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If chickens remain inside the coop, especially for extended periods of time, it can affect their health, which in turn affects their ability to produce eggs. Just like humans, chickens need time outside under the sun.
But they also need to be protected while they’re outside. That’s why having an outdoor enclosure for them is a must. Part of raising happy, healthy chickens is making sure they get the right kind of food.
You can give them pellets that are commercially produced, and many people who raise backyard chickens do this. That’s because these pellets are designed specifically for a chicken’s nutritional needs.
But that doesn’t mean that’s all that they can have as food. You can also give them things from your own kitchen. Chickens love vegetables and fruits. They also love grains such as wheat.
You can feed them fruits like raisins, apples and bananas. They can even eat the peel of the banana as well. They can also be fed vegetables such as broccoli and squash. They love vegetable treats like cabbage and garlic as well as bell pepper.
You need to be careful because there are the leaves of some plants that aren’t good for chickens. An example of this are the leaves from plants that are part of the nightshade species.
You can also buy commercial treats for them such as mealworms. Don’t give chickens citrus fruits because it’s not good for them. Never feed them raw potato skins or avocado, either.
Both of these are toxic to them. For watering chickens, you need a shallow container. They’re not picky about what they drink out of, so you can use a bowl, shallow bucket or a commercial-grade waterer.
Bedding can be used in a run and if you choose to do that, use lawn clippings or pine needles. But you can also use leaves as long as they’re not wet. Use a calendar to make sure that you keep up with your chickens’ routine care.
Every day, you need to let them out of the coop and into the run. They need to have time outside, even in the rain. You can always cover the run in the event of bad weather.
Daily, check the water – because dirty water can make them sick. Make sure that you gather the eggs every day, too. Watch the chickens and check them for odd behaviors or lethargy.
Chickens are naturally active, and if they’re not, it’s a sign that they’re not well. If they’re not eating or drinking, or they have diarrhea, you need to call a vet. One sick chicken can quickly make the entire flock ill.
Every week, you need to clean out the coop and check the run for messes. Monthly, you need to examine the nesting boxes and replace the bedding. Sterilize the water and feed dishes.
Seasonally, you need to prep the coop and run for both summer and winter. Chickens can be too cold or too hot. Check both the run and the coop and make any needed repairs.