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.

8 ways to keep chicken water from freezing

how to keep chicken water from freezing

Have you noticed that your chicken’s water bowls are freezing over during the colder weather? Perhaps they’re freezing overnight, or you’ve noticed a layer of ice forming on the water surface. Don’t worry – there are many simple things you can do to help prevent your chicken water from freezing.

I use a blend of the different techniques I outline below, depending on how big the troughs are, and how often I’m home during the day.

Like all of our friendly pets and backyard animals, chickens need ready access to fresh clean water. During the warmer months, this isn’t a problem, but what happens when the temperature drops? There are a few really simple things you can do to help prevent your water bowls from freezing solid.

Change the water during the day

This is the oldest trick in the book. It works very well if you have smaller water containers. In the morning, fill your first bowl with water and leave it in the chicken run. At least two or three times a day, you can swap it for another fresh bowl.

Some people choose to use flexible containers like foil trays, so they can bend and drop the ice onto the ground. Others prefer to bring the frozen tray inside to thaw, and then take it back outside later on.

The weather and your available time will impact how often you need or want to do this. It’s a good idea if you’re home during the day but may not be practical if you work outside the home.

Float ping pong balls in the water

This is another trick for water troughs that aren’t very big. Ping pong balls float on the water surface. This breaks the tension on the surface and can slow the freezing process down. It won’t prevent it completely but it can buy you more time between water changes.

It works because the wind moves the ping pong balls around. When the chickens take a drink they’ll also disturb the balls. This movement keeps the water from getting cold enough to freeze. It won’t work if there is no breeze, if the temperature plummets quickly, or if you’re not able to check on the water at least once a day.

Salted water bottles

chickens water freezing

Do not add salt to your chicken’s water trough! It’s true that salty water (brine) is much slower to freeze compared to fresh water. Your chickens can get very sick if they drink salty water, but there is a way to use salty water to your advantage.

If your water trough is large enough, you can use large plastic soda bottles. If your trays are smaller, use smaller bottles. It’s important that the bottles are plastic. Metal and glass transfer colder temperatures much faster than plastic.

Make up a brine solution and fill your bottles with it. Then, float the bottles on the surface of your chicken’s water trough. This works in a similar way to ping pong balls, but the size of the bottle will help create a lot more movement on the water’s surface.

The salted water will be much slower to freeze, so it will move around and delay the coldest temperatures reaching the water straight away.

This is a very useful trick if you have larger water troughs, as ping pong balls alone won’t provide enough disturbance over a larger area. Your chickens will also learn that the ice is weakest where it begins to form against an edge, so having the large bottles will provide wider edges for them to exploit.

Breaking up the ice

This method is about as laborious as changing the water bowls two or three times a day, but it might work for you. Go and check on your flock regularly and break up any ice that’s formed on the surface of your water troughs. You might like to remove it to prevent it cooling the remaining water faster.

Using boiling water

If you keep a woodfire burning throughout the colder seasons, this tip might be an easy one for you. Keep a pot of water on the fire, or otherwise find a way to boil it. Take the hot water out to the trough and pour it over the surface ice.

This will defrost the ice in no time, and it won’t hurt your chickens. This is because the boiling water will quickly thaw the ice and mix with the cold water underneath. You can be sure that the water isn’t too hot by mixing the water together with a spoon or a stick. You can also use your skin to test the temperature of the water but be careful!

Electric water heaters

keep chicken water from freezing

Also known as heated chicken waterers, these electric devices keep your chicken’s water liquid no matter the temperature outside. They connect to your electricity supply so you’ll either need power at the coop or be willing to run an extension cable out to it.

Heated chicken waterers do use a lot of power, so you will need to consider whether convenience or cost is more important to you. Some do use a thermostat, so it will only turn on when the water begins to freeze.

There are many different styles of heated water dispensers. Some use nipples to drip feed water to the chickens, while others warm the bowl the water sits in. One style is similar to a hot plate – you rest your bowl on top and the heat conducts through it. This is one time a metal bowl is preferable to plastic.

You may like to experiment with them to see which suits you and your girls the best.

A slightly cheaper option may be to buy a dog’s heated food bowl. They may not work in quite the same way as chicken water heaters but the result will be much the same.

Use larger troughs

If you want to prevent your chicken’s water trough freezing over in winter, you may need to change the vessel you choose to serve the water in. Plastic troughs are best, as I mentioned earlier, it conducts colder temperatures less easily than metal.

Larger surface areas take longer to freeze over compared to smaller ones. Deeper water also takes longer. Experiment with replacing your current troughs with larger, deeper ones. You could combine this strategy with the ping pong balls or salted water bottles for extra security.

Heat the coop and keep your water inside

keeping chicken water from freezing

This tip only works in certain circumstances. Depending on just how cold it gets where you are, you may need to give your girls a bit more help to keep warm. Chickens can stand cold weather well enough, but deep freezes can potentially kill them.

If you live in an area that has dangerously cold or prolonged freezing spells, you might like to try heating the chicken coop itself. This will likely mean insulating it and installing heaters. It will keep the girls warm and safe.

If you do this, be prepared to face a higher than average power bill. Some people install electric heaters while others use heat lamps. Assess your coop and decide which will be the safest option. Remember that straw and wood shavings have the potential to be set alight by radiant heat.

If you do decide to warm your coop and prevent your girls from wandering outside in the cold, it makes sense to keep a water source inside the coop. It will encourage them to stay inside where it’s warm, and the ambient temperature will help prevent the water from freezing.

Keep in mind that your flock may spill the water onto the surrounding nesting areas if your coop is small. You might need to pay extra attention to the cleanliness of the coop if you’re keeping food and water inside, even for brief periods of very bad weather.

Wrap Up

When we decide to bring chickens into our lives we take responsibility for their welfare, health and happiness. This means going the extra mile for them when the weather is cold. Here’s a summary of my top tips for stopping your chicken water from freezing over.

  • Change the water two or three times a day
  • Use boiling water to melt ice and raise the temperature of the drinking water
  • Float ping pong balls on smaller troughs to break surface tension
  • Float bottles of salted water on larger troughs to prevent rapid freezing
  • Larger troughs will freeze slower than smaller ones
  • Chicken water can be heated using warming bowls, heat pads and other dispensing devices
  • The coop itself can be heated, and water can be kept inside

Can you share the ways you keep your chicken water from freezing over? It’s a chore no doubt, so any helpful tips you’d like to share will be appreciated by me and every other reader in our community!

Chicken Dust Bath: Everything You Need to Know

chicken dust bathing

Have you just watched one of your chickens frantically shower dirt all over herself? You’ve probably just seen her take a dust bath! If you’re new to keeping chickens, it might be alarming to watch your girls take a dust bath for the first time. Don’t worry! It’s the perfect way for your chickens to stay clean and healthy.

Some new chicken owners worry when they see chickens digging holes out in the chicken run. They wonder if the birds will start laying eggs away from their nesting boxes. Chickens like to keep their roosts and laying areas very separate from their bathing areas, so don’t fear.

I’ve written up this little article to explain what dust bathing is, why chickens do it and how you can help give your girls the best dust bath experience. I’ve even done a bit of troubleshooting for you about how to help your chickens dust bathe during cold and wet weather. Let’s go.

What is a chicken dust bath?

It helps to remember that chickens were once wildfowl. If you think about it, you’ll soon realize that chickens need to keep clean like any other animal. It’s natural for chickens to use loose dirt and sand to help keep them clean and healthy.

Chickens will scratch out a small depression in loose sand, dirt or even wood chip shavings. Then they’ll sit in it and use their claws and wings to cover themselves in the dirt. Your girls will be sure to work the loose particles into every nook and cranny.

It might help you to think about dust baths as similar to using dry shampoo. The dirt will soak up excess oil and leave the feathers nice and clean. It’s also fantastic for suffocating lice and mites. It’s their natural way of warding off those nasty parasites.

While dust bathing, your chickens will use the time to preen out old feathers, remove sheaths from new feathers and generally freshen themselves up.

Dust bathing can take quite a lot of effort for a chicken. Don’t be surprised if you find your girls asleep on their sides or even on their backs after a good bathing session. It looks alarming but they aren’t dead, they’re taking a well-deserved rest.

If one of your girls decides to take a dust bath, you might see the other chickens following suit. Soon your flock will all be frantically writhing around in your coop, having a spa party. It’s a good idea that it happens at the same time – it’s another way chickens help to control a pest infestation among themselves.

Where do chickens dust bathe?

Chickens will seek out an area of loose dirt or sand in your coop. If that’s not available, they might use wood shavings that you’ve laid down in the nesting area. Some people think that the hollow depression is a laying area for eggs, but it’s not. Don’t worry, they will continue to lay in their nesting boxes.

If your soil is very heavy or mostly clay, you may need to get a delivery of some builder’s sand. Leave it in a flattened pile in one area of your chicken run. Your girls will flock to it. As they use it the sand will spread out, helping to improve the soil quality for bathing over time.

How can you help your chickens dust bathe?

There are ways you can supercharge your chicken dust bath area. Think about adding some of these easy to access ingredients. They’ll help ward off bugs, make cleaning easier and keep your girls nice and clean.

Diatomaceous Earth

This naturally occurring substance is a powerful antibacterial and antiparasitic. Sprinkle it lightly over dust bathing areas. You may already have some to hand if you’ve treated the coop for mites and lice in the past. It’s made of very fine particles so wear a dust mask when you apply it.

Be sure to only use a little, as it’s quite potent.

Wood ash

Do you have a fire pit or wood stove at home? Collect the wood ash and sprinkle it around the coop for delightful dust bathing. It’s made of fine particles so it will help to reach every area your chicken wants to clean.

If your birds eat a little of it while they’re scratching or foraging, they’ll get a little vitamin boost of magnesium and vitamin K, too. Please only use uncontaminated wood ash. If you’ve used liquid fuels or fire starter blocks the remnants can make your chickens sick.

dust bathing

Herbs

I love adding fresh and dried herbs to my nesting boxes, but they can also be used as a dust bathing supplement. Dried lavender will help deter flying pests like mosquitos and also crawlers like mites and lice. Dried lemon balm is another antiparasitic and may also help protect any cuts or scratches as an antibacterial. Rosemary and mint are also said to help.

Sand

If you want to turbocharge your dust bathing area than lay some sand down in your chicken run. You don’t have to get high quality sand, builder’s sand is fine. This is particularly helpful if you have clay-based soils that aren’t naturally loose enough to use for dust bathing.

It would be very simple to mix up a bin with these ingredients. Keep a tight lid on it and use a scoop to add to your chicken dust bathing area whenever you notice it’s looking a little sparse.

What about dust bathing in winter?

Do you live in an area that gets very cold in winter? You might notice that your girls can’t bathe if the ground is frozen, muddy or covered in snow. Chickens do need to take a dust bath even when the weather is cold. You can’t deprive them of this process until the weather warms up.

So what can you do to help your chickens dust bath in winter? It can be as easy as building them a little sheltered dust bathing station. You’ll need to make a raised sandpit and fill it with sand and dry dirt. Wood shavings can also be a useful filler, and chickens seem to love it.

Be sure that the sand is deep enough for your girls to burrow into. It should have four to six inches of material. Remember that the dust bathing process is quite messy, so if you want to contain the dirt as much as possible, try to leave at least a foot of wall above the dirt line.

To keep it try (and to keep predators out of it) make sure it’s covered at night. Use a tarp or another lightweight covering to protect it from rain. Covering the dust bath should also help prevent the dirt from freezing during cold spells.

chickens dust bathing

If you want to put a bit more effort into it, you could build a shelter over the top of the dust bathing station. The aim will be to keep the rain off the dirt, so it remains dry enough to bathe in during the day.

If you’re not willing or able to build a weatherproof dust bath in winter, see if you can make some changes to your closed coop. Adding sand, dirt and wood shavings inside the coop itself may help your girls bathe in peace. Make sure it’s as far away from the nesting boxes as possible.

The great news is, you don’t have to retire the dust bathing box when winter is over. Let the girls use it all year round. Just remember that you’ll need to maintain the dust bath a little more regularly than the other open bathing areas. Top it up with sand when required, and don’t be afraid to add some of those ingredients I mentioned above.

Conversely, if it’s too hot for your chickens to bathe in the open, the sheltered versions will do well to keep the dirt cool. Get creative – you could use a large beach umbrella over popular bathing spots to help keep the sun off the dirt and your girls at the same time.

Wrap Up

So what do you think? Are you feeling more prepared now? I hope I’ve given you enough information to help your chickens keep themselves clean and happy. Dust bathing is such a vital component of overall flock health. Without it, parasites like mites and lice can quickly take hold.

  • Here’s my top takeaways about chicken dust baths:
  • It’s great fun to watch your flock fluff around in the dirt
  • Dust baths soak up oil and remove dead skin cells which are food sources for parasites
  • Chickens can fall asleep after a bath in some surprising positions, but they are ok
  • Use additives like diatomaceous earth, wood ash and dried herbs to turbocharge your bathing area
  • Add builder’s sand to your chicken run if your soil is mostly clay
  • Build sheltered, weatherproof dust bathing areas to help your girls stay clean all year round

What ideas have you tried? I’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments below.

Chicken Combs: Everything You Need To Know

chicken comb

The majority of chickens have combs, but why? The chicken comb is a very important part of the animal that serves several purposes. We’re going to go over why chickens have these combs and how to keep them healthy. We’ll also talk about the different types of combs, and more.

The Nine Types of Chicken Combs

Different chicken breeds have different combs. They include:

  • Buttercup –The Sicilian Buttercup is the only breed to have this comb. It looks like a variation of the single comb. However, the points on this comb come full circle to form a small crown.
  • Single –The single comb has distinct points at the peak. It’s upright, and it’s the comb we think of when we think of chickens. Ayam Cemani, Barnevelders, Faverolles, Leghorns, and Rhode Island Reds are examples of chickens with this comb.
  • Carnation –The Carnation is a very rare comb type. There are extra points on this comb that stick out at right angles along the comb’s back. The Penedesenca and Empordanesa are the only two breeds with it.
  • Pea –These combs are very small, and they’re excellent for chickens that live in climates with harsh winters. Brahmas, Ameraucanas, and Buckeyes have these combs.
  • Cushion –This is a much smaller version of the strawberry comb. It looks like a small cushion that sits forward on your chicken’s head. The Chanticleers breed has it.
  • Rose –This comb sits very flat to your chicken’s head. It won’t get frostbite, so it’s ideal for climates with harsh winters. There should be a spike at the back of the comb. Rose-combed Bantams and Dominiques Wyandottes have this comb.
  • Strawberry –This chicken comb sits at a forward angle on your chicken’s head. It looks like a strawberry, and you can see it on Yokohama and Malay chickens.
  • V – Known as the Devil’s Horn, the V comb is found in a select group of chickens. Breeds include the Sultan, Crèvecœur, and La Flèche.
  • Walnut –This comb forms a large walnut-shaped that sits forward on your chicken’s head. Orloff and Silkie have this comb.

Chicken Comb Uses

chicken combs

The chicken comb is widely considered to be an organ. It has several useful purposes associated with it.

Body Temperature Control

Chickens don’t sweat, so their comb and wattles help them regulate their body temperatures. When it’s hot out, the comb will help diffuse some of the heat to keep the chicken cool. During the winter months, it helps to retain body heat to keep the bird comfortable.

Establishing Dominance

The pecking order is real with chickens. There are going to be more dominant hens and roosters in a flock. Combs play a role in establishing this order. Typically, chickens with larger combs are more dominant and aggressive than chickens with smaller combs. This isn’t the rule 100% of the time, but it’s true for the majority of chickens.

Health Indication

Your comb’s coloring can clue you in to your bird’s health. A healthy comb is black, purple, or red, depending on the chicken breed. A pullet may be light pink. If the comb is shrunken or pale, this can indicate health problems. It could mean your chicken has worms, is anemic, molting, or has heat exhaustion. A blue comb can mean your chicken has circulatory problems.

Pullet Age

It can be challenging to determine your pullet’s age. In turn, it can be difficult to discern when they’re going to be old enough to lay eggs. A comb can help. The comb will grow bigger and turn purple or red as your pullet matures. This growth and color change is an indicator that they’ll start to lay soon.

Sexual Attraction

Once your chicken reaches sexual maturity, their combs will grow. The wattles and combs are a sign of strength and vitality. A male chicken has a large and pronounced comb, while the females have smaller ones. Studies show that hens that have larger combs tend to lay more eggs.

Chicken Comb Health Issues

chicken comb turning white

Chicken combs can suffer from a host of health problems. You want to address these issues quickly to stop them from getting worse.

Fowl Pox

Fowl pox comes in two types, and it’s a viral infection. It’s extremely contagious, and it’s slow-spreading among a flock. It only attacks the areas on the chicken that have no feathers. You’ll notice white or grey lesions on the wattles, face, or comb. Weight loss, decreased egg-laying, and lethargy is other symptoms. Treatment is very slow, and it can take months or years. Prevention is key. Plant insect repellents and get them vaccinated.

Frostbite

If your chickens get exposed to freezing temperatures or moisture, they’re at risk for frostbite. Once your chicken’s comb gets frostbite, the tissue gets damaged. There’s no fixing it except to remove the dead tissue.

Minor frostbite will typically heal by itself after a few days. Preventing frostbite is key. Make sure your chicken’s coop has no drafts, is well-ventilated, and is warm. We have a complete guide to keep your chickens warm in winter if you are wanting something more specific.

Pecking

If a hen oversteps, and another hen may come along and offer a well-aimed peck at her comb. This can result in a small cut. However, the comb is full of blood vessels. This means it can ooze quite a bit of blood.

To stop the bleeding, apply direct pressure to the area. It’ll start to clot. If one chicken gets targeted, check it over. Chickens can sense sickness early, and they’ll try to drive the sick chicken out.

Worms

Your chicken’s comb will indicate other health problems. For example, worms are a common health problem with chickens. They’re also contagious. Your chicken’s comb will display a reaction to an infestation of worms. It’ll slowly drain the vibrant red coloring. Instead of standing up, it’ll hang limp. These are two big signs your chicken has something wrong with it, health-wise.

How to Keep Your Chicken’s Comb Healthy

pale chicken comb

You want to keep your chicken’s comb as healthy as possible. There are several ways you can accomplish this, and we outlined them below.

Look for Excessive Pecking

Sometimes, several chickens will gang up on one and peck them excessively. This can be bad for your chicken’s health, especially if they concentrate on the comb.

You want to remove any chicken that seems to be getting picked on. You can put smaller or underweight chickens in their own pen. Allow them time to heal and get healthy before you reintroduce them back into the main flock.

Antibiotics

Open sores or blisters are prone to infection. Make sure you don’t accidentally pop any blisters and pay attention to open areas. Speak to your veterinarian and see if they recommend any antibiotics. This could be to prevent infection or help your chicken heal faster. You can add a layer of vaseline to large combs during the winter to prevent frostbite.

Infection or Dead Tissue

Your veterinarian should remove any dead or dying tissue from your chicken’s comb. They’ll also tell you how to best prevent infection and bring the comb back to full health. If there is an infection, they may recommend you apply topical antibiotic ointment until it heals.

Color and Texture

Any change in your chicken comb’s color or texture is an indicator that something isn’t right with your chicken. Keep a close eye on all of your chicken’s combs. They should be a healthy color without any flaky or dry areas. There should be no lesion, blisters, or torn tissue.

Frequently Asked Questions

hens combs

1. Do chickens lose their combs?

Normally, no. The comb is an organ that is packed with blood vessels. Unless your chicken is sick, the comb shouldn’t shrivel up or look unhealthy. Your hens may drop a comb size when they quit laying, but they won’t completely lose the comb.

2. Can a chicken comb grow back?

If a chicken comb falls off or sustains injuries due to an illness or injury, it won’t grow back. Your chicken’s comb can heal from whatever caused it to shrivel up or sustain injuries in the first place.

3. Can you eat chicken combs?

Yes. You can barbeque and grill a chicken comb just like you would any other part of the chicken. The chicken comb doesn’t have much taste, but you can fry it up to be crispy.

Summary

Chicken combs are an important organ on your bird. They help indicate their health and help you keep them healthy. It’s a good idea to start paying attention to them. Also, take steps to keep them in good shape. Your chickens will thank you.

How often do chickens lay eggs?

how often do chickens lay eggs

Raising your own chickens brings with it lots of benefits—they clean weeds and insects from your yard, work as natural garbage disposals of kitchen scraps and produce excellent fertilizer. But, of course, the real advantage to keeping chickens is the supply of tasty, fresh eggs.

You might be wondering, though, how often do chickens lay eggs? Broadly speaking, there are four main factors relevant to answer the question of how often do chickens lay eggs: the hen’s breed, age and health, and lifestyle, and the environment.

Breeds

More than any other factor, a chicken’s breed determined the frequency and rate of its egg production. So how often do chickens lay eggs if we consider the factor of breed? When it comes to laying, breeds are broken into two broad categories: production breeds and heritage breeds.

Production breeds provide large quantities of eggs, but only for a short period. After two years, their egg-laying rate drops off considerably.

Heritage hens provide a more continuous, sustained production of eggs—usually at a consistent rate over three to five years—but they are slower to start, and they produce fewer eggs when they do lay. Some breeds, such as Rhode Island Reds, are available in both categories, but others are only found in one.

During their peak laying period, some chickens can produce one egg every 24 to 36 hours. During this period, it typically takes the chicken’s reproductive system 24 to 26 hours to actually form the egg (20 hours of that is spent on developing the calcium-heavy shell alone).

Most of the work of forming the egg during this process occurs at night, while the bird is sleeping and conserving energy from other bodily systems.

30 minutes after an egg is laid, the yolk for the next one is released from the ovary and the process of forming the next one begins. At peak performance, a chicken lay between eight and 12 eggs before its body will pause for one or two days to recover, and then it will resume its regular schedule.

The answer to the question “how often do chickens lay eggs” depends, then, on the breed, though on average—and assuming good health and living conditions for the chicken—you should expect to get around 250 to 280 eggs from a healthy, well-fed chicken over the course of its life.

how often does a chicken lay an egg

The ten most productive breeds and their average output are:

  • Leghorn: four to six medium white eggs per week.
  • Sussex: three to six large light brown eggs per week.
  • Rhode Island Red: three to five large brown eggs per week.
  • Plymouth (or Barred) Rock: four large brown eggs per week.
  • Delaware: three to four light brown eggs per week.
  • Barnevelder: three to four large dark brown eggs per week.
  • Welsummer: three speckled eggs per week.
  • Java: three medium brown eggs per week.
  • Houdan: two to three small white eggs per week.
  • Sultan: one small white egg per week.

Age and Health

After breed, the two most important variables in answering the question “how often do chickens lay eggs” are its age and health.

While different breeds experience slightly different timing for egg-production over their lives, generally speaking, most chickens will follow the same schedule. Most hens will begin to start laying eggs around 18 to 20 weeks of age. Egg production pace will typically reach its peak when the hen is around 30 to 32 weeks old.

After that, the rate of egg production will drop off steadily and most home-raised chickens will stop laying entirely between the ages of five and seven years. (Industrial egg farms usually retire their layers when they reach two years of age, but this is because of the decrease in the rate of egg production, not because the chickens will no longer lay at all.)

If a chicken at peak egg production age suddenly slows or stops laying, it may be an indication of a medical condition or disease. Chickens are susceptible to a number of diseases that can reduce egg production, such as coccidiosis and infectious bronchitis. Fowlpox is a particularly virulent infection that can causes chickens to lose body mass and stop laying.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of diseases in chickens and to keep daily records of egg collections, so you can spot a slow-down in production and determine if the slowing rate of egg production is a result of a more serious, potentially contagious condition that could sicken or kill the rest of your flock.

If you suspect a disease is responsible for slowing your chickens’ egg production, consult a livestock veterinarian as soon as possible so they can help diagnose and remedy the problem.

You can get more information on our article: 8 Main Reasons Why Chickens Stop Laying Eggs.

Lifestyle Situation

how often do chicken lay eggs

Diseases caused by poorly maintained coops or a failure to attend to the flock’s health are related to another variable that can impact egg production: lifestyle situations for the birds. These situations relate to the context of the flock’s quality of life, including diet and space. Answering the question “how often do chickens lay eggs” requires attending to these details of the bird’s life.

In order to physically make an egg, the chicken’s body requires a balanced diet that provides energy, protein, and calcium. Laying chickens need to consume a diet that is 16% protein, 3% calcium, and 0.5% phosphorous, as well as being rich in nutrients such as sodium and vitamin D. They also need a constant supply of clean, freshwater.

Without these sources of nutrition, the chicken’s body will slow or stop the production of eggs in order to re-assign the distribution of any nutrients it is getting to its own survival. Chickens who are mainly fed scratch feeds and table scraps, for example, will soon stop laying because those diets lack these nutrients.

Instead, fed your chickens a premium laying mash or pellet, supplemented with occasional fresh fruit and vegetables, mealworms, and crushed oyster shells. We have a complete guide to feeding your chickens if you are wanting something more specific.

For each laying chicken in your flock, you must have two to three square feet of space per bird within the coop and eight to 10 square feet of space in the outside run.

Any less than these minimums and your chickens will experience stress and conflict between birds that reduces egg production. In addition, the coop, nest boxes, and run must be cleaned regularly and kept free of accumulated waste that can lead to disease, parasites, and stress.

The presence of these things will quickly stop egg production, as can the failure to remove eggs from their nest boxes within four to six hours of being laid. The boxes themselves should be lined with a soft and comfortable bedding material.

Make sure that you inspect the coop regularly to ensure it is fully enclosed: if predators can get in, they will often steal the vulnerable eggs, reducing your total.

Environment

how to take care of chickens

There are some variables in the answer to the question of “how often do chickens lay eggs” that you cannot control. These environmental factors, including time of year and the weather, can greatly impact your flock’s productivity.

Even healthy, well-fed hens at their peak production age will slow their laying as the temperature drops in the late fall and early winter, though there are some specific winter breeds (Plymouth Rocks, for example, and Buckeyes) that will keep going as the snowfalls.

Extremely high temperatures, such as those over 100-degrees Fahrenheit, can also slow or stop production temporarily. If relative humidity exceeds 75% you will also see the laying slow or stop. Typically, you should expect a normal output only when the temperature outside is around 52- to 79-degrees Fahrenheit.

How often do chickens lay eggs? It will also depend on daylight, which is another variable that shifts with the seasons. Chickens require about 16 hours of light to stimulate their laying cycle, which means that between the summer solstice and winter solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere), there will be a gradual reduction in the laying rate and quantity.

When daylight drops to 10 hours, expect around a 50% rate of production, and at 6 hours, only a 20% rate. During this period of waning light, the chicken’s body is programmed to molt and slow down its systems, leaving no energy or nutrients for the egg-development process.

Other weather-related events may also impact answers to the question “how often do chickens lay eggs”. There is some evidence that sudden changes in temperature, cloud cover, and air pressure—before and after a storm system, for example—can reduce egg development. Even eclipses can throw their cycle off briefly.

How often do chickens lay eggs?

The number and rate of egg production in chickens will vary depending on factors such as breed, age, health, diet, living conditions, and time of year. On average, however, most breeds will provide around 250 eggs over their lifetime and, at peak age, will lay approximately every 24 to 36 hours.

4 Basic Phases to the Chicken Life Cycle

life cycle of a chicken

The United Nations estimates there may be as many as 23 billion chickens on this planet right now.

With less than 8 million of us, that means there are nearly three chickens for every one person!

Yet, factually speaking, we don’t really know all that much about the chicken life cycle. Yes, we know (or can infer) that chickens reproduce quickly – the numbers speak for themselves there!

We know that we eat a lot of chickens and a lot of chicken eggs. And we know that there are different breeds of chickens that can look quite different on the outside even though they are basically the same on the inside.

But what is the chicken life cycle? Does it have different parts? How long does it take a fertile chicken egg to hatch? How many years does an adult chicken live? Let’s explore these and other interesting questions about the chicken life cycle!

Chicken Life Cycle: An Overview

chicken life cycle

There are four basic phases to the chicken life cycle.

Phase 1: Embryo

The embryo phase starts the moment the egg gets laid. It takes 21 days for this phase of life.

Phase 2: Chick

The chick phase starts on day 21 when the chick hatches. The length of time it takes for this phase depends on the specific breed of chicken.

Phase 3: Pullet (Adolescent)

The pullet stage is often forgotten about when you think about chicken development. As it turns out, chickens are just like people in this way – they have to become teenagers before they become adults.

Phase 4: Adult

The adult chicken’s phase of life can last up to seven years. The lifespan of an adult chicken depends on breed and also on husbandry.

So now let’s look more closely at what happens during each of these four basic chicken life cycle stages.

Chicken Life Cycle As An Embryo

chicken egg cycle

Female chickens can lay two kinds of eggs: infertile and fertile. Only the fertile eggs will hatch and become baby chicks.

When a female chicken lays a clutch of fertile eggs, it takes approximately 21 days before the little chicks will start to emerge.

The moment the egg gets deposited into the nest, the action begins.

Day 1: Tissue begins to form and develop.

Day 2: The heart gets made and starts beating.

Day 3: The circulatory system begins forming and the chick’s tail bud appears.

Day 4: The little chick’s limbs begin to grow, including wing buds and leg buds. The brain and eyes also begin to form.

Day 5: The chick gets knee buds and elbow buds.

Day 6: Individual digits form for the chick’s toes and claws. The beak also starts to form.

Day 7: The beak continues to form and the egg tooth appears (what the chick uses to break out of the egg). The comb also starts developing.

Day 8: The little chick starts to grow feathers.

Day 9: The mouth opens up

Day 10: The chick’s claws start to form.

Day 11: Tail feathers begin to grow in.

Day 12: The feet and legs start to form scales.

Day 13: The chick gets eyelids.

Day 14: The chick’s body turns so the head is at the larger end of the egg.

Day 15: The chick’s gut is drawn in towards the abdominal area.

Day 16: Feathers cover the chick’s whole body.

Day 17: The chick’s head draws down between the legs.

Day 18: The chick’s body completely fills the interior space of the egg.

Day 19: Nearly the whole yolk sac is absorbed.

Day 20: The chick uses the egg tooth to start pipping (breaking through the egg shell) from the inside.

Day 21: The chick continues pipping and breaks out of the egg to hatch.

Isn’t it amazing that so much can happen in just 21 days!

This video explains in visual form exactly what happens on each day of the chicken life cycle inside the egg so you can see exactly how the chick looks each day of its development.

Chicken Life Cycle As A Chick

The chick stage of the chicken life cycle is the cutest, without a doubt. Chicks are adorable round puffs of feathery fluff. They make peeping sounds and follow their mother around like little fluffy robots.

Chicks imprint on their mothers. In the absence of a mother hen (such as when chicks are incubator-hatched) they will imprint on the first moving object they see. Sometimes that can be you!

Tiny newborn chicks are completely dependent on their mom for help navigating their new world. They need to be shown how to eat and drink.

chickens life

Young chicks are very fragile and wobbly. Their legs will take a week or so to get stronger as their muscles continue to develop.

Tiny chicks grow incredibly fast. They can double in size in the first month of life alone.

By the age of six to eight weeks depending on the breed you are raising (around 60 days for most), the young chicks have entered the adolescent stage of life – they are now pullets.

Chicken Life Cycle As A Pullet

Pullet is the term used to describe a chicken that is no longer a chick yet not quite an adult.

The pullet stage is the most awkward stage in the chicken life cycle. Pullets can seem to be all wings and legs, with patchy feathers and ungainly bodies.

It is important to watch pullets closely around adult chickens. Pullets are not yet as big and strong as adults and can get bullied in a flock setting.

Like the chick stage of life, the pullet stage can vary based on the breed of chicken. For most breeds, the pullet stage will last up until your chickens are about 20 weeks (five months) old.

This helpful video will walk you through the basic chicken life cycle stages from embryo through the start of adult life (six months). You can visually see how the chickens change and grow and look so different in each phase of life.

Chicken Life Cycle As An Adult

Female chickens (hens) may start laying their first eggs during the pullet phase of the chicken life cycle. If this happens, you may notice that the eggs seem abnormally small.

But not to worry – these are just “practice” eggs and your adult hens will lay normal, full size eggs once they become adults.

The adult stage of the chicken life cycle is also when male chickens become roosters. Roosters can be incredibly loud and very territorial around “their” hens. Roosters typically start crowing around the age of 18 weeks (4.5 months).

If you are reading this article because you are interested in keeping chickens for eggs or meat (or both) in an urban setting, check with your local regulations before you get started. Many communities do not allow roosters because of the noise level.

Healthy adult hens will typically lay one egg per day, although skipping a day here and there is also normal.

Adult hens will lay almost daily for at least the first one to two years of their lives. It is normal for hens to lay for about 10 months and then take a break. During this break, they will molt out their feathers and grow in fresh feathers.

chicken reproductive cycle

After the first year or few of adult life, egg laying may become less regular. Sometimes chickens will also stop laying when they are ill or when they are not getting enough light.

As The Farmers Almanac explains, adult chickens can live for seven years or longer under optimal husbandry conditions.

There is a lot to learn when you first start keeping chickens. The best place to begin is by getting a thorough grounding in the chicken life cycle as you have read about here.

Summary

This will help you plan for your chickens’ needs at each phase of life. You will know about when to expect eggs or chickens that are suitable for providing meat. Raising backyard chickens as a family is also a great project to do with kids.

Your kids can learn about life by watching the eggs hatch and the chicks grow up. And your family can enjoy organic chicken eggs and meat that is safe and delicious.