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If you have some space to run in your backyard, pet chickens can be a wonderful addition to the family! Chickens are friendly and interesting, and having big birds walking around the garden is downright intriguing.
With a few simple care tips, you will be on your way to hosting a different kind of pet that kids will love.
Should we get chickens?
Before bringing home a couple of extra family members, a chat with your family is essential to establish if your lifestyle and home are suitable for chickens.
Some questions to ask include:
Do we have enough space for the chickens to run around and live in?
Who will be responsible for feeding the chickens, making sure they have water, collecting eggs, and locking the chickens up securely at night?
How many chickens can we keep?
Yes! Chickens, we want you. But what now?
Before bringing your new chickens home, it is important to build the chickens a safe and secure area to live in. This comes in two parts:
A lockable hutch with a floor that cannot be dug through, with laying boxes filled with straw and a perch. This is for chickens to sleep (locked safely away from foxes, which prowl at night) and lay their eggs. Make sure to keep water and food in here, too, in case the chickens get thirsty and hungry at night!
A larger, shaded garden area with additional water and food, for the chickens to roam around in during the day. Keep the chickens to their area with a chicken wire fence.
Make sure the chickens have plenty of room to move around in their larger enclosure and in their (albeit smaller) hen house.
Set up nesting boxes for each chicken. Chickens can be a bit temperamental about where they lay their eggs, so don't worry if the chickens decide to only lay in a particular laying box. They'll pick their favourite, so give them a few options to begin with and let them decide.
Build the chickens a perch or two (or more!) in their hen house and in their larger enclosure for them to sit on in comfort.
All set up. Now, for the chicken arrival!
Bring your chickens home and show them to their hen house, enclosure, food and water. Be patient with your chickens - they may take a few days to a week or so to get used to their new environment.
Provide your chickens with lots of food and water.
Approach your chickens without sudden movement so that you don't frighten them. Give them a few small pats then gradually play with them more and more! The more time you spend with your chickens, the more comfortable they will be around you.
Daily chicken upkeep
Make sure your chickens have fresh, good quality food every day, as well as a clean supply of water each day.
Lock the chickens in their hen house at night, then let them out in the morning.
Play with the chickens each day so they get to know you.
Chickens love scraps, so give them your leftovers, but steer clear of high sugar products or avocado (which is toxic to birds).