Over 700,000 people in the UK own chickens, and if you’re considering joining them then there is plenty you need to think about.
Rearing chickens is fairly low maintenance, but it does require daily work so you need to be sure you’re ready for the commitment before you purchase any hens.
We’ve put together a handy guide outlining everything you need to know about rearing chickens at home.
The day-to-day routine of rearing chickens
As previously mentioned, chickens are fairly good at being left to their own devices. But, there are still a number of things you must do on a daily basis.
Every morning it is important to let your chickens out, add feed to their feeder and make sure they’re watered. Even if the water looks like it doesn’t need changing, it’s a good idea to do so as it can become dirty with the chicken’s continuously putting their muddy beaks in it.
You can keep your chickens out of the hen house and let them roam around their coop for most of the day. They’ll happily graze on grass and insects but it’s important to make sure they’re getting enough proper food too. You can choose between pellets or chicken food, a good amount to keep your hens well-fed is between 100-150 grams a day.
At the same time, check whether their bedding needs changing – you can do this by looking at whether it’s wet or soiled. Your chicken coop should be cleaned once a week but if you notice that’s particularly messy, then it’s a good idea to change more frequently to keep it hygienic.
Ensure you have a secure chicken coop
It goes without saying that you need to ensure you invest in a chicken coop that keeps your hens safe. Whether you buy one that is ready-made or opt to build on yourself, this is likely to be your biggest investment when it comes to rearing chickens – so it’s important to get it right. If it isn’t secure, then you run the risk of predators, like foxes, gaining access.
When it comes to getting a chicken coop, you need to make sure it achieves a number of things including:
- There is enough room for all your hens (chickens are social birds, so never have less than two at a time)
- You can easily collect eggs
- It’s well ventilated
- Your hens will be protected from predators and the weather
- Perches are made correctly
- It has an appropriate nesting area
- It’s aesthetically pleasing – after all, it will be sitting in your garden all year round!
How to collect eggs from your chickens
One of the main reasons people decide to rear chickens at home is to get fresh eggs. According to the International Egg Commission, the average family of four will eat between 12-14 eggs per week – this is roughly the amount you will receive if you have three chickens.
There is some variation on how many eggs different breeds produce, so make sure you do your research depending on how many eggs you want. As well as this, egg-laying is seasonal with chickens typically laying more eggs in summer than they do in the colder months. Age also plays a part in egg production, with it slowing as chickens get older.
It might also be worth purchasing weighing scales so you can track the quantities of eggs that are being produced or livestock weighing. This will help you keep on top of how many eggs your hens are producing and whether there are any patterns surrounding laying seasons.
Parkerfarm are agricultural weighing specialists in the UK. Whilst you may not need or even have the room at home for a weighbridge they can assist in if you happen to be a farmer. With Weighbridges and Farm Weighing equipment.