When you think of chicken, what comes to your mind? In one go, all the non-vegetarians out there would think of all kinds of mouth watering chicken cuisines. Well if you are what they say as ‘pure-nonvegetarian’, then why not have your own farm of poultry and raise your own healthy chickens, so that you never have to go to the supermarket to buy eggs and flesh and get a fresh supply from your own backyard. Keeping poultry pets is not so popular in suburban areas but here are few reasons as to why and how you keep a flock in your backyard.
1. An omelette in morning and a chicken cuisine for dinner would be something quite common for you, and that includes the family dinners and parties as well. You will be happily feasting with your friends and relatives.
2. Keeping chicken is fun. They are active, alert always ready to run around. You can cuddle them, pamper them only if you take care of them and bond well. They are unique! Yes, every chicken is unique in its personality trait, apart from varied feather colors and sizes. Chicks are equally adorable. You will love to play around with them and raise them in your backyard.
3. Keep them if you have pest problems in your garden. They can turn it into a fertilizer. No need to use pesticides also. Chickens love to roam around freely and forage. They can eat almost anything, even the grass that has grown too long. So stop caring about mowing your gardens and let those chickens go loose.
4. Low maintenance is what is synonym to keeping chicken. No walking, no brushing only feeding twice a dy. With minimal needs and plethora of benifits what more you can ask from your pet, than an egg every morning. The cleaning and bedding is a once in a while effort.
5. Save a chicken from the farm-factory where they follow ruthless and cruel farming of poultry and diary animals to produce higher output. High epsticides and antibiotics are used to rpevent spread of diseases in the stocked up innumerable poultry animals. Here you keep chickens, there one less chicken is put in a gruesome situation plus even you prevent yourself from ingesting those chemicals.
6. Its not just about chicken and eggs, in the end you get a pet to whom you can cuddle, scoop around, comb and pamper. Amaze others as you make your chicken fall asleep in your arms, they can be good pets if bonded well.
Now that you have got enough reason to keepp them, lets see the how part.
Chicken diet depends upon the breed and the age. Feed should be well balanced and the containers should be regularly cleaned to avoid any chances of illness. Chickens need insoluble grit in their diet like hard flint grit. Chicken feeders are equally important when keeping chickens as pets.
Constant clean and fresh water is a must in your poultry house. The drinkers should be cleaned regularly. Care should be taken that drinkers are not too deep to prevent the chicks from falling into them.
The place where your chicks will grow up and thrive has to be warm, dry and well ventilated. The area needs to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to remove parasites and other insects. The feeders and drinkers should be placed in one corner of the house and if you have more number of chickens, two or more feeders can be kept per chicken coop.
The flooring should be made of dry material like wood shavings or straw that should be topped up. Chicken like to forage and dust bath around so the toppings can be replaced when required. The floor should be dry to avoid habitats for parasites to grow and cause unwanted diseases to your pets.
Chickens require ample space to stretch their wings, run and hop around. If you have 30 birds in your coop, roughly 12 square meters of space would be enough for them. But this also depends on size and number of chicken pets you have. You can fill the space with perches, about 3 to 5 cm in length with round edges to avoid the chicken getting hurt.
When the hen is getting ready to lay eggs it needs quiet places. Make sure you provide the would-be moms with warm, serene enclosed nest boxes where they can lay eggs in peace without any disturbances from humans and other male chickens. The flooring can again be straw or wood shavings, in short, something dry and comfortable.
Provide an overhead cover over the coop, like a small tree or a shed to protect your pets from sun and weather. Chicken constantly sun bathe and forage so enough space should be there for them to do so. Feeders and drinkers should even be kept outside for easy access to food and water. Proper fencing should be there to protect your pets from wild animals or other pets in your house. Make sure the bird doesn’t get out of the fence or not hurt itself getting stuck in it.
Healthy chickens are easy to notice. They have bright eyes and alertness in their movement. Poor health symptoms include hunched posture, reluctance in movement, erect feathers, hiding in corners etc. The chicken seems dull and less interested. Always contact your vet if you think your chicken is not doing well. Late response may make other chicken unwell too. Chickens should be checked for lice and red mites, generally found under the wings or in the crevices of the coop. Chickens need regular de-worming, if kept outside in the same area over a long period of time.
Feather pecking can be a cause of serious trouble while introducing new chicken to the flock. Cockerels who haven’t grown together should be kept separate to avoid rivalry. Even hens peck and pull at the feathers of other hens causing injuries. This can occur anytime and may even lead to cannibalism. Care should be taken to separate any newly introduced member into the flock if they break into a fight.
Before getting yourself a flock of your own birds make sure you have ample space and can devote enough time and care towards them.