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Caring for Backyard Chickens

Have you been considering getting chickens? Chicken coops are popping up in backyards all over the country, and with good reason. There are some great benefits to raising chickens, with fresh eggs being at the top of the list. But what does it take to keep your feathered friends happy, healthy, and safe? In this article, a Northwest Denver area, CO vet discusses basic chicken care.

Provide A Safe Haven

First and foremost, you’ll need a good chicken coop. The coop should include nesting boxes, perches, water dishes or tubs, a dust bath, and feed containers. A heat lamp is also necessary for winter. You’ll need to put bedding on the coop’s floor, and straw in the nesting boxes. You can enclose the coop, using mesh or fencing, if you like. If you enclose the coop, or attach a run to it, it’s very important for you to make sure it is big enough. Plan for at least ten square feet per chicken. The coop must be very secure, so predators can’t get in. Ask your vet for more information.

Feed

Proper nutrition is very important for our feathered buddies! There are several types of feed available. Some are specifically for chickens that will be used as meat, others are for egg-laying chickens, and some are more all-purpose. In addition to this feed, you’ll need to provide supplements. Some good options are oyster shells and eggshells. You can also offer your chickens many kinds of kitchen scraps. Just be sure never to feed them avocados, rhubarb, raw eggs or potatoes, garlic, citrus fruits, or anything salty. Ask your vet for specific recommendations, including advice on treats and safe and unsafe foods.

Daily Routine

Caring for chickens takes quite a bit of work! Every day, you’ll need to let your chickens out of their coop in the morning, feed them, clean and refill their water trough, collect eggs, clean the coop, and, finally, let them back into the coop at night.

Illness

Watch your chickens closely for signs of illness. Some common ones are panting, lethargy, strange postures, baldness, lack of appetite, and a sudden drop in egg production. If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately isolate the sick bird or birds and contact your vet right away.

Do you have questions about caring for chickens? Contact us, your local Northwest Denver area, CO vet anytime!

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