Keeping backyard chickens is becoming more popular by the day. Chances are, there is at least one flock in your neighborhood. You might even become tempted to start raising your own flock once warmer weather hits. But how much care do chickens need? Will you have time to care for everything your chicken needs to thrive? Let’s take at the breakdown together.
Before The Flock
Your time caring for your chickens starts before you get them. You will spend hours researching, planning, building, how much do chickens cost, and so much more. Sometimes the “before” is more time consuming than anything else. Getting a small flock of chickens isn’t something that anyone should rush.
Chickens are not the type of animal that you can set and forget. They will need constant daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal care. For a small flock, you can expect to take 10-20 minutes a day caring for them. But the larger your flock is, the longer it will take.
How do you take care of a chicken for beginners? That starts with the daily tasks.
Hens are susceptible to so many illnesses. And even if you treat your hens like queens, eventually they will get sick. Since chickens like to hide any signs of weakness, it is crucial to perform daily health checks.
Checking crops, feet, abdomen, and overall appearance can tell you a lot. You should also keep an eye on who is eating when you bring out the feed. These points right here will help you catch anything your chickens could ever get sick with. Health checks are the most crucial step in how to take care of egg laying chickens.
Feeding And Watering
Providing your hens with fresh, clean food is also essential. The most time-consuming part about this step is that chickens are messy eaters. They will play in the water, sit in food dishes, and scatter everything. By the end of the day, their feeders are filthy and water murky.
So at least once a day, you will have to dump and clean feeders. Dirty water will need a quick wash and refill. And if the food bowls are just as dirty, those will need cleaning as well. Cleaning, drying, and refilling shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes. If the bowls are still clean, all you need to do is top them off twice a day.
When people think about caring for chickens, they likely only think about collecting eggs. You imagine going out and collecting your fresh eggs like a scene from your favorite pioneer book. But in reality, this only takes a few minutes.
Smaller flocks can get by collecting once a day. But if you have a flock of more than 10, you might want to check twice a day to prevent your chickens from ruining them. And during the winter months, you will find that checking twice a day is also needed. Otherwise, your eggs will freeze.
Letting Them In And Out
Another important daily task is letting your hens in and out of the chicken coop. At night your chickens will naturally seek the shelter of their coop. But for protection, you should always lock up the doors and windows at dusk. And since you have locked them up, that means letting them out at dawn. Both of these only take a few minutes daily, but the timing is not always ideal.
Weekly Care Needs
Daily care is only the beginning. You will also have different chores to do weekly to keep your hens clean and happy. But don’t worry, this to-do list is not as long.
Once a week, you will have to tend to the coop bedding. But this chore is different depending on what type of bedding you have. If you use the deep litter method, all you need to do is rake it over to turn the compost. But other bedding types will need spot cleaning. You might even have to add more bedding to the mix to top it off.
Spot cleaning your feeders and waterers throughout the week is always a good idea. But once a week, you should pull all dishes from the run to wash in soapy water. Doing this prevents stagnated water, bacteria, and microbes from getting your hens sick.
Monthly Care For Chickens
How much care do chickens need every month? There are a few maintenance tasks your chickens will need monthly to keep them safe and clean. Not many people think about these tasks when they first start their flock. But after about three weeks, they soon begin to notice things are not looking as great as they used to.
Coop And Run Check
Monthly coop and run checks prevent predators, pests, or accidents. At least once a month, you should perform a full inspection from top to bottom. Check for holes, broken or weak areas, anything sharp, and areas your chickens could get stuck.
If you landscaped your run, the plants would also need tending. Pruning, weeding and replanting anything your chickens have destroyed. Landscaping your run isn’t a necessity, but it does have benefits. The only downside to doing this is that it does add to your time spent caring for chickens.
Depending on what litter method you use, you will need to change the bedding once a month. Clean coops keep your chickens from getting infections like respiratory illnesses or bumblefoot. But if you use sand or the deep litter method, you can skip this step.
But wait! How much care do chickens need? A lot more than you think. On top of daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists, you have a semi-annual one too.
If your area has an experienced aviary vet, you will want semi-annual check-ups. Your vet will do an overall check on them to ensure that they are healthy and have no issues. Especially as your pet chickens age, these appointments can be life-saving. How long do chickens live? With regular vet visits, they could live as long as ten years!
No matter what type of litter you use, you should deep clean the coop twice a year. Scrubbing from top to bottom will keep the smell down and prolong your coop’s life. Then finish by placing new bedding in the bottom.
With the season’s change, you might find that you need to care for your hens a little differently. If you don’t adjust to the seasons, you risk losing chickens. Here are some things to keep an eye on and change for each season.
Spring is probably one of the easiest seasons. All you need to do is make sure all the ventilation is working and no leaks. Especially in rainy climates, you don’t want a leaky chicken coop. Overall, spring is the best time to start easing into chickens because they don’t have many needs.
Summer is hot, humid, and just not fun for anyone. You might be thinking that chickens are farm animals and shouldn’t have any issues. But chickens can have heatstroke just as quickly as us. To prevent this, you will need to ensure that your coop is well ventilated. Opening windows and doors during the day will help keep it cool.
Caring for chickens in the summer also includes giving them cool water. You could even freeze blocks of ice and vegetables for a fun summer treat. These will cool your hens from the inside out.
During the fall, the temperatures start to drop at night. You might need to start closing off those low vents from summer and open the higher ones. The days will be pleasant and mild, which is perfect for low maintenance.
How to care for chickens in the winter is a little more intense. Checking your hens daily for frostbite is vital. You also need to insulate the coop well and give the right ventilation. And let’s not forget you need to keep your water from freezing. You might want to invest in warmers. Otherwise, you will need to change the water twice a day.
What If You Start With Chicks?
Chicks require a lot of the same daily and weekly care that your adult chickens need. Daily feedings, health checks, and spot cleaning are a given. The only difference is that you will have to make sure that your chicks are warm and healthy several times a day. By six weeks old, your chicks will be out to the coop.
Does It Matter If You Raise For Eggs Or Broilers?
How to care for chickens for eggs and meat are essentially the same. Everything that you do for your hens is to ensure that they are healthy and clean. The only difference in care between broilers and egg-producers is their diet. Broilers typically eat a higher protein diet to bulk them up. And egg layers need a lot more calcium and less protein. But everything else is the same.
Do You Have Time For A Flock?
How much care do chickens need? About an hour daily is all you need when caring for chickens. As long as you have the money to support them, anyone has the time to have a small flock.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!