You're hooked on chickens. You browse pinterest all day looking for cool coop ideas and the best things to feed your current or future chickens. You've picked out names. You're in deep.
So what does it really take to care for chickens?
We've found it can be as simple or complicated as you make it.
Truth is, chickens need water, food (either pellets, grass/ bugs, or a combination of the two), and shelter. Generally speaking, 2-3 square feet per bird is good, assuming they have access to outside (or at least 4 square feet per bird). You want the coop to breathe, but be warm enough in the winter. Hens need a nest box, but not one per bird- they'll share (actually, you'll go to all the effort to make nice boxes and they'll use one or two of them...).
Here at the Hatchery, we have several different ages of birds with slightly different needs, but for the teenage and adult birds, the routine is simple- check water levels and add food as needed in the morning, open the door to the large run, check for eggs in the morning and at night (closing the door at night...). Because they spend a lot of time outside, the large coop doesn't need much in the way of cleaning on a daily basis, You'll know when it's dirty, and the chicken waste makes for great compost material.
Actually, in thinking about this post and ways you can make caring for chickens complicated, I'm struggling. You can make them ornate dust baths they won't use. Give them baths they'll hate. Rarely would you need to trim an errant toenail or spur. They'll eat almost anything, so feel free to give them the snacks in the fridge that went by. Worst case, they won't eat it and it gets raked up and added to the compost pile. Best case, it adds a little something extra to the eggs. We used to get food waste from a local country club- the week or so after we discovered a 5 gallon bucket of gaspacho that was past serving made for some of the best, slightly spicy eggs we ever had...
Have questions? We have answers- check us out on Facebook (Look for the weekly farm tips) or leave us a comment and we'll get back to you!