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We love our feathery friends at the Cottage, they are so fun to keep, and their antics keep us entertained for hours. So we thought we would share some tips on how to care for you laying hens.
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How To Care For Laying Hens
What To Feed Laying Hens:
Your local feed store can help direct you on what to feed your chickens, most will have an option of crumble or pellet food for you to pick from. You also have to decide if you care if your hens are fed Organic feed or not. We get our feed from a local Amish community, they grow all of the grains and then process it at the mill. It’s really neat to watch the process (plus it supports local small businesses) and our girls love it!
You can use a self-feeding feeder or feed your girls a set measurement of food. I use the self-feeding feeder simply because it is one less thing I need to worry about in a day. All I have to do is add more food whenever it gets low. Make sure your feed is staying clean, a good way to do this is to hang it so that bedding can’t get in it. Also, make sure that it isn’t directly under the roosting area and in a covered place where the elements aren’t going to mess it up.
Chickens make great waste prevention, they will eat almost anything scrap wise- but not everything is good for them. Avoid feeding them things like citrus peels (this can reduce egg production), garlic and onions (this can flavor your eggs), bones, avocado peels or pits, and raw potato peels. Some other things you should avoid are morning glories and daffodils as these are poisonous to chickens. Learn more about what to feed chickens in this article.
Caring For Laying Hens: Water
Chickens need access to clean water at all times, be forewarned if they can find a way to get stuff in their water they will do it. A good way to keep it clean is to set it on top of a flat object that raises it a little off the ground. This keeps it away from any shavings while still keeping it within reach of the chickens. If you live in a very hot climate check the water several times a day. We live in the south and have very hot and muggy summers, so we try to go out two to three times a day to make sure everyone looks ok. If the water containers look slimy wash them out, a simple spray nozzle will often work. You should sanitize the containers at least once a month to kill any bacteria that tries to get a foothold.
What Bedding To Use For Your Laying Hens
Pine shavings, sand, dried leaves, and straw can all be used in your coop with laying hens. These are all great options for bedding in your chicken coop, my favorites are shavings and straw for my own coop. I like to use straw in my nesting boxes for a soft place for them to lay their eggs, and shavings in the main part of the coop and run. Just don’t ever use cedar shavings in your coops.
How Many Nesting Boxes Do Your Laying Hens Need?
You need 1 nesting box per 3 hens. Train new laying hens to lay inside the nesting box using golf balls or Easter eggs or anything else that looks similar to an egg. Keep the nesting boxes clean and dry, remove any wet pieces and replace with clean dry bedding.
How Much Room Do Your Laying Hens Need?
Laying hens need about 2 feet of space per hen in the coop, but the more room the merrier. For the run plan for about 4 feet per chicken you house in the run. You can manipulate that number a little if you plan to free range your hens but it’s a good rule of thumb to go by.
Planning to build your own coop? Check out our how to build a chicken coop tutorial!
How To Clean Your Chicken Coop
How and when to clean your chicken coop out will depend a lot of the time on where you live. If you live in the city or a suburban area you’ll want to clean your coop at least once a month, to keep your neighbors from complaining about the smell.
If you live in a more rural community you can use the deep litter method of placing 3 inches of shavings in your coop and adding more every month.
Clean your chicken coop out really well once or twice a year. You can compost all of the bedding to use next year in the garden. Once a year clean everything out of your coop and sanitize it. We like to use this homemade coop cleaning spray while cleaning out our coop because it’s all natural.
Make sure you check out our other chicken-keeping articles.
Before you go, check these out!