How Many Chickens Are Too Many?

How Many Chickens Are Too Many?

How many chickens are too many? No really. This is a real question.

For some people, it is the question. But not for reasons one might think. Chickens play such an important role in the lives of people who love them. For some people, it makes sense to have many chickens, especially since hens are amazing at producing eggs. A single chicken is like a cute feathery gift that just keeps on giving. How could someone say “No” to them?

Well, it just so happens that there actually are a few good reasons why it sometimes is important to say “No.”

Reason #1: Space

Keeping chickens has become almost en vogue around the USA. As of a 2017 survey, about 1% of the entire USA keeps chickens. For an era where mass unsustainable farming methods of the past seem to be on the decline, this is quite a remarkable number.

If so many people are keeping chickens, and they’re not running large farms, then where are they keeping these hens? Not every home has space to keep a chicken coop. Well, our concept of chicken homes has to change a bit. Often, owners keep chickens in a small backyard or even inside their apartment.

The space question is perhaps the most important question to consider. Each chicken needs about 10 square feet of coop space to live comfortably. It’s also important to provide a run. Not all homes have the space for them to scratch, peck, and uncover bugs and other goodies. So what then?

When space is tight, the question about chicken numbers becomes essential. If your entire property is less than 1000 square feet, it would be almost impossible to house more than a few comfortably.

Reason #2: Money

Here’s the scenario: a friend has the option to add a new animal to their home. One option is a fluffy young chicken. The other is a 17-hand horse. Both need space and attention. Both will need food and water and shelter. Both will be amazing additions to the family, and the family would enjoy either one. So which one is the better choice?

Well, compare the cost to keep a chicken or a horse. In this case, chickens are a far more economical option. No two ways about it, a horse is far more expensive than a single chicken.

But chickens still cost money. Setting up a coop and providing bedding will cost money. Preparing for adequate waste disposal will cost money or time. Feed will cost money. Health checks, worming, and pest control will cost money. Buying incubators to hatch chicks will cost money. Each of these small costs will add up. Before long, you’ll realize that 50% of last month’s expenses went towards your chickens!

So, the question of what is “too many” chickens boils down to the responsible question for any pet owner. You’ll need to ask yourself, “Do I want to devote part of my income to a pet?” If the answer is yes, then that is some great news! It just might be time to increase the flock! “Too many” chickens would just be that point where the balance in the ledger crosses the line from black to red.

Reason #3: Death

Of course, this is the least enjoyable reason to add another chicken to your flock. But it’s worth considering anyway. Death is one of the hardest parts of life, but it’s unavoidable. When it happens, it can gouge away at one’s heart in ways that might not be readily apparent.

With the loss of a pet, it’s only natural to want to replace that void with a new life. This is normal, and acquiring a new pet can very often lead to a smooth recovery – or at least as smooth as one could find. A new life can add so much to a grieving heart; it is incredible.

The problem is that sometimes, we overcompensate. It’s like stress-eating. You’re overcome with stress, and cope by filling your body with food. You’re momentarily less stressed and have some much-needed energy. This can easily result in a little too much and instead of easing the stress, we gorge. The body doesn’t really need all the calories that we give it. Our coping mechanism ends up putting extra stress on the body.

It’s very easy to slip into, and it can happen after your pet dies. In such an event, there must be a limit. You don’t want to end up with too many birds to easily maintain. If you need to replace your lost friend, consider just getting one. At least for a while.

Reason #4: Family

Family is great. In part, adding a chicken to your home enlivens the family. With each chicken you add to your flock, your family becomes richer in experience. Each hen brings with it their own personality, and part of the excitement is getting to know what makes her tick (peck?).

The Flocking Family

If a chicken is added to a flock, it joins a complex organism that has a pre-established pecking order. It will be difficult for that bird at first, but before long, she will settle into the habit of the barnyard. She will make friends and find her own little spot on the roost.

What could possibly go wrong?

One potential problem is a particularly aggressive chicken. Chickens in general are docile creatures and interested in their bellies and the production of eggs. But there is the occasional rooster or hen that feels the need to pick on others. There might be some safety for the bullied chicken in the larger pack, but that is not always the case. If this happens, about the only possible escape is separating the birds. If warring hens gets too extreme, you might have to find a new home for either the bullied or the bully.

Reason #5: Reproducing

Probably the biggest reason for an increase in flock size is also the most obvious one: reproduction. It happens when there are both roosters and hens living together.

When springtime comes around, roosters might do a little dance that shows a lucky hen that he’s interested. This could result in a clutch of fertilized eggs.  If these fertilized eggs are incubated, they’ll result in a new batch of cute downy chicks. Once this happens, the owner then has to deal with the same question again: keep them or sell them?

There are many ways to keep chickens from reproducing. The simplest way is to have just hens. They’ll lay eggs regardless of the presence of a rooster. Alternatively, you could remove the eggs and not incubate them. This would result in no new generation of chickens.  

Reason #6: The Human Family

One spouse wants more, the other does not. Maybe the kids do, or they are even divided on whether to add another chicken or *gasp!* a dog. Or maybe the kids are begging the parents for more, but such conflict can put stress on the family. It’s important to think of others before adding more chickens to your flock.

Fights can happen. A strong-willed individual could get their way. But this sometimes can create resentment in the household. Resentment is a dangerous thing. If there is too much stress in the household, believe me, your chickens will pick up on it.

Like with the addition of any family member – 2-legged, 4-legged, 3-legged, 2-winged, etc. – the best approach is to discuss it. This gives everyone an equal chance to consider how the addition would change the family. It lets the unit consider both pros and cons. Sometimes an answer of “Not right now” is enough.

The best thing about “Not right now” is that it implies that “soon” another chicken might be added to the flock.

Is there a “right” answer to the idea of whether or not there are “too many” chickens? No. There are so many variables that this is an almost impossible issue. Perhaps most important to the prospective chicken owner is self-knowledge. They’ll need to ask themselves “How many is too many for me?” I’d recommend some serious consideration before the urge to add more chickens takes over.

I would recommend this, but then… I just might have given in to the urge to the flock once or twice. For me, personally, it’s a matter of space and time. Do we want to build another coop? Do we want to spend the extra time making sure extra chickens are all healthy? Or, do we just want to concentrate on the ones we have, and make sure their lives are as happy as possible? That’s how I decide “how many are too many”!

Worming Chickens: Ultimate Guide

Worming Chickens: Ultimate Guide

Wondering whether worming chickens is easy? What are some all natural options? In this article, we’ll discuss the type of worms chickens can get, why they’re so dangerous, and what to do about it! 

Think about it: A chicken mama walks into her hen house to collect eggs. She reaches into the first nest and frowns. The egg has an unusual covering of chicken poop. This is not a massive problem. It just requires some extra cleaning. 
On to the next egg. It’s plastered with poop. The farmer begins to suspect something is wrong. Then, onto the third nest, where the prize-winner roosts. She is neat and tidy, and never leaves messes on her eggs. But chicken poop also covers this egg, and there’s some long white strands mixed in. 
Something needs attention, and she wonders what’s going on with her beloved birds. The list possible problems is a short one, and the solution is actually quite simple. These chickens have worms, and they need a better worming regimen.

What Are Worms Exactly?

Worms are parasites that can create health problems in chickens. Worms can cause lots of health issues, such as:
  • poor nutrition (because the worms are stealing vitamins and minerals from your flock)
  • internal bleeding
  • diarrhea
  • flightiness
  • pale combs
  • poor egg production
  • bloody stool
  • vision problems
  • death
You might also notice your hen doesn’t want to forage, and prefers to sit quietly in a corner.

How Do Chickens Get Worms?

A flock of chickens goes foraging, and might stumble upon a big, thick slug. It is a treat to the bird, but this yummy snack hides something insidious: a parasite. Your chickens swallow this parasite, and it finds a warm, comfortable place to live out its life cycle.
Chickens can also pick up worms from the soil, either by stepping on eggs, or ingesting eggs from dirt. Wild birds visiting their poultry cousins can also be a point of infection. Additionally, one chicken can effect her whole flock, since the worm’s eggs might infect her feces. Other hens might pick them up when walking around (which is why it’s important to clean your coop consistently)

What Kind Of Worms Do Chickens Get?

Chickens can get a variety of worms, including:
  • Tapeworms (Davainea proglottina and Raillietina cesticullus)  
  • Roundworms (Ascaridia galli)
  • Hair Worms/Capillary Worms (Capillaria obsignata
  • Gapeworms (Syngamus trachea)
  • Caecal Worms (Heterakis gallinarum)
  • Strongyle Worms (Trichostrongylus tenuris)
Each worm species effects chickens in different ways. But all worms are detrimental to your birds’ health. Most worms fall into two distinct classes.
  1. Direct – a chicken picks up these worms by scratching or pecking through contaminated feces. They spend their entire life cycles inside the chicken. Very often the eggs of these worms drop out of your chicken; they are quite durable and can hibernate for up to a year. Then, when another chicken picks them up, they then hatch, often by the thousands.  
  2. Indirect – these worms inhabit things that your chickens might have foraged. They might be hiding inside slugs, for example. Then, inside your chicken, they find a nice warm habitat to live out their life cycle. Indirect worms need a secondary host, such as an earthworm, before finding their permanent home inside your chickens
The following types of worms can infect your flock:

Caecal Worm

These are light grey to white in color and shaped like the letter S. They can grow to about ¾ inch. Caecal worms do not always show any symptoms in chickens. But chickens suffering a severe outbreak of these worms may look depressed or look worn out. The worms live in the ceca and have a direct life cycle. 

Capillary Worms

These worms are so small that one cannot usually see them with the naked eye. They are also called Hairworms or Threadworms. They live in the crop, intestines, and ceca, but in severe outbreaks, they can also inhabit the throat or the mouth. These worms are usually found in earthworms and slugs. A chicken infected by capillary worms will be weak and anemic. Their comb will pale, and the bird might appear emaciated. They also might suffer diarrhea. Extreme cases can lead to the bird’s death. They have both a Direct and Indirect life cycle. 

Gape Worm

worming chickens with gapeworms

Gapeworms in poultry throat. Image from Wikipedia.

Gape worms are red, and grow to ¾ inch in length. A male and a female lock together, resulting in a Y-shaped organism. Gape worms inhabit the trachea and lungs. They feed on blood get from micro blood vessels.  The most common symptom is a shortness of breath, often accompanied by a gaping beak, stretching its neck, and head shaking. The chickens will cough and frequently gasp for air and may also have a reduced appetite. They are Direct cycle parasites. 

Gizzard Worms 

These worms are very thin and grow to about 3/4 inch. They’re uncommon in chickens (far more common in geese). Symptoms include:
  • anemia
  • weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • a sickly appearance (might include a hunched posture and sagging wings)
This can lead to death if left untreated. They have a Direct life cycle.

Roundworms

roundworms from chicken

Roundworms

Most common of the various worms that your chickens might contract. Roundworms are visible by the naked eye, and can reach lengths of up to 6 inches. Other symptoms can include:
  • Pale combs and wattles
  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhea
  • stunted growth
Extreme cases can also block the intestines, which can kill your bird. The infected bird will shed the roundworm eggs in her poop. Another hen can pick up these eggs, which will hatch in the new hen. Round worms have a Direct life cycle.

Tapeworms

tapeworm chickens

Tapeworm illustration

Tapeworms are white, long, and flat. In chickens, they usually do not grow any longer than 13 inches. Segments of these worms can be visible in chicken feces – they look like bits of rice. Tapeworms live in different intestinal areas and feed on its host bird’s diet. As a result, the chicken will likely suffer an increased appetite, and will appear larger, primarily due to bloating. If a juvenile bird becomes infected with tapeworms, its growth could be stunted. Tapeworms have an Indirect life cycle; they need a host like beetles, earthworms, and other insects.

How Can We Protect Chickens From Worms?

Your chickens are very likely to get worms, especially if they live outdoors. This is a sad fact of life, but it is an important one. Stopping worms is not 100% about preventing worms from infecting your pets, but rather in minimizing the damageThe biggest risks are warm wet climates, and especially between late Spring and summer, when many parts of the USA endure heavy rains. Other areas of the country – the Pacific Northwest, for example – are ideally suited due to an almost year-round warm wet climate.
Worm eggs do not like extreme temperatures and go dormant in weather that is too hot for them or too cold for them. They are also averse to climates that are too dry to sustain them. To prevent a muddy coop, mix a good amount of stone, gravel, or having straight concrete flooring. This can reduce the number of active worm eggs in your flock’s home. 
Keeping grass short can also behoove a smart chicken owner. This helps to maximize the amount of UV light from the sun that reaches worm eggs. These eggs are particularly susceptible to UV light, and sunlight can destroy them. 
Be sure that your bedding is clean and dry. In wet weather, be sure to clean out your coop and chicken housing areas at least 2 to 3 times per week. If you use the deep litter method, and your chickens seem to constantly have worms, consider a different bedding option.

Should I Worm My Chickens?

Not sure if your chickens have worms? It’s easiest to collect some feces and take it to your vet. They can run tests to determine if and what kind of parasites your chickens might have. These tests are usually inexpensive. You’ll learn if your chickens actually need a worming regimen.
Worming regimens should not be year-long. You should do it only every so often (your vet can tell you how often). Parasites and chickens both can develop an immunity to the wormers. If this happens, it means you’ll have a harder time killing off this particular strain of worms. So, continuing to use it will have no effect. You can ask your vet about rotating options if you want to prevent worms. 

What Are The Best Wormers For Chickens?

There’s lots of opinions out there about what wormers are ideal. Some chicken owners might claim you only need natural solutions. Others insist that they are not enough. Ultimately, you should decide for yourself, using our list below as a set of options. Be sure to consult your vet as well. A list of some of the most popular options are below.

Flubendazole/Fenbendazole

In the United States, there aren’t any FDA-approved wormers for chickens. But elsewhere in the world, there’s pharmaceutical options. The UK has stringent standards when it comes to animal welfare, and Flubendazole is approved for this use. Since you can give it to goats, horses, etc, it’s worth asking your vet about it. If you can’t find Flubendazole, ask your vet about Fenbendazole. It’s a common medicine for goats, horses, dogs, cats, etc. Fenbendazole is usually sold in farm stores under the trade name Safeguard. Before proceeding, though it’s always best to ask your vet for dosage amounts.

Ivermectin

Like Fenbendazole, this isn’t specifically approved for chickens. But it’s safe for other species. It’s also proven effective. So it’s worth talking to your vet about it. You can buy it at any farm store.

Apple cider vinegar

This remarkable item offers many benefits, including deterring some worms. It is not a 100% guaranteed treatment, but it’s very cost-effective. It can also introduce healthy bacteria to your hens’ digestive systems. You can learn how to make it yourself here.

Garlic

Garlic is the wonder herb. You can add small amounts to chicken feed. It might help discourage worms from settling in the belly. It also can support healthy digestive systems. 

Chili/Cayenne

Worms dislike the spiciness of capsaicin, and will leave the host area. Like garlic, it discourages worms from settling in the digestive gut. 

WormBGone Nesting Herbs

There’s a long history of certain herbs “doing the trick” to keep parasites from bugging backyard chickens. WormBGone Nesting Herbs includes the best herbs! Made with herbs traditionally used to promote healthy digestive systems and prevent worms. This is an affordable option many chicken owners love.

Vetrx Poultry Aid

You can apply this natural wormer directly on the effected chicken or put it into their water or in treats. 

Durvet Ivermectin Pour On De-wormer

You can pour this wormer onto the infected area. It’s a topical anti-wormer.  

Fleming Wazine Chicken De-wormer

You can mix this solution into feed or water.

My Pet Chicken Organic WormGuard Plus with Flax Seed

This natural mix also claims to reduce odors and moisture in chicken coops. 
Internal parasites are a massive problem that can effect your birds at any point in their lives. And it’s not only their health at stake. Worming chickens can also effect your life. After all, a healthy, worm-free, bird will produce healthy eggs for consumption. 
Heated Chicken Waterers

Heated Chicken Waterers

Heard heated chicken waterers can make life easier, but aren’t sure which to buy? Not even sure they’re safe? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know!

For people like us, who raise animals out of the comforts of a heated home, cold is a serious problem. If the temperature drops too far, water freezes. While some animals can break ice – with breath and a hot tongue, or a beak – there are limits to what these resources can do. And when temperatures plummet, dehydration can be a major problem for your fur or feather babies. 

One solution – heated chicken waterers – are a simple method of providing water to your flock. Today we’ll look at the kinds of heated waterers available for our chickens. 

Our Favorite Heated Chicken Waterers On Amazon:

Do Chickens Need to Drink Water?

Oh yes, chickens absolutely drink water. It might be funny to watch them – they fill their mouths and then tip their heads back – but water is an absolutely necessary part of their daily diet. Actually, an adult chicken will drink a few cups of water per day. Get a group of 20 chickens together, and they’ll likely go through as much water per day as a cow. 

Are Heated Chicken Waterers Safe?

Mostly, yes. You need to watch out for how hot they get, and how much electricity they draw. It’s best to look at your user manual and reviews online for the specific unit you’re considering.

Are There Different Types Of Heated Chicken Waterers?

Not including home-made, there are three different types of heated chicken waterers:

Automatic Waterers 

These waterers contain a basin that has one or more openings at the base that open only when chickens use them. These are generally clean, neat, and very hygienic. Depending on the valve, these waterers also avoid dripping water and frozen puddles beneath them. However, some parts are more prone to freezing.

Gravity-Type Waterers 

These operate under the same principle as the automatic waterers, save for one major difference: the distribution method. These jugs generally are attached to an open pan (also known as a “drinker”) that your chickens will drink from. Because they are open, you run the risk of your birds contaminating the pan. The drinkers are also pretty easy to break off. 

Open Pans Or Dish-type Waterers 

These are often a pan set out over a heated base. They run the same risk of contamination as the gravity waterers, which will require more scrubbing than, say, the automatic waterers. Elevating them off the ground in the heated base will help to reduce the muddying of waters. 

What Makes The “Ideal” Heated Chicken Waterer?

This is a complicated question. There are several key elements to consider:

  • How cold does it get in your area?
  • How many chickens are in your coop?
  • What material works best for you?
  • Should it rest on the floor or be elevated? 
  • Is it durable enough or will it freeze? 

Affordability is another concern. Some options – like batteries – can cost a lot over time. Some heated chicken waterers (especially the do-it-yourself variety) could put unnecessary stress on your wallet. 

How many chickens have you got? The answer to this will determine the size of your waterer, as you don’t want to be slogging out into the cold every couple of hours to refill the water of your birds. 

In other words, the ideal waterer will completely depend on your flock. Just make sure it’s durable so in the event that the water does freeze, the container won’t rupture or break. 

Let’s further explore these questions below.

How Big Should It Be?

As previously mentioned, a flock of 20 birds will drink about as much as a cow – that’s a whole lot of water to provide. If your flock consists of fewer than 5 birds, a single 2-gallon waterer should suffice. Most single waterers range in size from about a gallon to 3 gallons. The heaters in heated chicken waterers are very adept at cooling off smaller areas, but anything larger than that could run into problems with the law thermal equilibrium, which states that temperatures will seek a balance. 

In extremely cold weather, some heaters might prove insufficient in warming large quantities of water. 

With the addition of more birds, you will probably need more heated chicken waterers. Some sources recommend having on three-gallon waterer for every 10 to 12 chickens. 

What Kinds Of Automatic Valves Are There For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Nipples are a type of automatic valve that is fast becoming a preferred method of watering chickens on cold winter days. These are designed to not release water until your chicken pokes it with their beaks. 

Floating valves are small cups of water. When your chickens dip their beaks into the cup, they press on a floating valve that releases fresh water into the cup. This provides a constant set amount of water in this hanging waterer.

Should I Use Plastic Or Metal For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Ultimately, that is your call. Both materials are excellent in cold weather. Plastic waterers are durable and do not break easily. Galvanized metal also holds up very well in extreme cold BUT freezes faster than plastic. Both can be found with internal or external heaters, though plastic heaters usually have the heating element in the base. 

Should I Hang My Heated Chicken Waterers Or Lay Them On The Ground?

This is an important question, that depends, in part, on what you have available in your coop or in your pen. One clear benefit of hanging waterers is you can raise it off the ground, and your chickens are less likely to roost on them (which means less poop). Elevating the water from the ground reduces the chances your flock will poop in it. 

Ground-based waterers don’t have to be messy, however. A waterer set upon a heating pad can still get that required height and also remain equally clean to hanging heated chicken waterers. 

How Often Should I Refill My Heated Chicken Waterer?

The easy answer is “Whenever they need filling.” Since most waterers can hold upwards of a couple of gallons, they have a bit of staying power. Still, you should be checking your waterers at least once every day. That way, you can top off the containers when you see they need it, and you can see if they need to be cleaned. Your chickens might have made a mess of the waterers, and you’ll want to clean them up as soon as possible. 

Are There Heated Chicken Waterers Without Electricity Needed?

Some heated chicken waterers don’t require electricity, such as solar powered heated waterers. Others include battery-powered heaters. You can read this article here for an excellent how-to that breaks down a number of means of keeping your chickens hydrated – and all without electricity!

What About Solar Heated Chicken Waterers?

The simplest solution would be to have a large black tub that is not too tall for your chickens to reach. Place this into the sunniest part of the coop, and over the course of the day, the heat from the sun might prove to be enough to keep your flock hydrated. In colder climates, however, this might not work as well, and alternative heating might be required. 

Are There Do-it-Yourself Heated Chicken Waterers?

There are a number of sources out there across the internet that offer solutions for homemade water heaters. Here’s 2 that we like:

Where to Find Heated Chicken Waterers?

You can usually find them at farm stores, like Tractor Supply. You can also find them on Amazon here:

We hope this information about heated chicken waterers helps you keep your chickens hydrated and healthy, even through the bitter chills have arrived! Stay warm!

Can Chickens Fly? Yes….And No.

Can Chickens Fly? Yes….And No.

Wondering “can chickens fly?” Well, like most things with chickens: it depends.

 

Some chicken breeds can fly and some can’t. And even within a specific breed, some individual chickens can fly, and some cannot.

 

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the question “can chickens fly!”

 

What Is A Flightless Bird, Really?

Flightless birds are comparatively rare – there are only about 60 species of flightless birds on Earth. One of the most iconic of flightless birds, the ostrich, is the largest bird and can run at speeds upwards of 40 mph (64.37 kph). 

 

These massive runners live in Africa, and use their 2-inch diameter eyes to spy out threats like lions, leopards, and packs of hyenas. While it might not be clear when these incredible birds lost their ability to fly, there is evolutionary precedent for this: ostriches are ratite, which is “any bird whose sternum (breastbone) is smooth, or raftlike, because it lacks a keel to which flight muscles could be anchored. All species of ratites are thus unable to fly.” Other ratites are the emu, cassowary, rhea, and kiwi.

 

Right up there with the ostrich as the most iconic of flightless birds is the tuxedo-sporting critter: the penguin. Unlike ostriches, penguins are not ratites. They possess the keel on their sternum to which their wings attach. 

 

Whereas volant birds use their wings for flight, penguins have adapted to underwater explorations, and instead use their wings as fins that allow them to effectively navigate in the waters where their food lives. In a way, because of this adaptation, penguins might be considered volant birds that just happen to fly through a vastly different environment than most other volant birds. 

 

So where does this leave us with pet chickens?

 

Are Chickens Actually Flightless?

So, what does all this say about chickens? Your chickens have all of the right tools for flight. They (generally) have the feathers and the keel on their sternum which their wings attach to, and they certainly have the muscles for it. With all of these details, the question remains: Can chickens fly?

 

Yes, kind of. And it depends on the breed. 

 

All chickens have strong muscles, and flight is one of the few ways this species can keep safe from predators. Most breeds are capable of “burst flights”, which are quick and can carry chickens to safety within moments. At night, as you probably know, they like to fly up to their roosts, which gives them a good vantage point to see if any raccoons, dogs, etc are coming their way.

 

Since they’ve been domesticated, they’ve largely lost this ability. Why is that? 

 

Chickens are most commonly bred for two things: eggs and meat. White meat is muscle, and it’s white meat that our ancestors favored. Selective breeding for meat has maximized the size of our chickens’ chest muscles. In theory, this should make chickens fantastic fliers. In reality, however, this is counterproductive. In order to fly, birds need light bodies with muscles strong enough to carry their own weight. 

 

The ideal flier will have a lean – almost sinewy – body: one that is strong enough to propel itself off the ground and light enough to stay aloft. Sustained flight also requires endurance. Human-bred chickens seldom are bred for strength, leanness, and endurance. 

 

Unlike ostriches and penguins, modern flightless chickens are not tied to the Earth because they don’t have the muscles to fly, but because it’s been bred out of them. In other words: We have bred our birds to be too large to support much of a flying ability. The average chicken can fly for about 10 feet, and about as high off the ground.

 

Being similar in flight skills to game birds, chickens were never the greatest fliers, and lack the skills for sustained flight, but they have been known to fly for as long as 13 seconds and a distance of 301.5 feet. It might be a short flight, but it likely is plenty enough to do its job: to get the chickens away from danger. 


Which Chickens Can Fly?

Larger chicken breeds are far less likely to even hover, as the energy required for even minimal flight can be preventative, but there are a number of breeds that are more inclined to flight:

 

 

are the most commonly known fliers. 

 

They have leaner bodies, and this is better suited for the short flights attainable by chickens. Our own Leghorns love flying into trees. 

 

At night, Araucanas occasionally roost up in the trees. Originally from Switzerland, the Spitzhaubens are a flighty bird that sometimes takes that adjective literally. Thanks to their smaller size, some bantam hens can achieve high heights for roosting purposes or when spooked. 

 

Which Chickens Can’t Fly?

There are some breeds that, no matter what, simply won’t get liftoff. Either they lack the feathers, or are just too dang heavy.

 

Some breeds, such as Silkies, can’t fly at all – they simply don’t have flight feathers on their wings. To keep them safe, you have to give them a place to climb up to. Ours can get lift off of maybe 12 inches, and that’s pretty much a big jump for a silkie.

 

Our Mille Fleur bantams and Cochin bantams can’t fly either – although they have wing feathers, their wings are too small. 

 

Other chickens, such as Orpingtons or Brahmas, have been bred to be so large, they simply are too heavy to fly.  

 

How Can I Stop My Chickens from Flying?

 

A few times a week, a person in my Facebook group asks how they can stop their flock from pooping all over the neighbor’s yard. There’s some easy ways to keep your chickens from making unwanted visits.

Build a Fence

The easiest way to prevent your chickens from flying away is to build a sizable fence around your chicken coop. This will stop most birds from flying out of their homes. 

 

For the heaviest breeds, you will not need anything taller than a 4-foot fence. For the slightly less heavy – the Mediterranean breeds, for example – you might need to build a 12-foot fence. 

 

Clip Their Wings

If you want to stop a bird from flying, one more adage comes to mind: “clip their wings,” which really means to trim their feathers. 

 

When done correctly, trimming feathers is painless. Once clipped, your chicken’s feathers can’t provide the lift needed for flight.

 

Do you still wonder “can chickens fly?” How far have your own chickens flown? Leave a comment below!

 

The Best Herbs For Chickens To Eat? These Are Them (Plus One For First Aid!) [Podcast]

The Best Herbs For Chickens To Eat? These Are Them (Plus One For First Aid!) [Podcast]

While a lot of herbs are great for chickens, there’s a few that I feel are the best herbs for chickens to eat.

There’s also a couple on my list that are perfect for other uses, such as first aid and as natural cleaners (make sure you grab my free reference sheet).

 

In this episode of What The Cluck?! we look at my favorite herbs for chickens to eat, as well as how to actually incorporate these herbs into your daily life with your flock. 

 

 

You’ll learn:

 

  • Which are the best herbs for chickens to eat
  • Why I recommend avoiding cinnamon
  • My favorite way to clean a chicken coop

 

Where to Buy:

herbs for hens

Chicken Farms Try Oregano As Antibiotic Substitute

Boy In Kentucky Dies From Cinnamon Inhalation

 

what herbs can chickens eat content upgrade-min

Transcript:

 

So, first let’s talk about the whys, meaning why bother being concerned about the best herbs for chickens to eat, as well as using herbs in the first place, and there’s some good reasons, as well as scientific reasons, why herbs are a good idea.

 

When it comes to chickens and their eggs, withdrawal times is a big deal, more so than with dogs and cats, for example.

 

And this is for obvious reasons, we eat eggs and we eat chicken, and many modern medicines will come out in their eggs and meat, we know this for a fact, so unless you want a mouthful of antibiotics, which I don’t think any doctor out there would recommend unless you’re sick, then withdrawal times play a really important role when making decisions for your flock.

 

Herbs, on the other hand, don’t have withdrawal times, so the advantage in certain situations is pretty clear.

 

As an aside, if you end up raising goats for their milk, for example, you can avoid wasting milk if you’re able to treat them with herbal remedies since medicines can come out in their milk.

 

But getting back to chickens, you can also use herbs to promote better laying and to get your hens to lay in their nests, if they don’t already do that. I do get questions frequently from readers and listeners whose hens won’t lay in nests, and there herbs I do recommend for that.

 

So, lets get into the best herbs for chickens to eat and how to use them!


Hens love nesting herbs!

nesting box herbs

Yes, I want to SPOIL my hens with nesting herbs!


Oregano

So we’re going to start off with my favorite herb to use in my coop, and that’s oregano. Oregano is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat and there’s a couple reasons for that.

 

Oregano is well-known for its antibacterial properties, and it’s becoming the darling of the egg industry because studies are showing that it’s more potent than antibiotics for keeping chickens healthy.

 

And these are large farms with hundreds of thousands of chickens, so disease tends to run rampant at those places just because of living conditions and overpopulation.

 

But these farms in New York State found that when they fed oregano, that their death rates and illness rates declined quite extensively.

 

And I’ll put a link in the show notes where you can read an article from the New York Times about it.

 

So, the way I like to offer oregano is dried or fresh in bunches, and the nice thing about this is that the chickens can peck at it, and it keeps them busy and not forming negative behaviors in addition to keeping them healthy.

 

Another great thing to do with oregano is to use it in their nesting boxes, and you can do this by just putting fresh leaves into the boxes themselves.

 

The hens will love the scent and it will help deter pathogens. Another nice thing is it will help keep the eggs clean because your hens will have a clean place to nest, and the scent will give them a boost and stimulate egg laying.

 

At the end of the day, happy hens lay better and if they have healthy food in their systems, like oregano, their eggs will be healthier, so offering them a nesting box with oregano leaves will help them lay better eggs.

 

So, like I said, oregano is really one of the best herbs for chickens to eat.

herbs for hens lavender

Lavender

While lavender has some antibacterial properties, and it is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat, it’s better known and better used as a calming agent.

 

So, lavender is well known to be a way to calm people and animals, and that means chickens too.

 

I like to use lavender in nesting boxes to help create a peaceful environment for chickens to lay in.

 

While it doesn’t outright promote laying, meaning you can’t feed a hen lavender and out pops an egg, you can create an environment that promotes calmness that will help your hen feel secure enough to lay.

 

Laying eggs is one of the most vulnerable times for a hen because she needs to stay still, and since hens are a prey animal, in the wild, not moving could mean death.

 

So, a hen that’s stressed or worried is not likely to lay, or at the minimum, she won’t lay a good, healthy egg.

 

So offering an environment that lets her feel safe is a great way to encourage her to lay, and if she feels secure, she’ll lay better eggs, assuming you’re also feeding her an adequate diet.

 

You can incorporate it into their feed as well, either fresh or dry, and like I said, it is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat because it does have antibacterial properties, so your hens will derive some benefit from it that way too.

 

You can also add lavender to cleaners to give them a calming scent your hens will appreciate.

 

Now when it comes to using herbs in your chicken’s nesting boxes, be sure to change them frequently so they don’t mold or breed other pathogens, especially if you use fresh herbs. Switching them out every other day or so will work well.

 

The other thing about lavender is it repels insects, and I’ve found it useful against flies, so including it in your nesting box will help repel flies, which of course, spread disease.

 

Mint

Mint is extraordinarily useful for many things when it comes to your chickens and I always keep a ton of it around the homestead. I like to use peppermint for a lot of things, and so that’s what I mostly grow, and it’s one of best herbs for chickens to eat.

 

Mint is great to put in nesting boxes along with lavender to stimulate laying, and it will create a fresh, good smelling environment for your chickens.

 

But what I really like using mint for is as a repellent. On our farm, because we have so many animals, we have a lot of flies, and I can tell you that mint is great for repelling flies.

 

I have a natural fly repellent I made here on the farm, and it works great.

 

You can read the exact recipe to make it on the blog, but to recap, you boil the herbs, I like to use both mint and lavender since both repel flies, and allow them to steep in the boiling water, just as if you were making a tea.

 

You then mix it with witch hazel to formulate your fly repellent.

 

The witch hazel does have a bit of a scent, but because water is absorbed really quickly into things while witch hazel isn’t, it works better for ensuring the lavender and mint stick around longer.

 

Once you make the repellent, you’ll have herbs left over, and you can feed them to your chickens for an additional immune booster.

herbs for hens calendula

Calendula

So next on our list of the best herbs for chickens to eat is calendula, and there’s a good reason for that.

 

Calendula have long been known to repel insects in gardens, and they’re considered to be one of the best companion plants out there.

 

So, using them in your chicken coop, in nesting boxes, for example, will help repel bugs and keep them out of your nesting boxes.

 

Calendula is also edible for both people and chickens, and they’re said to make your chicken’s egg yolks more orange, so if you want, you can offer the petals to your chickens in their feed.

 

 

Grow herbs in herb boxes

Now, if you want to do something fun and entertaining, you can grow the best herbs for chickens to eat in a grow box, which is a raised bed, 4 to 6 inches high is a good height, that also has a top made of hardware cloth.

 

So, as the herbs grow, they reach the top of the hardware cloth.

 

Chickens can peck the herbs above the hardware cloth or a little below it, but they can’t get to the roots of the herbs, so once the tops of the plant is gone, it has the ability to grow back.

 

It’s a great way to offer herbs to your chickens in a way that’s also interesting to them.

 

You can either grow the herbs straight in the ground or make the grow box like a container garden for them.

 

Now, if you’re interested in giving your hens herbs and want a handy reference sheet, you can grab my free tip sheet on the blog at TheFrugalChicken.com/chickenherbs.

 


Hens Love Nesting Herbs!

nesting box herbs

YES, I WANT TO SPOIL MY HENS WITH NESTING HERBS!


 

What Is Piling?

What Is Piling?

As we move through the process of raising baby chicks, we want to address some potential problems you may encounter. One of these is an issue known as piling.

 

Piling occurs when baby chicks clump together for safety. For example, if it’s cold or dark, then the chicks might lay on top of each other. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. It’s not much different than mammals gathering together in a close-knit group to stay calm and keep away the chill.

 

The Downside Of Piling

Unfortunately, when 10 to 15 chicks pile together, some may get crushed or suffocate. Particularly if they are in a brooder or another enclosed area (you can learn how many chicks should be in a brooder here). The reason for this? Even though baby chicks are incredibly independent, they are still fragile. Bantams in particular.

 

These chicks are so tiny that they get lost in the melee to gather together. If a bantam is weaker or not growing as well as the others, this also leads to a greater risk of being crushed. In addition, since bantams get colder faster, there’s a likelihood of them piling up more frequently.

 

How To Minimize Piling Risks

Regardless if they’re bantams or full-size, chicks have a harder time keeping warm. And if the smaller chicks are mixed with normal sized ones, there’s a potential for greater damage. In the end, the way to minimize piling risks is to separate the chicks by size and make sure there’s no more than 10-15 chicks in the brooder. 

 

Not too long ago, we received a batch of bantams and full-size chicks from a hatchery. The first thing we did is to separate them out, so the smaller chicks didn’t get crushed by a wall of bigger ones. Overall, we were able to maintain the safety of all of them.

 

Another way to minimize piling is to keep baby ducks and chicks in different brooders. Infant ducks tend to be bigger and heavier. Even though their interactions may be cute, a baby duck sitting on a day-old chick can cause fatal injuries.

 

A third way to prevent piling is to provide different heat sources, especially in enclosed spaces. With these units added throughout the brooder, the chicks can move to another source of warmth if the first one is too crowded. Be sure the brooder doesn’t get too hot, though!

Get Your Chicks To Thrive

As you would do with babies in your care, you want to ensure your chicks are well protected. This means shielding the smaller, fragile ones from being crushed when a group decides to pile together. By separating bigger chicks from smaller ones, as well as providing multiple heat sources, you can reduce this risk. In turn, you will end up with a healthy flock of chickens in a variety of sizes.