making your own starter feed at home, but the risks of doing this are high. Baby chicks require a very precisely balanced diet to ensure their proper development, and their young digestive systems are not tolerant of much deviation from that diet.

If you mix the feed incorrectly, you could seriously harm your chick or cause long-term developmental damage. Malnourished baby chicks seldom grow into productive egg-layers or bulk up enough to be suitable as meat sources.

First Days in the Brooder

what can baby chicks eat

When you move the baby chicks into the brooder, you should already have a container with fresh, clean water for them. In some cases, sugar, vitamins, or mineral supplements might be added to the chick’s water for the first day or two.

Use a container that cannot be knocked over and has an opening designed to prevent waste from getting in and contaminating the water supply, and that will keep chicks from falling in and drowning. Make sure that it stays filled at all times and that the water remains clean.

Both chicks and adult chickens will drink twice as much water as the amount of food that they eat, so having a ready water source is essential.

Water should be at room temperature (so do not place it under heat lamps in the brooder) and should be supplied at a rate of two quarts per every 10 chicks, separated into containers no larger than one quart each. On a daily basis, empty, wash, and refill the water containers.

Towards the end of their first day in the brooder, or early on the second day, sprinkle some grains of feed into the brooder. Some chicks may not show an interest at first—baby chicks spend most of their first few days sleeping and building up energy after the exhausting process of breaking out of their shells.

Eventually, however, they will become curious about the sound of the feed being dropped in and will investigate it.

Once they have taken to the feed—usually by their third day in the brooder—set out low-lying or trough feeders for easy access (clean egg cartons, cut in two, work well), providing four linear inches of space in the chicken feeder per baby chick.

Do not place them under the heat lamps in the brooder. Empty, clean, and refill the feeder daily, and keep a close eye on it to make sure that it stays supplied and does not become contaminated by waste or water. As the chicks grow, raise the level of the feeders so they are even with the bird’s backs.

Moving Beyond Starter Feed

what to feed baby chicks

Avoid giving baby chicks any special treats in their first two weeks in the brooder. It is essential during this period that they mainly eat the nutritionally balanced starter feed. Introducing treats too early will make them less likely to desire the starter feed and may even confuse them about what the taste and smell of food should be.

If you do introduce treats, remember that the baby chick’s digestive system is still very delicate and prone to disruption. Start with mild and healthy snacks, like a lettuce leaf hung up in the brooder, some oatmeal scattered in the brooder, or some corn kernels chopped up very small.

When you do introduce snacks, it is also essential that you provide the baby chicks with a ready supply of grit in a separate container inside the brooder. This fine granular substance is swallowed into the chicken’s gizzard, where it works with the power of the organ’s muscle contractions to mash up food into a digestible slurry.

Commercially produced grit made of sand, granite, or parakeet can be obtained and is specially formulated in size and composition for baby chicks. Do not give grit formulated for adult birds to baby chicks. Never feed ground up oyster shells to baby chicks; the high levels of calcium in the shells will result in potentially deadly damage to the bird’s kidneys.

At eight weeks of age, baby chicks should be shifted off the starter feed and in its place, they should be given “grower feed” (at this age, they can also explore more complex snacks, like worms, bugs and chicken scratch).

To help chicks make this transition, mix starter feed and grower feed together, gradually shifting the proportion of the combination towards more and more grower feed over a couple of weeks.

Grower feed provides less protein than starter feed (typically about 16%). Chickens should continue on the grower feed until they reach the start of their laying age, which is usually around 18 to 21 weeks of age, depending on the breed.

Whether or Not to Use Medicated Food

what do you feed baby chickens

Medicated feed is fortified with a medication—usually amprolium—that helps chickens combat the common, and potentially deadly, parasitic intestinal disease coccidiosis.

Baby chicks that have been vaccinated against coccidiosis already, either by a veterinarian or by a commercial hatchery, must not be fed medicated feed as it will kill off the coccidiosis strain in the vaccine and render the bird susceptible to the disease.

Baby chicks who are kept in a clean brooder that is regularly emptied of waste and provides plenty of space are less likely to contract coccidiosis and so generally do not require medicated feed.

Chicks who are raised in cramped conditions, such as factory farms or in household settings that involve more than 50 chicks in one space, are likely to contract the disease and thus should be given medicated feed. Some medicated feeds contain antibiotics, but these should only be used under instructions from a livestock veterinarian.

Feeding Sick Baby Chicks

Ensuring that sick, malnourished, or underdeveloped baby chicks are properly hydrated is the first priority. Use a dropper or a spoon and, if necessary, water fortified with electrolytes.

The finely chopped-up hard-boiled egg can provide sick baby chicks with a boost of protein and many of the nutrients that their body needed to absorb when it was inside the egg. These can help it start to recover its stamina and eventually shift to starter feed.

Do Hens Lay Eggs Without a Rooster?

how do chickens lay eggs without a rooster

Chickens make great backyard pets and the fact that they give back by delivering fresh, delicious eggs only adds to the allure of keeping them.

When you are looking forward to the moment when your chickens begin laying eggs it can be anxiety-inducing wondering when that moment is going to come and what specific requirements are needed to get things going.

Do hens lay eggs without a rooster? This all depends on what you intend to accomplish with your egg-laying. There are a few factors to consider.

General Expectations in Egg Laying

There are a few different elements that can play a role in whether your chickens will come “of age,” allowing them to lay eggs. Nutrition, environment, breed, and age can all help determine when your chickens will begin laying eggs. You will not require the assistance of a rooster for your chickens to produce eggs unless you specifically want to fertilize and hatch your eggs.

If you are looking to hatch eggs and produce more chickens, then you will require the assistance of a rooster. Otherwise, your eggs will never be fertilized.

However, the best setup is always one single solitary rooster and if you begin hatching your own eggs there is a chance you will hatch more roosters which may eventually grow up and fight with one another. The best reason to hatch eggs is for sustenance. Since the eggs we eat are not fertilized a rooster is not actually required.

There are a number of more essential factors when it comes to egg-laying beyond simply the presence of a rooster. While the presence of a rooster in the flock may help to encourage egg-laying, it is certainly not a determinate factor.

As noted above, the elements of a healthy egg-laying operation that you should certainly put stock into include good nutrition and a healthy environment.

Nutrition

chickens lay eggs without rooster

Egg laying chickens have specific nutrition requirements as opposed to younger chickens or chickens perhaps not intended for laying eggs. In order to promote egg laying it is important for your chickens to have sufficient food provided to them as well as to have high-quality food provided to them.

During the growing period, chicks should receive a diet promoting their rapid growth and development of feathers. Chickens reaching the laying stage do best on a “pre-lay” diet intended to increase the calcium and other nutrients in their diet.

Comparison shop different diets available to you to determine which is most suitable for your purposes. A diet with the right nutrients for egg-laying purposes will supply your hens with what they need to produce big, nutritious eggs.

A balanced diet is primarily important. If the chickens are not receiving adequate nutrition, then one of two things could happen. Either (1) your hens may experience delay in their egg-laying, or (2) they may stop laying eggs even once they’ve started.

Environment

An adequate environment is also essential to promoting laying in your chickens. This includes providing ample lighting, comfortable temperatures, adequate food, and ample water for the hens at all times.

  • If the hens run out of food for a substantial period of time it can impact their laying schedule and may delay how soon they begin laying. You should take care to ensure your hens always have fresh food available.
  • The same is true for water, which is one of the most essential nutrients for optimum poultry health. Fresh, clean water should always be available to your hens. Make sure that you keep the water clean and fresh on a daily basis as dirty water is a breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to health issues for your poultry.
  • In order to maintain healthy egg production, hens should receive around 14 hours’ worth of day length each day. The lighting intensity should be such that a person could read newsprint at the eye level of the birds. Because the length of the day naturally decreases in the fall and winter, this can have a profound impact on egg laying ability. One way that you can prevent this from being a problem is to install a light in the coop to artificially increase daylight hours.
  • Chickens do not do well in high environmental temperatures. They will succumb quickly to severe heat stress if you do not provide them with proper shade, ample water, and adequate ventilation. You can reduce the adverse effects that come with heat stress by providing enough ventilation and shade as chickens naturally do better in a cooler environment. As a result, it is likely that your hens will lay more effectively in a cooler, more comfortable environment.
  • The breeding box or coop should be kept as clean as possible in order to promote healthy egg-laying. It may be difficult to keep things clean during the laying season but it is important to try because a dirty coop can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other diseases and chickens can be prone to illness when improperly cared for.
do chickens lay eggs without a rooster

Age

Generally speaking, hens will begin to enter their egg-laying period around 18 weeks of age, however, as noted above this can vary somewhat depending on the breed of the chicken. The peak age for egg-laying comes at around 32 weeks of age and continues at this level until around 65 to 68 weeks of age.

There are breeds of chicken that will not begin laying eggs until a little later and so it is normal not to see egg-laying behavior begin until around six months. This will be discussed more fully in the “breed-specific” section below.

Hens Behavior During Laying

The behavior of your pullets will begin to change when they are nearing their initial lay, and so it is normal to get a feel for when this is going to happen. They may begin to investigate the nesting area, spend more time hanging around the rooster, or their typical behavior may simply deviate in other ways.

If your hens are starting to spend a lot of time with the rooster because they are nearing laying-age, you may need to make sure to separate the rooster from the nesting boxes

If your hens seem unsure about the nesting boxes one way that you can encourage their use is to place “decoy eggs” in the boxes in order to show the hens what they are meant for. If you do not have actual decoy eggs you can use golf balls or similarly sized balls to serve this purpose.

There are a lot of great resources available for building and setting up nesting boxes that will accommodate your chickens. There are also nesting boxes that will provide your hens with access to the rooster without compromising the eggs.

If your goal is to have your hens lay eggs, then it is important to motivate your chickens to lay by allowing them access to a rooster without necessarily allowing the rooster to fertilize the eggs.

In fact, once your hens begin laying you may find that having a rooster around does not motivate your hens to lay one way or another. You will not find that you can increase your hen egg production simply by exposing your hens to a rooster. You can have a perfectly healthy flock of egg-laying chickens all on their own without having any roosters around.

Do You Need a Rooster For Egg Production?

can a chicken lay eggs without a rooster

The ultimate answer is no, you do not need a rooster in order to raise egg-laying chickens. You will not notice an impact in egg production by adding a rooster to your flock of chickens, however, there are obviously other benefits of having a rooster around if you enjoy their presence. As noted above, however, it is important to only keep one adult rooster around at a time to prevent fighting from occurring.

Making the Decision to Get a Rooster

As noted above, when you fertilize your eggs and allow them to hatch into new chickens you run the risk of adding additional roosters to your flock.

When roosters are young it is possible for you to keep them together, however as they get older, they will begin to fight to the point where injuries are inevitable. The male birds can be beneficial for meat however you will need to know how to house them separately and how to handle them humanely if this is the route you take.

If you are interested in expanding your flock, there are other options available to you. Consider sourcing local chicks and hens for example rather than attempting to breed your own.

If you do decide to breed your own chickens then it will benefit you to do some additional research on what this entails and to find an outlet to sell or give away any additional male chicks before they come of age.

How Do Chickens Mate?

Roosters are generally bigger with more colorful plumage than hens, but that is not always the case. You will know that you have a rooster when the rooster crows, and by the larger comb and wattle he sports. (By the way, roosters will crow all day long, not just at sunrise. Take this into consideration for your neighbors’ sake if you are going to attempt to breed chickens.)

When a rooster is ready to mate (and they are essentially ready to mate three or four months after they have lost their fluffy chick plumes!), the rooster does posturing and dancing. Part of the posturing is strutting.

He will lift his chest, neck and head high and begin to slowly strut near your hens. Not only is this posture supposed to impress the hens, but it is also supposed to alert them to the fact that the rooster is looking for a good time and about to pick a mate.

Next, the rooster will choose a hen. He will turn sideways so that his chosen hen will see how magnificent he is and get her “in the mood.” If the hen acquiesces willingly, she will then crouch low to the ground to wait for the rooster’s next actions.

There are “brute” roosters in chicken coops too. These roosters will take a hen by extreme force (i.e., the chicken equivalent of rape and assault!). In this instance, the rooster does not care about showing the hen anything.

He selects a hen, brutally pounces on her with his sharp talons, grabs her head, comb, and neck in his sharp beak, and has his way with the hen. It is a good idea to watch what kind of mating behavior your rooster has because the violent roosters can and will kill hens that try to refuse the rooster’s “advances.”

how do chickens mate

How Do Chickens Mate?

Chickens are birds, which means that fertilization occurs inside the female’s body before she lays the eggs. Many animals have a life cycle that begins with eggs, including humans. However, in the animal world, fertilization of eggs often occurs outside of the body, as is the case with fish or insects. This is not the case with most birds.

To make fertilization occur, birds have cloacas. This is a set of organs that includes their bladders, their reproductive organs, and their anuses. Essentially, there is one entrance and exit hole through which birds and chickens urinate, defecate and reproduce.

In order for chickens to mate, their cloacas have to be in direct contact with each other. In short, they have to be anal opening to anal opening.

No, chickens do not walk backward and mash their derrieres together, although that could work. Instead, after the rooster either does his strut and dance or his violent assault on a hen, he arches his back and shoves his anal opening and cloaca downward into close contact with the hen’s.

He rapidly shakes his behind for a few seconds to transmit the sperm to fertilize the eggs that are currently developing inside the hen’s ovaries.

Mating Frequency and Success Rates

Roosters will mate with intense frequency to ensure that their lineage lives on. Roosters can, and will, mate multiple times an hour, sometimes with the same hen, and sometimes with any willing hen in the coop.

Because only a small amount of sperm is transmitted at a time, and because most hens are only going to lay one egg at a time, this frequent mating is necessary to fertilize enough eggs to fill a nest.

The success rate of a rooster depends on a couple of factors. One, the age of the rooster is important. While a very old rooster can still mate, his ability to transmit sperm may be on the decline.

Additionally, an older rooster may not be able to grab and hold on to a hen during mating long enough to do the job correctly. Older roosters are also only able to manage mating with less than a dozen hens.

Two, the behavior of a rooster may terrify your hens such that they will do anything to get away from a savage rooster, and thus, mating may fail. Be sure to find a well-behaved rooster if you want several nests of chicks.

You should also know that hens will lay eggs with or without insemination, so you will have to be careful about taking eggs out of the hen house for food if you have a rooster walking about.

Hen’s Fertility

rooster and hen mating

Hens are essentially ready to mate when the rooster has wooed them. There is really nothing they need to do to physically prepare for the fertilization process because they are constantly producing eggs. If there wasn’t a rooster around, the hens would lay eggs anyway, but the eggs would never hatch into chicks.

The eggs that are unfertilized in the absence of a rooster become your breakfast. Most hens are fertile all of their lives. It is only when a hen is much older that she may slow down or stop producing as many eggs.

She could still mate and produce fertilized eggs and chicks, but typically not as many as she did when she was a younger hen. Really old hens stop producing eggs at all, and that is when they typically become Sunday dinner.

More Than One Rooster: Good or Bad Idea?

Roosters are territorial and they will round up their “harems” of hens so that other roosters cannot steal them. They will have major cockfights in the coop to gain dominance, too, with the winner getting total freedom and breeding rights. The loser, if that rooster survives the fight, should be removed for his own safety, and/or to avoid another fight he may not survive.

If you want to keep more than one rooster to have a better variety of good chicken genetics, consider swapping roosters out every couple of weeks. Another suggestion is to keep some hens in one coop with one rooster, and some hens in another coop with another rooster. Swap roosters when you want to mix up the breeding and mating a bit.

Buying a Mating Pair vs. Raising a Pair From Chicks

chicken and rooster mating

There are some pros and cons to buying an adult pair of chickens that are already well established with each other and will mate successfully versus buying a male and female chick you raise.

A mating pair is already ready to help you build a flock of chickens in your backyard chicken coop. You know that every nest of eggs will probably come from this breeding pair, but you will have to remove any male chicks from the chicken coop before the male chicks are ready to breed.

Chickens are not really susceptible to genetic deformations as a result of inbreeding, but you may want to avoid it all the same. If you are going to line-breed, watch for any abnormalities in chicks.

These abnormalities may be present as a result of a genetic defect in the line, and you will want to carefully breed your chickens to remove this defect in the line going forward. Ergo, considering purchasing a couple of different adult hens if you are going to start your flock with a breeding pair.

On the other hand, raising a mating pair of chicks, particularly if they are different subtypes of chickens and therefore not likely to be brother and sister, can work for you too. As the chicks grow, you can see the temperament in these chicks.

That is important to finding out if you have a good rooster or a violent rooster, which you would not know until the male chick(s) is/are fully grown. If you have an unpleasant rooster who behaves violently, you will not want to mate such characteristics into your chicks. Buying another rooster full-grown can help with that.

Summary

It isn’t difficult to mate chickens. They already know how purely by instinct. The problems arise when you either have violent roosters, too many roosters, or roosters and hens that are too old. Chickens will mate at the drop of a hat, and you can often catch them in the act.

Their reproductive organs are inside their bodies and stored in the same orifices as their anuses and urinary tracts, but their mating process prevents urine and feces from flowing into the reproductive organs.

Top 10 Tips to Keep Your Chickens Safe From Predators

protecting chickens from hawks

Chicken, a fluffy little bird, always embellishes your garden but, at the same time, chickens are most vulnerable and are easy prey to many predators.

Even though you are taking care of your chicken yet, you might be lacking behind somewhere and you can lose your chicken without even knowing the actual cause. I know how it feels as I had lost my chickens due to the same negligence.

It is quite delusional to believe that predators don’t eat chicken. They love to kill chicks and adult chicken just like rats and snakes, who also hunt them!

So, if you are anxious about your chicken and you want to know the ways that can ensure the safety of your chicken, then you are reading exactly the right article.

I am putting forth ten ways that guarantee the protection of your chicken.

How to protect chickens from predators

1. Identify the Enemy

how to protect chickens from hawks

The prime step to take is to identify the predators of your area such as possums, hawks, raccoons, snakes, owls, coyotes which are common.

Recognition of the enemy can help you to get into the right direction of adopting appropriate ways for the defense of your chickens.

Some of the predators are canny while some are carpetbaggers. Simple lawn safety can prevent any enemy.

You need to stay vigilant in the day and at night because numerous animals like raccoons don’t hunt in the day time.

Implanting a security camera can also be a helping tool in finding out the predator that is planning to convert your chickens into his food.

2. Cover the Coop

People typically focus on the ground and they forget that a predator can attack from above.

Many predators such as hawks or owls dive right in from the sky and will take your chickens away. Not only is this, but some predators like possums and snakes are excellent climbers.

So to keep chickens safe, a need is to cover coop with the help of a wire mesh.

But if you want to provide shade to your chickens, you can also use trap sheets instead of chicken wire.

Keep the coverage at the height of at least 5 to 6 feet to ensure more visibility and a reasonable height for your chickens so that they can quickly jump and can spread their wings.

3. Daily Collection of Eggs

how to protect chickens from predators

Eggs of the chickens are also known as the feast for predators. Snakes, rats, possums and raccoons are highly attracted to eggs.

You need to collect the eggs daily from the run because one single moment of negligence can put the life of your chickens at stake.

If you ensure the daily collection of eggs, you will discourage many animals, especially rats and snakes.

Eggs are for you to enjoy and not for the predators.

4. Block the entree holes

There is a dire need to check the coop every day. Any single entrée hole can prove fatal for your chickens.

Animals like weasels can squeeze through a ½ inch hole and nobody wants to see a weasel in the coop.

Therefore, every entrée hole should be blocked and you should not allow any outsider to sneak into your bird’s house.

You will be surprised to know how small predators like snakes can enter the coop through a tiny hole and can engulf your eggs and chicken in some cases.

Moreover, closing every entrée hole can create a problem for the ventilation for the chicken.

So to solve this issue, you must carve ventilation holes at the coop’s top and ensure the predators do not climb on the coop.

5. Use Electric Wire

protecting free range chickens from hawks

It is quite hard to have the surveillance of the coop, the whole day especially for the animals such as raccoons and possums who like to attack in the dark.

So, there is a need to use electric wire out of the coop. The electrical fence is to be placed at least 3 feet away from the coop as we don’t want to shock our chickens.

Electric shock should only terrify the predator and not to kill it as killing an animal, in such a way, is illegal.

Normally electric wire aids to get rid of a majority of animals and you don’t have to worry about your chickens at night.

6. Install underground Chicken Wire

Some vicious and starving predators can dig down the earth to reach your chickens.

It is quite mandatory to bury a chicken wire while constructing a coop as chicken wire helps to keep your chickens in whereas the hardware mesh keeps the predators out.

It is better to bury the chicken wire at least 2 feet deep while constructing a run. It will be ideal if it is 4 feet deep.

Not only this but the hardware mesh also needs to be buried so that any underground passage to reach the chicken should be blocked.

You can dig a pit 3 inches wide and 6 inches deep and can bury a hardware mesh to ensure underground security perimeters.

Making a floor of wire mesh is not encouraged as it can give cuts and sores to chicken’s feet.

7. Keep a check on the Biosecurity

possums eating chickens

As soon as your chickens go to roost in the evening, you need to thoroughly check the coop and pay attention to any scrap or leftover food.

Any leftover food is an open invitation for many predators, especially rats and snakes.

Once they enter the coop, then they, admittedly, are going to eat the eggs and the chicks.

Typically, we don’t consider rats as a predator but a rat is equally harmful as other predators.

So, a proper check and cleaning are needed so that no food or scrap can be used as a bait to compel predators towards the coop.

8. Escalate Visibility

If you are lucky enough to have a huge backyard, then trim the bushes and trees in order to get a vivid view of the coop.

Any overgrown bush within 50 to 75 feet of the coop should cut down so that the predators cannot find a place to camouflage themselves.

Predators are unlikely to attack in the open areas and no trees or bushes, around, will mitigate the number of attacks on the chicken.

Enhancing visibility will also aid in keeping an eye on your chickens for quite a long distance. You can easily do the chores along with the invigilation of the coop.

9. Implant Motion Sensing Light

possums eat chickens

The best solution to the night predators is the motion-sensing lights.  Animals like raccoons come out of their homes at night and prefer to search for their prey when there is no light.

A motion-sensing light lightens up as it senses anything roaming around. As the light switches on, the predator gets terrified and runs away.

You can install solar powered motion detecting lights. It will help you to not connect to any wires around the coop.

Furthermore, alarms can also get adjusted with the motion-sensing lights. As the light switches on, you will be warned of the danger roaming around your chickens.

This alarm activation will help you keep an eye over the coop even at night, and you can take action against the animals that are determined to hurt your pet chickens.

10. Lock up the Chickens at night

One of the significant blunders often committed by the people is that they don’t lock up their chickens.

Closing the door tight or putting some heavy objects in front of the door doesn’t mean locking up the chickens.

Numerous predators are smart, and they can easily open doors that are not properly locked.

I personally use three locks to ensure the safety of my chicken at night. One bolt is used on the main door of the coop, and the other two are used for the pop door.

An extensive locking system ensures maximum safety at night. Almost half of the security is guaranteed by the help of proper shutting of the chickens.

Chickens are near and dear to everyone and are needed to be fostered. The flesh of this bird tastes so good that every carnivorous and omnivorous wants to eat it.

But there is no need to worry about the predators out there. The aforementioned techniques are a natural remedy to your problems.

All you have to do is to build a coop, fence it up, install an electric wire outside the coop and you are good to go. Don’t forget to bury the hardware mesh.

We will take care of all your questions, so feel free to ask if any.

12 Tips to Take Care of Your Chickens

chicken care

So, you have bought baby chickens and you are falling head over heels with the creatures. We hope you know that they must be cared for too, and if you overlook that, the chances are that you may either end up having unhealthy chickens or you may lose them after they can no longer cope with their malnourished state.

Just like humans, chickens also deserve to be taken care of. Although some owners of chickens may consider it a daunting task because of the somewhat complicated process, the fact remains that you can effectively take care of chickens if you want to.

How Do I Take Care of My Chickens?

Now that you understand the importance of taking care of your chickens, you may now be wondering about the steps you need to take. Ideally, taking care of chickens isn’t as hard as many tend to paint it. That is because they don’t demand a lot and they can be contented with what you have to offer.

To make things a lot easier and comprehensible for you, we have broken down the procedures into different segments. You will find the ways of taking care of your chickens on a daily, monthly, quarterly/semi-yearly, and yearly basis.

That said, we have outlined and discussed below, some of the steps you can take when taking care of your chickens.

How To Take Care of Your Chickens On A Daily Basis

how to care for chickens

You need to start from the first steps and work your way down to the next. Daily care of chickens is the first step and the procedures below will help you do that.

1. Collect/Remove the Eggs

You have chickens that lay eggs. You are not supposed to leave the eggs more than the duration they are supposed to be there.

If the eggs the chickens lay are not meant to be hatched, the rule of thumb is that you must remove them as possible.

You don’t want your chickens to become broody. You want them to be healthy and happy at all times, right? That is why you need to collect the eggs and store them safely if they wouldn’t be hatched.

Moreover, the earliest collection of eggs makes it easier to minimize the chances of having more cracked eggs than you bargained for.

2. Don’t Forget the Chicken Feeds

Even though you may leave your birds to move about to source for food, that shouldn’t stop you from performing the primary duty of the birds when due.

Either you choose to feed the chickens with a specific amount of feed or you pour the feed into the large hanging feeder for the chickens to eat as much as they want.

3. Check and Refill Water

Feed and water are two of the most important things you need to have handy when looking to care for your chickens.

Your aim is to ensure that your birds have enough water and that the water is clean. Because of the feeding pattern of chickens, they may leave some droplets of their feed while drinking. Therefore, you need to check the water occasionally, preferably every two to three hours.

Aside from that, you also need to look at the water container. If it is slimy or it has become slippery, it is an indication that germs are lurking under the container. Hence, you have to thoroughly wash the container with dish soap and water. You can also use oxygen bleach or chlorine bleach to sanitize the water container.

Weekly Care of Chickens

caring for chickens

Every week, you have to carry out specific tasks to make sure that your birds are in good health. Here are some of the things you need to do on a weekly basis to care for your chickens.

4. Check the Bedding

Sometimes, your birds may be scavenging for food and in the process, they will knock over their feed or water. That, in turn, will soil their bedding.

Therefore, look in every week and see if the bedding is in order. If it isn’t, remove the previous ones and fill with a new bedding to keep the chickens warm.

5. Monitor Your Chickens

Make out time in a week to look at how your chickens are faring. They need more than feed and water to keep surviving.

Sometimes, some of the birds may get into danger and get hurt. Only a closer look will help you discover those bodily harms and other things you may have never thought would have happened to your chickens.

6. Tidy the Nesting Boxes

You have taken away the eggs to preserve them and keep them clean. You are lucky with that but you may not be so lucky the next time.

Why? It is because the nesting boxes may not be clean! Because those boxes are where your chickens lay their eggs, you want to make sure that they are clean at all times. That would in turn, keep giving you fresher eggs because the nesting is not soiled.

7. Thoroughly Clean the Water Dispenser

Indeed, you made out time to clean the water dispenser within the week. However, you also need to dedicate more time once a week to thoroughly clean the water dispenser.

Considering that the water dispenser is in continuous use within the week, the chances are high that it may have chicken poop or slime. In an instance that the dispenser has become slimy, the ideal thing to do is to change the entire water.

You will also use hot, soapy water to wash and remove germs from the water dispenser while two (2) teaspoons of bleach should be used with a gallon of water to sanitize the water dispenser.

Monthly Care for Chickens

how to take care of chickens

We’ve looked at how you can take care of your chickens on a daily and weekly basis. It is now time to look at how you can care for your chickens at the end of every month.

8. Change the Bedding Completely

It is time to entirely remove the bedding used by your chickens. It is important because the birds may have littered the bedding you had put there before.

However, you need to understand that the periods or times you can remove the bedding depends on the type of litter method or system you are using.

On the one hand, if you are using the Deep Litter Method, it is advised that you will replace the bedding with about four inches of bedding. Then as the chicken droppings begin to increase, you will also increase the number of added bedding. Ideally, you are likely to remove and change all the bedding twice every year.

If you don’t envisage that, you may consider the other option of removing and replacing the bedding once a month. This method is ideal if your chickens don’t drop much litter. You can also consider it if you are rearing your chickens in a suburban area or city.

9. Invest In Larger Chicken Coops for Backyard Chickens

You need to invest in and get larger chicken coops if you are rearing backyard chickens. That is because the smaller coops that have been constantly used are smaller and need to be removed.

By getting larger chicken coops (such as garden shovels), you will be able to remove the droplets, as well as the bedding. We have a complete guide to raising backyard chickens if you are wanting something more specific.

How To Care for Your Chickens On A Semi-Yearly Basis

how to care for a chicken

Before the end of the year, you need to take other steps to care for your chicken as a way of keeping the birds healthy.

Below are some of the semi-yearly best practices of caring for your chickens:

10. Prepare Your Birds for the Heat

Winter will definitely come around before the end of the year. You don’t want to be caught unawares and in extension, expose your chickens to harm.

When preparing your birds for winter, some of the things you can do are to:

  • Avoid heating up your chicken coops
  • Get heaters for your chickens’ water dispensers
  • Get a good roosting place for your chickens

11.  Consider Repairs

The end of the year signals the start of a new chicken rearing season. You want to be sure that you are not leaving anything to chance.

That is why it is important to look at the housing/roosting place for the chickens to see if there are parts that need to be repaired.

12.  Give the Coops A Thorough Cleaning

A thorough cleaning of the coops helps to keep your birds cleaner. In addition, the procedure is effective in get out the entire residue that may have been lurking around.

Helpful Tips On Caring for Your Chickens

chicken care guide

In as much as you have now understood and ready to implement the strategies to take care of your chickens, there are other important tips you need to be aware of.

Here they are:

  • Decide on the purpose of rearing chickens: Is it for fun or to make money by selling them?
  • Build a chicken coop or buy one if you can’t
  • Consider the costs of rearing chickens and be sure you can handle that before starting
  • Ensure that the chickens’ enclosures are not within the range of predators
  • Always use the correct type of feeds for your chickens

Final Thoughts On How To Take Care of Chickens

Rearing and taking care of chickens can be a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, you are happy because of the economic importance. On the other hand, you are bothered about the efforts you need to put in to make sure the birds are in good health.

No matter how you have been feeling about taking care of your chickens, we hope you now have enough insights on the right steps you can take when caring for your chickens.

Do you have other ideas you have successfully used in caring for your chickens? Do share them via the comment section so other chicken owners can get inspiration to help them cater to their chickens.

7 Ways to Catch a Chicken Easily

how to catch a chicken

Raising chickens in your backyard is a smart way to have a constant supply of eggs, provide manure, and derive entertainment. Sometimes, however, chickens get out, and you’d have to catch them despite their size.

Traditionally, catching your chicken involves chasing them around. If you’re like me who has given up on running, you might want to consider other ways. I’m going to show you how to catch a chicken without running and gasping for breath.

I’ve used these techniques for years to successfully catch my chickens and keep them from running away from the yard.

Catching a Chicken

Catching a chicken at night when it’s roosting can be pretty straightforward. When you have to do that during the day, you’d have to employ creative methods. Chickens will do everything possible to avoid you catching them because it’s in their nature to do so – the fear and flight response.

Interestingly, the chicken’s average speed of 9mph is just slightly higher than the average human speed of 9.8 MPH. What this means is that chasing chickens around the yard will always be a close call, and it can be frustrating. When you think the chicken is almost in your grip, it slips away again.

So, if you have a chicken that doesn’t like getting caught, consider the following methods:

Method 1: Capture the Chicken at Night

catching chicken

Occasionally, it’s easier to catch a chicken when they roost at night. While roosting, they are immobile and less conscious of their surroundings. For example, if you need to catch a chicken to check for a parasite, nighttime is the perfect time to do so. You’ll need to heed to the following instructions when trying out a night catch:

  • Locate where the chicken is roosting in the coop, or anywhere else the chicken might have escaped to.
  • Gently approach the chicken, and be as quiet as possible.
  • Avoid pointing your flashlight directing at the chicken as that might startle them; instead, focus the light to the ground.
  • When you’re close to the chicken, calmly grab it and hold it firmly to your body.

This method is particularly useful when the chicken has no chance to escape to an unknown location, and there’s no urgent need to catch the chicken. Chickens are likely to return to the coop at night to sleep because they are creatures of habit that hardly meander when night falls. They can decide to roost somewhere else, and it can become difficult for you to find them. The best way to avoid this is to teach them always to return home.

Method 2: Bait and Grab the Chicken

When you need to catch a chicken at daylight, baiting is the most common method you’d find. Chickens will typically flock over their feed, allowing you to approach them from behind for a catch. However, you have to be extremely quiet as the chicken will run away if it senses movement.

To Bait a Chicken:

  • Throw some portion of the chicken feed to an open space where the chickens are.
  • Use bread crumbles if the chickens don’t gather around the feed.
  • Once the chickens begin to forage, hover over the particular chicken you want to catch.
  • Grab the chicken in its crouched position by scooping it up gently. Avoid grabbing a chicken by the neck or wings.

Baiting a chicken is easier when you train chickens to always run to you for treats. If you regularly feed call and feed them, they’ll learn to run to you whenever you stand with some treats in your hands.

Method 3: Use a Chicken Trap

catch a chicken

If you have a chicken that always escapes catching, you might want to try out setting a live chicken trap. All you need do is place a live trap in the yard or where the chicken roosts. Then put some baits around it. The chicken is likely to fall into the trap soonest.

When you’re using a chicken trap, you have to be patient – take your time. What I usually do is sit and watch the chicken from a distance.  Chickens aren’t the smartest of birds; they are naturally nervous and typically run for protection. So, I avoid coming close to them so as not to cause any disturbance that might scare them.

You can get live traps from stores or make one yourself. Professionally-designed chicken traps are made with galvanized steel wire mesh, with a trap door that allows chickens to enter but stops them from leaving. They are usually collapsible, built to catch several chickens at the same time.

Method 4: Use a Poultry Hook

I have used a poultry hook to catch an escapee chicken more times than I can count. It’s always fun to watch the chicken trying to get free from the hook. What’s more fun, though, is your kids watching you running around the yard trying to snag a chicken.

How to use a poultry hook:

  • Observe the chicken as it moves about the yard.
  • Get close enough to snag the hook over its leg.
  • Pull the chicken close, and disentangle the hook.

Apply caution when snagging the chicken’s leg as their hollow bones could get injured by the hook. You should never use a hook on a chicken’s neck.

Method 5: Build a Secure Coop

catch the chicken

One of the best ways of preventing chickens from escaping the farm is by building a quality coop. A coop is a physical structure constructed with solid wood and high-quality chicken wire to serve as an enclosed space for chickens.

Chicken coops are usually elevated, with everything the chickens need to lead a healthy life. There are windows and doors, with the entire structure surrounded by chicken wire. Also present in a typical coop are roosting bars where the chickens sleep, and nesting areas where they lay and brood over their eggs.

The coop should be large enough to provide plenty of space for the chickens to move around. I recommend planning for about 3 square feet of floor space per chicken. Consider constructing nesting boxes that accommodate three chickens per box. You can build your scoop elevation with brick, wood, and cement blocks.

Another essential part of the scoop you should pay attention to is the floor. In our farm, we use linoleum-covered plywood as our flooring. If, however, the coop is not elevated, you can employ the dirt floor.

With a secure coop, there’s a reduced chance of the chicken escaping the yard.

Method 6: Catch the Chicken with a Fishing Net

Now, this is not a convenient way to catch a chicken, but it’s the go-to option when the chickens become familiar with your poultry hook or pole. If you can get the chicken to be in a confined space, then you can easily catch it with a fishing net.

It’s best to use a fine-meshed net, although a large fishing net can do the job too. The best way to go about it is by placing the net on the chicken’s path. Doing this is better than slamming the net down on the chicken.

Of course, the chicken is going to try breaking free from the net and might peck you through the net openings. Hugging the chicken close or covering it with a blanket will usually calm it down.

Trust is All You Need

how to catch chickens

Building up a trusting relationship with your poultry is the best way to have them close always. You can easily pick the chickens up, without having them run away in anxiety or fear. When your chickens have any reason to become nervous or scared of you, it becomes more challenging to catch them.

One way to ensure this is to hand-tame your chicken. When you buy new chicks, make it a habit to feed them with your hands, so they bond with you. Bonding will ensure they always run to you instead of running away.

Without a doubt, chickens are considered pets by most people, and you can establish a friendly relationship with them. That way, you can easily catch them when you need to do something urgently, like pick lice from their feathers, or administer drugs.

Another way to build trust is to never to do something undesirable – like medication – in the presence of other birds.

Conclusion

When you master catching your chickens with any of these methods, you’ll never have to engage in a race with them. Never forget that chickens are designed by nature to flee when they feel threatened, even by their lovely owner. So, you’ll always need to deploy the methods we’ve discussed so far.

If there any questions you need to ask about catching a chicken, feel free to drop them in the comment box.

Here’s a rundown of the different ways you can catch a chicken:

  • Capture the chicken at night
  • Bait and grab the chicken
  • Use a chicken trap
  • Use a poultry hook
  • Build a secure coop
  • Catch the chicken with a fishing net

How to Raise an Indoor Pet Chicken

indoor chicken

Have you ever thought about raising an indoor pet chicken? This idea could have crossed your mind because you don’t have a lawn or because you simply want to be closer to your chicken. Whatever the reason, raising an indoor pet chicken is possible and fun.

Many people cringe at the idea of raising a chicken right inside the house. Of course, indoor chickens aren’t like our typical pets such as dogs and cats, but who says they can’t be indoor pets too? Here’s all you need to know about raising an indoor pet chicken.

An Indoor Pet Chicken

Chickens are generally outdoor birds. They need lots of space to run around, and they love to forage. However, they can also enjoy staying indoors. Having a chicken living with you inside the house might seem like a whole lot of trouble, but if done the right way, raising an indoor chicken can be fun and rewarding.

The great thing about chickens is that, contrary to what most people think, they can adapt quickly to your lifestyle. In no time, cuddling with you on the sofa and watching television will become second nature to them. This bondingcan go on while they continue to produce fresh eggs for you.

We got into the act of raising an indoor chicken by accident. It all started when our chicken fell sick and needed extreme care. There was no way we could give her the attention she required without bringing her inside the house. We brought her in, and before we knew it, she became a part of the family.

In a matter of weeks, she knew her way around the house and would run straight to the living room whenever the TV came on. It became such an enjoyable experience that when she got better, we couldn’t bring ourselves to send her back outside.

Things to Consider Before Deciding on Raising an Indoor Pet Chicken

indoor chickens

While the idea of raising an indoor pet chicken might be thrilling to you, there are a few things you must consider before deciding to raise one:

1. Chickens Create Dander and Dust

Chickens don’t have fur, but many people are allergic to the dust and dander that they produce. Before raising a chicken inside your house, you must be sure that nobody in your family is allergic to chicken dust and dander. If anybody in your home is in the slightest bit allergic, you must find a place for your pet chicken outside.

2. It Takes a Lifetime Commitment

Are you ready to take care of the chicken indoors for her life? As mentioned earlier, a chicken finds it easy to adapt to your lifestyle, and if allowed to stay inside for a while, it would get used to that lifestyle and also bond with you. Afterward, it would be harsh to send it back into the cold coop after a long time of cozy living and bonding.

When you decide to raise an indoor pet chicken, you have to be prepared to do so for the chicken’s lifetime. A typical chicken lives for an average of ten years. That’s a long-term commitment, and you must consider this before making your decision.

3. Are Pets Allowed in Your Apartment?

If you’re living in a rented apartment, you have to check in with the landlord to know if you’re allowed to bring in pets. If pets aren’t allowed inside, there’s a high likelihood that chickens wouldn’t be welcome too.

4. Other Pets in the House

If you already have a cat or dog in the house, bringing in a chicken might be a bad idea. The dog or cat could scare, and even harm your indoor pet chicken.

How to Raise an Indoor Pet Chicken

indoor pet chicken

Now that you’ve checked all the boxes, let’s get right into how to raise an indoor pet chicken. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the entire process:

Choose the Right Indoor Pet Chicken

In choosing the right indoor pet chicken, you’ll want totake size and temperament into consideration. I prefer a hen to a rooster because the former is less excitable and gives fewer problems compared to the latter.

Besides size and temperament, the breed of the chicken also matters. It’s more convenient to raise some chicken breeds compared to others. For instance, the Silkie chicken is a friendly, quirky chicken that tops my list of the best chicken breeds to raise indoors.

She has lovely feathers that lack barbicels, making her fluffy in appearance. Also, the chicken has a silky plumage, and if you have kids, they’d love her.

The Sultan Chicken is another chicken breed you can consider raising indoors. It’s an ornamental bird, with a puffy crest and long tail. This chicken is elegant and non-aggressive, making her very easy to handle.

There are tons of other chicken breeds to choose from, and the following also make my list of the best indoor pet chickens: Cochin chicken, Barbu D’Uccles, and Polish chicken.

Prepare Where the Chicken Will Stay

You have to decide if the chicken would have full access to all areas in your house or of it would be restricted to specific areas in your home. Limiting the movement of the chicken in your house is not a bad idea; some people leave only the ground floor or some other area open for the chicken. You also wouldn’t want your chicken to have access to your children’s rooms or other areas where the chicken might walk into harm.

Also, you need to get an indoor chicken cage or coop so your chicken can play around it without supervision. In doing this, you want to provide the most natural environment for the chicken as much as you can. This practice would mean adding things such as some sawdust and straws.

The cage’s floor should have a substrate to help cushion the chicken’s body. Straw is the best substrate to use for the chicken’s bedding as it provides warmth and a healthy germ balance. The cage should also have enough room to allow the chicken to eat, move about, and sleep.

Chickens love to take dust baths, and this will always create a mess around their cage area. So, consider keeping the cage away from the kitchen and bedrooms. The areas around the cage should also be easy to clean, and I suggest you use linoleum flooring around the cage.

For proper hygiene, clean the chicken cage regularly. I recommend doing so at least three times a week.

Make Arrangements for the Chicken’s Poop

indoor chicken coop

Getting a ‘poop plan’ is probably the most crucial step you have to take. Many people who find the thought of raising a chicken indoors bizarre do so because they simply can’t imagine the chicken’s poop in their living room.

If you don’t get the poop arrangement right, you’ll be forced to send your chicken out sooner than you’d expected. Some chicken breeds give out waste more than others, so it’s essential to have this in mind when choosing a chicken.

Here are the best techniques I use:

1. Chicken Diapers

Yes, I know that sounds awkward, but there are chicken diapers. Just like the usual baby diapers, they help the chicken pet move about the house without you worrying about them messing up the whole place. Before getting diapers, ensure your chicken breed is well-suited for them.

2. Train Your Chicken Pet

You can choose to train your chicken, just like you would a puppy, with treats or a clicker to always use the litter box. To achieve this, put the chicken pet in a litter box when you notice she’s about to release waste and reward her with a treat afterward. That way, the chicken will begin to associate using the little box (good behavior) with getting treats.

After the chicken pet gets familiar with using the litter box, you can switch from using treats to using a clicker. The chicken will instinctively go to the litter box when she hears the clicker sound.

Some people prefer to clean up the feces as the chicken excretes them. Doing this is not very convenient, and there’s no guarantee you won’t miss some poop in some corners.

Caring For your Indoor Pet Chicken

house chicken

Once your chicken is inside, you’ve got to start caring for her immediately.

Hygiene: Ensure you clean the chicken’s environment regularly and adequately.

Clean and Fresh Water: Maintain a constant supply of fresh drinking water for your new pet. You can buy specially-made drinkers that prevent the chickens from falling into and drowning in them.

Good Feed: Provide a pelleted diet for your pet chicken. Fresh feed is essential for the growth and health of a chicken. Also, supplement her diet with apple cider vinegar (ACV).

Apart from ACV, you can add other supplements such as crushed garlic, fresh greens, probiotics, and protein-rich ingredients.

Bonding with your Pet Chicken

Bonding with your pet chicken is what makes her a pet in the first place. You have to observe your chicken daily to get to know her behavior and temperament. Doing this will also help you monitor the chicken’s health.

I talk to my pet chicken and call her by her name every time. I also enjoy mimicking her coos, clucks, and warbles because doing so helps me get closer to her.

Just like every other pet, show your pet chicken loads of affection. Make it a habit to gently rub the back of her neck, as every chicken loves that. When you’re not too busy, take out time to play with her.

Give the Chicken Some Outdoor Time

Chickens love being outdoors, and your indoor pet chicken is no different. So, make room for your chicken to take a walk outside daily. Besides, sunlight helps with egg production.

Conclusion

Raising a pet chicken is not only feasible but fulfilling. Like we’ve discussed so far, all you’ve got to do is put the necessary arrangements in place, and you are on your way to grooming a lovely family chicken.

Now, are you ready to raise a pet chicken?

  • Plan for where the chicken will stay
  • Have a ‘poop plan.’
  • Be prepared to care for your chicken, and
  • Be ready to bond with your pet chicken.

Feel free to drop any questions you might have in the comments box below. I’m happy to help.

10 Mealworm Farm Plans You Can DIY at Home

Mealworm Farm

Mealworms are larvae of the darkling beetle. They are filled with protein and perfect for feeding to chickens, reptiles, fish, and domestic birds. If you are adventurous and looking to save a few dollars on feeding your pets and livestock, consider a DIY mealworm farm. There are mealworm starter kits available but it is a simple and painless process to put together your own.

Unlike other bug farming options, like crickets, mealworm farms are ideal for those just starting in bug farming. Mealworms are less noisy than crickets. They also don’t fly or jump so you can raise them in any container that maintains the proper temperature and humidity.

Mealworms are not escape artists so raising them in a container with a wire mesh top and some duct tape will suffice. Let’s take a look at some of the DYI mealworm plans that can get you started with your very own bug farm.

1. Making Your Own Mealworm Farm 101

Making Your Own Mealworm Farm 101

The Happy Chicken Coop The Happy Chicken Coop has easy-to-follow plans for creating your own mealworm farm. Mealworms are a popular, healthy, and nutritious snack that provides the protein chickens need to lay an abundance of eggs. Mealworms are on the top of the list for healthy chicken treats.

Mealworms can get expensive to buy if you are feeding an entire flock. You can grow your own for a fraction of the cost. These DIY plans help you select the proper container and provide instructions for building a simple mealworm growing system.

The instructions help you choose a good location and explain the conditions needed to grow the larvae. They also provide suggestions on the types of material you can use for the base layer, the food source and breeding grounds for your mealworms. This is a self-contained ecosystem. Once you supply the first batch of live worms, it will continue to produce mealworms.

2. Mealworm Farm

Mealworm Farm

Mealworm Farm by velacreations promotes mealworm farms as an alternative source of protein for not only any omnivore’s diet, like pigs, canines, and poultry but also humans.

Mealworms are tasty and have a slightly nutty flavor and a palatable texture. In an emergency, mealworms could be a life-saving form of protein. They could be a source of protein for humans in an uncertain future.

Instructables has a DYI plan for a large-scale, multi-tiered mealworm farm. It can be constructed for as little as $30 and completed in a couple of days. It uses approximately 1.5 square feet and produces a pound to a pound and a half of mealworms each week.

This design creates a tower which contains three separate modules. There is a containing tray for the adults, the eggs, a nursery, and two trays for growing the mealworms.

An additional tray is used for the mealworms that are ready to harvest. This complex system will allow you to grow and manage each lifecycle of the mealworm efficiently and effectively. This plan is for the more serious mealworm farmer.

3. How To Raise Your Own Mealworms

How To Raise Your Own Mealworms

Reptiles Magazine website offer instructions on How To Raise Your Own Mealworms. The Reptile world uses mealworms as food for their pets and recognizes the benefits of raising your own. They have DIY plans that help you pack your mealworms with nutritional value and breed mealworms fast enough to meet the demands of your hungry reptiles.

Reptiles magazine not only provides the DIY instructions for creating a mealworm colony using a 66-quart plastic tub, but they also emphasize feeding additional food beyond the normal bedding source. They recommend feeding nutritious vegetables to your mealworms so the nutrition can be passed along to the reptiles.

These instructions recommend using an incandescent lamp or heat emitter on top of the screen. This will help maintain the proper temperature and provide a type of light that will not be detrimental to the mealworm’s health.

4. DIY Mealworm Farm

DIY Mealworm Farm

Mother Earth News has simple DIY instructions for growing your own mealworms at home. They recommend feeding mealworms to your poultry, game birds, and even your backyard birds. Their plans are as simple in creating a farm using a lidded box and some oatmeal.

Mother Earth states that you can use a plastic box, a tub, or even a drawer. Their supplies are as simple as some mesh or screen, duct tape, a canister of oatmeal, a paper egg carton, and two carrots or a potato. Add around 100 live mealworms are you are now an official mealworm farmer.

Instructions include using an egg carton for some added darkness. They suggest you check on the mealworms once a week and replace the oat bedding as needed. The vegetables will provide the moisture the worms need as well as provide extra nutrition.

5. How to Breed Mealworms

How to Breed Mealworms

Snake Tracks has their own set of DIY on How to Breed Mealworms. They recognize that feeding reptiles mealworms is a popular choice because they don’t escape or move quickly. They also live longer than other feeder insects.

Their DIY instructions recommend starting with 500 to 2500 live mealworms. It may be less expensive to buy the worms in bulk. They recommend getting mealworms that are healthy and well-bred. Their plans use three large rubber containers. They simply recommend drilling holes in the lids for ventilation.

Sanke Tracks recommends bedding the containers with oatmeal, wheat bran, or cornmeal. They also suggest using vegetables for moisture and nutrition. The vegetables they recommend are apples, carrots, or potatoes. You can also feed kitchen scraps like carrot tops, potato peels, or celery bottoms. They list all the steps and materials to set up your DIY mealworm farm.

6. How to Start Your Own Mealworm Farm

How to Start Your Own Mealworm Farm

Hello Homestead has DIY instructions on Text They believe mealworms are not only a great source of protein for your flock, but also for the more adventurous homesteaders looking to grow mealworms to feed themselves.

Homestead describes mealworms as “buttery, oaty, toasty, almost breakfast cereal-y”. Their DIY instructions include an 8-inch x 11-inch tub that is around 6 inches deep. From there they explain how to create your mealworm nest with fine wire mesh and duct tape using dry oats and bedding and feed.

Their recommendations for creating a self-sustaining population for human consumption is that you purchase your starter mealworms not from bait shops or pet stores, but from farms that produce mealworms for human consumption.

7. Mealworm Breeding DIY

Mealworm Breeding DIY has a video entitled Mealworm Breeding DIY that has one of the simplest and quickest ways to get you started raising mealworms. This homemade system uses a three-drawer plastic container and costs under $5 to make and 20 minutes to set up.

This 7- minute video is perfect for those that want to try their hand at breeding mealworms on a smaller scale. This method would produce enough mealworms to make a tasty and nutritious snack for any household omnivore that enjoys worms.

8. How to build a mealworm farm

How to Build a Mealworm Farm is a 6-minute YouTube video that covers how to make a farm using 2 slightly larger storage totes. The materials for constructing this farm also include a screen and wood. It is designed to hold around 500 beetles and can produce several hundred eggs a month.

This DIY mealworm project does require some wood cutting and stapling, but it is still a simple project for those looking for a slightly larger scale mealworm producing farm.

9. Better than Self-Sorting: Home Mealworm Farm Overview

If you want to go above and beyond the basic mealworm farm, you can get into sifting and sorting beetles, pupae, eggs, and worms into their own bins. Better than Self-Sorting: Home Mealworm Farm Overview is a more advanced method of raising mealworms. This video will explain to the serious mealworm farmers a great method for sifting and sorting. It also provides helpful links on where to purchase the necessary gear.

10. Step By Step Super & Mealworm Set Up

This last video will provide you with all the information you need to know about DIY mealworm raising. This 12-minute video goes into great detail on the setup and maintenance of a mealworm operation. How I Set Up, Keep & Breed Superworms & Mealworms | Step By Step Super & Mealworm Set Up is a great guide if you are seriously looking into raising mealworms.

Conclusion

Whether you are looking into a simple and easy method of raising a few mealworms or are serious about producing a larger quantity, one of these sources will be right for you. Check them out and find out how easy and foolproof it is to raise mealworms. Raising your own is extremely cost-effective and will allow you to add nutrients to the diet of the mealworms.

You can decide on the scale of the project you are ready to undertake. They range from a few minutes to several days. Find the one that will work best for you and get busy raising mealworms.