Keeping a few chickens in the backyard is not only pleasurable but can be beneficial to your kitchen and gardens.
One of the most common reasons for keeping pet hens is their ability to provide a daily source of fresh nutritious free range eggs. Hens typically start laying around 18-20 weeks of age, although this is breed-dependant with some purebred chickens only beginning to lay at 6-8 months of age. It is important to note that chickens will stop laying when going through a moult before and during winter. Similarly egg production tends to drop slightly over the colder months. A rooster is not required for hens to produce eggs. If egg production unexpectedly beings to decline it may be worth treating your hens for internal parasites with in water medication, or spraying/dusting them for external parasites such as lice.
Another common reason for keeping backyard chooks is for their entertainment and as pets for young children. Some examples of quiet breeds that make good pets for children are Silkies, Frizzles, and Pekings. It is important to remember that chickens are flock animals and it is recommended that a minimum of 3 hens be kept. The additional benefits of keeping chickens are pest control and manure for your gardens.
If you do decide that a few hens scratching around your garden sounds appealing it will be necessary to have an enclosure for them to roost in at night equipped with perches up off the ground. Chickens are extremely vulnerable to predators such as foxes and wild dogs and consequently their sleeping quarters will need to be predator proof.
Your local produce store will have a range of complete poultry feeds providing well balanced nutrition. Your chickens will also love kitchen scraps such as lettuce, bread and rice. Excess feed can attract rodents so it is important to store your chickens feed in vermin proof containers and not to put out excess feed. To help with egg shell strength and to aid in your chickens’ digestion shell grit can be mixed into the feed.
It is important to check your local council regulations before purchasing chickens as some restrictions do apply.
Should you have a question regarding the health of your chickens, or any other pet, please do not hesitate to contact us on 3202 7300.
Katelyn from Anstead Vets