10 Typical Problems with Keeping Backyard Chickens
Keeping chickens in the backyard has its share of ups and downs. On one side, you have the satisfaction of having fresh eggs and meat. On the other hand, there is the huge responsibility of taking care of these animals.
This boils down to food costs, veterinarian visits, meeting hygiene standards, and so forth. It is the joy of any backyard farmer to get rewards for their efforts.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case since farming is never laden with plenty of drawbacks along the way. Here are 10 common problems that people face when keeping backyard chickens:
1. Chickens are Noisy
Chickens may not be loud as their cousins’ ducks, but they constantly chirp, cluck and squawk throughout the day. It can be annoying if the noise becomes a disturbance to you and the neighbors. There are several reasons why fowls make noise.
One of them is when they are hungry or would like to eat. As a result, they cluck more during feeding time which can be quite bothersome especially if you are trying to sleep at night. Also, a rooster crows to let the entire everyone know that it is time for them to wake up. What’s more, hens may not stop chirping and crowing if a predator prowl around.
Also, they squawk when molting or about to lay an egg. You can reduce their anxiety and stress levels by providing them with a safe, secure, and draft-free area. Above all, feed your birds regularly and provide proper care to minimize the noise.
2. Chickens Need a Coop
Chickens need a coop to keep away from predators and to protect them from extreme weather conditions. A coop not only provides protection but has the ability to regulate the temperature inside it as well. In addition, the coop must have a roosting area where they can sleep.
There are plenty of chicken coop designs you can consider either as a small or large-scale chicken farmer. First, the build should fit with no draft or gaps in between the walls or roof.
Moreover, the coop should be sizable and have some type of insulation to keep the birds cool during summer and warm during winter seasons. Cleaning the coop is not an easy task and requires a lot of effort on your part. Therefore, make the coop in a manner where waste and debris fall to the ground while you clean.
3. Chickens Smell Bad
Chickens have a pungent odor that some people find unpleasant. The odor is more pronounced when they are molting, just laying an egg or if they have been left unfed for a long time. Feeding your chickens on a regular basis and providing them with the right environment inside their coop will reduce this.
Chicks and adult chickens alike produce waste that is made up of nitrogen, urea and uric acid that give off a bad odor. Minimize this, by cleaning the coop weekly.
You can also add fresh compost each day or use a roosting box where they poop outside the coop. Additionally, put some soil inside their coop so that it reduces the pungent smell inside your backyard.
4. Chickens Make a lot of Mess
Aside from the strong odor, chickens also leave a lot of mess which you can’t ignore. Remember that if left outside, poultry can uproot flowers, eat plants or ruin the flooring of their enclosure. In the pens, their droppings around the coop may end up falling into the water and food you provide.
Furthermore, when it rains, this waste material in the backyard becomes slippery and contributes to the muddy surroundings.
Cleaning such a huge mess is not only daunting but can be extremely expensive. Altogether, there are several solutions to minimize the mess in the enclosure. First, remove the droppings outside your backyard using a shovel or a rake.
After collection, place them inside a bag and trash. The same thing applies for unwanted feathers around the pens. Finally, build a fence or use physical barriers to block their access.
5. Chickens Kill Grass
Chickens love eating grass and this can be a problem for gardeners and owners. Another thing is that they peck the seeds of vegetables planted in the backyard. You can solve this by green leafy vegetables, corn, oats and barley specifically for them.
If your backyard has greens growing, consider using a chicken wire fence to segregate them. This is not a very easy task, but you can do it by either fencing the plants or providing them with other plants to eat.
While out scavenging, there are several ways to ensure that the birds never come close to the grass. Shooing may work for some time but can be tiring. It is advisable to plant thorny plants around the perimeter of your backyard.
Whether it is dandelions, thistles or daffodils, they will act as natural fences that keep your chickens off. You can also use boxes or wooden posts to keep them out of sections where you don’t want them to visit. Thankfully, the strategy protects your plants and also keeps the birds in check.
6. Chickens Eat a Lot
Feeding chickens on a healthy diet is an expensive affair. You need to make sure that you give them enough feed and water. Keep note that the extent of their activity level depends on what you feed them with, the classification of breed and age among other things.
As such, it’s important to consult a specialist or follow some guidelines when planning how much food they should eat per day. For farmers on a tight budget, this is the best solution especially when they can’t afford to buy them supplements. Fortunately, there is no need to provide food in excess since it just fills up their stomach and goes unutilized.
Overfeeding also leads to other problems such as obesity and this is why you need to track the amount of feed they eat each day. In any case, consider having a space where you can store food for future use. Keeping chickens from becoming obese is easy if they have their own yard where they can get exercise. The more active birds get, the more they eat.
If your chickens are free-range, then you need to provide them with a balanced diet that is made of fresh grass or vegetables. There is also another solution that can help keep food costs down and this involves feeding the birds leftovers from your daily meal.
Feeding them uncooked rice, peas and noodles won’t be a bad idea because it’s a cheaper alternative to buying commercial feed. Yet, for this strategy, ensure that they are soaked in water for a few hours so that the vitamins and minerals can be absorbed.
The real dilemma is when your chickens run out of food or there are no more leftovers from the dinner table. In such cases, you should ask yourself the purpose of keeping chickens in the first place.
The answer calls for serious consideration on whether you should keep them or not. If you’re keeping them as pets, then consider providing them with commercial feed at least three times a day.
Ultimately, you need to be responsible enough to know that your chickens are well fed all the time. Bear in mind that fowls don’t just eat anything. They are mostly herbivorous birds so you need to provide them with fresh vegetables and fruits.
Chickens also enjoy eating bugs, snails, worms and similar insects which you can collect from your backyard. However, ensure that they are free of pesticides if possible, to prevent a whole load of problems.
7. Chickens Poop Everywhere
The bird’s digestive system has bacteria and enzymes which result in its droppings producing foul odors and thus polluting the environment. Aside from this, the bad smell will also repel your family members from spending time outside. It will not do you justice if they are kept in an enclosed space where they can just eat up all your crops.
The best solution is to have a chicken coop that is built with enough ventilation slots so that the unpleasant smell gets carried out of the pen. It’s also important to consider the placement of their poop because you don’t want it deposited behind their coop.
Chickens have a keen sense of smell and they can still sniff out their droppings. Therefore, put them somewhere away from the coop.
The last thing you want is for them to eat up their own manure since this will result in a serious health problem. When the chickens are kept in an enclosed space, they tend not to poop or to do so less frequently.
If you allow them to roam freely then they will interact with the soil and eat their food which contains rich nutrients that help promote digestion. Chicken droppings may not smell good but it is important to consider its value as a fertilizer especially during the gardening season.
8. Chickens can Get Sick
Chickens get sick for various reasons. One, they can get infections from wild birds and rodents which come near the coop. There are also bacteria that can be transferred to your chickens if you handle them without wearing gloves or washing up.
The best thing you can do is to separate the sick chickens from the healthy ones. If they are already infected, then allowing them to stay with their flock will result in exposing the other birds as well.
You may realize that your birds fight for food and this can result in the spread of their diseases. The best prevention measure is to maintain a clean environment around the coop and always wear protective clothing when tending to your chickens.
Amid all, there is also a good idea of vaccinating your feathered friends on a regular basis to protect them from common illnesses.
9. Chickens can Get Aggressive
The worst problem when it comes to chickens is when they become too aggressive. The primary reason why this happens differs from one bird to another.
While some breeds are more violent, others, aggressiveness can be controlled from an early age. As chickens grow older, they tend to become more hostile especially if they feel threatened or frightened.
The best thing that you can do is to tame them as early as possible. In short, your flock should remain calm in almost all situations. After all, you can’t just have a bunch of chickens living in your backyard that creates havoc when they feel like.
For this reason, it is important to recognize aggressive signs so that you can tell if they are feeling threatened or frightened. However, if an unreceptive chicken constantly harms others or a danger to young children, consider removing them from the coop.
10. Chickens can Fly over Fences
Most chicken coops are small and in order for them to have more space, they may fly over fences. This is the reason why it’s important to include a run when building their house. If you want to make sure that your flock never escapes, then including an electronic fence can also do the trick. An electric fence will be attached around the house and this will help protect it from predators.
It’s important to note that chickens attempt to run away when they are faced with a life-threatening situation or if they feel hungry. Indisputably, it is quite a shame for your beloved birds to jump over the fence because of hunger.
Therefore, feed them regularly and minimize all perils likely to scare them away. If you have dogs or other predators in your backyard, keep the coop shut to keep your chickens safe.
Chickens may not exhibit emotions like dogs and other pets but they can make good additions to your backyard. However, you should learn how to read their signals and recognize when they are afraid or stressed.
Regardless the species or sex, it’s important to provide them with a cozy house and ensure that they remain safe at night. Finally, take note of these 10 common problems and try to find a solution early on.