Many years of raising chickens have taught me that good health is a basic need for their survival. With healthy chickens in my backyard, I can expect better results in terms of productivity. Who doesn’t like fresh eggs and delicious meat from their chickens? These birds are a rich source of proteins, hence the need to take care of them.
So, what are the tips on how to keep your chickens healthy? You don’t have to be a poultry expert to know what tips will keep your chickens healthy and happy. A well-balanced diet, a clean environment, and routine checkups are a few practices that can keep your birds healthy.
Below are five tips that you can apply to keep your flock of birds healthy, happy, and productive.
Top Tips on How to Keep Your Chickens Healthy
Feed Your Chickens Well
- Make sure your chickens can access a well-balanced diet to keep them healthy. Commercial pellet diets are stapled food for chickens because they are rich in essential nutrients. Pellets have a balanced portion of minerals and proteins that can keep your birds healthy, productive and happy. Foods such as oyster shells are suitable supplements for strengthening eggshells. On the other hand, you can allow your birds to free-range and pick up gravel to enhance their digestion.
- All these are great enrichment to their diet and will make them healthy and productive. If you’re raising your chickens in a confined area or colder places, you must ensure that they get fresh food. Vegetables, fruits, greens and table scraps are a good source of nutritious foods for your birds. With proper nutrition, your flock of birds will grow well and flourish as you enjoy fresh eggs and meat. Besides food, your chickens need clean fresh water to quench their thirst and cool themselves in hot weather.
Feed Them According to their Developmental Stages
- When feeding your chickens, make sure that the feed matches their developmental stages. You may begin feeding them with starter feed for the young ones fast. Then move on to the grower feed for the growing ones and finally the older birds.
- For the older chickens, you can either feed them as layers or broilers. Each type of feed comes with a formula that is necessary for the development of your chickens at different stages of their growth. Therefore, feeding your chickens properly is a better way of maintaining their health.
Raise Your Chickens in a Clean Environment
- A clean coop environment is a sure way to keep your birds in good health. Spend some time each day cleaning up droppings and removing loose feathers from the coop prevents illness among your chickens.
Change Their Bedding Frequently
- Wet and soiled bedding can provide a breeding ground for disease-causing organisms. Make an effort of changing your chickens’ bedding frequently to prevent cases of parasite build up in the coop. You may also clean the same bedding to eliminate pests and parasites that might cause health problems in your chickens.
Appropriate Poultry Equipment
- Just like humans, chickens love spending their time in a clean environment. So, the sight of fresh and clean straw will most likely excite them. Most of the chicken coops come with removable cleaning trays to make this process effortless and enjoyable. Take advantage of such facilities to maintain a clean environment in your chicken coops.
Turn to Apple Cider Vinegar
- You can use designed cleaning agents such as Apple Cider Vinegar to clean your chickens’ coops thoroughly. This is a natural cleaning agent suitable for keeping the coop, chicken feeders and waterers clean and free of germs. Routine use of this cleaning agent will help you to disinfect and eliminate harmful pathogens. Also, it will serve as the most appropriate agent for removing dust, mildew, and mold from the coop.
Handle Your Chicken Properly
- Your chickens need proper handling to prevent the spread of diseases. The same applies to when you are handling eggs. Any contact with dirty eggs or chicken droppings can cause the transmission of Salmonella to you or your loved ones. These dangerous pathogens spread through chicken droppings or eggs.
Wash Your Hands After Handling Your Chickens
- You must always wash your hands thoroughly after handling your chickens and eggs. However, you should not wash eggs to get rid of pathogens. This is because eggs have their natural protective covering against pathogens or bacteria. The covering is commonly referred to as “bloom”. So, it is not necessary to clean the eggs unless they’re very dirty. If you have to clean them, use the spot clean technique, warm water, and organic egg cleaner or dish soap.
Wear a Protective Always
- It is advisable to wear a mask when handling your birds to avoid inhaling copious amounts of dirt and dust within your chicken coops. Mask also prevents the transmission of diseases between you and your flock of chickens.
Look Out for Signs of Sickness
- You can tell if your chicken is healthy by observing its droppings. Anything that looks different from the normal chicken poop should be a matter of concern to you. Take your time to find out if there is a problem with your flock and act fast to save the affected birds
Your Chickens Must Stay Free of Parasites and diseases
- Parasites and diseases are two factors that make chickens unhealthy. If you don’t take good care of your chickens you are at risk of losing them to parasites and diseases.
Boost their Immune System
- You may use apple cider vinegar (or ACV) to boost the immune system of your chickens. This immune booster is popular for its ability to keep chickens safe from different kinds of diseases. ACV plays the role of lowering pH levels in the chickens’ intestines as well as protecting them against harmful bacteria. This type of vinegar acts as a powerful antiseptic by killing germs that might cause common respiratory problems in chickens.
Eliminate all Parasites
- When it comes to parasites, you need to find the best remedy for them. Food grade diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring crushed fossil powder known to eliminate hard-shelled parasites such as flies, ticks, fleas, bugs, and mites. The powder is completely safe, meaning that you can feed to your birds if you suspect that they have worms.
- This powder becomes an effective dewormer if mixed with chicken feed. What you need to do is to sprinkle it around the dust bath areas, feeding locations, coops, and nesting boxes. Doing so will most likely eliminate all parasites, leaving your birds safe and happy. A healthy flock is a great achievement for you in several different ways. Key among them, productivity in the form of eggs and meat.
Observe Your Flock of Birds from Time to Time
- The most effective tips of keeping your chickens healthy and comfortable are to keep an eye on them. This means that you must create some time to hang out with them while observing them closely.
Know Each Bird’s Personality
- There is nothing wrong with knowing each member of your flock of birds pretty well. This is the first step in understanding your chickens if you are a newcomer in this business. Getting to know individual chicken’s personality will help you tell if they are doing fine or not.
Identify Signs of Sickness
- Based on their physical and behavioral characteristics you can easily identify signs and symptoms that suggest a chicken is feeling unwell. From there you will decide what to do to save it.
- Healthy birds look lively and active throughout the day, unlike the unhealthy ones. Carrying out these regular checkups will help you take action when you notice that a certain bird is unwell.
What should I do when I notice that one of my chickens is sick?
- When you realize that one of your birds is sick, you should quarantine it immediately. This will prevent the spread of the disease to other healthy ones. The next step will involve treating the sick bird and monitoring its progress in the course of the treatment.
Can I use vaccination to keep my chickens healthy?
- Absolutely yes! Prevention is better than cure and vaccination can fix the problem even before things get out of hand. So, every time you buy new chickens, make sure they are vaccinated before introducing them to your existing flock.
- A healthy flock of chickens is a great achievement for the owner. One of the forgotten tips for keeping your chickens healthy is to make sure the birds are happy, active and productive. You may apply the above-mentioned tips to ensure that your birds stay healthy to benefit you in the future.