Chickens can be an excellent smallholding addition if cared for correctly.
A healthy chicken should have a comb which is red, plump and glossy and her keel should be well padded with flesh either side.
Her vent should be nice and clean, her crop should fill up when she eats and slowly deflate afterwards (if it stays firm it may be impacted). Most importantly she should be active, eating, drinking well, preening and scratching.
Like any other animal they require the correct environment to live in with sturdy, well designed shelter to escape the elements as well as to provide protection from potential predators. Locking them up at night is a good way of preventing your brood being taken by a fox!
Always provide plenty of pellet food and clean water. Supplement with kitchen titbits: left over pasta, boiled vegetables and potato peelings. You should not feed anything too fatty or any meat. Also no beans or onions as it can make the eggs taste funny. They will enjoy a handful of corn in the morning and it will help to keep them warm during the winter nights.
Like with many other animals poultry can carry dangerous bugs which can also be passed onto humans. It is always advised to observe good hygiene practices when handling any animal, and especially washing your hands after handling them. The main zoonoses (organisms that can be passed to humans) are: E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Chlamydia (especially ducks) and Avian TB.
You may need to check that you are legally allowed to keep chickens – if you don’t live in the countryside and wish to keep chickens in your backyard you may be subject to city ordinances.
We can offer advice on all aspects of poultry care from flock health plans to the individual sick chicken. Common health problems such as worms and mites can be prevented with the right treatment. Other common health problems for which we are able to offer advice include egg bound chickens, impacted crops and pneumonia.