The basics for caring for your chickens.

As the Urban Farm Systems Chicken Coop will meet the shelter requirements of your flock, all you need to do is "Furnish" their home. I need to state up front that the basics are the minimum you need to do to achieve good results from your chickens.

If you don't think that you will be able to do what is described below, please do not purchase one of our Coops. We care about the welfare the chickens and accept that there are some people out there who should just go to the supermarket for their eggs and vegetables.

 

The basics include;

 

  • A quality feeder that will supply them with Laying pellets or Crumbles for at least a week. The amount the birds consume will vary depending on how much you supplement their feed with greens and scraps etc. so the feed will need to be checked Daily. Our feeder will hold approx. 2.7kg of commercial pellets.

 

  • A drinker or water dispenser that will ensure they have water for at least a few days. I am lucky enough to have potable ground water and have my drinker automatically topped up daily when my reticulation comes on. Automating the water supply to the chickens in no way means that the water need not be checked as this still needs to be done Daily. Because the chickens will scratch and flick the potting mix around there will be a need to check the water drinking bowl as this may collect dust etc. The drinker we can supply will hold Approx 3 litres of water. 

 

  • Some nesting material, which can be saw dust (not from treated timber), straw or shredded newspaper. There is a gap at the front of the nest box to allow for the occasional cleaning of the nest and this needs to be blocked off before the nesting material is placed in the box. I use either a piece of dowel, conduit, a newspaper folded in half or even a small cutting of carpet to block this gap.

  • Cleaning the Roost box will be necessary until your Chickens become used to scratching around. This may take a few weeks depending on where the chickens come from and what they are used to. I find that the Isa Browns I have had do not tend to clean out the roost box as quickly as my Araucanas have learned to do. By this I am not saying they are house trained but because they scratch in the day area they also tend to scratch out their droppings as they move in and out of the roost area. I encourage this by occasionally throwing a handful of potting mix under the perch and onto the floor of the roost box. Cleaning out the roost area is a simple as opening the roost access door and using a small plastic scraper to move the droppings down to the day area. The chickens will soon disperse this and mix it well into the soil. You will find that after a while the need to clean the roost box will be every few weeks if that. I tend to do it prior to moving the coop to a new raised garden bed.

  • It is important to keep your flock as healthy and as happy (there is such a thing as a happy Chook) as you can, therefore it is important to carefully select the hens that you are going to keep. By this I mean buying good healthy stock from quality breeders or suppliers. I would not recommend bringing in a chicken from another property and mixing it with yours without some quarantine time. Ticks, Lice, Disease and Stick fast fleas are just some of the problems you may inherit if you cut corners.  Also of relevance is to make sure that if you are going to introduce a new hen into the same coop as your other birds that you place the "Newbie" in a temporary cage next to the chicken coop for a few days to let them get "acquainted". Failure to do this may result in bloodshed as the pecking order is established. There will always be some sorting out of the hierarchy but the "Girls" tend to be a little less vicious if they get to know the newcomer as a neighbor first. I can attest to this with a vet bill of $103.00 for one of my birds. I know what you are thinking but the chicken was a purebred and hopefully one of my future breeders.

  • Perching with some birds won't happen automatically and you will generally have to wait until after dark to move the birds from wherever they are asleep (usually in a nest box or on the floor) to the perch in the roost box. Just open the access door to the roost box and place them onto the perch one at a time. This may have to be repeated several times with some chickens but only once with others. My Isa Browns were testing me and took around  nine days of training. Strangely, the last Isa Browns I had, perched after only one day.

  • Wheat is a great tool, especially when you need to handle your birds for some reason. I generally give mine a small amount of wheat each evening to give them something solid in their crop over night. Whether it is right or wrong matters not because whilst you are giving them the wheat, they are becoming used to you entering their area and they will eventually eat out of your hand, becoming tamer as you go along. My grand children love to help with this in the afternoon if they are here with us. Another option if you dont want to wait for the uneaten wheat to germinate before you plant your vegetables, is to sprout the wheat first by soaking it in water for 24 hours, strain the water off it and leave for another three days to sprout. The chickens also love this and it saves time when you move your coop as there is no wheat to come through your crop.