How to keep chickens happy
Even though we tend to lead very busy lives these days, the simple act of looking after pet chickens can be an excellent way to relieve stress, and all it takes is a little care and attention of your lovely little pets each day. Happy and healthy chickens are not only good for your chickens, but can help you to lead a healthy and stress free lifestyle also!
Pet Chickens have very simple needs and require only a minimal amount of effort to look after them, such as feeding, watering, cleaning, check out their basic health, and the fun part – collecting the eggs! The most important part is to establish a simple routine to make sure the chickens are well looked after.
Waking and Sleeping Routine
If you are not certain when your pet chicken wakes up and go to bed every day, just observe them for one day, and they will very soon let you know exactly what their daily routine is! They follow the Sun, and wake at dawn every morning, ready to be let out of their secure chicken coop, and they return to the roost each evening at dusk, as regular as clockwork!
What this means for you is that you need to be reasonably attentive to the basic daily routine, so that you can let the chickens run free soon after waking. This is also the best time to make sure they have adequate food and water. Your pet chickens will absolutely love to have this regular routine and you will be amazed how enthusiastically they will greet you each and every morning.
Chickens always return to roost
Night time is also important as the chickens will need to be able to get back inside according to their own internal clock, and to keep safe as darkness approaches, they will have to be able to find a safe roost before it gets dark. Make sure the door or gate has not closed accidentally during the day, or else they will be forced to roost all over the place, and they will not be happy. This is also extremely risky for the chickens in terms of exposure to cold, causes undue stress, and not to mention the risk of predators which tend to come sniffing around after dark.
Morning routine and chicken health check
Looking after pet chickens is not difficult, once you have established a daily routine. Your chickens will love you if you deliver breakfast at a regular time each morning, which is also a great opportunity to make sure that everyone is happy and healthy first thing in the morning. Backyard chickens will generally come running from all around when breakfast arrives, and this is the best way to make sure that everyone is feeling okay.
How to keep chickens happy
In case a chicken is left behind in the chicken coop, or looks lethargic or hunched over, then you may need to investigate further. Usually there is no need to worry, as you may have a broody chicken in the chicken coop, or you may have a chicken trying to lay an egg. It is best to simply observe, and get to know the behavior of your pet chickens so that you can recognise normal behaviors, and watch out for anything out of the ordinary!
Clean the chicken coop
Unfortunately, chickens are not usually trained to poop outside, so you will find that any hidden little gems inside the coop need to be cleaned out fairly regularly. In fact, cleaning up after your chickens just a little and often is the motto to best describe this chore.
Part of the morning routine should be to make sure the bedding inside the chicken coop is relatively clean, any little nasties can be scraped out and thrown into the garden or the compost bin, and you may also need to make sure any excess food and kitchen scraps are cleaned up and not left to rot on the ground. This will make sure the chicken coop is kept nicely presentable for your pet chickens, but also for the benefit of your own family, and the neighbors family!
Collect the eggs!
This activity is an excellent opportunity to involve the whole family in the daily routine of looking after pet chickens, and to introduce children to the concepts of basic animal care as well as the enjoyment of keeping chickens in your own backyard. But it is important to collect the eggs each day, because pet chickens can tend to become a little overly motherly, and having a nest of eggs in the nest box can encourage some different behavior from your chickens!
The worst problem can be that the chickens can actually become nest thieves and actively go looking to break the eggs in the nest box, and even eat the contents, once they figure out that eggs taste nice and provide an opportunity for an easy meal. This should be prevented at all costs, because once they begin this bad behavior, it can prove quite tricky to stop them from doing it!
At the other end of the spectrum, there is speculation that chickens are encouraged to stay on the nest of eggs and become broody more frequently, which is also to be avoided if possible. During their period of broodiness, a chicken will stop laying, stop eating and become single mindedly focussed on looking after as many eggs as possible, even dragging other chickens eggs into the nest and keeping them warm also! Broody chickens lose a lot of their condition during this time, so it is preferable that they go do not go through this process more often than absolutely necessary.
Click here to find out more keeping a pet chicken, and how to keep chickens happy, which is a great guide for everything you need to know about chickens.