Raise Chickens! Follow These 3 Tips

Apr 11th 2017

Tasty Worms has something to crow about. Chickens are amazing and so many people agree! We know you’ll be delighted with your birds…and we want to help you be a happy chicken keeper. Here are three tips to ensure your feathered family’s welcome mat has everything in place. You’ll wish you added birds to your yard sooner!

Let’s get started.

1. Food is love

Chickens love to eat. People are omnivores requiring a variety of foodstuffs – and so are chickens. Just like us, these birds require a healthy diet with greens, fruits and proteins. Chicken food is the staple of their cuisine, but don’t forget to offer treats (Tasty dried mealworms and Tasty Grubs are great snacks that provide irresistible flavor and healthy natural protein in a convenient package) to spice things up and get your birds to socialize with you.

Foraging is a natural behavior for chickens. Mental happiness = healthy flocks. When birds get to enjoy normal activities they do not experience chronic stress or behavior issues like pecking or fighting. Don’t forget to provide the chickens with plenty of roaming space as well. Cramped quarters result in bored, frustrated and unhappy birds.

2. The menu

• Purchase an organic laying feed for adult birds. Baby chicks and growing birds require a special starter feed. Adult grain has too much calcium and not the right nutrient formula for fast growing babies.

• You are what you eat – don’t skimp on feed quality. Offer birds some high quality seed mixes as well. You can buy “scratch” or set out some millet, sunflower and other grains. This is easy, since all you need to do is buy some wild birdseed. In cold weather offer “heat” foods like nuts, sunflower seeds and corn. Never feed contaminated or spoiled food. Mycotoxins in spoiled grains are deadly and always clean up any uneaten food.

• Your chickens want fresh vegetables and fruits. Dried fruits are great, too! Try different foods to see what your birds like best. They will let you know! If your birds turn their beaks up to a new food, simply offer it a few more times. Usually, they will change their minds after a few taste tests

Nutrition tip: Healthy antioxidants and other superfoods are important food items – for us… and the chickens. Add blueberries, kale, cherries, watermelon and other nutrient dense goodies. Your chickens KNOW what’s good for them, and they gobble up their spinach and collards with gusto.

3. Coop for rent

How big a coop do you need? As big as you can build!

Coops should always be shed or barn sized. NEVER waste money on small, hutch-styled coops. These were never used to house chickens and they are far too tiny to provide adequate ventilation, temperature stability and the room that active fowl need to be comfortable. All of these pitfalls spell disaster – from unhappy keepers to dead birds.

Specifics: The minimum sized coop for standard breeds is roughly 6x6. 

With a bit of carpentry effort you can repurpose existing buildings into coops. Expect a new coop to last 50 years or more and well-built chicken barns enhance your property, have resale value and can get a second life as a tool shed, storage barn or potting hut.

Coop Checklist:

1) You must be able to walk into the coop AND do chores comfortably.

2) Chicken barns must have room to store furniture (roosts, nesting areas, and supplies (grain bins, shelves, trash bin, cleaning tools and shavings bags).

3) Windows are critical for ventilation. You must add heavy-gauge hardware cloth to screens to prevent predator access. Fly screens offer no protection, but they are important for blocking disease-carrying mosquitoes.

4) Chickens are intelligent and curious birds. Site the coop in an area where you can provide rich and stimulating outdoor access for the curious chickens.

Here are 3 “musts” for the chickens’ yard:

• Chickens need their salad. Plant a pasture for the birds to graze on – add in plantain, clover, vetch, alfalfa, dandelion and hardy pasture grass.

  • Cover, cover cover! Chickens are ground dwelling forest and verge creatures. They want to be under cover, near cover, or in sight of dense cover. Plant grape vines, raspberry bushes, evergreens like boxwood and holy, fruit bushes such as blueberry and it doesn’t hurt to add a semi-dwarf apple or other small tree species.
  • Yards must be safe from predators, both aerial and ground. Never underestimate a determined hunter. Cover yards with hawk netting and check to make sure wildlife can’t dig under or squeeze through openings. Chicken wire is not strong enough to deter dogs or coyotes. You may need to install electric wire or electric netting in your area.
  • Show up your coops! 

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