For many keeping chickens as pets isn’t just about the beautiful fresh eggs they keep you supplied with, it’s about companionship and the love of a breed. But we all have to start somewhere, we aren’t all chicken experts!
Chickens are fun, they're great stress relievers and they produce the most fantastic, healthy eggs. Chickens are friendly and can be easily trained. They are also great recyclers, turning your unwanted food scraps into manure for your garden.
But they are, like any living creature, a responsibility and reply upon humans to keep them safe from disease and predators.
Whilst chickens don’t require a lot of space, they do require a place to scratch and forage, so if you aren’t prepared to have a secure, dedicated area they can roam freely you need to consider if they are the pet for your family. Chickens require a predator proof home to be secured in at night; to keep them safe from foxes, quolls, dogs and cats. Be sure that the coop you select for your flock has a secure lock on the door and any side hatches/nest boxes, thick wire and a well sheltered roof and walls/sides. A big must is wire on the bottom of the coop.
Ensure that the coop is sheltered from the weather, not out in the blasting hot sun and sheltered from the rain.
Chickens love to roost, they require a perch or two to sleep on, you’ll find the longer the perch, the less space chickens will use, as they like to bunch up together to keep warm and check them out at night when they roost one will always face a different way to the others, they are always on watch for predators!
Chickens spend most of their waking day foraging for grubs, bugs, worms and other goodies hiding in your garden or lawn. These are an amazing source of protein. But they also require a balanced diet to keep them at their prime. Ideally a laying hen’s diet should consist of a good quality layer pellets, fresh greens, mealworms/crickets or other sources of protein like bugs and worms, they also love grains and legumes. The average laying hen will consume 120g of food in one day.
Chickens require lots of fresh, clean water, just like any animal! In summer they love to eat frozen fruits, or as a great snack you can freeze the scraps in some water, and they have a big ice block treat that not only keeps them busy, but nice and cool too.
There are a few common parasites that Chicken owners need to be aware of; Lice, mites, stick fast fleas, scaly leg mites and worms. All of these are very common but easily prevented with regular handling and inspection of the feather shaft, dusting with lice and mite powders and regular worming.
Chickens bring so much joy and laughter, be sure to do your research there are so many different breeds available. Speak to the pet expert at your local Just For Pets independent pet store if you have any questions about starting your flock, they are equipped with all the supplies to keep your chickens healthy and pest free.