How to keep a super healthy Flock??

DiYMama540

Free Ranging
Jun 25, 2019
1,990
10,355
682
SW VA
My Coop
My Coop
A quality feed goes a long way! I prefer to feed my birds the all flock pellet by Nutrena, and they've done really well on it.

Keeping a clean and dry coop is a must. Also, make sure there is plenty of ventilation in their houses.

There are several threads on this site with "boredom buster" ideas for your girls. Mine all love treats, but it's easy to overdo it. Make sure they don't make up more than about 10% of their daily diet.

Everyone has different ways of keeping a happy, healthy flock. I'm sure you'll figure out what works best for you in no time!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
71,285
72,508
1,557
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Hi All,

Who has some great pointers on how to keep a healthy flock when you can’t let them free range.

I have an outdoor enclosure that’s 24’x38’ and two hen houses that are 10x8 and 12x10
@DiYMama540 hit the high notes.
Here's some more ideas about run 'enrichment':
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
I'll reiterate, don't use excessive food as enrichment.

Am wondering how many bird you have in the size space you describe?
Some pics would be good.

For confined birds, bedding and manure management is important.
What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture

-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.

-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.

-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.

- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.

-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).

There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.

 

so lucky

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 31, 2011
1,225
2,746
362
SE Missouri
Not over-crowding is very important. My coop is built for a maximum of 8 birds. I have not ever had 8 or more grown chickens in the coop until now. The extra poop and mess that a couple extra young adults makes is amazing. They are digging deep holes in the run and kick debris in the food and water containers daily. There is much more squabbling among them than I had before. I am thinking about rehoming a couple of them, to take the stress off.

To explain myself, I bought 8 because I was trying to end up with 6, thinking maybe a couple would be cockerels that would have to go. Or I would lose a couple as chicks.

All this is to remind you that too many birds are unhappy birds, and unhappy birds are stressed birds, and stressed birds are fragile and susceptible to disease.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
10 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,164
12,240
707
Southeast Louisiana
They've hit most of my high points. As much room as possible, keep it dry, don't let the poop build up, and a balanced diet. All important.

I try to not over-medicate. I believe an important step in a healthy flock is to build up their immune system so they can handle a lot of what nature throws at them. Chickens raised in a sterile environment are more susceptible to nature. I introduce dirt from the run to my chicks in the brooder so they can get started on flock immunities at day 2 or 3. That also gets grit into their system and any probiotics the adults have if you have adults. I only use medicines when I have something specific to treat. I do not worm them or treat for mites or lice as a preventative, only when i need to. So far I have not needed to.

I also keep a pretty closed flock. Any time your chickens are exposed to other chickens they are potentially being exposed to disease or parasites. I did bring in chicks from a feed store once but the way I usually get more chickens is to hatch them myself or get them from a reputable hatchery. So limit exposure.
 

KahKaDoodleDo22

Chirping
May 21, 2019
92
116
81
Washington
Hi, thanks,

I have 25 birds. 5 are roosters, 4 of them young. I’ll be giving at least two away even though it will most likely end up being 3 I’m sure.




@DiYMama540 hit the high notes.
Here's some more ideas about run 'enrichment':
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
I'll reiterate, don't use excessive food as enrichment.

Am wondering how many bird you have in the size space you describe?
Some pics would be good.

For confined birds, bedding and manure management is important.
What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture

-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.

-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.

-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.

- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.

-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).

There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.

 

KahKaDoodleDo22

Chirping
May 21, 2019
92
116
81
Washington
They've hit most of my high points. As much room as possible, keep it dry, don't let the poop build up, and a balanced diet. All important.

I try to not over-medicate. I believe an important step in a healthy flock is to build up their immune system so they can handle a lot of what nature throws at them. Chickens raised in a sterile environment are more susceptible to nature. I introduce dirt from the run to my chicks in the brooder so they can get started on flock immunities at day 2 or 3. That also gets grit into their system and any probiotics the adults have if you have adults. I only use medicines when I have something specific to treat. I do not worm them or treat for mites or lice as a preventative, only when i need to. So far I have not needed to.

I also keep a pretty closed flock. Any time your chickens are exposed to other chickens they are potentially being exposed to disease or parasites. I did bring in chicks from a feed store once but the way I usually get more chickens is to hatch them myself or get them from a reputable hatchery. So limit exposure.
That’s great stuff thank you! I will hatch my own from now on I think. Thanks again!
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Great Horny Toads
Staff member
Premium member
Jul 16, 2015
37,286
56,614
1,312
central Wisconsin
Provide plenty of exercise, fresh air, clean water, and good fresh feed.

I also recommend culling the sick. Sick birds happen in all flocks. Removing any potentially carriers of diseases is important to keep the rest healthy.

Also don't bring in birds from multiple sources. Avoid swaps and auctions like the plagues they are.
 

BigBlueHen53

Fragile, Beautiful, Strong
Premium member
Mar 5, 2019
3,308
10,181
597
SE Missouri, USA
So let's see. To summarize:
Safe perimeters
Sanitation
Population control (beware of "chicken math!")
Good ventilation
Proper feed (protein, easy on the treats, provide grit and OS)
Cull the sick as needed
Avoid introducing sick birds from outside
Exercise/toys/enrichment
Clean water....
Did I miss anything? Sounds like raising kids! Don't let them watch too much tv or play video games all day! :gig
 

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