We are excited to announce the addition of six new farm family members: our chickens! Fresh farm eggs and adorable feathered companions is all we ever wanted! Here is a How-To Guide for adding chickens to your homestead.
HOW TO PREP YOUR COOP
Check for structural integrity and repair any damage to fencing, walls, nesting boxes, and gates
Ensure the nesting boxes are sturdy enough to hold the weight of multiple chickens
Make sure the fencing surrounding your coop goes into the ground a little bit or that there is stone/wood around the bottom to deter digging predators
Ensure the coop has adequate areas of shade and some sun spots (in Texas shade is a key priority)
Ensure you have temperature controlled areas for the chickens to stay warm and cool off.
We used All weather outdoor extension cords with locking mechanisms at the joints to avoid moisture or debris from entering. We hooked the cords up to a 250W heat lamp and follow the temperature chart based on the age of our chickens. You can view a temperature chart on the Nutrena website here.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR COOP
Remove all old bedding, feces, and feathers that may be in your coop
Wipe down perches, nesting boxes, and walls (be sure to avoid using harmful chemicals that can hurt chickens)
Rake or empty out the coop floor/nesting pan
We have a rather large chicken coop built by the previous owners. The floor is made of dirt and the coop is separated into 3 sections by doors. We used a rake to remove old bedding, feces, and feathers from the floors. Check out Jill Winger’s blog post on disinfecting and cleaning coops here.
INTRODUCING THE CHICKENS
Add Clean bedding to nesting boxes (you can put some on the floor as well if you wish)
Provide fresh water and food (be sure the water is not directly under the heat lamp and the container is not too big so young chicks do not drown. If you have older hens this may not apply)
Release the chickens!
Be sure to handle your chickens frequently so they get used to you and are less skittish. Over time they will associate you with food/love and start to come when called. I even read a post stating they learn their names!
CHICKEN MAINTENANCE AND CARE
Replenish food and water daily (as needed). Remove bedding and poo from feeders and water dispensers.
Monitor the temperature of your coop and keep an eye on chicken behavior. If they are huddled under the lamp and not moving much they may be a little too cold. If they are dispersed away from the lamp, heads bobbing, and showing signs of panting- they are too hot! Remember, as you introduce chicks to their new environment, you want to slowly decreased the temperature near the lamp.
Allow your chickens to roam in their chicken run or free range area by releasing them at dawn.
Be sure to return your chickens into the secure area of the coop at dusk to avoid predator attacks.
Love your new chickies!