A little while ago, (whilst on my mission to try be as self sufficient as possible), I decided we would add some chickens to the mix, to get fresh eggs. I am still at this stage not sure at what point the cost of chickens, bird food, building a coop etc actually balance against the cost of eggs.... but anyhow... I told myself that'll it'll be good for the family to have chickens wandering around, and definitely a better life for the chickens. Those egg producing 'factory's' are rather scary, as for those hormone induced eggs
|Laying an egg in her nesting box|
I got on the web and pinterest and found some great ideas on chicken coops, chook care etc.... Luckily I have a hubby who is fantastic at woodwork, and after deciding on the plan with a few changes he went ahead and built the chickens a wonderful coop, suited for our climate. This is very important. Our climate is hot, no frost but they needed some protection from wind, rain and snuggly nests at night.
Our coop needed to be secure against chicken eating wildlife. Like genets, leopard and hyena. As well as the pythons. (We live in the bush!). The nesting boxes are up with a little ladder that goes up to their boxes. All very comfy. We left the floor sand, with sawdust (as chickens like to scratch). The nesting boxes we filled with hay and sprinkled with Diatomaceaous earth (a natural pest killer) as well as being edible supplying minerals and de-worming if eaten.
|Our Chicken Coop with steps going up to nesting boxes|
We are a family of 3, and basically you can count on about 2 chickens per person to keep the household having sufficient eggs. We decided to start with 4 chickens and see how we go. Our chickens came from a local egg producer. They are over a year old, apparently their egg laying starts diminishing, and egg producers, don't really like that. So from tiny little holed up cages, they got a wonderful large coop. If you are only after eggs, you do not need a rooster. Roosters are noisy - the story about them crowing at sunrise is wrong - they crow all night! This way you will get non-fertile eggs. Obviously if you want to breed rather, then nature says: a rooster is required!
Our extremely scruffy looking chickens arrived! They had no idea about life outside a teeny egg laying cage - sad really. And I can really strongly Recommend anyone with a garden to invest in a few chickens - they really are no hassle and it'll make a world of chickens much happier!
COOP and CHICKEN CARE
Our chickens stay in their coop till about 1pm, then let out to roam free. The reason for this is that chickens will generally lay their eggs in the morning usually up until lunch time. We can't have them laying in the bush, as:
1.. We won't find the eggs.
2.. Once they have enough eggs they sit, then we won't find the chicken, and within a night a Genet will sniff it out for its dinner!
During the time that the chickens are out: we, clean the chicken poo out daily, and add it to the compost.
Their water is in a water dispenser raised off the ground, as chickens can make a real mess of their water.
Our chickens get at lib, (as much as they want) of :
1.. Mixed Poultry grain
2.. Laying mash
Kitchen scraps, which consists of:
1.. All vegetable and fruit peelings,
2.. Crushed up egg shells, even left over scrambled egg (adds the protein and calcium back)
2.. NO meat, NO avocado, NO citrus peels
|Our bunch of rescue case Scruffy chickens|
I can tell mostly what is wrong with a dog, or a horse, but a chicken...? That I'm still having to find out about. However... my one chicken got very sick, it stood around with its head hanging low, not eating, not moving. I thought that she was probably going to die on me. I searched my Veterinary home cupboard and found Eco-Heal made by Eco Vet in South Africa. This is what their site says on it:
"First aid for all animals in all situations and minor accidents. An essential all in one. Main therapy in all acute accidents and injuries. The blend of remedies can assist in the control of fever, inflammation, hemorrhage swelling and pain control. A pre- and post- exercise recovery tonic."I gave 1ml in the mouth twice a day for 2 days, and by day 3 she was running around like a "spring chicken". I can strongly recommend this as a first stage treatment.
Tips and Suggestions:
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