Chickens are such easy and fun animals to keep. They are social creatures that enjoy open spaces, plenty to eat and a good source of fresh water.
Top tips for keeping chickens
Regulations on number of chickens:
Depending on where you live will govern how many chickens you are able to keep. Check with your local council to see what the regulations are in terms of the number of chickens you can keep in your region.
Regular feeding pattern:
Get yourself into a regular feeding pattern with your chooks, with a blend of fresh and pre-made food. Tui Gourmet Chicken Mix is a balanced blend of seeds and grains that your chickens will love. Chickens also enjoy feeding on pasture, vegetables and fruit so ensure you offer a mixture of these to your daily feed. Chickens don’t have teeth so offering grit aids digestion and supplies calcium to their diet. Ensure fresh, cool water is available at all times.
Silverbeet - All colours and varieties are suitable, and some say the more beets chickens eat the brighter the yolks are in their eggs. Most chickens seem to love silver beet and will gladly eat it on a regular or daily basis. Chickens seem to prefer the leaves to the long stalks, they will leave the stalks until they are really hungry.
Seed can be sown all year round – in winter too! Plants are always available at gardens centres. To keep silver beet fresh, harvest by twisting off the leaves at the base of the plant to encourage new leaves. If plants are left to go to seed, they will reward you with free plants (seedlings) a few months later.
Bok choy or pak choy, miners lettuce and watercress - quick and easy crops chooks enjoy too.
Kings Seeds have a special blend of seeds specifically to be grown as chicken food, simply labelled Chicken Greens. It’s a blend of common plants and in some cases weeds that chickens naturally seek out when roaming and feeding. It features plantain, parsley, cocksfoot, dandelion, chicory and a few others. Sold only in seed packets, this crop is ideal grown in pots, baskets and containers or in a bed just for the chickens. Harvest as soon as leaves are big enough (between 5 and 10cm) by cutting or pinching out leaves, be careful not to pull the plants out when you harvest the leaves, as they will come again and produce more leaves if the roots are left in the ground. Avoid letting the crops flower, so you don’t end up with chicken weeds in unwanted areas of the garden.
Chickweed and Fat Hen are two common weeds that chickens enjoy. Be careful with weeds as not all are suitable fodder for chickens. If in doubt, compost rather than feed anything unknown to your feathered members of the family.
Chickens need a good supply of fresh water at all times, they will drink between half a litre and a litre of water each day, depending on the temperature and amount of food available.
Avoid too much fresh cut grass. A few lawn clippings are ok, but don’t overdo it. Too much grass can bind up in the chickens gut and not digest properly.
Chickens will eat cook or mashed potato, but not raw potato peelings.
It is a good idea to try and keep the feeding area as clean as possible to reduce the chance of disease and attracting rodents.