Best Chicken Water Heater of 2019 – Complete Reviews with Comparisons

Chicken Water Heater

Last Updated on

Chicken breeders know that in warm and mild weather, chickens are fine with their water being placed in chicken water feeders, but it’s a different story in colder weather.

If you’re away for a short period, the best thing you can do for your chickens is invested in a proper chicken water heater, so they’ll have flowing water when they need it.

Chickens will get ill if you do not keep them appropriately hydrated – that is precisely what will happen if their water has frozen over so badly that they just can’t peck through it to drink.

So, let’s jump right into the best chicken water heaters to help you keep your chickens happy and healthy.

Best chicken water heater Reviews

K&H Pet Products Thermo-Poultry Waterer Best chicken water heater Review
K&H Pet Products Thermo-Poultry Waterer Best chicken water heater Review

Check Price on Amazon

K&H Pet Products Thermo-Poultry Waterer

This Thermo-Poultry Waterer is a pricier option from K&H Pet Products but a favorite with chicken breeders everywhere.

It is thermostatically controlled, so the chickens’ water will remain ice-free in even the coldest weather.

Thermo Poultry Waterer Features

This is a gravity-type drinker that has a jug and a bottom tray where the chickens’ water is dispensed.

It is made of very sturdy plastic that is BPA free and features a comfortable handle making it easy to carry around and limiting spills.

With this product, you can expect the water filter ring to easily remove dirt and objects from the trough, keeping things cleaner for longer.

Thanks to its shape, roosting won’t occur, and the spill-proof cap helps prevent wasting of water.

The Thermo-Poultry Waterer comes with a sturdy cord, so you won’t have to worry about it splitting or not working within the first few months or years.

Whats Good about Thermo Poultry Waterer

The waterer is 2.5 gallons and is super easy to fill.

It comes with a removable screen in the water well that makes it very easy to clean out straw, feathers, and shavings.

Whats Bad about Thermo Poultry Waterer

Some users of this product have reported a bio-film forming that is impossible to remove, even with regular cleaning.

The container can be tricky to wash because of the size of its opening.

Thermo Poultry Waterer Pros

  • Easy to use
  • No water gets wasted
  • No roosting
  • Removable screen

Thermo Poultry Waterer Cons

  • Expensive
  • Won’t stay upright for filling
Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Chicken Water Heater review
Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Chicken Water Heater review

Check Price on Amazon

Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base

This is one of the more trusted waterers on the market that isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg.

It will regulate the temperature of your water, making sure there is no freezing that will result in your chickens getting dehydrated.

Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Features

You will get warm water even in the coldest winters with the Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base because its thermostat works really well.

You’ll be able to warm large amounts of water, so it’s a good buy for chicken breeders with larger flocks.

Harris Farms offer a drinker base that has 125W power, and it can be used with either plastic or metal drinkers alike.

However, it is not recommended for use with plastic as it can warm up water very effectively, but this could cause issues with plastic drinkers.

It makes keeping your chickens watered much easier.

With this guy, the water gets raised a few inches off the coop, keeping debris out of it.

Ease of use is great with this heater – you just plug it in and voila!

The thermostat is one of its greatest features.

Not only does it work really well, but it is also built to prevent overheating so you won’t be left with hot water that your poor chickens can’t enjoy.

Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Pros

This product will keep your water thawed even when it gets really cold outside.

Its bottom is covered, so you won’t have to stress about it getting wet and damaged.

It also uses a float that will keep it sealed in really cold weather.

  • Efficient
  • Simple usage
  • Effective seal against cold

Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Cons

The thermostat can become an issue – it can malfunction and keep the water warmer than it should.

Users have reported that it never turns off either.

The plastic it is made of is considered inferior.

  • Buggy thermostat
Farm Innovators Heated Base Chicken Water Heater
Farm Innovators Heated Base Chicken Water Heater

Check Price on Amazon

Farm Innovators Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts

This is a mid-range product that is affordable and effective – considered the best of both worlds.

It will prevent your chicken’s water from freezing down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with 125W power.

Farm Innovators Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts Features

You will be hard-pressed to find a heater that is easier to use than this one.

You simply have to plug it in, fill it with water, and that’s it – job done on your side.

This is also a very versatile product – you can use it for any animal, really.

It can basically be seen as a water bowl for animals with a built-in heater for outside use of any pets.

This heated base is thermostatically controlled and will only start operating when the temperatures drop to below 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

The bottom is sealed off, so there is no way that critters like mice can make their way in and start chewing away.

The cord is nicely protected with hardy material, which means animals will not be able to chew through it and cause all kinds of chaos.

Mice tend to be a big problem for chicken breeders who have to use things like water heaters, but with this product, you will not have to worry about those poultry pests creating problems for you.

The thermostatic control that the Farm Innovators heater comes with means your water will be thawed, but it will not be reaching boiling temperatures.

Farm Innovators Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts Pros

You will not have to worry about the temperatures with this product – it starts working as soon as it is needed.

It is a trusted heated base that is considered a great buy for its price and how well it works.

  • Comes highly recommended by chicken feeders
  • Works great in even the coldest weather

Farm Innovators Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts Cons

Thanks to its design, this product is only suitable for use with double-wall metal founts.

It is recommended that you don’t use it with an extension cord.

This can be an issue for people who do not have power in their chicken coops.

It is a great product, but the small capacity means you’ll have to refill it often if you have more chickens.

For a very small coop, this might not be such a big deal, though.

  • Can be used with double-wall metal water founts only
  • Users have reported the product shocking them as well as the chickens
  • Can get dirty easier than other products
Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base
Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base

Check Price on Amazon

Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base

This is another mid-range product that is designed to function well with double-walled founts as well as other metal water containers.

This is perfect for use outside as long as it’s sheltered.

Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base Features

The Little Giant is pretty versatile.

You’re not limited to the heating of chickens’ water.

You’ll be able to heat the water of other birds as well, and even that of other animals.

This product is made in the United States and will only kick in when it is needed.

When it’s cold enough for the water to require heating and it won’t use a lot of power.

The safety of this product has to be mentioned, as it is considered very safe.

Be sure to keep it out of the way, though.

But you won’t have any issues of bedding straw catching fire or anything drastic like that.

Although many people will be put off by the fact that this heater is made in China, there is no reason to discriminate.

It works really well and can last for many seasons with no rust or other problems to worry about.

Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base Pros

The Little Giant can be used with a water can of up to 8 gallons without any problems or issues.

This product comes from a line of trusted water heater products, and this particular model is actually considered one of the best of the best.

  • Easy to use
  • Effective in keeping water at mild temperatures
  • Saves on power

Little Giant 125 Watt Water Heater Base Cons

It can cause problems such as the ground fault circuit interrupter tripping, even without the use of extension cords.

  • Can get problematic with the ground fault circuit interrupter
API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard
API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard

Check Price on Amazon

API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard

The API De-icer is a submersible product that is great for birdbaths, pails, pans, and buckets alike.

With it, you’ll get a handy 6-foot cord as well as a cord chew protector and stainless steel guard.

API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard Features

Like many of the water heaters on this list, this de-icer is a versatile product.

You’re not limited to using it only to warm the water of a chicken flock.

You’ll even be able to heat the water in any birdbaths you may have on your property.

It is a very sturdy product that you can expect to heat your water for many seasons to come without fail.

If you’re looking for a durable water heater for your coop, this is your guy.

This is a really easy-to-use heater.

You can plug it in and forget about it until you need to unplug it for spring.

It’s not a high-maintenance product and a great buy.

API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard Pros

This product has a built-in thermostat that will de-ice your chickens’ water quite nicely.

You won’t have to worry about them not having drinking water.

You also get an adjustable clamp that you can use to attach the product to your water container.

  • You get a 6-foot cord included
  • Can de-ice up to 15 gallons
  • Heavy-duty heater

API Pail and Birdbath De-icer with Guard Cons

Users have complained that the product is not as effective as it promises to be and that the cord splits.

  • Pricey
  • Several bad reviews

Chicken Water Heater Buyer’s Guide

It is imperative that you know exactly what you’re getting into when buying a chicken water heater, so you’ll end up with the best product and not be left disappointed with something that doesn’t do what you expected and hoped for.

Of course, everyone’s needs are not the same, and what you’ll end up buying depends on just what it is you want the chicken water heater to accomplish, and in what environment you expect it to do so.

Here we’ll look at a basic list of things that most chicken breeders will need to look at before investing their money in a product.

Easy to fill Chicken Water Heater

This is likely one of the biggest things for people who use water heaters for their chickens.

It may seem like a simple thing, but if a product gets it wrong, it will mess things up royally.

You’ll want to keep the chickens’ water fresh, so filling should be easy and hassle-free.

Easy to clean Chicken Water Heater

Another important factor that, if not easy, can screw things up.

It can even move people not to buy a product if they can’t find out if it is easy to clean or a complete pain in the behind.

Keeping your chickens’ water clean is important for their health.

What is a Chicken Water Heater Made From

What kind of material is the chicken water heater made from?

It’s important to know so you’ll know what to expect.

Metals will be corroded by apple cider vinegar, which many chicken feeders add to their flock’s water to reduce their pH levels, combat ingested bacteria, and many other health benefits.

Plastic is, in general, considered the best material.

Chicken Water Heater Waste

You’ll want minimum waste when it comes to your chicken water heater – this will make or break a product in many cases.

Chicken Water Heater Thermostat controls

Some chicken water heaters come with thermostats that kick in as soon as the temperatures drop below a certain level.

Make sure that the product with this feature is trusted because if it malfunctions, it won’t thaw your chickens’ water, and chickens will dehydrate.

Chicken Water Heater Electric cord

You will generally get an electrical cord included with your product but don’t expect it to be very long.

There are exceptions, but in most cases, you will not get a cord that is longer than 4 feet.

Maintenance for your Water Heater

This is yet another significant factor to keep in mind when you go out to buy a water heater (or buy one online).

If you are not prepared to keep maintenance at the top of your list of chores, you might want to consider not buying a water heater.

That will mean you’ll have to get rid of ice manually, so this really shouldn’t even be an issue.

A waterer of any kind that isn’t maintained well will cause problems.

The water will be stagnant, meaning gross slimy residue will form, and all sorts of bacteria and algae will start growing.

This will result in your chickens refusing to drink the water (good on them).

So before you buy a water heater, be sure to check how often you’ll need to change the water with the product and how easy or difficult that will be to do.

That is usually easy to guess just by looking at the design of the product.

Below is a short video that will help you keep or maintain your chicken water heaters going during the winter:

Related Content: Water Your Backyard Chickens: Watering Systems And Ideas!

Best Chicken Water Heater FAQs

Are chicken water heaters heavy on electricity usage?

If you’re using an old model, then yes, it will use silly amounts of electricity.

However, modern products are made to be energy-efficient, so it shouldn’t be a problem when you buy a new water heater.

Why use a water heater for chickens?

If chickens go without water for too long, they will get sick, as is the possibility with any animal.

Dehydration is never a good thing.

When temperatures plummet, water starts to freeze.

Chickens aren’t completely stupid (some breeders will argue they’re not stupid at all!), and if their water has a layer of ice, they will peck through it.

However, when it gets colder, they won’t be able to peck the thicker layers, and they’ll have no water to drink.

With the heater, this problem is solved as it will keep the water flowing all through winter.

Will I still have to break the ice in my coop?

With a properly functioning water heater, you won’t have to head back and forth to keep checking that the chickens’ water isn’t iced.

That’s the point of using one.

That’s also why you should make sure you buy a good product.

If your heater isn’t working, you’ll have wasted money and will still need to break the ice manually.

How much water do chickens need generally?

Chickens may look like they don’t require a lot of water because they’ll take a sip and move on, but most of them need up to a liter of water every day to maintain stable health.

Depending on how many chickens you have in your coop, you’ll have to provide liters of freshwater for your chickens.

Where should I place the water feeder?

You will have to keep the water supply close to the chickens, so it is within easy reach for them.

They like to take small sips, move away, and peck at the ground and return for another sip.

Whether you place them on the ground or suspend them depends on the design of the water feeder.

Keep in mind that a chick won’t reach a raised feeder.

Best Chicken Water Heater Review

Now you know what you need to look for when buying the best chicken water heater.

You’ve also been informed of some of the products that are available and what makes them great.

Our pick for the best chicken water feeder has to be the Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base.

It is trusted by chicken breeders and isn’t quite as expensive as many other products that won’t even be as effective.

Harris Farms Heated Base for Chicken Water heater
Harris Farms Heated Base for Chicken Water heater

Check Price on Amazon

With this product, you can expect water that is nicely regulated and won’t be surprised by frozen water when you check on your chickens.

It comes with 125W power and is good to use with either plastic or metal drinkers – the choice is yours.

The bottom is covered and won’t get damaged or wet.

Harris Farms offer a drinker base that has 125W power, and it can be used with either plastic or metal drinkers alike.

It makes keeping your chickens watered much easier.

With this guy, the water gets raised a few inches off the coop, keeping debris out of it.

Although it has received bad reviews, these are actually hard to find.

However, if the reviews are bugging you, you can always consider the Best Chicken Water Heater.

It is more expensive, but the only complaint about it is that it can be difficult to keep upright for refilling.

Best Chicken Water Heater
Best Chicken Water Heater

Check Price on Amazon

If you can solve that problem, and won’t mind spending a few bucks more than average, this could be the water heater for you.

It is straightforward to use; you won’t be wasting any water with it during use or filling; there is no way for the chickens to try and roost on it, and thanks to its removable screen, it’s easy to keep the chickens’ water nice and clean.

The best chicken water heater for you really depends on the unique needs of you and your chickens.

Once you’ve determined what exactly you need and what it is that your flock needs, you’ll be able to find the perfect product.

Just be sure to keep in mind all of the things mentioned in the buyer’s guide, so you won’t miss something and end up wanting to kick yourself.

For the most part, picking a water heater for your chicken coop isn’t rocket science.

Remember to look for a product that has a maintenance level that you’re comfortable with.

Most heaters are pretty simple when it comes to maintenance.

Then take into consideration how big your water feeder is if you’re not buying a feeder with a built-in heater.

Also remember that cleaning can be a hassle for all of us, so check out how the product is cleaned and how often it will need to be cleaned.

In the end, choose whatever will work for you and your chickens or other animals you’ll want to give running water.

Incubation for Beginners by Brinsea, Inc.

Eggs getting incubated

Last Updated on

Incubation for Beginners – Hatching your own chickens can be an educational and rewarding experience and with the right equipment and some best practices you can be on your way to having backyard chickens in no time.

Incubation allows backyard poultry enthusiasts to hatch chickens and ensure the eggs are developing correctly in a controlled environment.

Incubators are able to control the temperature, humidity and turn the eggs automatically making the egg hatching process stress-free.

While you can incubate eggs any time of the year, spring is considered the best time to raise chickens because of the warmer weather which is ideal for new chicks.

If you’re considering hatching your own flock of backyard chickens, (Best Nutrition Plan for Healthy Chickens) here are a few tips that will make egg hatching a success.

Incubation for Beginners by Brinsea, Inc.

Choose a good incubator

To find a quality incubator, we recommend looking at the functionality.

Does it have an accurate temperature control?

Can it be cleaned easily?

Can turning the eggs be done automatically?

You’ll also want to look at the sizing.

For example, how many eggs, and what type of eggs does a specific incubator hold?

Especially as a beginner, these are important qualities to look for in an incubator to ensure yourself the best possible chance at successful hatching.

Also, read the reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, either to the manufacturer directly or in online social spaces.

Getting the Eggs

Once you’ve decided on the right incubator for your situation, you’ll need to find fertilized eggs.

If you already have hens and a rooster then you are good to go.

If you don’t have a rooster, then it’s always best to source your fertilized eggs locally because they will be fresher and their chances of hatching won’t be affected by shipping.

Setting Up Your Incubator

Before setting the eggs in the incubator, read through the incubator’s manual to ensure everything is working properly.

An important step to note is to make sure the eggs are at room temperature before setting them.

Once eggs have reached room temperature, place them in the incubator on their side or pointed end down and do not adjust the temperature for 24 hours.

Importance of Temperature and Humidity

In order for the fertilized eggs to develop correctly, they need to be kept at the correct temperature and turned often and positioned in the right way.

Humidity is also crucial because eggs breathe and lose water through the pores of the shell.

Small changes in temperatures can cause eggs to develop too fast or too slow which could result in deaths or deformities.

The correct temperature for most species when incubating is 99.5°F when using a forced draft incubator.

However, there are incubators without fans and if you are using one, the temperature should be set at 103°F because hot air rises.

No matter the incubator, room temperature should always be between 68°F and 78°F and kept out of direct sunlight to get the best results.

Incorrect humidity is one of the main causes for poor hatching success because it is the most difficult to measure and control accurately.

Humidity is important only to achieve the right balance between excessive dehydration and space within the egg to allow the chick to maneuver into hatching position.

Humidity is affected by evaporation from the eggs themselves and the incubator water reservoirs.

All incubators have water reservoirs and ventilation holes, some have digital humidity displays and ventilation controls.

Humidity levels are measured in % Relative Humidity (% RH).

Ideal humidity during incubation is 40-50% RH for poultry and game birds and 45-55% for waterfowl.

If the humidity is too high, you will need to increase the ventilation or if the incubator does not have a ventilation control, remove water.

Conversely, if humidity is too low, you will need to reduce ventilation and add water.

Humidity at hatching time needs to be higher than during incubation, at least 60% RH to prevent the membranes of the egg drying too fast as the chick hatches and becoming tough and difficult to tear.

Turn, Turn, Turn Eggs

Positioning and turning the eggs is important for egg development because as the embryo develops on the yolk, it causes the yolk to become lighter and float upwards.

When the egg is turned, the embryo moves downwards into fresh nutrients in white of the egg allowing the embryo to develop.

Note that most modern incubators turn the eggs automatically.

Using an incubator with this automatic feature is the best way to ensure the eggs are turned consistently and accurately.

However, if you are turning eggs manually, mark each egg with and X on one side and O on the other with a pencil.

This helps with remembering what side they need to be turned to.

This should be done a minimum of twice a day, to prevent the embryo sticking to the sides of the shell.

Turning should be stopped two days prior to when the chicks are scheduled to hatch.

Certain models with the automatic turning setting will also stop turning the eggs two days before they are due.

Incubation Period

An incubation period varies between birds but for chickens, it takes 21 days.

To check on the state of the embryo, the candling method is used.

In the past, people would use candles to shine on the eggs to see how the development process was going.

Now we are able to use LED lights which don’t emit heat.

Eggs can be candled after 5 days of incubation and every few days after that. For best results, light the eggs in a dark room.
Incubation Period for backyard chickens
Initially, you will be able to see a small embryo and a web of blood vessels radiating from it.

As the chick grows it will be hard to make out detail but you should be able to see movement.

However, if the egg is infertile it will remain clear and eggs that have died will show a dark ring.

Time to Hatch

Two days before the eggs are due to hatch, you should stop turning and make sure the water reservoirs are filled.

Humidity will need to be higher than normal so it’s important not to open the incubator.

It will take about 24 hours or more from the first bump on the shell until the chicks fully hatch.

After the chicks have hatched and are fully fluffed, transfer them to a brooder where they can stay warm.

This experience is very exciting so enjoy watching how your eggs develop and have fun.

For more information on incubators and chicken hatching, visit www.brinsea.com.

Best Chicken Feed Options for Your Flock

farm chickens eating

Last Updated on

Chicken feed – Chickens like people, really only need one thing to get by: a consistent source of nutrition they can depend on.

Mealtimes are central to a healthy and fulfilling life.

With that in mind, as a chicken owner, what your birds eat is the beginning and end of almost all of your problems.

A proper diet can prevent things like illnesses, obesity, agitation, and premature death.

Moreover, it means your chicken will live a healthy life.

And, ultimately, isn’t that what really matters the most?

Join us, today, as we discover some of the best options available for feeding your precious chickens.

Feed Your Chickens The Right Way

Your chickens are an investment, whether emotional, financial, ethical or a little bit of all three.

It’s important you take care of them, and, next to housing them, the most important part of their healthcare is their diet.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best ways for you to feed your flock.

Pellets For Laying Hens

There’s no chicken who works harder than a laying hen.

Laying hens have specially-designed commercial pellets and crumbles, designed to maintain their nutrients.

While laying, hens should be fed these pellets on a daily basis, in order to stay in good health.

If hens have access to food all day long, they’re more likely to store excess pellets in their crop, just before bed.

This food, then, can be digested overnight, while they sleep.

With these overnight nutrients coursing through their little bodies, they’re more

With these nutrients coursing through their bodies overnight, they’re more likely to produce eggs daily.

Grits And Oyster Shells

Grits and oyster shells are considered a standard among chicken owners.

Tiny rocks that chickens eat and swallow, these grits are essential in the digestion process for these birds.

Without them, their absorption of nutrients can be slowed, leading to potential complications.

Variety is the spice of life, and chickens appreciate it as well.

In spite of the calcium in commercial chicken feed, it’s important for your birds to get it from a few different sources.

Start with a feeder full of coarse, broken up oyster shells.

The calcium deposits in this will go a long way towards strengthening their bones and beaks.

Both grits and oyster grindings should be offered to chickens as free range feed.

Vegetables and Table Scraps

You can call chickens a lot of things, but shy eaters isn’t one of them.

The standard-sized hen has it in her to eat between a quarter and a third of a pound of pellets in any given day.

But they shouldn’t only be eating pellets.

It’s crucial to make sure your chicken enjoys a varied and nutritious diet.

Cutoffs, leftovers, old vegetables and other table scraps are all foods that any chicken or hen would be happy to finish off on your behalf.

What to Feed laying hens:

Coffee grounds might not seem worth the trouble to you, but can add nutrients and variety to their diet.

Compost, stalks, weeds and bruised or partially bug-eaten vegetables are all good candidates.

Free-Ranging

A good way to regulate your chicken’s diet and make sure they’re not being forced on any particular food is to come up with free-range options.

Cut a large vegetable in half and hang it up in their cage.

Leave a bowl full of compost in the freezer overnight and have the chickens peck at the frozen mound to get the food they want.

Treats

Chickens are, by their nature, very animated animals, and there’s no time you’ll see them wilder than upon receiving a treat.

You’ve got to be careful with what you feed them, and how much.

Chickens can get fat, but, more than that, they can get sick.

Dole out cracked corn with caution.

They love this treat, but it constitutes nothing but empty calories.

Not only is this bad for them, but it can also lead to problems with their egg laying.

Similarly, sunflower seeds are a nice treat for birds, but should be given out in moderation, and never with the shell on.

Apples, pears and other fruits work quite well as well.

Something to keep in mind, when it comes to the question of bird treats, is whether they encourage behavior among your chickens.

Large bricks of bird treats sit in one place in a coop or cage, where chickens go over to peck at them.

This means your birds are learning to sit tight and wait for food to come to them, without scratching, walking, or working in any way to get it.

Not only that, but they also tend to attract rodents. These are, by and large, best to be avoided.

All in all, with birds as with people.

Everything is better in moderation.

Train your chickens to understand the sound of a shaking jar full of sunflower seeds to be something that happens from time to time.

A teaspoon of meal-worms is more than enough protein for any bird.

Keep your coop stocked with enough compost to foster the natural occurrence of grubs and bugs, for birds to peck at.

Fresh Water for Chickens

Often an afterthought, access to fresh water is actually the single most important part of your chicken’s diet.

In order to keep dirt and grime out of the water, put it somewhere elevated off of the ground, and clean out the bowl weekly.

You’ll notice your chickens tend to prefer muddy water puddles, but, much like children, they need someone who knows better to take care of them.

Never underestimate how important water is.

If your chickens don’t drink, for whatever reason, they can expire and die within 24 hours.

Note On Feeding Chicks

Young chicks are dependent on you to feed them, especially in the first few days of their life.

Feed should be finely ground, containing no more than 18% protein.

This specialized chick feed should be administered for 14 to 18 weeks before they shift over to adult food.

Finally, make sure not to feed them any additives or products that promise to promote or speed up their growth.

These are almost always used in growing meat birds, and the resultant spurt in their muscle growth is not healthy for them.

Change The Way You Use Your Chicken Feed

Taking care of your chickens is a 24-hour-a-day process.

You need to make sure you’re feeding them properly, or their health can take a turn for the worse, quickly.

Whether you go for organic, high-fat, hand-made or store bought, a little nutrition goes a long way.

Make sure you don’t over-stuff your birds on fatty foods, and always keep their well-being in mind during mealtimes.

Interested in learning more about bird rearing, rural living, and sustainable lifestyle tips?

You can learn more about modern homesteading by paying us a small visit, today.

feeding chickens
Feeding Chickens

Feeding Chickens: What They Need at Different Stages

Did you know chickens today are almost five times bigger than their 1957 counterparts?

A Canadian study shows this isn’t because they’ve been tanked up with hormones or other size-enhancing drugs.

The research concluded that it’s because we’ve bred chickens to be bigger over the years by giving preference to the larger ones.

So, it’s still a good idea to follow feeding guidelines for your chickens based on their age and stage in life.

Let’s take a look at how feeding chickens according to their stage can make all the difference.

The Early Chick Stage

The early chick stage refers to the time between birth and about 8 weeks.

Just as a growing infant needs certain nutrients to develop a healthy and strong body, so does a chick.

During this stage of life, chicks need what’s called a starter feed or starter crumble.

This feed must contain at least 15% protein for the developing chicks.

Medicated Diet

Medicated starter feed contains amproleum, which works to safeguards chicks from a fatal intestinal illness called coccidiosis.

This illness is contracted through contact with feces.

This is why it’s important to keep your chicken coop from becoming too crowded and unclean.

Warm, humid weather makes for a moist environment and is a breeding ground for coccidiosis.

There is a coccidiosis vaccine.

If your chicks have been vaccinated, it’s best not to choose the unmediated diet.

Unmedicated Diet

Unmedicated starter feed simply doesn’t have amproleum in it.

This is best used if you’re at all unsure of whether your chicks have been vaccinated.

The Middle Chick Stage

The middle chick stage ranges from 8 to 18 weeks old.

Think of this as your chicken’s teen years.

This is when grower feed comes into play.

The grower feed cuts the protein down from the starter feed during the early stage.

The protein content is about 15-17% and requires grit along with it.

If you continue your chicks on a high protein diet, it can push them into laying eggs sooner than their bodies are ready for.

Think of a 14-year-old girl who gets pregnant.

Not a good situation.

Laying Hens

When chicks reach 18-20 weeks, they may be prepared to start laying eggs.

For your laying hens, you can choose the pellet, crumble or mash versions of layer feed.

Layer feed has vital calcium for eggshell production.

The layer feed uses 15-17% protein with additional calcium for strong eggshells.

Even though there’s extra calcium, your laying hens will benefit from crumbled oyster shells presented in a separate bowl from the layer feed.

Laying hens will only ever eat as many oyster shells as they need.

This helps ensure your hens don’t become depleted of calcium.

Note that layer feed should never be given to chickens under 18 weeks of age.

This is because the excess calcium can damage the kidneys, cause kidney stones to develop and can decrease the bird’s overall lifespan.

Non-Laying Hens and Roosters

A maintenance diet is necessary for non-laying hens and roosters.

This chicken feed still has the nutrients and vitamins that laying feed does, without the added calcium.

The maintenance diet can be accompanied by chicken scratch.

Scratch is composed of various grains, one of which is typically cracked corn.

And it’s very high in calories.

Scratch should be used infrequently and in small amounts.

Feeding Chicken Snacks

The occasional treat for your chickens is fine.

And they’ll love you for it.

Just make sure not to allow them to indulge too often.

Keep the snacks down to every couple days.

Chicken Treats

  • Pumpkin rinds
  • Mealworms
  • Oatmeal balls
  • Leftovers from dinner

And, since chickens don’t have teeth, remember to provide grit to help them digest these snacks.

Grit is made from sand or small pieces of stone.

Steer Clear of These Foods When Feeding Chickens

There are some foods that are toxic to your chickens and should be avoided at all cost.

  • Avocado seeds and skin
  • Dried beans
  • Unripe tomatoes
  • Green-tinted potatoes
  • Cocoa
  • Any food with mold on it

Chickens Will Eat Anything

Remember, even though chickens can be cute and lovable, they’re not the brightest of the bunch.

They’ll eat just about anything.

So, be mindful of what’s in their exercise area.

Especially watch for small plastic toys, nails, coins or bits of wire.

Joint Feeding Times

When you have a situation where you’ve many different age groups, don’t despair.

These circumstances aren’t optimal, but they’re also quite common.

In this situation, it’s best to provide an un-medicated grower/starter diet, along with available calcium such as crushed oyster shells or eggshells.

Don’t forget to put the calcium supplement in a separate bowl to allow the hens to determine the amount they need.

This is the best solution because the extra protein won’t harm the older chickens.

But the excessive calcium in layer feed can harm the developing kidneys of younger birds.

Open Versus Restricted Feeding

Chickens are generally grazers and only eat when they know they need to.

For this reason, a free or open feeding schedule is best.

This gives your chickens the freedom to meet their own hunger needs and at their leisure.

Food Crisis

In the event of a food crisis on your farm or in your wallet, where you just don’t have access to the nutrient-rich diet mentioned above, do the best you can.

For instance, if you can’t afford or don’t have access to crushed oyster shells, feel free to use crushed eggshells.

While it’s ideal to be able to afford feeder and supplements for your chickens, you can make do with alternatives.

And remember, the most crucial of all diets when feeding chickens is the laying hen’s diet.

Her task is strenuous and exhausting.

She needs all the calcium and protein she can get.

Feeding Chickens at Different Stages

When feeding chickens, you want to make sure you’re tailoring their diet to meet their specific needs.

They’re omnivores and just like us, they need balanced nutrition to keep them strong.

For more tips and information on how to raise your animals to be their healthiest, check out our post on caring for livestock.

Common Chicken Diseases You Should Know About and How to Treat Them

Hand holding injection for chickens

Last Updated on

Chicken diseases – Do you have a backyard flock of chickens?

There are lots of benefits of keeping chickens.

However, in order to be a responsible chicken owner, you have to make sure they stay healthy.

Otherwise, they could stop laying altogether.

This means preventing contraction of diseases, treating them when they occur, and possibly even culling chickens when they’re in danger of spreading dangerous infections.

In this article, we’ll tell you all about the most common chicken diseases, how to spot them, and how to treat them if you find them in your coop.

Fowl Pox

This disease is usually not deadly, but is known to take the lives of young or particularly weak chickens.

It usually lasts 10-14 days in a bird, but can take up to 6 weeks to eradicate from a flock.

Symptoms of Fowl Pox

White spots on the skin, Comb sores, Mouth or trachea ulcers and Laying stops.

It can be contracted from other contaminated chickens, but is also carried by mosquitoes.

Fowl Pox can be treated with Vitamin supplements, particularly Vitamins A, D and E. During treatment, chickens need to eat soft food in order to allow the mouth ulcers to heal.

They also need a warm and dry place to rest.

In order to avoid this disease, it’s best to get your chickens vaccinated.

Botulism

Botulism is one of the most serious chicken diseases there is, as the symptoms progress very quickly and the death rate is very high.

It’s caused by contamination of food or water by rotting meat, and most commonly occurs in summer and fall, when temperatures are warm enough for the bacteria to thrive.

This illness is not passed on from bird to bird, but can affect an entire flock if they all share the same source of food and water.

Symptoms of Botulism

Weakness and nervousness, Tremors or shaking, Feathers are easy to pull out.

Paralysis of the legs, which progresses to the wings and neck before a chicken then suddenly dies.

If the disease is caught early enough, it can be treated with an antitoxin by a vet.

However, a home remedy of 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts mixed with 1 oz of warm water given daily with a dropper can also work.

Infectious Bronchitis

Infectious Bronchitis is a common chicken disease in backyard flocks.

This is because most wild flocks develop a resistance to it from increased exposure.

Symptoms of Infectious Bronchitis

Decrease in eating and drinking

Discharge from eyes and nostrils

Coughing, gasping or loud breathing

Decreased egg laying

Misshapen or soft-shelled eggs

Sluggishness

Chickens can be vaccinated against infectious bronchitis.

However, this doesn’t guarantee that they won’t be infected.

Instead, it just decreases the chance of contracting it.

If you notice any symptoms, you’ll need to act quickly.

This viral disease is known to spread quickly and can kill entire flocks if left untreated.

There is no specific treatment for Infectious bronchitis, but some chicken owners report having success with herbal remedies.

Infectious Coryza

This bacterial disease infects the eyes or nose and is highly infectious.

Symptoms of Infectious Coryza

Swollen head or face

Sneezing

Coughing

Discharge from eyes and nostrils

Reluctance to eat or drink

Breathing difficulties

Ceased laying

Staggering

This chicken disease is usually treated with antibiotics.

However, if it has progressed past the point of treatment, infected chickens should be put down to avoid passing the disease on to the rest of the flock.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against infectious coryza.

Pullorum

This disease is viral and can, therefore, be contracted through contact with other infected birds as well as contaminated surfaces.

Like Chicken Pox in humans, this illness affects infant and adults differently.

Symptoms of Pullorum

Sneezing, coughing and poor laying in adult birds.

Breathing difficulties, low activity and a white paste on the backsides of chicks.

There is currently no vaccine against Pullorum, so the best way to protect against it is to be aware of the signs and symptoms, then put down any chickens that contract the disease.

Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza is the most commonly-known chicken disease, also known as Bird Flu.

There have been some fears surrounding this illness, as bird flu outbreaks in the news are common, and people are concerned about contracting bird flu themselves.

However, with the correct care, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Symptoms of Avian Influenza

Respiratory problems, Diarhhea, Swelling of the face, Discolored comb or wattle and Red spots on the legs.

When a chicken contracts bird flu, it will be a carrier of the disease for the rest of its life.

For that reason, it will have to be put down.

Some farmers have to cull entire flocks of chickens due to this particular disease.

After a cull, a coop must be completely cleaned and disinfected before any new chickens can be introduced.

Otherwise, they are at risk of contracting the illness.

Bumblefoot

This is one of the easiest to spot chicken diseases.

Unfortunately, it’s also virtually impossible to prevent.

It’s caused by a cut on the foot, which can be picked up by digging, scratching, or even just walking.

When bacteria enters the wound, it can develop into a staph infection.

This can be cause for surgery or amputation, and if left untreated, can kill a chicken.

Symptoms of Bumblefoot

Limping, Swelling and A cut or wound on the foot that refuses to heal

The best way to prevent this problem is by checking your chickens’ feet regularly.

If they get cut or scratched, disinfected the area and keep it clean and then monitor the healing process.

Keep Your Chickens Healthy and Happy

In order to prevent chicken diseases, you must keep your birds’ immune systems up.

You can do this by providing a hygienic, warm environment for them, with good quality food and a clean watering system.

To improve their quality of life, you can also provide them with toys to play with.

Like any other animal, chickens love to play.

Take a look at our post on how to entertain your backyard chickens to get some ideas for how to keep them busy.

Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard

Cute chick sleeping

Last Updated on

Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard – Chickens have long been part of the world’s history.

Facts about Raising Chickens is that they are believed to be domesticated for cockfighting purposes, initially, before becoming food sources.

Today, they serve both purposes across the globe. Comparing the Best Chicken Swings

Facts About Raising Chickens

Scientifically known as Gallus domesticus, the chicken is said to be first tamed in China around 6000 BC.

Four thousand years later, flocks of them moved to India, eventually spreading to other parts of the world.

The bird as a male adult is called a rooster, while its female counterpart is called a hen.

Young chickens, newly-hatched ones in particular, are called chicks.

One type of chicken subject to Chinese-origin debate is the Chinese Silkie chicken, which are popular for their dark meat.

It is unknown whether or not they originated from China, where they are called “wu go ji”.

Their dark flesh is attributed to a condition called genetic fibromelanosis, which causes extreme pigmentation of cells.

Chickens abide by a rigid social system referred to as the “pecking order”.

This structure puts one bird dominant over another.

This can be easily observed while feeding.

Dominant birds will be intimidating, pecking at submissive ones, stealing their food or chasing them away.

Though it may sound weird, chickens are also touted to be the closest living relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex – arguably the most popular dinosaur thanks to popular culture.

The link lies in the oldest proteins ever found, contained in the remains of an adolescent female T. Rex which lived 68 million years from the past.

As it turns out, the protein’s chemical structure reveals an evolutionary relation between chickens and the dinosaurs that reigned during the Cretaceous Period.

The fossil, a T. Rex’s leg bone, is unearthed in 2003 by Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies.

It was found at the Hell Creek Formation, an area that spans Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Chickens have their own “language” too, in the form of about 30 distinct vocalizations used for communication.

But what’s even more interesting is the fact that they are able to communicate even before their birth.

Through a purring sound, the mother hen “talks” to her eggs, and the unborn chicks respond through peeps – short, soft and high-pitched sounds.

It must also be pointed that chickens are not “dumb”.

In fact, mother hens serve as good examples by teaching their chicks not to consume grains which could be bad for them.

In addition, they tend to copy the behavior of other chickens, which could be helpful in some cases.

But perhaps the most fascinating fact about these birds is that they are able to recognize up to 100 faces, so the next time you see one, be sure you are remembered.

Beating Food Challenges with Chicken Eggs
How To Raise Backyard Chickens
5 Important Tips on Raising Roosters
Successful Hen and Chick Adoption
10 Tips for Raising Backyard Chickens for Beginners
The Pros and Cons of Keeping a Rooster Chicken

Facts about Raising Chickens Mating
Facts about Raising Chickens Mating

Chickens Mating

How do chickens mate?

It all starts with their own version of “courting”, of course.

This is actually simple – the rooster tries to impress the hen through a series of movements that highlight his beauty and strength.

Unfortunately, most hens just walk away, but things can get into a more aggressive turn and result to an engagement activity/position known as “treading”.

The rooster gets into a piggy-back position; he stands on the hen’s back and restrains her neck feathers.

It is vital for him to maintain balance in this event.

The hen lowers herself, spreads her wings to the side and allows him to hop to deliver sperm.

Chickens mate without copulatory organs, though the rooster has a pair of testes, and the hen has a pair of ovaries.

Both sexes instead have an external orifice called cloaca.

As these touch together, the rooster transfers sperm into the hen’s reproductive tract.

This is called the “cloacal kiss”, and after the act, each return to his/her own business.

Sperm lives inside the hen’s oviduct for about a month. Best Chicken Toys: Entertaining Your Backyard Chickens

Chickens Laying Eggs

One of the most puzzling questions to mankind – which often comes as a joke – asks which among the chicken and the egg came first.

Surprisingly, this inquiry has been raised since 384 BC, and some of the most well-known people from history have expressed their responses to the circular reference.

Aristotle claimed that both had always existed.

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said it’s the egg that came first.

However, it was discovered in 2010 that eggs cannot be produced without a protein called Ovocleidin-17.

This protein, meanwhile, is produced by chickens, which appears to support the stance that the winged, grown birds are first to exist on earth.

Still, this is emphasized to be inconclusive, leaving the mystery unsolved in millennia.

Hens begin laying eggs about 18 to 21 weeks (nearly 6 months) after their own hatching.

It is important to learn, however, that they are able to produce eggs even without the presence of a rooster.

It takes about a day for one hen to make an egg, and she is able to produce another an hour or less later.

But for a hen to produce fertile, hatchable eggs, a rooster will be necessary.

Roosters reach sexual maturity in about 4 to 5 months of age and can remain fertile for years.

The egg-laying process begins with a small gland located near the hen’s eye.

This gland is photosensitive; light triggers the release of eggs.

A fully-formed egg is pushed through muscular contraction.

It goes out through the same channel as the hen’s waste, but there’s nothing to worry here.

Only one canal access is allowed to the vent every time.

Eggs come in consistent shape as they follow the form of the hen’s uterus.

This might be disturbing, but chickens, sometimes, eat eggs.

This happens mostly when an egg is broken by accident.

For human consumption, eggs should be gathered daily and refrigerated quickly to ensure freshness.

Chickens That Lay Blue Eggs

Araucanas, Ameraucanas and Cream Legbars are three breeds of chicken that lay blue eggs.

This hue is caused by a pigment called oocyanin (sometimes called oocyan) which goes through the shell.

This pigment is a by-product of bile production. As a result, the shell will be blue inside and outside.

Interestingly, researchers have found that blue eggs actually happened because of a harmless retrovirus.

It is said to be a 500-year-old mutation that began in South America and China, which explains why some breeds in areas of both regions produce such eggs to date.

This particular virus, called EAV-HP, mixes its own genetic data into the host through a backward process; it uses its RNA to create DNA that is later integrated into the host’s DNA.

Nevertheless, the occurrence of blue eggs must not be treated as a rare occasion or a supernatural event.

Color has little to do with nutrition, as blue eggs contain approximately as much cholesterol as other eggs.

Each contain about 185 milligram of cholesterol, which supplies around 60% of the total amount recommended for healthy adults daily.

It is said that blue eggs will not raise blood cholesterol levels significantly; saturated and trans fats have greater effect on one’s total and “bad” cholesterol.

Chickens Hatchery

In essence, a chicken hatchery is a haven for hatching and incubating eggs.

In general, hatcheries are developed to serve different purposes – from ensuring food supply to maintaining conservation.

For live, young animals, these environments function as “nurseries”, becoming their home until they are ready to be moved to other locations.

Chicken hatcheries are often manned by veterinarians and biologists, supervising workers who do most of the ground work.

Activities include safe and proper handling of eggs, monitoring of incubation and provision of nutrition, water and extra needs to older chickens, among others.

Hatcheries must remain sanitary at all times, to ensure the health of the eggs, birds and humans within.

Starting a chicken hatchery is among the many routes of poultry production.

It can be difficult, but with the right information, hardwork and patience, it can be a good source of income.

Caring for the parent flock is perhaps the earliest consideration to keep in mind, alongside a well-planned financial management system.

Note that chicken hatcheries need not be limited to chickens, as it can also house other types of poultry birds such as turkeys and ducks.

While sanitary principles may be the same, care for these other birds will require different procedures.

As a staple food source, chickens have certainly become part of our lives, providing nourishment to many parts of the world.

Because their life is essentially a cycle, proper care must be consistent, whether it’s for a grown chicken or a hatching egg.

When one finds value in both, whichever came first will no longer matter.

The beauty of these birds, after all, is enough to be thankful for.

Keeping Chickens: Tips for a Healthy Brood

Whether you are keeping chickens for eggs, as pets, or for meat, there are easy things you can do to keep them healthy, clean and safe.

Let’s take a look at 10 tips for keeping chickens safe from predators and healthy all year long.

Keeping Chickens Safe From Predators

Throughout the day, your chickens should be secured within a fenced area with at least a 7-foot high enclosure.

Although not always practical, it’s best if they’re at least semi-monitored whenever they’re out of the coop.

Before dusk, you should round up your chickens, count them and secure them for the night.

During night hours, your chickens should remain in a durable and completely enclosed coop.

You’ll want more than a single layer of chicken wire to secure your fowl.

Use a 1-inch thick wire mesh around areas that are not solid.

Be especially mindful of raccoons as you enclose your chickens, as they have tiny agile hands that can stretch into narrow spaces.

keeping chickens
Keeping Chickens

Housing Your Chickens

Whether you raise your own chickens for their fresh eggs, to make up healthy chicken recipes or as beloved pets, you want them healthy, happy and safe.

You’ll want to make sure you have a sturdy chicken coop that’s easy to clean, sheltered from the elements and secure from predators.

Concrete is ideal for the flooring, as it’s simplest to clean.

Keep Your Chicken Coop Clean and Poop-Free

The frequency of cleaning depends on a few factors such as the number of chickens in the coop and the size of the coop.

To reduce the chances of spreading illness from chicken to chicken, you’ll want to clean the poop from your chicken coop at least three times a week. And spot clean if needed daily.

Use gloves, with a broom, shovel or bucket to clear away chicken feces from the coop as needed.

Make it a point to at least eyeball the coop daily.

And make a plan to deep clean your chicken coop twice a year.

Age-Specific Feed For Your Chicks

You may already know the basics for caring for livestock, but one thing you might not know is that, just like you, your chickens need certain nutrition to stay healthy.

And chickens need different nutrition at different stages of their lives.

Baby chicks especially should have a specialized diet called a start or grower diet until at least 5 months old.

This feed is high in fat and protein for their growth needs.

You should feed your chickens a diet of pellet or crushed feed specifically designed to meet their nutritional requirements.

You should feed them daily and allow them to eat as much as they want.

Best Chicken Water Heater

Feed For Your Egg-Laying Hens

When it comes to sustainability and raising your livestock, your egg-laying hens help out tremendously.

Laying hens have extremely high demands for protein, calcium, and vitamins because of the energy it takes for this task.

Use a special “laying” diet for your hens.

The beauty behind having laying hens is you don’t have to worry about what the egg cartons mean when they claim to be cage-free, free-range, pasture-raised or organic.

You know exactly where your eggs are coming from.

Feed For Non-Laying Hens and Cocks

While your egg-laying hens need high calcium for their job, cocks and non-laying hens will not benefit from the same diet.

Cocks and non-laying hens need what’s called a maintenance diet.

It’s much lower in calcium than the laying diet.

If you have trouble finding a maintenance feed, you can use some of the laying feed in conjunction with fresh vegetables and fruits and 20-25% scratch of corn or seeds.

Foods You Should Avoid Feeding Your Chickens Completely

The following foods can be harmful and even toxic to your chickens.

Raw or Dried Beans

These contain a toxin that will kill your chicken, and there’s no saving them.

Keep your chickens clear of any bean plants because they’ll nip at anything in sight.

Moldy Foods

This one can be hit or miss, but just don’t test it.

Be sure to clear out any foods from your chicken’s feeding area left over from the previous day.

Avocado

Although parts of the avocado may be okay in moderation, this is one you probably want to avoid altogether.

Just don’t do it.

Green Tomatoes and Green Potatoes

These have toxins that will kill your chickens in even small amounts.

Green potatoes can be harmful to human health, as well.

Citrus

Do not feed your chicks or chickens any citrus fruits, including citrus seeds and peels.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which aren’t good for your chickens.

Tiny pieces may not have adverse effects, but best to keep your chickens from all chocolate.

This especially goes for dark varieties, as this has the highest content of caffeine and theobromine.

Healthy Wandering Environment

When keeping chickens, you want them to be able to get good exercise and fresh air.

Your chicken coop should be well-ventilated, spacious and insulated for warmth during the cold months.

Allot at least 9 square feet per chicken.

Keep chicken toys available for them, such as handmade tunnels, chicken swings or CDs hanging on strings for them to play with.

Remember, chickens will try to eat just about anything left in their line of sight.

Keep gasoline, oil, screws, fertilizer, bits of wire and pesticides away from your chicken’s play area.

Rooster Per 9 Hens

If you’re wanting to mate your chickens to produce offspring, you really only need one cock for every 9-10 hens.

Roosters do tend to be noisy and territorial, so you probably don’t want to have any more than you have to for the job.

Keeping Chickens Disease-Free

You’ll want to pay close attention to your chicken’s physical appearance and energy levels.

This will help you get a sense of what each chicken’s “baseline” is in terms of wellness and illness.

Watch your chicken’s weight and sift through feathers to check for parasites or feathers falling out.

Notice any sneezing or appetite changes, as well.

Keeping Your Chickens Healthy All Year Long

Whether you’re wanting fresh eggs, tender meat or pet chickens, you’ll want to keep them happy, healthy and safe.

Did you know 1% of urban dwellers own chickens on less than 1 acre of land and another 4% plan to join this poultry trend in the next 5 years?

This may not appear very high at first glance.

But when you consider the crowded environment of the city and the compact feel of side-by-side housing, 5% can seem quite high.

It can be difficult to keep your chickens healthy and happy under these conditions.

But it can be done.

For more tips and information on keeping chickens and other livestock, check us out at Rural Living Today.

What’s the Best Nutrition Plan for Healthy Chickens?

Healthy chickens

Last Updated on

Raising healthy chickens are a staple of homesteading.

The urban farming movement and trend toward a rural lifestyle shift has spurred an increased demand.

Availability through online marketplaces has further fueled the desire and ease of raising livestock in our backyards.

Modern, healthy chickens need a larger diet because they’re bred to produce a greater volume of eggs and yield more meat.

Their environment has changed from farmhouse to the backyard.

Domestication has led to healthier, vibrant flocks. Feeding Chickens: What They Need at Different Stages

Commercial feed is an easy solution for feeding chickens but not always the best option for their nutrition.

Chickens eat plants, insects and fruits and vegetables, which make them omnivores.

It’s important to include a nutritional variety.

It’s easy to provide a sound nutritional plan to keep your backyard chickens healthy and happy.

Nutritional plan for chickens

What to feed chicks (up to 8 weeks)

Newborn chicks will need a feed that contains 18-20% protein to encourage growth and health.

The starter feed has two options (medicated and non-medicated) depending on your need to protect the chicken from diseases.

Feeding chicks:

Medicated chick feed
Non-medicated chick crumbles
Chick grit

The chicks beak is small so most starter feeds come as crumbles.

Crumbles are simply larger pellets broken down to smaller sizes.

During this time, it’s important to introduce grit into their diets to help with digestion.

Grit is stored in the gizzard and is usually sourced from when they pick at the ground.

You could supply it through sand and dirt mixed into the food.

High calcium diets are to be avoided at this age because it may cause kidney stones and reduce the lifespan of the chicken.

What to feed adolescent chickens (8 – 18 weeks)

Switch to grain that contains 16-18% protein.

Your options are called layer feed or a grower rotation.

It’s a millet containing a variety of nutritional ingredients.

Layer feed
Grit

The feed is typically in pellet form at this stage in life.

Grit will retain an important role to help with digestion and promoting healthy growth.

What to feed adult chickens (18 weeks+)

Stick with layer feed (containing 16-18% protein).

The feed at this stage will have a mix of pellets, mash, and crumbles.

A layer rotation is recommended for chickens beginning to lay eggs.

Calcium and grit should remain a staple of their diet though it will mostly come from their activity and feeding habits at this age.

Dos and Don’ts of Chicken Feed

You’d think it’s okay to let them “have at it” when eating but this is a detrimental approach to caring if you want healthy chickens.

Store-bought feed or mixing your own batches will provide most of what you’ll need but there are other tidbits to remember.

Chicken do’s

Offer insects, fruits, and vegetables

Supply unlimited feed for their choosing

Keep feed organized in buckets and with a feeder

Include calcium via oyster or grit

Feed extra carbs during winter

Stick to pumpkin seeds, mealworms, or veggies for snacks

Spread feed to prevent aggression while eating

Chicken don’ts

Overdo it with giving them treats

Saturate the diet with starches like bread

Give them grass and clippings

Use “scratch” as their main source of food

It’s perfectly fine to mix table scraps with pellets (within reason).

Don’t worry about invading insects because these provide a nutritious meal as well.

Those homesteading or living the rural lifestyle may desire to create a feed from scratch.

Mixing feed isn’t the best option unless you have a keen understanding of the nutritional elements.

It’s easy to misjudge ingredients and accidentally restrict your chickens from the nutrients they need.

Healthy chickens: Feed based on age

Chickens begin laying eggs at 4-6 months of age.

Their egg laying depends upon if they’re hybrid or non-hybrid.

Hybrid chickens lay earlier compared to their non-hybrid counterparts.

Domesticated chickens will typically lay eggs for 2-3 years.

Egg laying will begin to diminish as they reach later years.

Though, it’s not uncommon for older chickens to produce the occasional egg.

Exposure to sunlight will also affect their egg laying.

Fewer than 12 hours will lower their chances.

Winter months tend to show a drop-off in production.

It’s important to begin feeding chicks and chickens a balanced diet from an early age.

The balanced diet will help to improve their health and egg-laying ability.

Healthy chickens: Good environments

A chicken needs a safe, clean environment to lead a healthy life — just like us!

Chickens need the essentials:

Good food and fresh, clean water

Safe, stress-free environment

Chickens will drink from any source though it’s not the best due to bacteria and pathogens that are possibly present in the source.

Always supply clean water to the chickens and do a regular cleanup of the water source to prevent waterborne diseases.

Free-ranging chickens

The easiest way to manage the nutritional plan (and to keep them happy) is to allow chickens to free-range.

This will give them access to feed and other nutritional sources found throughout the yard.

Free-ranging becomes a hands-off experience which is beneficial for the chicken’s health.

Be aware of predators

It’s essential to safeguard their area from raccoons, coyotes, bobcat… whatever is in your area.

Enclose the top as well

Consider using traps or repellents to deter predators from entering your space.

Having a livestock guardian animal or livestock guardian dog works wonders.

Other environmental items include:

Removing hazardous, toxic items

Offering heat sources during colder months

Keeping chickens cool in the summer heat

Companionship to keep them social

Use chicken toys and chicken swings to keep them busy

Dirt mounds to prevent aggression

A clean, secure chicken coop and nesting box will suffice for the lifespan of your chickens.

Fence in the remaining sections to prevent venturing too far and exposure to hostile environments.

Beating Food Challenges with Chicken Eggs
How To Raise Backyard Chickens
5 Important Tips on Raising Roosters
Successful Hen and Chick Adoption
10 Tips for Raising Backyard Chickens for Beginners
Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard
Common Chicken Diseases You Should Know About and How to Treat Them
How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat
Ultimate Comprehensive Guide on Generators for Sale
Comparing Generac Generators with other Generator Brands
Briggs and Stratton Generators
Champion Generator
Prices of backup generators
Birdhouse for Birds and Nesting

Delayed laying, loss, and moving forward

Late-stage egg production provides a sign of possible illness or malnutrition.

Veterinary assistance and regular checkups will provide guidance and treatment.

Delayed laying and loss are expected when raising chickens.

Yet, it provides a beneficial experience to understand the nutritional plan and environment to improve your success when raising healthy chickens.

Chickens are a fun, rewarding challenge

Chickens are a staple for those embracing the rural lifestyle.

They are excellent to provide a food source in a food crisis or during uncertain times.

Raising chickens poses a challenge but one that’s rewarding.

The reduced reliance on supermarkets and factory farming gives you a sample of possibilities when shifting from urban to rural living.

A nutritional plan is essential for raising healthy chickens.

It does require extra effort but it’s worth it to have a happy and productive brood.

This is but one of the many things to love about this lifestyle.

Raising chickens will provide inspiration and know-how to venture into bigger and more rewarding rural lifestyle experiences.

Check out some of our other posts on raising livestock for additional inspiration and guidance.

Water Your Backyard Chickens: Watering Systems and Ideas

Water Your Backyard Chickens 

Last Updated on

Water Your Backyard Chickens – As the proud owner of backyard chickens, you know there are certain responsibilities that go along with the title of “keeper.”

You must attend to your brood’s needs.

You must make sure they have a clean environment with fresh bedding, food and water. How To Raise Backyard Chickens

There are systems you can use to make your job easier and keep your hens content.

Having a good watering system is important.

It will save you lots of time and be healthier for your chickens.

Water Your Backyard Chickens watering systems

If you don’t want a DIY project, we love this chicken watering system.

The nipples and water won’t come in contact with the ground, making it clean and sanitary.

It’s a simple and effective system, and holds two gallons of water.

You can leave the bucket on the ground or hang it.

Four chickens and roosters can drink from it at the same time.

And, miracle of miracles, it doesn’t leak!

You can easily fill it with ice cubes on hot days.

Note with the 2 Gallon Waterer — it took our girls almost two days to get the hang of it so be sure to keep your current watering system in place.

They will quickly come to love it but you may need to train them by showing them how it works.

Once they understand, you will be so glad you have this waterer.

Open watering devices that sit on the ground can collect dirt, debris and fecal matter.

Before refilling it, you will always have to rinse it out and then fill it with fresh water.

That adds up to a lot of extra work. (restoring a Rural Backyard)

Watering Systems and Ideas to Water Backyard Chickens

If you don’t want to buy a chicken watering system and you have a do-it-yourself mindset, you can make your own.

Here are three different DIY watering devices for watering backyard chickens.

DIY chicken watering systems

Many chicken owners like to add just a few drops of apple cider vinegar to their chickens’ water to prevent parasites and help with calcium absorption.

It also helps deter algae growth.

A food grade bucket will be less likely to break down when exposed to vinegar.
Chicken Watering Systems

Simple “No Frills” DIY Chicken Watering System

This is the easiest and least expensive watering system to build of all the devices here.

You can also improvise freely using many different materials and get the same results.

You will need for DIY Chicken Watering Station:

1 empty #10 can

1 pie pan or sturdy plastic container

Here is how DIY Chicken Watering Station works:

Drill a small hole near the open end of the can.

Fill the can with water.

Place the pie pan on top of the #10 can.

Turn the whole thing over.

The pie pan will fill with water until the water is level with the hole.

DIY Chicken Watering Station

You can also use a plastic bottle.

Place a small hole near the bottom of the plastic bottle.

Glue the plastic bottle to the pie plate.

You can use a sandwich or similar food storage container.

Fill the plastic bottle from the top.

Water will drain from the bottom until the water in the food container covers the hole in the plastic bottle.

A one gallon bucket with or without a lid also works well.

If you use a bottle, keep it out of the sunlight as much as possible as sunlight encourages algae growth.

Also, be aware of the potential of freezing in winter.

2-5 Gallon Bucket

This DIY watering system for chickens uses a two or five gallon bucket.

Because these buckets have handles you can hang this device up by its handle or even set it on a low shelf or some bricks so the watering cups are off the ground.

Here is our favorite with nipples included: 2 Gallon Chicken Waterer – Horizontal Nipple Setup
Water Your Backyard Chickens 

DIY watering system for chickens You will need:

Two or five gallon bucket.

2 to 4 chicken watering cups.

You can order chicken watering cups online.

How to do DIY watering system for chickens

Drill holes near the bottom of the bucket to accommodate the watering cups.

Secure the cups into the holes.

Fill the bucket with water.

Chickens may need a little training, but they should catch on quickly to using the watering cups. Feeding Chickens: What They Need at Different Stages

DIY watering system for chickens

You can also drill holes into the bottom of the bucket and substitute chicken nipples for chicken watering cups.

DIY watering system for chickens Hacks

Make sure to use a dark colored bucket to hinder algae growth.

You should also make sure the bucket is made from good quality/food grade plastic to prevent chemicals from leaching into the water.

If you live in a climate where cold weather is a possibility, check on your watering system regularly to ensure that the cups or nipples have not frozen.
Backyard Chickens Watering Drinker Cups

PVC Pipe Watering System

This system will make watering you birds a breeze.

No bending, or moving the device.

You will just be able to put water into the top.

As long as you keep the device closed, the water should stay free of contaminants.

PVC Pipe Watering System

Two lengths of 3-inch PVC pipe

One 3-inch pipe elbow

2 to 4 chicken watering nipples (available on Amazon)

PVC cement

Two 3-inch PVC end caps

How to do PVC Pipe Watering System

Drill holes in one length of the PVC pipe to accommodate the chicken nipples and screw them in.

Use the PVC cement to attach the two lengths of pipe to the elbow and the end cap at the end of the pipe with the nipples on it.

The other end cap should remain removable.

When you are finished, the device should be “L” shaped.

You can hang this device with the nipples running parallel to the ground and at a height that the chickens can access.

Add water by removing the top end cap and pouring it in.

The chickens and roosters may need to be shown how it works, but they should catch on pretty quickly.

Note: As with all of these watering systems, potential problems exist.

With this system, you have a good chance of avoiding algae growth as PVC is opaque.

However, if you live in a climate that gets cold in the winter, you do run the risk of the nipples freezing.

You should also check nipples periodically to ensure build up has not caused nipples to stop working properly.

Now that your chickens have clean water, they will want some recreation.

Here are the best chicken swings.

Chicken watering systems

Best Chicken Water Heater

To be healthy and happy, your backyard chickens need food, water and clean shelter.

(Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard) As the keeper of the flock, it is your duty to ensure that they have those things.

(Successful Hen and Backyard Chicken Adoption) Incubation for Beginners

These ideas for watering systems can help make the job of getting your chickens fresh, clean water easier.

Clean water will help to make sure they stay healthy which means you will be able to enjoy your hens for a long time to come. Best Chicken Toys: Entertaining Your Backyard Chickens

Chicken Swing Review. Comparing the Best Chicken Swings

chicken swing

Last Updated on

Chicken swings can be great fun for hens.

They reduce coop boredom.

When you keep your chickens occupied and happy, they are less likely to peck at one another.

Chicken swings introduce activity, exercise and recreation for your brood.

We like to think of it as hen-tertainment.

Best Chicken Swings

When we bought these swings, our kids thought these were the best things ever.

They were as excited as if the swings were for them! Our family and neighbors have enjoyed watching our chickens swing and play.

The Chicken Swing – Fowl Play Products

This is the first chicken swing we installed, and it remains everyone’s (people and chicken’s) favorite.

It’s sturdy and well-built, bright and colorful.

The Chicken Swing is made from plastic and rope, and holds up well in all types of climates.

It was easy to mount.

It’s adjustable for any coop size.

Like with all these swings, you will want to be sure there’s enough space for it to swing freely so it’s safe.

We first installed this swing when we had chicks.

This is key.

You will have much more success with chickens using this when they are adults if they start when they are young.

We made sure it was very low, about an inch off the ground.

The chicks were able to get used to it while they were young, energetic and curious.

As they grew, we raised the swing to 3 – 4″ off the ground.

They still enjoy it to this day.

A concern for all chicken swings is the risk of injury during a vigorous dismount.

The Chicken Swing comes with a fully adjustable cross-member which keeps the swing from twisting when the chickens dismount.

Depending on the area in which you hang it, when the hens have gotten used to it, you may want to put it high enough off the ground so the other chickens can be near it and under it safely, even when it’s swinging.

Best chicken toys Chicken Swings
Best chicken toys Chicken Swings

Two solid poly-pro ropes support the swing.

The perch is shaped like a small mailbox, with a corn-like surface the chickens can grip.

Pros of The Chicken Swing

UV and weather-resistant rope

Easy-to-install rope buckle makes it easy to adjust the height.

Safety side ties

Easy for chicks and chickens to grip and stay on.

Chickens can use it as a perch and a swing.

The perch tongues allow the swing to have more torque, so the chickens can swing easily.

It’s plastic — not wood — so it won’t warp.

It’s easy to clean.

Cons of The Chicken Swing (and all chicken swings)

Some chickens might be afraid of the swing so you may have to train them yourself

You may have better success with your chickens using the swing when you set it up when they are chicks or pullets.

Healthy Chicken Swing Perch

This is a simply chicken swing. It is very easy to install.

Like all chicken swings, its purpose is to keep chickens happy, active and entertained.

It will help keep them from being bored, which isn’t good for them.

The Healthy Chicken Swing Perch is made from durable wood to last a long time.

Strong ropes support the swing, giving it a solid suspension.

You can adjust the ropes according to the size of your coop.

The Healthy Chicken Swing Perch also comes with two carabiners which make the installation process easy.

Even if your chicken are of a large and heavy breed, this swing will hold them.

What makes this one different is that there is sandpaper covering the perch so the chickens can sharpen their nails.

Pros of the Healthy Chicken Swing Perch

The swing is very sturdy, durable and easy to assemble.

The materials are good quality and safe for your chickens.

Sandpaper on the perch helps to sharpen their nails.

The perch is wide enough for all sizes to perch comfortably.

Cons of this swing

It can be a little wobbly especially when the chickens mount or dismount vigorously.

This may scare your chickens.

Even with the best chicken swings, some chickens may not find it appealing.

It helps to “train” them with treats when they are younger (chicks preferably) or when you first get them.

It still works with pullets and adult hens but each will have their own personality.

It’s better to start when they are young.

Bwogue Wooden Chicken Flexible Ladder, Parrot Chicken Swing, Toy

This is the least expensive of the best chicken swings.

It’s also a versatile swing in that it’s a swing/ladder.

Chickens can perch on it to rock, or they can walk across it for fun.

It’s great for chicks.

When our now chickens were chicks, they loved this wooden chicken ladder made by Bwogue.

So know that adult chickens might not find it to be stable enough.

Ours were a bit afraid of it, and then ignored it completely.

However, it is such a well-made and colorful addition to our chicken coop, aka The Brood Lodge, that we keep it up for aesthetics.

When we get chicks again, we know they will love it.

We will enjoy watching them try to knock each other off the ladder!

We will be ready with the video camera the next go around!
best chicken swing ladder

If you have bold and fearless chickens, they may love this.

Let them stretch their wings, perch and hop in fun with this flexible ladder.

It mimics the actual climbing process and is great for all breeds.

It will entertain them and keep them active.

There are two lengths to choose from: 31.5″ long and 47.2″ long.

The ladder is made from wood and steel materials.

A steel wire runs throughout the ladder to support it against the weight of the birds.

The ladder rungs are wooden.

You can detach the chicken ladder easily with quick link fasteners that allow you to attach it to a fence or post or on the side of your coop.

Chickens love climbing, and you will enjoy seeing them on this ladder swing.

Pros of the Bwogue Wooden Chicken Ladder Swing

The steel wire gives the ladder additional strength to accommodate the chicken.

Natural wood also gives the ladder an authentic feel.

You can detach it easily and hang it anywhere in a short time.

It comes in two lengths: 47.2″ and 31.5″

More than one chick or hen can be on it at once.

It’s versatile. The chickens can walk across or perch and rock.

Cons for this wooden ladder swing

The sideways swinging motion might scare some birds.

You most likely will need to start training your chicks to use this and hope they continue to use it as chickens.

Also, note there seem to be different brands for what-seems-to-be the same chicken flexible ladder.

We are reviewing the one from BWOGUE.

Lanermoon Chicken Swing

This is another chicken swing to consider.

It’s bare bones as far as materials. However, it does include bells to add to the chicken’s entertainment.

We didn’t purchase this swing and haven’t tried it so we aren’t reviewing it.

However, you can learn more about it here.

Chicken swings are fun Chicken toys

Did you ever imagine yourself buying a swing for your chickens?!

As more people raise backyard chickens, companies are coming up with ways to keep them busy.

Many people consider them as pets, giving them names, etc.

Many people may enjoy DIY chicken swings.

If you are handy, it can be a fun project.

The most important thing is to be sure the swing is SAFE.

Remember, design it so there is no way the chickens would get caught up in the ropes.

It’s great to spoil your girls and keep them occupied.

Introducing chicken swings can be a welcome distraction for them.

Chicken swings and chicken toys can add some excitement and fun.

Having tried the three swings, The Chicken Swing from Fowl Play Products scores highly on safety, durability, design for assembly and effectiveness.

It’s our favorite.

Facts about Raising Chickens in Your Backyard
How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat
Pros and Cons of Keeping a Rooster
Chicken Watering Systems and Ideas

Comparing chicken swings

And remember, even if all of your chickens and roosters don’t hop on to the swings, they will still find it interesting.

They may have fun pushing it around and find it a novelty.

Sometimes, the bold ones will lead the more timid ones.

You will have great fun watching their personalities shine through.

Best Chicken Toys For Entertaining Your Backyard Chickens

Best chicken toys Chicken Swings

Last Updated on

Best chicken toys – Keeping chickens is steadily gaining popularity.

As useful as they are to us humans, it is important to consider their quality of life too.

Scientists have only begun to touch on the remarkable capabilities that chickens have for feeling emotion and intelligence.

Providing fun things for chickens to do will keep them stimulated and happy.

Here are great ways to keep chickens busy.

They are all unique and good in their own way.

You can get them all or choose one or two.

Your chickens will thank you.

Best chicken toys

Chickens are very curious by nature and love it when you introduce new objects to them.

They would love toys to play with, especially ones designed for them.

Here are some chicken toys proven to entertain and keep your brood busy.

The best chicken toys are ones which engage the chickens, keeping them occupied so they won’t peck at each other.

You want to keep them active.

Chicken WARE Chick-N-Veggie Ball

Curb chicken boredom with this commercialized form of hanging a cabbage in your hen yard.

This toy will provide tasty, nutritious vegetables and/or fruits for your chickens.

It will enable your girls to get exercise which is ideal for maintaining a healthy flock.

It’s best to get the three pack so your hens can all enjoy in the fun.

For certain, you don’t want to create stress and competition around this activity.

Chick-N-Veggie Ball features

When you hang this, it keeps the lettuce/cabbage off the ground and out of the dirt.

You can also let it roll on the ground, providing different entertainment.

You may choose to do this as a change of pace for your chickens after you change out the bedding.

After a day or two, as the ground gets more soiled, you can go back to hanging it.

If you get two Chick-N-Veggie Balls, you can hang one and leave one on the ground to see what the chickens prefer.

The veggie ball is easy to open and close.

It’s quick to refill as needed.

It’s sturdy.

And its design gives them hours of playing and snacking.

Being it measures 7 inches in diameter, it easily holds a head of lettuce or cabbage.

For variety, you can change it to include zucchini, kale, spinach or stalks of broccoli, etc.

It’s easy to hose off to clean when you are maintaining the rest of the area.

Precision Pet Chicken Treat Ball

This is another treat ball.

It’s like the Chick-N-Veggie ball above but this one is only made to hang.

Being it’s smaller, you won’t be able to fit a full head of lettuce or cabbage in it, but it works well for other produce.

And you can easily rip the cabbage leaves off and put them inside.

It measures approximately 4 inches in diameter.

Your chickens and ducks will enjoy it with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

It works wonderfully with lettuce, spinach and kale.

It’s made from sturdy, rust resistant metal.

There are large gaps in the wiring which allow the chickens to easily access the food.

It has a bell which will also entertain them.

The design of the treat ball caters to the chickens’ natural foraging instincts.

There’s a clip and hook so you can position it almost anywhere for easy access.

You can keep it in the same location or move it around for them to find.

You may want to get more than one and hang them in different spots for variety.

Like the treat ball above, this is great to use when you will be away for several days.

Features of the Precision Pet Chicken Treat Ball

You can easily fill it with healthy snacks and hang it in the coop.

Keeps the food clean and gives your ducks and chickens some variety.

It’s great for apples.

Included bell attached at the bottom provides entertainment for chickens.

Provides a challenging feed source and enables them to peck (if you put an apple or carrot in it).

It is durable metal coated with red, rust resistant finish.

Note this will not fit an entire head of lettuce or cabbage.

Again, you can remove the leaves and put them in separately.

Lixit Chicken Toy

Another great way to keep chickens occupied is with the Lixit Chicken Toy — the ultimate in providing action and snacks to your chickens.

It has an easy, pull-apart design to fill with feed, meal worms, or any favorite treats.

Lixit Chicken Toy
Lixit Chicken Toy

Simply put the Lixit in with your chickens and watch as they race to see what is inside.

Depending on the number of chickens you own, you may want to have more than one so they won’t fight over it.

Yes, they will love this toy (and the treats) that much!

Lixit Chicken Toy features

Easy, pull apart design

It rolls on the ground.

It is not meant for hanging.

The durable material makes it resistant to pecking and inclement weather.

Great for smaller treats, including meal worms and scratch

Really, you will entertain your chickens as well as yourself watching them have fun with this chicken toy!

The Chicken Swing – Foul Play Products

If you hang this swing in an area so that it has enough room for free movement, your chickens will delight in this toy.

Some of our older chickens avoided it, but when we started the others young, they’ve enjoyed it until their older age.

Hang it when you have chicks so they are used to it from the beginning.

Comparing the Best Chicken Swings

No matter when you first introduce it to your hens, you should make sure it is lower to the ground.

Once they get the swing of it (ha!) you can raise it.

If you have the space, you may want to get two and put them at different heights to see which they use the most.

Then you can adjust accordingly.

You will enjoy watching your chickens jump on and off of a swing.

It’s fun for them too, and curbs boredom.

If you can find a way for your hens to enjoy this in the cold winter months, this will go a long way toward entertaining them.

The Chicken Swing features:

This toy is an exceptionally well-made, colorful product.

The perch is plastic, making it easy should you ever need to clean it. It also won’t rot or warp.

Chickens can perch easily on it; it’s shaped like a corn corn.

The perch is 16.25″ wide — large enough for your hens.

DIY Chicken Toys

If you are handy and creative, you can make all types of chicken toys.

Experiment to see what your hens or chicks like.

You can do something as simple as securing fastening a bell to the end of a hanging rope.

See what your girls will find engaging!

Keeping chickens occupied

Chickens are capable of recognizing familiar animals and people, and building relationships with them.

Much like humans, they develop close relationships with their mothers.

They are capable of communicating with her while still in embryonic form.

Chickens are social creatures, preferring the company of other chickens to being alone.

They develop a social hierarchy with those that they spend the most time with.

Entertaining chickens

We should want to care for our hens in the best way possible.

We can do this be providing them with good living conditions, including a clean coop and ways for them to be protected from cold, rain, and the sun.

It’s essential they can live safe area from predators.

Also important is that they have access to clean water and food.

Once you meet the basic needs, it’s great if you can give them space.

Free range chickens are most likely happier.

Chicken coop toys

And if you can also give them access to variety and stimulation in the form of chicken toys, that will keep them curious, active and interested.

Ultimately, the goal is to keep them healthy so they can continue to provide eggs and later, high-quality meat.

Thankfully, more and more people are treating chickens better.

Many chicken owners value them as pets and as a food source.

Toys for chickens

Getting your hens the best chicken toys is a way to enrich their experiences and to honor their contributions to our lives.

Some owners grow so attached to their birds that they choose to keep them on as pets rather than solely a food source when they stop laying.

How to entertain chickens

If you want to get creative, you can make your own chicken toys. You can DIY chicken toys from things around your home.

Like the toys you can purchase above, they are inexpensive to create.

You can use an onion bag and hang a head of cabbage, allowing chickens to peck at it.

Also, you can build a “food puzzle” out of things the hens will have to move or manipulate in order to reach a treat hiding on the inside.

As an example, you can freeze berries in an ice block.

Keeping chickens busy

Chicken enthusiasts have even built DIY chicken swings to allow them some time to exercise and play.

Building an A-frame, otherwise known as a chicken gym, out of some leftover wood and some nails will keep them active and engaged with one another as they climb up and down the rungs.

If you don’t have the room or materials you can build chicken perches as a diversion.

Chickens also love shiny objects.

You can putting a small mirror — away from the glare of the sun — in a chicken coop.

It will provide hours of enjoyment for curious cluckers.

Consider also a chicken ladder.

These are fun toys as well.

Pros and Cons of Keeping a Rooster
Successful Hen and Backyard Chicken Adoption

Chicken toys relieve boredom

Chickens who are stimulated and happy with life are calm, curious creatures who do not wish to harm themselves or other animals around them.

When they are not stimulated, however, they tend to act out in frustration and aggression.

They will target the weaker members of the flock.

It is a stressful situation for animals and owners alike and should be avoided at all costs.

Finding some DIY chicken projects to provide them stimulation will ensure that you keep animal aggression at bay.

Chickens are active, intelligent animals, and it is up to us as their caretakers to provide a quality of life experience — one that is pleasing for them and joyful for us.

If you have been a regular viewer of America’s Got Talent, you would have seen this in its full effect.

There was a chicken in the finals who played the piano!

Providing chickens opportunities to play, socialize, exercise and run will ensure you have done them a service by providing the best life for them.

Raising a flock should be fun for you as well.

You provide for them, and in turn, you and your family benefit from their eggs and meat.

Enjoy providing for your girls with these fun chicken toys.

How do you keep your chickens happy and occupied?

Leave your tips in the Comments.

Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat Hacks

Chicken standing

Last Updated on

Keep chickens cool, Depending on where you live and your climate, it can be difficult to raise chickens in the summer.

Imagine living in the dry southwest or the humid southeast.

Can you still safely raise chickens in the heat?

Yes!

Here’s how to keep chickens cool in the summer.

How to keep chickens cool

Here are top tips for keeping chickens in the blazing summer heat.

Keep in mind the UV rays, especially at higher altitudes.

The thermometer is not always an accurate measure of the heat index, especially with the direct sun.

Here are best tips for keeping chickens cool and safe.

Chicken’s food and drink – Water Your Chickens

Plenty of clean, cool water is essential.

Even if you have a water pump system, put out extra water for them in several easy-to-access shallow bowls.

Put in several ice cubes as well.

Keep the water bowls in the shade.

Chickens Love Frozen fruit

Chop strawberries, pineapple and bananas into small pieces and freeze them for a few hours.

You can try blueberries and cucumber as well.

Save your kids’ watermelon rinds.

Chill the rinds in the refrigerator, and then give them to your chickens for a cool treat.

Your chickens will love it.

Chicken’s shelter and environment – Chickens need Shade

They will need shade, even something temporary, as their coop alone is not sufficient.

Supply them with shade in a well-ventilated area, even if it’s makeshift.

You can purchase a shade tent, a shade sail, or rig something with tarps or sheets.

Ventilate the coop

Consider a window that’s safe from predators and a fan.

Misting system

Depending on long the hot season is, it may be worth it to consider installing a misting system, even for a small area.

If you want something less expensive and less permanent, buy a misting attachment for your hose and prop it up for cool relief.

Clean the chicken coop

Bacteria multiples faster in the heat.

Keep your chickens clean, cool and comfortable.

How to keep chickens cool with hot summers and mild winters:

Kiddie pool to keep your chickens cool

Keep a small pool in the shade.

Fill it up with just an inch or two of water so the chickens stay safe.

Add ice cubes throughout the day.

The chickens will enjoy being able to come and go as they please.

Check in

Check on the chickens at least twice a day during extreme temperatures.

Be sure to watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stress in chickens.

Comparing the Best Chicken Swings

Open air system

From the start, work to house your chickens in an open air system with an attached run.

It will be worth it.

You can provide ventilation and ongoing shade which are more important than an enclosure which provides warmth.

Tips for raising chickens for beginners

Tips for raising chickens for beginners
Tips for raising chickens for beginners

It is easy to raise chickens when you set things up correctly and properly from the start.

Here’s what to know about raising chickens.

House chickens as far away on your lot as you can as to avoid the noise and the smell

Be mindful of your neighbors.

They probably don’t want to see, hear or smell them either.

Decide how many eggs you want per day.

That will determine how many hens to buy.

How much space do you have?

You need to plan for one chicken per three square feet at a minimum.

Find out what predators live in your area, especially if you have a fenced in area for the chickens (Fence Installation Hacks for Putting Up Fencing).

Consider getting a livestock guardian animal.

Install a long PVC pipe and connect it inside the coop to their trough so you can fill their feed from the outside.

Cap it so you don’t attract critters.

Install a water pump system so you won’t have to always refill their water.

The chickens peck it to turn it access water.

Fencing is key. Use a wire tighter than chicken wire such as hardware cloth.

Depending on your predators, make sure the wire is at least 10″ underground as well.

Raccoons are a huge threat to chickens and can reach in with their paws to kill chickens through chicken wire.

Raccoons and other animals can dig down deep so be sure to put the fencing deep enough.

Consider a treadle feeder in order to keep rodents and wild birds from feeding on the chicken feed.

Best Chicken Toys: Entertaining Your Backyard Chickens

Will the chickens be free range

If they won’t be free range, the general rule of thumb is 3 – 4 square feet of coop space per hen and 10 feet of run space per hen.

Having enough space will help prevent the chickens from fighting.

Before you get chickens, it is a great idea to take care of someone else’s chickens for a few weeks.

They are easy but do take time and attention.

Incubation for Beginners

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I’ve never known anyone to own chickens.

But after moving to the Las Vegas area, it seemed commonplace.

Raising chickens can be fun but you must keep them safe.

We wanted to raise chickens but knew how to keep chickens cool in the summer heat was a concern.

These tips have kept our chickens safe and comfortable.