Feeding your Chickens
Chickens, like any animal, need a properly balanced diet to really thrive in a chicken coop. Apart from health concerns, giving your chickens the right foods will also increase their egg laying considerably, especially during the winter months, when the right diet can keep the levels around the same as during warmer times of the year.
There are many commercially available chicken feeds, many specially formulated for specific brands and ages of bird. This is because your hens will need different levels of nutrients and different types at different times throughout their lives.
These commercial feeds will also differ depending on the reason you have for raising chicken coop chickens. Egg layers, show birds, chickens raised for eating and breeders will all have very different diets.
You can also buy the main ingredients for these feeds in bulk and mix them up with other commercially available feed products, such as wild bird feeds. Make sure that your commercially purchased feeds do not have oils in them, as this will affect your chickens’ health adversely.
In general, though, you can easily achieve the same results with home-mixed feeds. Start with a base of mixed grains and cracked corn (often called “chicken scratch”), but make sure you also have some greens in your birds’ diet. You don’t want to feed them purely on chicken scratch, as they will not be healthy and may become overweight and malnourished.
It would be like a human trying to eat nothing but cereal for every meal. Chickens love to eat greens, and will happily munch on any sorts of grasses or weeds that happen to grow along-side your chicken pen.
In addition to grains and greens, you need to make sure that your birds get plenty of proteins. When they’re in the wild, chickens get this from eating bugs, insects and worms. Although it is still possible for tame birds to get this, make sure they do get enough protein in their base diet.
You can do this by giving them worms or insects yourself, or through other means, such as specially prepared soybeans, flax seed, or even dried fish flakes. Dried fish flakes will also increase the number of Omega 3s in your eggs, as an added health bonus to you. As a treat, you can give them left-over kitchen scraps, but don’t overdo it!
Watering your Chickens
Water is another important necessity for keeping your chickens healthy. It is sometimes referred to as “the forgotten ingredient” in the diet of poultry, because of how easy it is to overlook. In addition to keeping your chickens fed, make sure they have a good supply of clean, fresh water. There are many modern conveniences around that make this task a lot easier for the present-day chicken farmer.
You can buy watering bowls with large reservoirs to ensure that your chickens have fresh water for months at a time. There are even heated bowls available if you live in a cold climate to stop the water from freezing up so the chickens can’t get to it.
Regardless of how you choose to water your chickens, make sure you do it often for optimal health. Another good idea is to set the watering bowl somewhere the chickens will see them. Don’t put them in out-of-the-way places, but put them somewhere your chickens always go. That will ensure that they get all the water they need.