Guide To Keeping Chickens As Pets
Most people who consider keeping chickens as pets do so for the fantastic fresh eggs that they produce, provided you feed your chickens the correct diet the flavour from the eggs produced is unlike anything you will have tasted from a supermarket. The fresher the egg the better the taste and newly laid eggs are fantastic. Another benefit that has been scientifically proven is that eggs produced from hens that are allowed to graze on grass and roam freely contain more vitamin E and are lower in cholesterol.
Apart from the great egg, keeping chickens as pets can be extremely enjoyable, you may not realise it but they have great personalities and can be quite amusing to own and are quite easy to look after.
Chickens are housed in a ‘chicken coop’; you can make you own or buy a purpose built coop. If you plan to make your own you will need to provide ‘roosting pole’ for your hens to sleep on and a nest box to encourage the hens to lay. A garden shed would make an ideal chicken coop with a few alterations.
Chicken are prey for a variety of predators such as foxes, dogs, birds of prey and some large rodents which can all cause harm to your chickens. The housing must be secure to prevent not only your chickens escaping, but also predators getting in. The coop and pen need to be secure from the roof and floor as well as the sides. Rodents such as rats will burrow to find a way in the pen, attracted by the bird droppings and food available.
Other Housing Requirements<
- The coop will need to have good ventilation as chickens are prone to respiratory diseases
- Be easy to clean
- Have good access points so you can collect the eggs
- Each bird should have 4 square feet of space if they are allowed out during the day, for those confined to the coop and pen this should be increased to 10 square feet per bird
Feeding Your Chickens
Food and water should be supplied in suitable containers that are suspended off the ground to prevent chickens from jumping on top of them. You can buy these from most good farm supplies stores and they are quite inexpensive.
The staple diet for your chickens should consist of a ‘complete feed’ diet which can be supplied online or from a farm or garden supply shop. Read the manufacturers guide, some feeds are suitable for young hens, others for more mature birds that are laying. A suitable grit should be supplied and either offered in a separate container or mixed with their feed. Chickens don’t have teeth and need the grit to break down their feed.
You can also offer your chickens a mix of corn, wheat, oats and rye; this can be thrown on the ground for your chickens to peck at.
A complete diet will usually supply the chickens with all the vitamins required, however you may wish to offer some extra calcium supplements such as oyster shells, calcium is required to for the hens to produce eggs.
The floor of your coop should be covered in wood shavings; this will absorb droppings and help prevent bad smells.
Chickens love to dig holes and take dust baths. This helps prevent parasites and if there is nowhere in the coop or pen for the chickens to dig, a suitable container should be provided and filled with a mix of soil and sand.
If considering keeping chickens as pets, make sure you have enough room to house them correctly. They do make wonderful pets for the whole family and whilst they may not interact with you in the same way as a dog, do dogs produce eggs?
For a wide range of chicken coops available visit our website www.LittleBigPet.co.uk