Chickens make for cheerful backyard pets if you follow these five steps.
- Feeding your chickens a complete and balanced diet is essential if they are to stay healthy. Chickens will eat almost anything so to prevent deficiencies and health problems, a wide range of foods should be offered.A good quality poultry pellet should be the mainstay of their diet. Grain (such as wheat and corn) can also be scattered within their environment to augment their diet.
- Protect your chooks against wind, rain, heat, cold and draughts in a secure, dry, well-ventilated enclosure with windows and a door.
- Administer regular worming treatment and check for stick-fast fleas and ticks. The fleas appear as small, shiny black dots on the combs and wattles. Check for ticks at night because they leave the birds during the day. The ticks look like small grey/black dots under the wings.
- Learn how to catch and hold your chooks so they become familiar with being handled. Begin handling a few weeks after you bring them home to give them time to settle in and get used to you and their new surroundings. Chickens need to be handled with care. Once they’re used to you, they’ll sit quite calmly and can be stroked by children.
- Put your chickens to work on some garden chores. When allowed to roam in the garden, your feathered friends will scratch to turn over compost and aerate soil. They’ll eat weeds, leaves and fresh lawn clippings. They’re also a great pest control service, dining on insects, bugs and sometimes even mice.