Chicken Care Free E Book
Chapter 1 Chicken parts
Chapter 2 Moody Chickens
Chapter 3 Chicken needs
Chapter 4 Sweet Rewards
Chapter 5 Top 10 Chicken Questions
Let’s get familiar with our new “pet” Chicken. There are 3 main parts to a chicken; the head, the body, and the legs.
The head is the most sensitive part of the chicken which makes it important to know what breed of chicken you buy. Many chicken breeds are not cold tolerant. Please look on our free chicken breed chart.
If you buy a chicken that is not cold tolerant and you live in a cold area you can damage the comb (the red thing on the top of their head) because it can get frostbite. So unless you have really small hats for your chickens the cold weather is out. If you are concerned
you can put some petroleum jelly on their combs to help them stay warm every few days if you notice problems. Cold tolerant chickens are fine in the chicken house. They don’t need to be heated too much; a few heat lamps should be fine.
In the neck of the chicken they have what is called a crop. This is a place where they store their extra food. If you’re good at catching chickens then you may like to try this. Grab your chicken and feel along its neck gently after it has just eaten, you should be able to feel a slight bulge, now stand up and do your football dance, congratulations you have located the crop. This may come in handy later if you are noticing some of your chickens are shrinking. Grab your chicken again and feel for the crop this can help you to see if your chicken is not eating. This may indicate that your chicken is not feeling well and you should keep an eye on her to see if further action is needed.
I have to mention something about roosters here sense we are talking about the neck. I once had a young rooster and it didn’t crow. I didn’t now why at first, within a month it started to make funny noises. I went into the chicken coop one day and it made this awful half crow, screech, and cackle noise. All the hens near by turned and looked at him. You could tell he looked embarrassed if you could imagine that a chicken could get embarrassed. Within a week or two after that he was starting to sound like a rooster. He would from that point on strut all over his yard crowing like the big boys so proud of himself. I guess that’s where the term cocky came from.
OK back to chicken parts lets get to the body. A chicken’s body of course is the meat of the bird and is covered in feathers, but has many things you should look for when you examine your chickens. Those pretty feathers can get lots of different kind of bugs floating on them. Also you can watch for a loss of feathers which will indicate your chicken might be catching something. Loss of feathers is not always a bad thing. Chickens molt feathers (I’m molting, I’m molting!) every year usually during summer months. The feathers grow right back in so your chickens are not sick, but perfectly healthy. Many times chickens will peck on each other and you will notice balled patches. Have no fear this usually just means that you need to change their food. We will talk more about food in the “Chicken Needs” chapter.
The legs and feet of the chicken are great sign posts. Sense they have the least amount of feathers and most breeds don’t have any feathers on their legs so you can easily see the shape and condition. The legs are great indicators of poor health and internal bug problems. The legs might shed skin or get scalier. If the chickens are not getting a proper diet the legs might bow making it difficult for the chicken to walk. This all might sound scary but never fear most chickens that have a nice home never develop these problems.
Many people think that chickens are just dumb and brainless, but you would be surprised. A chicken has LOTS of feelings and cares.
I had about 20 chickens one time from different breeds. Some were Rode Islands, some Bantam hens, some Americana , a few Buff Orpingtons, and even some Barred Rocks. I had 5 roosters 4 Americana’s and one rode island red rooster. The hens did not fair well with all those roosters and they were having constant battles in the hen house. When it was time to eat the roosters took all the food and the hens hardly could get any. The roosters had to go. They were quite tasty. We left only one rooster, our Rhode Island Red. He was also the young rooster I mentioned earlier. The hen house became calm and peaceful. The hens became plump and happy. You could tell everyone was getting their food now. Our little rooster was shy and hiding by the hens every time we went in the hen house. Soon when he began to crow and get his feathers he began to take charge of the hen house. Soon those little hens were following his orders. They now competed to be next to him or followed him around. When ever a hen made a funny noise the rooster would come running to make sure everyone was ok.
I woke up one morning and was watching the chickens. One of the bared rocks had her feathers all ruffled. She was going around and pecking on everyone that was a few inches to close to her. The hens started to complain and the rooster was watching from the distance, at that point he came over and gave her a talking too and she hung her head and huffed her way inside the hen house to sulk.
Many chicken guides will tell you that each breed has its own temperament and that by this you can judge the best chicken for you, but I find that it is very very general and hardly ever fits the bill. Just Imagine you are an American and some one tries to say that every American is even tempered and well mannered, but you know very well that your uncle Al and half the neighbor hood has high vocal tempers just by taking a walk around the block. Same goes for chickens. They all can be moody or sweet and have their good and bad days. I know it’s hard to imagine a chicken having a bad day, but trust me they do. Chickens are easily affected by their environment so you can make more happy chickens by providing them good homes and proper food.
Chickens have basic needs just like everybody else. They need water, food, and a clean house.
The water is very important for all stages of a chicken, from chick to adult. Baby chick’s need fresh water and has to be clean, clean, clean. A pint size container is needed for every 5 baby chicks. For every four adult chickens you need to give one leader of water. They need twice as much in hot weather. Chickens easily make their water dirty by trying to step in it or knock it over so you need to find a container that is strong enough to withstand chickens. The best way is to raise the water container 4 to 6 inches off the ground. There are many models you can by and test out which works best for you. You can check out our Heavy Duty Poop Free Chicken Nipples . These are what I would recommend. They keep the coop and the water clean. Baby chicks to grown hens all learn within minutes how to use these. They are by far the best choice. When chickens are brooding you also want to make sure they are drinking plenty of water because they sweat a lot when brooding.
For food it’s very easy. Go down to your local feed store and pick up a bag. It will say on the bag for chicks, layers, etc. If you would like to know the break down and make your own food I’ll give you the basics here.
For chicks they need 7 parts grain, 2 parts ground plants, .25 minerals and one part ground protein. Mix this together well. You can add a little water to make the mixture crumbly. Baby chicks eat a lot. 1 cup twice a day for 8 chicks.
Layers need a little bit different mix. They need 8 parts grain,1.5 parts plant,.25 protein and.50 mineral. When your hen is laying eggs and there are no shells or soft shells on the eggs your chicken needs more minerals. Crushed oyster shell is easy to find or you can use powdered egg shell to help. Bowed legs can also be fixed with this remedy. How much? Just mix some handfuls into their daily food ration each day till you notice an improvement and then supplement weekly.
If you notice any other problems with your chickens they might need a vitamin supplement. Wheat grass is a great choice. Its loaded with nutrients. It helps maintain fertility, overall health and Immunity. Some conditions that would fit this would be slow growth, ruffled feathers, weak bird, drippy noises or eyes, and curled toes.
Chicken will eat all the time so it’s best just to feed them twice a day. For 20 chickens feed 4 cups twice a day. Let them free range if possible.
A Chicken house needs to have a few specifics for happy chickens.
Light. Lots of light during the day especially during winter other wise eggs may drop off to zero or very low egg production. Keep it fairly dark at night time so they will sleep otherwise they may not sleep properly.
Heat. Chickens need to be kept warm. At least 65 degrees would make for happy chickens and keep them laying eggs. If they get to cold they may slow down on egg production or just stop all together which usually happens during the winter months. A heat lamp or too works fine. You may also try adding a few spoons of chili powder to their food to help keep up egg production. Don't worry they cant taste spice, but it will warm up their body temperature. I have Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpingtons and its the middle of winter below -2. The coop temp is about 25 and they are still laying and seem happy. This is not always the case. Try to keep the coop at least 30 degrees in winter for cold hearty chickens.
Roost. Chickens like to roost about 1 foot roost per chicken.
Nesting box. Nesting boxes are nice but not always required. A chicken likes to lay eggs in a quiet place so a nesting box is ideal. We have several nice ones here at Greengardenchicken and a free nesting box comes with several of our coops so you don’t have to worry about getting an extra thing if you don’t want too. Here is a partial list for quick viewing.
1. GGC Chic Mobile for 8-9 birds
The coops need to be easy to clean weekly to keep your chickens healthy. Chickens need some kind of clean bedding such as hay or wood shavings. An outdoor area is great to have. Chickens love to be in the fresh air and play in the dirt. I let my chickens out during the day and put them back in at night.
On sunny days they would love to take dirt baths. You can see dust balls running around fresh out of the dirt bath. They loved it. Funniest thing I ever saw. It is very useful in helping parasites to stay off of your chickens so if you can provide an area for your chickens to take a “bath” do so. Make sure their roaming area doesn’t have wet muddy areas or any other animal filth lying around that might cause ill health. If you have a caged in run try and close off a portion so that when they are out of grass and need a fresh area you can open the closed area and close off an old section to “recover” for awhile.
This is why chicken tractors or light weight coops are so popular because they can move around easily to give the chickens fresh ground and makes for keeping the pen clean very easy. By the way this is probably a good spot to mention that all the coops on Greengardenchicken fit these criteria.
There are many great rewards for having chickens.
Eggs. One of the greatest reasons people get chickens, eggs. Chickens lay an average of one egg every other day. The most popular of these breeds are the Americana’s, Barred Rock, and Rhode Island Reds. They are labeled “good” egg layers. Some like the leghorn breed can lay an egg a day! They are labeled excellent egg layers. You can expect your chicken to lay eggs around 6 months old. They should lay eggs well for at least 3 years then the production will slow off. The average life of a chicken can be 8-10 years old. In the winter time of course egg production can decrease some. This is due to not enough sun light and cold temperatures. You can try to add more light or just wait until spring. I have tried the light but not much better production occurred.
Other breeds such as the Bantams hens are raised more for brooding. Although they lay eggs too the reward from them is good hatching rates so you can count on them to sit on the egg and reap the benefit of a whole new flock of chickens.
Meat. Another great reward from our dear chickens is the meat. The Rhode Island Reds are a good meat chicken and egg layer. This kind of chicken is labeled a duel purpose chicken.
Fun. Chickens are also great fun just as a pet. They have funny personalities that you can watch all day. Who says a chicken can’t be a pet it’s just as good as any dog. Enjoy you new venture and humorous new pet chicken.
Top 10 Chicken questions
My chicken started laying but the shells are soft and the eggs are tiny. What’s wrong with my chicken?
Nothing. These are typical symptoms of a new layer. She
should be laying regular eggs in a week or two.
I have baby chicks. Can I put them with the adult
Baby chicks can go with the grown chickens no sooner then 6
weeks old. It would be best to bring the chicks out and keep
them I a caged area next to the other chickens so they grown
chickens can get used to seeing the baby chickens and when
the time comes it will make it an easier transition.
Can I leave my chickens in the cold all winter or do I need to heat their coop?
You can put a heat lamp or two but don’t make it to warm.
The chickens can fair the temperature that come from a cold
tolerant breed, check our breed chart.
I found some eggs in my coop that I know are a week old. Can we still eat them?
Yes. Eggs have a fairly long life. Make sure you store the eggs point down to stay fresh even longer.
How many chickens do I need for a family of four to have enough eggs?
3 chickens should be enough for a family of four.
Will the chickens come back if I let them out to free range?
Yes. Give them about a week in their new chicken coop before you let them out, I would give them two weeks. You can open the door then and they will come
back home with no problem.
I heard you can feed a chicken anything. Can I give them my left over food?
Yes. Chickens will eat almost anything from the kitchen. They love cooked spaghetti noodles. Don’t give them citrus skins; this might slow egg production and no raw potato skins.
One of my chickens look sick what do I do?
Separate the chicken from the rest of the chickens so it
doesn’t spread anything to the other chickens. Next call your
I bought some more hens, when can I add them to the
You can introduce them like you did the baby chicks. Separate
a place for them where the other chickens can still see them
but can’t touch them. A good place might be to section off
part of the chicken run. Do this for about a week then every
thing should be fine and you can remove the barrier.
10. Which chicken should I get?
This depends on your area and your needs.
Check our breed chart for the best idea.
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