Keeping backyard hens has become quite trendy these days, and whether it’s due to increased awareness of how large-scale poultry operations are run or just the desire to have fresh eggs or meat, it appears to be a trend that’s here to stay.
Though hens can make great pets as well, they require a little different care than cats and dogs!
Here are a few tips for raising healthy hens:
Get to know your chickens. Spend a little time observing them each day. This way, you will get to know their personalities and daily habits and be able to tell if something is amiss. Performing a short daily inspection of your hens will enable you to catch small problems before they become bigger ones.
Provide dusting areas. Chances are, you’ve seen chickens digging shallow holes and wallowing in the dirt. Dust baths serve several important purposes for chickens. One, they help prevent parasites such as mites and lice from getting in their feathers. Two, believe it or not, dust baths are actually how chickens clean themselves. Dirt will settle onto their skin where it absorbs excess moisture and oil, and then they will shake it all off.
While dirt baths can help with parasites, the dirt does not actually kill them. In order to safely kill the lice and mites you can provide a dust bath area by using a box or pan filled with a few inches of our Poultry Dust. This product can also be sprinkled around the roosting and nesting areas to help eliminate parasites.
Keep your coop clean. If your hens are in a coop full-time, it’s important to clean out droppings and soiled bedding on a regular basis. Hens in clean coops are less likely to be affected by parasites or disease.
Feed a healthy diet. Always feed an appropriate diet for the growth stage of your hens. What’s good for young chicks is not necessarily healthy for adult chickens and vice versa. Many farm stores now sell organic chicken feed, and this is ideal for your adult layer hens or Broilers.
Adding a multi-mineral product such as our Icelandic Kelp can help improve egg production, quality, and yolk color. Additionally, you can feed your hens healthy treats such as pumpkin seeds, most types of fruit (without the pits), greens, and corn cobs.
Prevent parasite build-up. Hens can also benefit from a natural dewormer such as our Wormguard Plus Broad Spectrum. This product includes probiotics for healthy digestion and grape seed extract to support a strong immune system, as well as whole flax seeds high in omega 3 fatty acids. Breakdown SC assists in decomposition of manure and kills flies and parasites as they hatch. This product can be used in conjunction with Wormguard to doubly ensure your hens stay parasite free.
Keep your hens free range, if possible. If it’s not possible to allow them to be out full-time, allowing some “turn-out” time is highly recommended. Hens which can run, flap their wings, eat insects, and socialize in a more natural environment are typically healthier and happier in the long run.