5 Mistakes to Avoid as a New Chicken Owner
Chickens are among the easiest farm animals to raise, especially for beginners. These domestic birds are also interesting to watch. To some people, chickens are the most outstanding nature’s antidepressants. Most importantly, they are a great source of delicious meat and eggs for all types of families. They can also be a reliable source of income.
Most chicken owners, particularly beginners, tend to make some mistakes. So, if you are one of them, this is the best time to learn about common mistakes that new chicken owners make and how you can avoid them. Here are the top five mistakes every new chicken keeper should avoid:
1. Right Chicken Breed for Your Climate
Just like human beings, different chicken breeds thrive in different climatic conditions. Only a few can do well in almost all climatic conditions. Some chicken owners fail to choose the right breed for their climate. In your case, you can avoid this mistake by choosing the most appropriate breed that can do well in your climate.
It is always easy for new chicken owners to get caught up in the mix when selecting chickens they want to keep. Some may go for the colorful ones while others may settle for the exciting breeds without considering a suitable climate for them.
If you live in a fairly temperate region, make sure to choose chicken breeds that can only thrive in that climatic conditions. Luckily, most breeds of chickens will fit well in temperate areas. Choose chickens that are adapted to cold conditions if you are experiencing similar conditions. Likewise, start raising chickens that do well in dry conditions if your place is semi-arid.
Knowing the best chicken breeds for your area can help you avoid common mistakes new chicken owners make. Also, it may save you from the frustrations of losing your newly-acquired flock due to subjecting them to inappropriate climatic conditions.
Chickens in the right environment can stay happy, healthy, and productive. Layers will lay healthy eggs regularly while broilers will mature quickly to provide you with delicious meat. When chickens are not suited to a given type of environment, their health may suffer in bad weather.
During the selection of your chicken breeds, make sure to look out for adaptability features for your climate. Chickens with large combs can easily get frostbitten, so they are not suitable for colder places. Those with small or pea combs that usually sit close to their heads can thrive in wintery conditions.
2. Starting with Right Coop Size
You must always factor in the size of the coop that can accommodate your new chickens. This is due to the fact that chickens, whether chicks, hens, roosters, or cockerels, need extra space around them. With enough space in the coop, your chickens will have a lot of comfort and even coexist peacefully.
When your chickens have enough space in their coop, you will not worry about removing their drops. More space will mean that you are ready to raise more chickens or accommodate an expanding flock. Therefore, you need proper planning of your chicken coop in advance.
Since chickens take a very short time to increase in number, they will need a larger coop. This means that you should anticipate the likely number of chickens after a short period of time. In this case, find a large coop to house your existing flock of birds while expecting them to expand in the future.
Now the question that should linger in your mind is how much space your chickens may need. Your answer to this question depends largely on the total number of birds you are looking forward to raising. Regardless of how many chickens you want to keep, make sure that each bird has enough space inside the coop.
In most cases, experienced chicken owners insist on providing each chicken with at least 3 square feet of space inside the coop or around 10 square feet when outdoors. Even though this is a sound idea, the size of your coop should provide enough space for safety and comfort.
Here, more space means your birds will not become territorial or attack each other while struggling to take up the available space.
3. Buying Chickens from Unknown Source
Some new chicken owners make the mistake of buying chickens from unknown or unauthorized sources. Doing so can lead to buying poor quality and unhealthy chickens. Before you buy new chickens, especially the baby chicks, ask yourself if they are sexed, NPIP certified, what their heritage is all about, if they have been exposed to new birds recently, and how long they have been raised.
Also, find out if both old and new chickens are vaccinated, subjected to climate restrictions/recommendations, their type of feed, and their personality. Answers to these questions will most likely guide you in finding the right chickens for your new project. This is only possible if your source is legitimate and known.
To be on the safe side, the source or breeder must be certified by the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP). NPIP has different requirements for each state, so you should confirm with your current state to know the type of chickens to buy.
Generally, any certified breeder will have their chickens tested for quite a number of chicken diseases to ensure that each bird sold is disease-free. This is actually the greatest advantage of depending on a known source for your chickens. You will always trust that your new birds are in good condition both physically and in health.
In addition to that, ask the breeder about the heritage of the new chickens you want to buy. However, this is only applicable if the chickens you are buying mainly show birds. You can also go the extra mile to find out if the chickens you are about to acquire have been exposed to new birds.
While this may not be a major problem while starting your chicken-keeping project, it may be considered primarily for assessing the overall health of every chicken. If you have an established flock in your backyard, then your new birds can go for quarantine.
Most significantly, find out from the breeder if the new chickens have been raised on the specific type of feed. Knowing the particular feed for your new birds will help you know when to transition them from one feed to another without creating problems along the way. At the same time, you will be able to assess the quality of chicken feed they are being given for the sake of their dietary needs.
But the question is, where can you buy your chickens. Mostly, new chicken owners obtain their birds from farm stores located within their areas. Others buy them from hatcheries and breeders. Whichever source you decide to get your chickens from, make sure it is known, licensed, and certified.
4. You Don’t Need a Rooster to Have Eggs
A rooster may not be necessary for your hens to produce eggs. Typically, hens start producing eggs when they are about 18 weeks old. At this age, they can start laying one egg each day but this depends on individual breeds and environment.
A rooster is needed whenever you want your hens to lay fertilized eggs. This is recommended especially when you are a breeder and looking to hatch baby chicks in the future.
Alternatively, you may need a rooster to lead the rest of your flock. The rooster will certainly protect your entire flock against small predators. Bear in mind that roosters help complete the natural order of any given flock of chickens. Plus, they are good-looking, so they will stand out among your flock of birds.
All these positive attributes of roosters should encourage you to include at least one male chicken in your flock. Keeping only hens may not be a good idea all along the way. You should consider mixing your hens with a few male chickens.
Before you do that, ensure that your state allows you to keep roosters and that the local ordinances do permit anyone to have male chickens in their neighborhoods.
5. Not Giving Your Chickens Grit
When you start raising chickens, make sure to give them enough grit. Don’t confuse grit with oyster shells. The two are not the same. However, chickens need both to avoid cases of sour crop and brittle bones.
In particular, chickens should be given the grit to enhance their digestive system. Grit serves as an additive to your chicken’s diet to help them grind their food. Chickens don’t have teeth, so need the grit to reduce the size of food particles to a more manageable form and for easier digestion.
The grit is normally found in the gizzard where it stays for a while before it is passed through the bird without harming it. Therefore, you should always remember to provide your new flock of chickens with it without fail.
Sometimes mistakes do occur when raising chickens. While mistakes are inevitable when dealing with different breeds of chickens, it is advisable to avoid them or find a quick solution by all means.
Through experience, you will learn to cope with any situation that may arise on your farm. After all, keeping chickens is a worthy investment with good returns.