Hi Treats for Chickens community, it's me, Dawn!
Having a flock of chickens requires some tasks that you need to tend to regularly for their comfort and well-being. Learning how to take care of your flock doesn't have to be complicated.
I’ve got a challenge for you that I think you'll enjoy.
Step One: Read this.
Step Two: Print + pour (instructions below).
Step Three: Go out in your chicken yard, run and coop.
Before you go out there: make yourself hot coffee or tea or favorite libation of your choice. You’ll be out there for a few.
With beverage + list in hand: stand there.
You can watch your chickens but what I really want you to look at is all.the.things not feathered. Look at/for these things:
- Nesting Boxes
- Toys/Hanging Baskets
- The Ground
- Predator Poop
- Stale or Moldy Food
- Bailing Twine, Feed Bag Pull-String.
1# Wire: You’re looking for loose wire or wire that’s no longer connected. Reinforce it, staple it, cut it or repair it before some nasty predator gets through it and harms your flock, breaks your heart and ruins your day.
2# Fencing/Latches: Look at the side walls of the coop, the fence of the run. Anything that is erected and is there for a purpose of safety and confinement. Is your gate latch sturdy, or hanging by one screw? Mine was. The daily in and out wiggled a screw loose.
• Is it serving its purpose?
• Is the fencing still stable and predator-proof?
• Are gophers digging under it?
• Rats or mice chewing on the base or borders?
• Are you missing screws, nails, bolts or clips in gate latches or door closures?
3# Roosts: Take a good look at roosts. In the coop, in the run. Give them a good wiggle.
• Are roosts sturdy?
• Any nails or screws showing through?
Red mites sleep all day and come out to party hard each night. “Party Hard” by way of chewing away at your chickens’ skin.
Make a plan of attack. Calendar it so you make time for it. Calendar it in a thick red pen.
Moving on to the nesting boxes.
4# Nesting Boxes: Roosts and nesting boxes are equally important and used and utilized the most when you take into consideration the activity of a backyard chicken. “Used”, kind of like the bathroom in any house, the airport or community center. Used often. (when compared to the feeder/fountain but that’s next-up).
And, when “things” are “used” often they need upkeep and a good approach of cleanliness and maintenance is in order here.
• Are your girls able to get in and out of the nesting boxes easily without damaging their feathers?
• Are the nesting boxes up too high?
• Do you have flock members taking up residence in the nesting boxes at night - filling the nesting box with an evening’s worth of chicken poop? (Don’t quote me on this but I am pretty shure a chicken will poop NO LESS THAN two times each night) – and that’s a bunch of turds.
• How about the perch/roost/branch/landing just outside of the nesting box?
• Is it stable?
• Any loose bolts, screws, exposed nails?
• When was the last time nesting boxes got the Double Scrub? Completely emptied, cleaned and restocked? All matters addressed: (poop, broken egg shells/yolks, shavings, fragrant + pest reducing nesting herbs, straw, food bits, DE…).
• Maybe you do DO this now? Or not: but you make a mental note of the needs and set a plan for intervention.
5# Feeders/Fountains/Containers: Depending on your individual set up and situation you might be filling the feeding and watering fountains daily. Or not? Every couple of days?
• Is this working for you?
• Are the feeders and fountains within easy reach?
• Where are you storing feed in relation to where you pour feed? I store all chicken-keeping supplies in a shed just outside the gate of my chicken coop/run. It’s a great, sturdy, water-proof, storage room (total pain in the rear to assemble but otherwise hardy, purposeful shed). And, it’s in the wrong spot. Not efficient at all. I need a better system. Maybe you do too?
• Would a larger feeder or container be better for your situation given the number of chickens you have now?
• Is the water fountain holding water or is it tipped just slightly with a tiny drip, drip, drip leaking out causing a needed refill daily? (and mud at the base and around the fountain?).
• So tired of re-filling heavy water fountains? Try one of these. I have two ensuring plenty of water in the summer months.
6# Toys and Hanging Baskets: Chicken toys and hanging baskets are a necessity for maintaining peace and harmony in and around the chicken coop and run.
The hanging baskets hold greens, cabbage, apples and other kitchen items – instead of throwing on the ground – put in a hanging basket and the items are prolonged and serve as a boredom buster.
The chicken toys, when filled with treats, will keep flock members busy and entertained for hours.
• Where are your chicken toys? Buried under straw? Full of mud and dirt? Find them. Clean them. Fill with treats. No chicken toys? Find them here.
• Are your hanging baskets at the right height? Any loose wires or dangling string that a chicken can get tangled in? .
7# The Ground: This is a big one. And, while it might not seem like that big of an issue – the ground is pretty important. They stand on it, poop on it, scratch, dust, preen and eat from it.
• How can you correct this? Maybe a temporary tarp is in order? Straw? Shavings? A new or update roof? Sometimes a little gravel can help the situation.
• Instructions for creating a dust bathing station can be found here.
• Lot’s of poop. This is an easy one. Clean it up. Shovel it up, scrape it up, rake it up. Get it up. It’s not good to be walking around in poop.
• Dry, dusty, hard as a rock with little or no “life” to it? Bring in bags (or truck loads) of compost, plant chicken friendly plants and greenery.
8# Predator Poop. Most times I am aware of predators in the area when they leave their droppings behind – unless it’s a skunk and as we know they stink up an entire neighborhood.
• Put food up each night for a week and set traps each night for a week. I have found that rodents are quite fond of peanut butter, cheese, chicken food (duh?) and sunflower seeds.
• Gopher holes. Gophers are predators to chicken food not chickens so much. A gopher can eat a great deal of food in a day and come back day after day for more.
• Back filled dirt at the base of the coop? You may have skunks, opossums or any variety of rodent. I use Hav-A-Heart traps, the small size, for these predators. What you do with your captured predator is up to you.
- I strongly suggest upcycling a 50 lb poultry feed bag. (see above)
- Shove your trap inside the empty bag.
- Place bagged trap on the ground and slice a handle opening where the trap handle is.
- Throw two eggs in the trap.
- Set the trap.
- Place in an area where you suspect unwanted activity.
IF you catch a skunk you will be thanking me profusely.
The bag will contain much of the skunk oils, not all, and you’ll be able to approach the trap, pick it up by the exposed handle and all with minimal chances of being sprayed.
9# Stale or Moldy Food. This is a quick one that you can tend to right now. As in now. Pick it up.
• You might want to put on gloves or maybe not. It’s up to you but moldy, decaying food and greens have a tendency to linger on your hands long after the quick chore has taken place.
• Pick up old squash shells, decaying and moldy fruit, excess shared-human-food that you so graciously shared but they aren’t eating. Fish bones, shrimp shells and all other “things” that are now gross.
• Check feeders for damp or molding feed. Do NOT dump out on ground. Throw away. Moldy feed is toxic.
10# Bailing Twine/Feed Bag Pull String. Baling twine is a convenient thing to have on hand but it must be stored away and used in the right circumstances. Feed pull string - always dispose of right away.
• Using twine to hang feeders or a boredom basket? Trim it if it’s frayed or hanging onto the ground.
• Gather up feed bag pull-string too. I had a rooster get his spur tangled around a pull string. This was about 10 years ago but I’ll always remember the challenge of getting the tightly wound string free from his spur, shank and toes. • Using twine to hang feeders or a boredom basket? Trim it if it's frayed or hanging onto the ground.
• Gather up feed bag pull-string too. I had a rooster get his spur tangled around a pull string. This was about 10 years ago but I’ll always remember the challenge of getting the tightly wound string free from his spur, shank and toes.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about some of the essential tasks to make sure you're giving your chickens everything they need.
- Dawn, Treats for Chickens 🧡
Let's keep your flock happy + healthy!
Got something to cluck about? Have other suggestions? Questions?
Help fellow chicken parents and leave a comment below!