Important Considerations For Raising Chickens

Chickens are some of the earliest groups of animals domesticated by humans. They are low-maintenance companions, make great pets and are also good sources of meat. Chickens generally thrive in big yards but if you want to keep them for any purpose, you need to understand their needs and nature and know what chickens need to live healthy lives.

Do You Need a Rooster?

Contrary to popular belief, hens do not actually need roosters to lay eggs. They will still produce eggs but these will be infertile, which means that they will not hatch and become chicks that will later grow to be adult chickens. With a rooster (or two) around, your hens are sure to produce fertile eggs. Keep roosters if you want to raise chickens or if you like the company of these brave, handsome and noisy creatures.

One Chicken, Two Chickens…

One of the most important characteristics of chickens is that these birds are sociable creatures who like the company of other chickens for comfort, particularly during cold weather. If you want to keep a chicken as a pet, one bird will do but if you want your chicken to be happier, give her a companion.

Why You Need a Hen House

Hens attract predators. You might want to keep them as free range animals but sooner or later, a predatory animal might come and snatch a few of them. City hens are usually vulnerable to rats and cats, while country hens are often attacked by wild animals, which is why you need to give them shelter.

A hen house will keep the hens safe and secure at night, or during times when a predator is near. You could build a simple structure or opt to spoil your hens with a fancy hen house that will add to the overall aesthetics of your yard. Just make sure that the structure is big enough to provide a comfortable place for the hens and secure enough to keep predators away. It is also a good idea to provide chickens with access to dirt and dust. Chickens love dust baths, and they also look for stuff to peck by scratching and digging in the dirt.

Space and More Space

Unlike other animals, chickens do not establish territories but they do need ample space. If you keep chickens in a crowded area, they will start to peck at other birds, causing injury and even death. This is a protective instinct among these birds. If there is something that interests them, such as a string or a source of water, they will attempt to protect it by pecking at the chicken that stands too close to that object. A good rule of thumb to use to avoid overcrowding is to provide a minimum of 3 sq. feet for each chicken to move about. On cold days when they tend to huddle together, give them something to keep their interests up by hanging edible stuff such as vegetables, fruits or grass that they can peck.

Letting Your Chickens Settle Down

Some people prefer to start by raising pullets while others prefer full-grown hens. Regardless, every chicken of every age should be introduced into their pens immediately to allow them to become familiar with their surroundings, particularly the hen house. They have to recognize this structure as their home, otherwise, they will roost on elevated structures such as awnings, tree branches, and roofs. Keep them inside the hen house for a while before letting them roam.

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