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Top Tips for Keeping Chickens

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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.

Vegetables:

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.

Chicken Greens:

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.

Weeds:

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.

Water:

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.

Grass:

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.

Potato peelings:

Chickens will eat cook or mashed potato, but not raw potato peelings.

Cleanliness:

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.

Comments

What breed is recommended for laying and also ease of care. I've not had chooks previously but hop to have a few when my new house is built. We had white leghorns when I was a growing up on a farm (a loooong time ago) and friends have had some of the fancy newer breeds (pale blue green eggs) but didn't have much luck getting eggs...
Hi Kaye, thank you for your question. The most common chicken in NZ are Red Shavers, they are easy to look after, readily available and are reliable layers. Thanks, Tui Team
I have Araucana's which are a grey colour and lay green eggs. They are good layers and easy to look after
Barred plymoth rock are good layers and easy to look after - large frendly hardy breed and look awesome too =)
We have two Shavers and up till the recent bad weather they were laying every day on average. ALl of a sudden both have stopped laying. This seems unusual for young shavers. Can the weather be the main culprit?
Do you have to feed your chickens pellets? if we have a good grain mix, grow crop for them and give them grit can we drop the pellets? We have just got two chickens off friends and they gave us a large bag of budget pellets but would prefer to use unprocessed food as much as possible.
Hi Kay, in the wild chickens would naturally eat what they could forage for, this would be a blend of grains, weeds, seeds, insects and eggshells. With all animals slowly adjusting there diet is the best way. All the best - Tui Team.
I have Barred Plymoth Rock they havn't started laying yet as too young but are easy to raise - friendly - good layers and hardy - fairly large breed too - they are a heritage breed

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