How to Keep Chickens Happy
Keeping chickens happy is important when raising them. If they aren’t kept happy then they may start: Pecking at each other, eating things they are not supposed to, getting into trouble, being loud and sometimes aggressive and unfortunately the list goes on. To keep your chickens from obtaining these bad habits there are some things you can do to keep them busy.
Keeping chickens happy is a lot like keeping ourselves happy. Things that make us happy are having fresh food and water available, being surrounded by our loved ones, having freedom, playing games and sports and of course, having a home to live in. Chickens are the same way. They need water and food available, they love having flock members to bond with, they love to roam and be free, they love playing with things such as dirt, leaves, mirrors, bells and each other and they love living in a clean, comfy coop. So, if you think that keeping chickens happy requires lots of extra effort, you’re wrong. They really only need the basics to stay happy and healthy.
Food and Water-Chickens need access to clean, cool water 24/7. There is no exception. They also require proper, fresh feed. (Here are some links on feeding https://www.backyardchickens.com/f/12/feeding-watering-your-flock, https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/feeding-chickens-an-introductory-guide
Housing-Chickens require housing. A appropriate chicken coop must withstand the amount of chickens you wish to keep, (and possibly more) withstand your climate's extreme weather elements, withstand your climate's predators, have proper ventilation, have enough roosts and nests, (you need one nest for every two hens you own and each chicken needs 10-12 inches on a roost) and have room for the chickens to walk, stretch, flap, eat, drink, etc. (Here are links on ventilation, predators, square footage required for chickens, etc https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need,
Light-Hens need 14-16 hours of light to lay eggs daily. Light also is healthy for them. Darkness is unhealthy and scary to chickens.
Space-Chickens need good amounts of space to be happy. They need at least 3-5 square feet per bird in their coop and 8-15 square feet per bird in the run or free-range area. More is always better.
Know that there still are some extra perks they will greatly enjoy:
Straw- Chickens love to peck and dig in materials such as straw, all day long. It’s an ideal thing to put down during the rainy and snowy seasons because chickens don’t like to get their feet cold. Laying down fresh, clean straw will also keep the coop warm while they are stirring it up.
Hanging Treats-You might want to tie some treats up just where your flock can reach them. Also, I’ve heard of people who tie an old CD or DVD to the run or coop celling so that it dangles.
Toys-Toys such as ladders, wheelbarrows, mirrors and bells are all chicken favorites.
Scraps-Your compost collection can soon become a chicken paradise. Additionally, chickens will happily devour your weeds. Some weeds even help prevent health issues in chickens, especially weeds like dandelions. (Do not feed the following weeds: Azalea, philodendron, rhododendron, sweet pea, black nightshade, foxglove, oleander, castor bean, vetch, henbane, irises, lantana, St. john's wort, trumpets vine, morning glory, datura, clematis and honeysuckle.)
Baths-Not real baths but ones made out of dirt are great boredom busters. As I explained earlier, chickens love and need a dirt pile to take a good, satisfying dirt bath. Not only do they love it but it also rids them of parasites and cleans their feathers and skin!
Love and Care-Chickens are very social animals. They need the company of other chickens as well as yourself. Be sure to spend time with your flock daily.
Treats-Chickens love treats! But they should only receive them as 10% of their daily diet. Some of the best treats to feed chickens include: Vegetables, fruits, grains, mealworms, instecs and dairy. Avoid salty, moldy, sweet and processed foods. Potatoes, (not including sweet) asparagus, avocado, onions, raw beans, nuts and rhubarb leaves also should not be fed.
I hope this has given you ideas on how to keep your flock happy, entertained and healthy.
Feel free to PM me if you have any further questions.
(This article is in honor of my beloved chicken, Speckles. I’m sorry I didn’t have the space to keep you happy. I hope you are enjoying your new home!)