Never in my life did I think I would ever come to have feathered pets but here I am blogging from the yard, overlooking the chicken coop with my four girls in there looking back at me. As we wanted to have some fun at home while going through the long COVID-19 lockdowns, and teach our kids important life lessons at that, getting chickens sounded like a really good idea.
The Benefits of Having Feathered Pets
Besides the fact they’re the perfect pets to have around when it comes to educating children on where eggs come from, and why they make part of healthy nutrition, we also had the chance to teach them how to become responsible by allowing them to have their share in the care and maintenance chores.
Well, along with all of this, chickens are great entertainment too. Yes, it’s a lot of fun to watch the girls going about their lives in the sturdy and shiny backyard chicken coops, and I must add therapeutic at that. I know I’m not the only one who considers chicken-watching to be a relaxing activity!
Moreover, getting chickens is a great gateway to sustainability because first and foremost they’re ideal if you’re looking for the solution that would help you cut down on your waste and carbon footprint as a family. This is so because they eat all of the leftovers you give them, and whatever they eat comes out as nutrient-dense manure that you can later use as a fertilizer and as an ingredient in your home-made compost to get your container herb garden started.
How to Make Sure Your Feathered Pets are Happy and Healthy
If you want to reap all the aforementioned benefits, and most importantly eat high quality eggs, you need to do everything you can for your girls.
Before you even get chickens, it’s necessary to read up some basic rules and regulations for your area, to be sure you’re not breaking any law. As we live in an urban area, getting roosters was out of the question much to my initial disappointment, but I’m pretty happy with the four girls now.
In addition to this, we had to learn more about the different types of chickens, knowing there are various and not all are suitable for our area or lifestyle. We ended up choosing Bantams mainly because of their size, smaller than the standard breeds, but not less capable of laying eggs. Furthermore, they’re low maintenance so they make a great choice for beginner chicken enthusiasts.
If you want to choose properly, council regulations advise you to consider what you want the chickens for primarily – whether it’s for laying eggs or meat, or maybe something else like compost and fertilizer. This would give you a hint on the breed you require, as for the number it’s best to stick to the medium, which is three or four, no more and no less. Remember, they sure are social and need their companionship, yet they also need their adequate space.
The delicate creatures they are, they’re very helpless when the weather is harsh and there are predators lurking around at all times. Having this in mind, taking care of their safety is a priority, and even though you can take up a DIY project and build up the coop from scratch, I recommend getting a stainless steel ready-made chicken house.
Such an option isn’t only more durable and sturdier, it’s also more hygienic as it facilitates cleaning. Certain models also have a design that incorporates mesh, so besides protection, they also provide you with a good view. And others are even equipped with a feeder set.
Besides making up your mind on the material and design, it’s important to pay attention to the size as well which mainly depends on the area you intend to place it and the number of chickens you have. If you want happy and healthy birds, they need at least one square meter for each to be able to walk and run freely. And, don’t forget to offer them a dust bathing area where they can protect themselves from pests.
Watching the chickens is relaxing per se but it’s helpful with catching up some early signs of health problems too – the more you get to know them, the more you start recognising when they’re great and when they’re under the weather. In many cases, you might be providing them with the needed water and nutrition and they could still show troubling signs which is where vitamin supplements turn out handy.
If you want to encourage pecking, turn to mineral blocks as they also result in an increase in eggs. Vitamins like folic acid, A, B1, B2, K and E are ideal to add to their diet along with the plenty of greens and veggies, however, to be able to give them the proper nutrients they require to look and be their best talk to a vet first. I was told supplements vary on the age and breed of the chicken, as well as its diet and living conditions.
To protect the girls from pests and various types of bacteria and odours, cleaning the backyard chicken coops is the main chore. Though we don’t clean it entirely every day, we do so weekly by removing everything from inside, washing up with a mixture of bleach and water, then putting it all back in. Of course, the feeders have to be cleaned too otherwise bacteria ends up in there too.