No one enjoys being “cooped up” without some space and the comforts of home. This applies to our fowl friends too. Chickens need a safe place to rest and feel secure, to find shelter from bad weather, to eat and lay eggs, to socialize, peck, exercise and to find safety from predators. So, if you’re considering building a new chicken coop or enhancing your chicks’ current house, take some time to investigate your options for chicken coop accessories and poultry care supplies.
There are many chicken coop products on the market. Before you make any purchases, let’s take a look at what’s considered to be “chicken coop must haves” and vital poultry care supplies. This applies to the backyard chicken, particularly for the adult chicken that has matured enough to move into her new home. If you do an online search, you’ll find there are poultry supplies that are inexpensive and easily installed. Others require a more substantial financial commitment but are worthwhile for protecting your hens and your investment.
Tip #1 Elevate Your Chicken Coop and Provide Enough Space
Whether you plan to buy a pre-built chicken coop or plan to build your own, two things are extremely important — elevate your chicken coop and provide enough space for your flock.
Chickens are happier and healthier with more space. Don’t overcrowd them. This can cause stress, aggressive behaviors and spread disease. The amount of space depends on the breed. A general rule of thumb is that smaller breeds need two square feet of area each, standard size chickens need four square feet and larger breeds need eight square feet each. Chicken runs, where chickens get to stretch their legs and peck at soil, plants or food, need ample freedom for each chicken, depending on the size. Chicken runs should be enclosed for safety reasons.
Elevation serves two critical purposes – protection from predators and prevention from common chicken health problems. Mildew, mold, parasites and bacteria can wreak havoc on your chickens, especially their feet, if your coop is not properly elevated. Predators such as fox, possum, raccoon, rats and mice, and others have a harder time reaching an elevated coop. Elevation also helps make maintenance and cleaning, feeding time and egg collecting easier.
Tip #2 Invest in good, solid Hardware Cloth around the Coop and Runs for Protection
While chicken wire is great for keeping chickens together, it’s not an effective deterrent for keeping predators out. Many predators can chew, dig or burrow right through or under the wire. Hardware cloth buried along the coop’s border, at approximately 12 inches deep, prevents predators from digging and is more durable than chicken wire. Holes are more easily spotted and patched with hardware cloth.
Tip #3 Research Options for Feed and Water Supplies
Chicken feed and fresh water are obviously integral to your backyard chicken coop must haves. What you purchase depends on the size of your flock and year round weather conditions. Backyard chicken coops should be positioned in an area that not only gets ample sunshine but also enough shade to prevent chickens from overheating.
On average you’ll need one waterer for 10 hens. You may need more if one of your hens “claims” the waterer for herself! Hens do not like warm water so avoid direct sunlight. It’s usually recommended to keep the waterer in an accessible area near the feeder in the chicken run, but not in the chicken coop. Hanging waterers are popular and inexpensive. They’re easy to clean, refill and monitor for water levels. You’re also less likely to get chicken poop in a hanging waterer. That’s a big plus! Automatic waterers require a water source to attach to and gravity-style waterers need a holding tank. These may be completely useless in winter if you are in an area where the weather is severe.
Chickens will eat feed off the ground but that becomes extremely messy and often attracts rodents, bugs and other pests. It’s preferable to invest in a good chicken feeder that will help reduce waste and limit the amount of contamination from the hen excrement, feathers and other messes. A good poultry feeder will help keep the feed dry and clean, especially in the summer with the prevalence of flies and other dirty bugs. In the winter, depending on the climate, it will avoid the food being frozen into the ground and thus inaccessible. In general, you’ll need one feeder for six chickens.
Tip #4 Install Chicken Roosting Bars, Ladders and Dropping Pans
Chickens like to sleep up off the ground and adhere to a certain pecking order at bedtime within the flock. The chickens who inhabit the higher roosts demonstrate the “pecking” order of the chicken flock. The bird at the top is “top dog”! The height of the roosting bars or ladders is important for several reasons. Chickens relieve themselves when they sleep so dropping/poop pans should be positioned below in an area where they can be easily removed and cleaned. Another suggestion is to stagger the chicken roosts like stairs so the chickens roosting higher up can climb up or down without injuring their feet (causing Bumblefoot). Many bird injuries occur because the chicken coop design makes chickens jump down from a height. This easily leads to chicken feet injuries and Bumble Foot infections.
It’s extremely important to keep feeders and water sources away from the areas close to the droppings so that they don’t get contaminated and thus to prevent disease.
Tip # 5 Don’t Let Your Chickens Eat Their Own Eggs!
Chickens will peck, smash and eat their own eggs for numerous reasons such as boredom, anxiousness or because their nesting box isn’t roomy enough or in the right place. If you’re raising chickens for eggs, make sure you start with the good nesting boxes. Chickens must feel safe and secure in a darkened area for privacy and comfort when laying eggs. If the box has too many hens or it’s in a sunny place, this could cause trouble! There are many types of boxes and ideas to build your own nesting boxes, but a good proportion is to have one nesting box for up to four hens. While they may still lay eggs in shared boxes, it’s better to be prepared in advance with enough boxes rather than too few.
Who Are Your Chickens’ Enemies?
Make safety the first priority before you purchase any backyard chicken supplies or poultry care supplies. There are many natural predators or other hazards which cause health problems lurking inside and outside the coop.
Whether you’re raising chickens in your backyard in the city or suburbs, in a rural area or a small farm, no chicken or hen is safe from natural predators. What animals or other birds will most likely attack your hens? Here’s a list of common chicken enemies that you may find in your neighborhood.
- Birds, including Hawks, Owls, Falcons and Eagles
- Cats and Dogs (including stray dogs or feral cats)
- Coyotes and Foxes
- Possums and Raccoons
- Rats and Mice
- Weasels (less common)
Whether you create your backyard chicken coop from scratch or pre-made, keep these natural predators in mind and use preventative measures, such as hardware cloth and overhead enclosures to keep out the bad guys! They are much more wily than You are!!
Common Chicken Health Problems
Chicken houses that do not provide ample space and opportunities for fresh air and ventilation can contribute to many problems. Chickens often get feet problems if they live in a soiled environment or injure their feet jumping off roosts that are positioned too high. Overcrowded coops can stress out your chicks, cause serious conflicts among the hen pecking order and could impact egg production.
Here is a list of common chicken feet problems and wounds that Banixx for Chixx often encounters. Banixx products are highly effective and trusted, especially the topical, anti-microbial, odorless, non-stinging first aid spray to help with many chicken feet, wound, virus and infection problems.
- Bumblefoot, an infection called plantar pododermatitis on a chicken’s foot. Learn more.
- Chicken Saddle, the small opening in a chicken’s butt that serves as both a reproductive opening and a feces discharge door. Learn more.
- Fowl Pox, a virus that affects chickens, turkeys and other birds. Learn more.
- Pecking Sores or Feather Pecking, a behavioral problem usually with domestic hens raised for egg production. Learn more.
- Wound Care, Fungus, Cuts, Scrapes and Abrasions. Learn more.
Banixx for Chixx: A Case Study for Treating a Sick, Injured African Grey Parrot
When purchasing backyard chicken coop supplies, a first aid kit is another “must have.” Chickens will have health problems from time to time. Banixx for Chixx is an important tool to have in your first aid kit. It’s a popular and effective product many bird owners choose for of all types of fowl, from backyard chickens to household pets such as a parrot, parakeet, canary, pigeon, an exotic bird or a raptor such as a falcon or a hawk.
Let’s take a look at how Banixx for Chixx helped Lolito, a male African Grey parrot.
Lolito was suffering from a stress condition, leading to self-mutilation by plucking his own feathers and thereby making him susceptible to a serious fungal infection from skin lacerations and abrasion. Read how Banixx for Chixx helped Lolito make a full recovery!
Banixx would like to recognize and thank Amelia and her chickens for the majority of the pictures provided.
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