Looking after chickens is relatively easy once you have given them adequate territory and a safe, comfortable place to lay and to roost. Treat your chickens as well as you can and they should reward you accordingly. Chicken houses should be regularly cleaned out – at least once a week depending on size of house and number of hens occupying it. Nest boxes should be kept clean and warm with fresh bedding. Well-fed chickens are more likely to stay healthy and to lay eggs regularly. Chickens only like to drink fresh clean water and they need daily access to it at all times - especially during the warmer months of summer. Food should also be available daily - either supplied by hand or through storage dispensers. Caring for your chickens can become a part of your regular garden maintenance and feeding a part of daily egg collection at breakfast time.
Chickens are happy to eat a wide range of kitchen scraps. Milk, cheese, cream, bread and cakes, meat, fish, pasta are all favourites as well as vegetable trimmings and bits of fruit. Garden scraps such as spent brassicas, lettuces, beetroot tops can all be given to chickens. Over time you’ll work out what they like to eat most. Many chicken keepers supplement all these recycled items with layers pellets that contain grit, minerals and vitamins as well as grain mixes that are rich in protein. These feeds can cost around a couple of dollars per chicken per month depending on what else you feed you birds. Recycled eggshells or crushed oyster shells can be added to any chicken food for extra calcium to help build new eggshells. If you have the time and inclination you can prepare warm food in the winter with hot milk. If you let your neighbours know you’ve got chickens soon enough you might have more scraps than you know what to do with – which could be good for your wormery and compost bin as well.