Cock-A-Doodle Do's and Don'ts

Cock-A-Doodle Do's and Don'ts

There is so much information out there on chicken keeping.  Some of it good, some great and some out right WTF.  How do you know what to believe?

Here at Cluck It All Farms, we believe in science.  We also respect experienced chicken keepers. Anecdotal evidence isn't necessarily pushed aside, but we do look at it with a skeptical eye.  While we are not new to chicken keeping in any respect, we understand that learning is never ending and love finding new information.

Let's start with the Cock-A-Doodle Do's

1.  DO check your local laws/ordinances BEFORE you get your chicks.  We see so many posts in Facebook groups with people needing to rehome their flock because they are not allowed to have them.  Chickens are a big investment.  Why not do the research first?

2.  DO make plans for unwanted roosters before you buy those straight run (unsexed) chicks.  Again, so many Facebook posts with people in a panic trying to rehome the little pullet that is actually a little cockerel and is now crowing.  Sometimes you may be only be able to buy the breed you are wanting as straight run.  Just know that you will get some cockerels.  If you are not allowed to have them where you live, make sure you have a place for them to go or be ready to put them in your freezer.  

3.  DO keep your feeders and waterers free of debris. Chickens of every age scratch around in their bedding.  They perch on anything they can perch on.  Just because chickens will drink from mud puddles and eat bugs doesn't mean they don't need a clean food and water source.  Dirty water/food can contribute to disease in your flock.  

4.  DO keep free choice oyster shells available to laying hens.  Even if you feed a layer ration, they should still have oyster shells available.  Your hens will take what they need as they need it.  This is used as a calcium supplement and helps with strong egg shells.

5.  DO keep free choice grit available to your entire flock at all ages.  You are able to purchase grit in age appropriate size.  It is inexpensive and it does last a long time.  Grit acts as teeth in their gizzard by grinding up their food so that it can be digested.  Sand/dirt/gravel is not the same thing and even if your flock free ranges, they still need grit.  Oyster shells are NOT grit.  You will need actual crushed granite or flint that is sold as chicken grit.  

6.  DO watch your chickens every day.  This is how you catch any issues in your flock.  You may have one chicken doing just fine in the morning but be dead by dinner.  It happens.  

7.  DO establish a relationship with a vet that will treat chickens.  EVEN if you don't plan on taking them, get them established so that when your favorite hen gets injured, you will have a resource.  (*note* Our vet is not an avian vet and doesn't normally care for chickens, but she is amazing and helps me tremendously when I have an issue I need help with.  She isn't afraid to contact other vets to consult so that I can get the answers I need.  This is invaluable to me.) If you have other pets and already work with a vet, discuss your chickens with them and perhaps they would be willing to work with you.

 

And now for the Cock-A-Doodle-Don'ts

1.  DON'T be afraid of medicated starter feed.  There are many debates about this. Feeding medicated feed will help your chicks develop resistance to coccidiosis.  It isn't fool proof but it has a low dose of amprolium (a coccidiostat) so that the chicks can be exposed to coccidia and not succumb to symptoms.  Or feed a regular chick starter.  It is completely your choice but don't be pushed into believing that medicated is bad.  

2. DON'T dust your chickens with diatomaceous earth.  Another highly debated subject.  DE is a lung irritant.  It doesn't really do anything for the chickens and they have no need of it.  There is no scientific evidence that shows a benefit. 

3. DON'T heat your coop in the winter.  It is a fire hazard and your chickens do not need it.  The only exception would be if you have tropical breeds of chickens in cold climates.  Just be sure your chickens don't have any drafts, clean bedding, have access to clean food and water and they will be able to handle the cold just fine.  You don't want your coop air tight.  Be sure to have adequate ventilation, just no drafts.  

4.  DON'T worm your flock just for the sake of worming them.  If you are concerned of internal parasites, you can take a stool sample to a vet and they can check it over.  Even if your vet does not care for chickens, call them and ask if they can check a stool sample.  There is a good possibility they will be able to do so. They can then tell you the appropriate medication/dosage to use.  Worming chickens is hard on them so why put them through it if it isn't necessary?  It is NORMAL for chickens to have a small worm load.  Keeping the appropriate size grit can help keep worm load down.  

5.  DON'T underestimate predators in your area.  Be sure to use hardware cloth for your run and not chicken wire.  Most determined predators can push right  through chicken wire.  Hardware cloth is stronger and more durable.  Remember to keep your run covered so your flock is protected from flying predators as well.  You cannot reinforce your run too much, especially when dealing with larger predators.  

6.  DON'T expect your flock to find all their food free ranging.  They still need a normal feed ration to get a balanced nutrition.  Anything they find free ranging is a just a bonus.  Free ranging will cut down on what they will eat for feed, but they still need that feed.  

7.  DON'T be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of something about your chickens.  There are a couple of groups on Facebook that are run by experienced breeders and are happy to answer your questions.  You can ask us and we will be happy to help you.  Don't guess, and don't trust Dr. Google.  And we all know about those who assume.    

While this is only the tip of the hat in chicken care, it gives you an idea of the basics. If you are new to chicken keeping and thinking about some new little peepers, dig deep and be absolutely sure.  They are a commitment.  Roosters can potentially become aggressive, they poop everywhere, they can tear out landscaping, they can be noisy, but they are also so much freaking fun.  They have their own personalities and can be quite affectionate.  The entertainment factor is quite high.  Just be absolutely sure BEFORE you bring your babies home.  

 

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