Your chickens have arrived safe and sound, your chicken coop has been oiled and assembled and has taken pride of place in the backyard- sooo, now what?
While chicken keeping is relatively low maintenance, there are a few things you will need to have organised before you begin your chicken keeping journey to ensure that those first few weeks are as stress free as possible, and your flocks transition to their new home is harmonious.
1. Preparing the Coop
Make sure the coop is situated in an area that is partially protected from the elements- so not in full sun, or full shade- chickens like the best of both worlds! You will also want it in an area where you can easily access your farm fresh produce each morning.Prepare your girls nesting boxes by adding some fresh straw or hay, and toss in some fresh herbs too if you have them handy- this will keep them smelling fresh and sweet as well as helping to deter an nasty creepy crawlies. Check out our article on What You Can Add To Your Chickens Nesting Box for more ideas.
2. Feed & Water
It is important that prior to getting chickens you have made a trip to your local produce store and stocked up on chicken feed. Your chicken will remain healthy if you feed them a balanced diet including a regular lay mash, cracked corn, shell grit, as well as fresh scraps from your kitchen. Not sure what you can throw to your girls and what should go straight in the bin- our article Feeding and Nutrition will show you which foods to avoid.
Before you welcome your chickens to their new home make sure that adequate food and water sources are set up in their coop- it is important that chickens have access to these at all times. It is best to place these in an area of the coop that is free from direct sunlight and ideally off the ground so dirt isn’t continually flicked into it, requiring changing. If you have young chicks, you will need to act as their Mother hen and introduce them to their food and water supply by gently dipping their heads into each.
Make sure that all your feed is stored in safe airtight drums or metal containers so that no creatures can get their little paws and jaws into- because they will most definitely try!
3. Dust Bath
To first time chicken keepers, the idea of dust bathing may seem like an odd one- getting dirty to get clean doesn’t make the most sense. However, dust bathing is a very important ritual for chickens, keeping their feathers slick and clean, as well as helping with the prevention of mites, lice and other nasty creepy crawlies. So you need to provide an adequate area for your girls to do this in, whether its an old tyre, container, or even just a hole in the ground filled with dirt and soil, your girls will revel in sprucing themselves up in this area each and every day.
4. Chicken Check List
Like with any animal, there are a few things to have handy before you welcome your chickens home to make caring for them a breeze.
adequate feed & feed scoops
- egg cartons for all your fresh produce of course!
5. Introducing your flock to their new home
When a chicken is introduced into a new home, it does take them some time to get use to the new environment and establish an area as their ‘home’. Once your chickens have arrived, they will need to be locked in their coop for around 7-10 days, without free-ranging. In this time, the flock will have established this as their home, and will now know where to return at night, where they lay and where they roost- you don’t want to have to herd them from every corner of the backyard do you?!
In the first few days you may need to give your girls a little hand with handling ramps should your coop have one. You should be able to easily place them on it and gently guide them both up and down it- it won’t take long until they get the hang of it and will soon be ruling the ramp!
There’s nothing quite like the joy of keeping chickens! They are wonderfully low- maintenance, make brilliant companions, and who could forget those farm fresh eggs they produce! Just make sure that you have a few things in order before their pending arrival, and you will be a seasoned chicken keeper in no time!