wikiHow to Care for a Pet Chicken

Chickens are amazing pets and family members. Not only do they lay eggs, they get rid of pests like mice, eat almost any table scraps (strictly no meat) and are very intelligent and give you love and be there and help and even save you If you're thinking about adopting chickens, read on!

Steps

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    Before adopting any pet, you must be sure you actually want them, and if you can take the responsibility to care for him/her. Once you're absolutely positive, choose whether you want them for eggs, or as a family pet/member. Chickens used for their bodies like battery chickens (food industry or breeding) are good for family pets/members (and they are completely loving and grateful and know what it's like to have a horrible life. Hybrids are usually better at laying than thoroughbreds so bear that in mind. Well done, you've done the hard part.
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    Now buy the equipment. You will need: A coop with a run (chicken breeders may supply these, if not ask at a farm or DIY store), two hoppers, (specially made chicken feeders, ask for them in any good pet shop) that is one water hopper and a food hopper, and chicken feed (ask for it at any good pet shop).
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    Now you can finally adopt your chickens. Find a reliable rescue centre and collect them (you should contact them first).
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    Bring your new chickens home (or have the rescue centre bring them to you). Put them down in the run and shut the gate. Make sure the hoppers are already filled and everything is ready. They will probably run straight inside the coop. Regularly check on your chickens, and top up their food and water, but don't let them out of the run for a week. This lets them know that their coop is "home" and after a week you can let them out free range, and when it becomes dark they will return to their coop.
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    If you bought multiple chickens, at first they will fight to establish their pecking order. This should only last for 1-2 weeks and you should NOT stop them unless it is getting serious (e.g a chicken pecking violently at another chickens neck/head). Though you should not stop them, you can draw their attention away by hanging up some broccoli in the run.
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    Feed your chickens treats. You can feed them vegetables from the table, and you can purchase mixed corn or whole wheat which they also enjoy.
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    Clean out your chicken coops regularly. They should be cleaned out once to twice a week.
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    It takes 25 hours for a hen to lay an egg, therefore, a chicken lays an egg everyday except on one day per month (usually, depending on when they start laying) when the hour laps over. If you are getting small eggs (known as wind eggs, with no yolk), try feeding your chickens more calcium. If you are getting eggs with a very fragile shells, again, feed them more calcium. You can purchase vegan poultry tonic and put it in their water (always read the label). Note: When you take your chickens home they won't lay for up to two weeks until they settle in (unless they already were in the process which may cause them to lay on the first day but not on the next few) and they won't lay as much in winter as there isn't as much light. Also, if your hen is waddling around a bit like a penguin, it may have an egg stuck in the system. To cure this, bring her inside and place her in a comfortable cardboard box (with no lid on) with some hay inside, a heat mat and/or a heat lamp, if you don't have any of these, just keep her by a radiator and rub some Vaseline around the vent (bottom).
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    There are many different illnesses a chicken can pick up so keep an eye on your chickens and if one is behaving strangely, separate it from the others so if it is contagious it won't pass on. Then phone a vet to come and look at your chicken. If it is simply itching, part your chickens feathers and look there. If there are any mites/lice buy some chicken lice powder and follow the instructions on the pack. Treat the rest of your chickens too even if they haven't got lice. Also, if the comb (the usually red skin on top of the head, the one on the chin is called the wattle) is pale after two weeks of bringing chickens home, call a vet. In summer, however, chickens stop laying and moult; it may last for six weeks and the comb may pale though, it should return to normal and laying should resume afterwards.
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    Bond with your chickens. Cuddle them! They love hugs and kisses! Pick them up gently, supporting his/her body and holding the wings in (they may flap and it hurts) lift them up and give them a stroke.

Tips

  • Chickens are social animals, so play with them a lot
  • In winter you can buy artificial lighting for inside the coop, to boost egg laying.
  • Clip the primary feathers on one side only. This with unbalance your chicken when flying (they can fly a short distance) so they can't jump over the fence. If you clip both it will not unbalance the bird.
  • Play with chickens, and call there names so they get used to it.
  • If you really want to pick up your chicken but your chicken keeps running away, corner it and pick it up.
  • A cherry red comb is a sign that your chicken is healthy.

Warnings

  • Don't ever feed a chicken anything too salty, because they can die of salt poisoning.
  • If you feed your chickens acorns, it may result in green yolks. If this happens, just discard the green yolk eggs until she starts laying normally again; don't feed chickens acorns!
  • Never try to tackle complicated illnesses by yourself.

Article Info

Categories: Chickens