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How to Take Care of Chickens

Five Parts:Preparing to Keep ChickensPreparing the Chickens HomeFeeding ChickensCaring for Chickens DailyOther Needs

Chickens are amazing creatures that are fun, sweet, loving, and will provide a constant supply of fresh eggs. These feathered friends will cluck their way into your backyard and into your heart! If you give them the right amount of time, love, and care (TLC), you will soon have a beautiful flock of healthy and happy chickens! This article will provide you with all the details you need to know.

Part 1
Preparing to Keep Chickens

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    Check your local laws and regulations on keeping chickens. Some places will not allow you to keep chickens or they might have some strict rules on keeping them. Before you start caring for some chickens, be sure that you can first by searching your local laws and regulations online.
    • Some places will not allow you to keep roosters because they are too noisy. Unfortunately this will affect you if you want to breed your hens but fortunately it won’t affect you in any other way such as keeping hens for eggs or meat.
    • Some places will only allow you to have a certain number of chickens. If you plan on keeping a lot of chickens, check the maximum amount of chickens you can keep first.
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    Make sure you can care for chickens in your backyard. Before you do get some chickens, you’ll want to make sure you can provide them with everything they need to keep them happy. You will need to:
    • Set aside some space. Make sure you know where the coop is going and that the chickens have enough outdoor space. Each chicken should have 10 square feet of space outdoors and bantams should have 8 square feet.
    • Save some money. Chickens aren’t cheap, you’ll need to purchase them feed for as long as they live, purchase fresh clean bedding, an expensive coop, and they’ll need a few extra things. If you’re short of money, you can keep bantams instead of regular chickens since they tend to be cheaper to take care of, take up less space, and don’t eat as much as regular chickens do.
    • Reorganize your schedule. Chickens usually take up a lot of your time. You’ll have to feed them daily, refill their water containers, clean their coop, collect their eggs, and if your area has a lot of predators about you’ll need to check on the chickens often.
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    Let your neighbours know that you’re getting chickens. Before you buy a flock of chickens, it’ll be nice to let your neighbours know if it’s alright with them, you don’t want to be a nuisance.
    • If your neighbours wouldn’t like the noise, consider only getting hens and no roosters since roosters are much louder than hens.
    • If your neighbours are worried the chickens will get into their yard, make sure to keep the chickens in an enclosed area. You can always buy a chicken coop with a run attached to it so the chickens cannot escape.
    • If your neighbours are still not keen on you getting chickens, bribe them with a fresh supply of eggs.
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    Do your research. If you’ve never cared for chickens before, know what you’re getting into. Chickens can be a lot of work and you’ll want to know how to look after them properly and how to avoid common mistakes.
    • There is plenty of information online on websites, blogs, forums, etc. You can also get some advice from other chicken owners or purchase a book about chickens.
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    Know the pros and cons of keeping chickens. There are many advantages and disadvantages of keeping chickens and it doesn’t hurt to learn them.
    • The pros of keeping chickens are that they get rid of pests, eat your snails, they’re a source of fertilizer, they lay fresh eggs, they’re great company, they’re wonderful to watch, and over all they’re very fun birds to raise.
    • The cons of keeping chickens are that you have to spend a lot of money on them, you have to spend most of your time caring for them, they take up a lot of space in your garden, they will often peck at your plants, and they attract flies.
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    Decide on the age and the purpose of your chickens. There are different purposes for chickens. They can be kept for eggs, meat, show and as pets. Whichever purpose you choose, there are plenty of breeds that are recommended for that purpose.
    • Decide on the age of your chickens. You can purchase fertilised eggs, chicks, pullets or laying hens. If you’re new to keeping chickens it’s recommended that you purchase some pullets or laying hens instead of young chicks or fertilised eggs. However, incubating your own eggs is a wonderful experience and chicks will also be a lot tamer than pullets or laying hens since you’re raising them yourself.
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    Decide on the breed of your chickens. Different breeds of chickens are used for different purposes. Some are better egg-layers than others and tend to lay eggs longer and there are ones that are best used as broiler (meat) chickens which mature quicker than others. You also get more unique and colourful chickens which can be kept for show and the cuter ones such as bantams which can be kept as pets.
    • If you’re looking for good egg-layers, go for the Plymouth rock, rhode island reds or the leghorn chickens. These chickens tend to lay more eggs for a longer period of time.
    • If you’re looking for chickens to be kept for meat consider keeping Faverolles or brahma chickens which mature quicker than other breeds.
    • If you’re looking for ‘show breeds’ research different kinds of breeds online. When you come across a breed you like consider buying one. Generally, a show breed can be any chicken that looks colourful and more unique and different from your regular breeds. However, fancier breeds may not lay as much eggs and may not be as friendly as other chickens.
    • If you’d like a simple pet chicken, consider seeing what kind of chicken breeds are available in your area. You can always go for the bantam sized chickens which are smaller and usually cuter than the standard chicken. There are many bantam breeds to choose from and many of them are very friendly such as the lavender bantam or the orpington bantam.
    • You can also get a dual-purpose breed which is a kind of chicken that is good for both eggs and meat.
    • If you don’t mind the breed, try to find one that is suitable to your environment. Some chickens can handle hot climates such as Hampshire reds. Some breeds can handle colder climates more than others such as Australorps. And don’t forget, if you don’t have much space or money to spend you can always go for the bantam which take up less space and eat less food than the standard chicken.
    • Keep in mind that you might not get the breed you want. If you look for chickens for sale locally, there might not be a huge range of breeds to choose from and the age can differ.
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    Find out where you will be able to get chickens from in your area. As mentioned above, you might not get the breed you want, but if you’re lucky you’ll get another breed which is alike. Chicks are usually available in spring or summer so if it’s winter or autumn right now, you might want to get some pullets instead.
    • There are plenty of places to purchase chickens from. You can browse on websites that sell chickens such as craigslist or you can look on bulletin boards at pet shops to see if there’s an advertisement on chickens there.
    • If the above information didn’t help you find any chickens, you can try asking a local farmer if he’s looking in selling a few chicks or pullets. Young chicks can also be bought at local feed stores or you can purchase some fertilised eggs online and get them mailed to you.
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    Decide on whether your chickens will be free-ranged or not. You can let your chickens roam around in an enclosed area in your garden, let them free in a run, or permanently keep them in their housing.
    • Free-ranged chickens are often more happier than cooped up chickens. They get more light during the day, get most nutrients from the things in the ground, eat up any snails or slugs in the garden, have more space, and they get to dust bathe in the dry dirt daily.
    • Chickens that are kept in a run have their advantages; they’re safe from predators, you don’t have to check on them often, they still get to live on grass and dirt, and they get fresh air and light.
    • Chickens that are cooped up are often the same as chickens that are kept in a run except they have more disadvantages. E.g. their coop has to be cleaned up more frequently, they don’t get much light or fresh air, they need more space to live happily, and they can’t go foraging in the grass.

Part 2
Preparing the Chickens Home

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    Purchase or build a chicken coop. All chickens need a coop to be kept in. The coop needs to be well ventilated, predator-proof, free of drafts, and have plenty of space for the number of chickens you want to keep. You can purchase a chicken coop from a pet store, a warehouse, a ranch supply store or online and the cost can range from $200 to $600 depending on the size of the coop.
    • If you have some knowledge in building things, you can try to construct your own chicken coop. You can get many coop designs online or design your own coop.
    • Your chickens should have 4 square feet of floor space each in their coop, bantams should have half of that which is 2 square feet. If you’re going to keep your chickens in the coop permanently, it will have to be quite large so that the chickens are happy with the amount of space they have and have room to roam around.
    • Place the coop in an area with plenty of grass and some dirt piles. Chickens like to eat any grass they come across and they love to dust bathe daily. Keep your chickens in an area with some dry dirt to dust bathe with and in a place with plenty of long grass to munch on.
    • Consider attaching a run to the coop so that your chickens can roam around outside but still be protected from predators and so they won’t wander off.
    • Purchase a few perches/bars to hang in the coop. Chickens don’t usually sleep on the ground but they often roost at night on perches or on top of nesting boxes. This is why you’ll want to buy a couple of perches for your chickens. The amount of perches you buy depends on the amount of chickens you have. Make sure the perches aren’t too thin so that the chickens can easily rest on them. It’s also better to buy removable perches so that you can clean them without any trouble.
    • Purchase or build a few nesting boxes to go inside of the coop. These will be the place where your hen will lay her eggs. Make sure there is one nesting box between every four hens. You should add bedding such as straw to the boxes so that it is like a nest. Also, make sure the boxes are big enough so that your hens can fit in them and be comfortable. Make sure you have easy access to the nesting boxes and that they have a lip so that the eggs cannot fall out of the nest and crack on the ground. You might want to build or purchase a coop with nesting boxes in a way so that you can collect the eggs from outside of the coop, this way you won’t be disturbing the flock every morning by entering their housing.
    • Add absorbent bedding to the coop. The bedding is so that you can clean up the chickens waste quickly and easily. It should be added to the flooring of the coop.
    • If you cannot buy or build a coop, you can always keep your chickens in a warm, well ventilated, predator-proof shed. The chickens will easily adapt to this.
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    Make sure the chickens enclosure is safe from predators. Chickens have many predators including raccoons, cats and dogs which can fit through cracks in the coop or fence or dig under the coop or fence. Make sure to reinforce your chickens enclosure unless you want to find all your chickens gone in the morning.
    • Make sure to put up a fence around the chickens enclosure. Make sure the fence is made out of strong materials. If the predators continue to get inside the chickens enclosure, consider setting up an electric fence.
    • Stick some wiring underground so that no predators can dig underneath the coop and get in.
    • Block off any gaps that predators can fit through in the fence or coop. You can block off the gaps with a piece of wood, tile or something similar.
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    Purchase the necessary equipment to care for your chickens with. When caring for chickens, you’ll need to make sure they have the right feeding equipment, cleaning tools, extra items to go in their coop, and the correct type of feed. A list of equipment you will need can be seen below:
    • Purchase a feed and water container. You can use some tubs or bowls as your chickens feed and water container or you can buy a feeder and drinker. You can keep these inside or outside the coop and the amount of feeders/drinkers you buy depends on the size of your flock. If you’re planning on breeding your chickens later on, you’ll want to keep a drinker since it will lessen the chance of chicks drowning.
    • Purchase the suitable feed for your chickens. There are different chicken feeds to buy, usually for different purposes of chickens. You can buy layer pellets which is suitable for laying hens, a finisher feed which is given to meat chickens and your normal chicken feed which is for any kind of purpose of your chickens.
    • Purchase extra bedding. If you’ve already bought bedding for the coop, you might want to buy some more since you will be disposing of the used bedding every time you clean the coop.
    • Purchase a heat lamp if necessary. If you plan on breeding your hens or if it gets quite cold during winter in your area, you’ll have to invest in a heat lamp. A heat lamp is guaranteed to keep your chicks and chickens warm.

Part 3
Feeding Chickens

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    Choose the correct type of chicken feed. There are three types of chicken feeds for different purposes of chickens including layer pellets which is high in calcium and is given to hens so that they can lay great eggs, a finisher feed which is high in protein and is given to meat chickens that are over six weeks old, and the usual high-quality chicken feed which is fed to any kind of chicken.
    • You can get two forms of feed; pellets which is given to regular chickens, and crumbles which is given to smaller sized chickens known as bantams.
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    Supplement your chickens diet. Provide grit to help your chickens grind down their food and a source of calcium for laying hens. Crushed oyster shells or egg shells are a great source of calcium and free-ranged chickens don’t need to be supplied with grit as they find things in the ground to replace it.
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    Give your chickens limited treats. Chickens can eat almost anything such as vegetables, fruits, table scraps, bugs, seeds, etc.
    • Never feed your chickens avocado, rhubarb, onion, garlic, uncooked potato or egg, citrus fruits, alcohol, chocolate or anything salty. If you’re going to feed your chickens egg, make sure to cook it first. The freshest food is always the best.
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    Provide water for your chickens at all times. You should provide one gallon of water for up to three or four hens, the more chickens you have the more water you need to supply them with. Always make sure the water is fresh and clean and remember to refill and clean the water container daily to prevent a build-up in bacteria.
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    Keep the food fresh and clean. During the night cover the container and feed up with a lid to stop it from attracting pests and clean up any leftovers so that it doesn’t turn moldy.

Part 4
Caring for Chickens Daily

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    Let the chickens in and out of their coop. In the morning, make sure to let the chickens out of their coop whilst when it gets dark and the sun is setting make sure to lock them up in their coop. When locking the chickens up, make sure to count them all to make sure they’re all in the coop. If one chicken is missing you might have to grab a torch and a helper to find that chicken and round it up.
    • Chickens will learn that their coop is home and eventually settle inside the coop every night when it is time to go in. This will save you the trouble of rounding the chickens up. However, if you’re still having some trouble getting the chickens inside of their coop, throw some treats inside.
    • The chickens should have access to their coop at all times during the day whilst the coop should stay locked during the night. Chickens will come in and out of their coop to lay eggs, eat and drink (if the feeder and drinker is in the coop) and get away from the heat or the cold.
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    Collect the chickens eggs each day. Each hen will lay one egg every day if kept happy. You should collect the eggs in the morning or in the afternoon to make sure you are receiving a fresh supply. On a hot day you should collect the eggs twice a day.
    • You should collect the eggs in a basket, box or some sort of container. If you drop an egg make sure to clean up the mess!
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    Clean the coop daily. Cleaning your chickens coop is very important as it prevents pests such as mites and diseases. The chickens bedding must be replaced often and you must also clean the whole chicken coop from time to time. Depending on the amount of chickens you have you may have to clean the coop more frequently, the same rule applies if you constantly keep your chickens in their coop or if they are not free-ranged.
    • Put on some gloves and dispose of all the bedding, sweep the floor of the housing, hose the housing down, clean out the nest boxes, rinse the feeders and drinkers and clean the perches.

Part 5
Other Needs

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    Check on your chickens daily. Do your daily routine and feed them, refill their drinker, collect eggs, etc. Then observe them and see if there is a change in appearance or behaviour to make sure the chickens are healthy.
    • Panting, cloudy eyes, sluggishness, low alert, huddling, bald spots, reduce in egg production, and no eating or drinking are all signs of illnesses. If you come across any of these you must take your chicken to a vet as soon as possible.
    • If one of your chickens are bleeding you must split them up immediately to stop other chickens pecking at the wound. Isolate the chicken until healed and then return it back to its coop.
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    Provide dry dirt or sand for your chickens to dust bathe in. Dust bathing is a way your chickens clean themselves and it also prevents parasites such as mites or lice from infesting your chickens. If your chickens are free-range they might have some access to some dirt already.
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    Bathe your chickens if necessary. If you’re preparing your chickens for a show or if they’re just very dirty at the time, consider bathing them. While you’re at it, clean the coop as well!
    • Grab a big enough tub, a mild soap and a cup or sponge and bathe your chicken. While your bathing them it would also be good if you trim their beaks and nails and clip their wings too.


  • Consider purchasing a chicken tractor instead of a chicken coop since tractors can be moved easily. This is handy if you often move your chickens to a new location.
  • Straw, wood shavings and pine needles can all be used as a suitable bedding to go inside of the chicken coop. However, hay is not very absorbent which is why it shouldn’t be used as much as the others.
  • Depending on the size of your coop, only keep about four to six chickens in it to lessen fights. Although this might keep the hens happy they do have a certain pecking order, especially for new chickens you add to the flock.
  • Be aware that keeping chickens is fairly easy, many warnings you hear on diseases and predators will most likely not happen to your flock anyway. But you must still be aware though.
  • If you ever decide on raising chicks, consider purchasing chicks rather than fertilised eggs. Chicks can be sexed so you know whether they are hens or roosters whilst you might get more roosters than you expected if you hatch eggs and not all eggs might actually hatch.
  • If you go away from home for a while, you can find a local chicken sitter in your area to look after your chickens for you while you’re away.
  • Not all chickens lay on the same schedule. Some lay every once every 24 hour period but others will only lay a couple times a week. Make sure you know how many eggs you can deal with and make sure you know your breeds' laying schedules.


  • Don’t leave food to rot or go mouldy. If the chickens eat mouldy food they are at the risk of dying.
  • If you do not clean the chicken coop often your chickens and/or their coop might get infested with mites, lice, flies, rats and your chickens are prone to diseases.
  • Never feed your chickens avocado, rhubarb, onion, garlic, uncooked potato or egg, citrus fruits, alcohol, chocolate or anything salty.
  • Make sure to keep at least two chickens. Chickens are social birds and they will get bored, depressed and lonely if they don’t have a partner to socialize with.
  • Make sure the coop is well ventilated. Chicken waste is high in ammonia and carbon dioxide which is why you must make sure the coop is well ventilated but doesn’t have any drafts so the chickens won’t get cold.
  • Try not to keep more than one rooster in an enclosure as they will fight each over causing serious injuries.
  • Keep any dangerous pets away from your chickens such as dogs or cats and make sure they cannot get into the chickens enclosure/coop.
  • Most roosters have ‘spurs’ at the back of their legs which they will use on you if they feel threatened. Don’t worry, you can always get these trimmed if you feel like they hurt you too much.

Things You'll Need

  • Chicken coop.
  • Perches.
  • Nesting boxes.
  • Bedding.
  • Chicken wire.
  • Feeder.
  • Drinker.
  • Chicken feed.
  • Cleaning supplies.
  • Basket.

Article Info

Categories: Chickens