Basic Items Required to Care For Your Chickens

"Once you have chosen your chicken coop, there are four basic items you will always need to ensure that your chickens stay healthy and produce lots of lovely eggs. These are:

Bedding is usually spread on the floor of the chicken coop, toabsorb moisture, droppings and odours. Alayer of bedding also acts as a soft surface for the chickens' feet and to keep the birds warm. A good layer of bedding should also be placed in the nesting boxes to provide comfort for the hen when she lays and to protect the eggs.

Wood chips, bark and shavings, chopped straw and shredded paper all make effective chicken bedding, newspaper or heavily printed paper should be avoided. It is important that the bedding should dry quickly as wet bedding is a breeding groundfor parasites, mould and bacteria, all of which will be harmful to your chickens health.

How much food you give your chickens will depend upon how freely they are able to forage. Your chickens can obtain up to 25% of their protein by foraging for grass and insects. You can add (non-meat) kitchen scraps to their diet for variety.Leftovers suchas cooked rice and pasta as well as vegetablesand fruit can all be given to your hens as treats. Try to avoidcitrus fruits, or anything that is salty, sugary or fatty.

Your chickens however should always be fed a complete chicken food of either pellets or meal from a reputable supplier, to keep them in top laying condition. The average chickenwill eat between 100-150 grams of complete food a day. So if you start with 3 hens expect to go through a 20 kg bag of pellets every 40 to 45 days, which willcost about $10 per  can also supplement this with around 20 grams of grain a day, but don't feed this with the chicken feed. The birds will pick the grain out and fill their crops with it andthen not have enough room for the more nutritious complete food which is essential for a balanced diet and good egg production.

Water is vital for a chicken's well-being. Eggs are 65% water so your chickens must have access to fresh water at all times. Try to avoid having the water dish where the birds can foul it. A raised water dish or feeder is a good idea and this should be easy accessible at all times. The dish or feeder must be cleanedregularly.

On a hot day a chicken can drinkas much as half a litre of water. In winter make sure that the water does not become frozen, as even in very cold weather the birds will need a constant supply of water.

As hens do not have teeth they need to ingest grit into their gizzards tohelp break up their  your chickens don't have access togrit outside you will need to provide them with some."

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