7 Hacks for Healthier Urban Chickens!

7 Hacks for Healthier Urban Chickens!

One of the questions I get asked the most is: “Can I keep urban chickens even though I live in the city?” And my answer is always a huge YES!

 

Raising chickens is a rewarding and meaningful experience and I highly recommend it to everyone! There are, however, some things that you need to keep in mind when you are raising urban chickens in the big city.

 

It’s totally possible, but you will need to make some adjustments for an urban coop in order to keep you chickens happy and healthy.

 

Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for raising urban chickens in small spaces.

 

My top tips for raising urban chickens are:

  1. Make sure you can have chickens in your area
  2. Feed organic herbs for healthier hens
  3. Feed your chickens a balanced diet with calcium and protein
  4. Use calendula
  5. Practice good coop hygiene
  6. Provide environmental enrichment
  7. Predator-proof your coop

 

 

 

Make Sure You Can Keep Chickens In Your Area

Before we get started with the rest of the tips in this article, first and foremost you need to make sure you can keep chickens in your area. Not every town allows them – PLEASE do your homework first!

 

Your town might allow chickens, but have limits on the amount of chickens, how many feet they need to be kept away from other homes, or whether you can keep roosters or not.

 

It’s no good trying to keep chickens if your area doesn’t allow them – you’re doing your chickens a disservice because you might have to re-home them. Not fun for anyone!

 

Now, if you CAN keep chickens and you know all the regulations, then read the rest of the tips in this article to help your flock be healthier and happier!

 

Use Organic Herbs in Feed & Nesting Boxes

For people keeping chickens in smaller spaces, such as urban backyards, my favorite piece of advice is keeping them happy and healthy with organic herbs.

 

Because urban coops tend to be smaller and owners need to protect their flock from predators, such as dogs and cats, urban chickens run the risk of developing negative behaviors such as feather picking because they don’t have as much space to roam.

 

Urban chickens also tend to have more stressful lives than pasture raised chickens, so herbs such as peppermint, oregano, garlic, wormwood, and calendula.

 

(And blends such as the herbs we carry in the Living The Good Life With Backyard Chickens store) provide both a natural health boost and environmental interest because hens can pick at the herbs and explore their treat.

 

 

nesting box herbs

Feed your urban chickens a high-quality, nutritious diet

Especially for urban chickens, it’s important that you make that they have a well balanced diet. They can’t forage for nutrients, and they lead slightly more stressful lives because urban chickens are typically cooped all the time, or face environmental stress such as polluted air, lots of noise, etc.

 

One important nutrient to ensure the health of your chickens is calcium. Making sure your hens have ready access to high quality calcium supplements is important to ensure they lay eggs with strong egg shells.

 

You can offer a calcium supplement in the form of oyster shells or dried, crushed eggshells. To dry your egg shells, simply wash them so the albumen is cleaned off, then allow them to air dry a bit.

 

Next, toast them by placing them in your oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes. Then crush, and offer separately or mix with your flock’s feed.

 

It’s also important to make sure that your urban chickens are getting enough protein. If you want an out-of-the-box treat, black soldier fly larvae are full of protein, fat, AND 50 times more calcium than treats such as mealworms.

 

And hens LOVE them! I have an in depth article about the benefits of black soldier fly larvae here if you want more information!  If you want black soldier fly larvae for your hens, we carry them in the store right here.

 

Keeping urban chickens is easy and healthy!

Mix Calendula With Your Urban Chicken’s Feed

 

For golden yolks (which is why most people keep chickens – for healthier eggs), adding the herb calendula to your chickens’ diet is a must. (We carry calendula in the store right here.)

 

Calendula contains beta carotenes, which lend their orange color to your hen’s yolks.

 

Practice Good Coop Hygiene

All natural hygiene is a must for urban chickens. They are more susceptible to internal parasites such as worms and external parasites such as mites because they’re not able to move around as much as their country cousins.

 

Using essential oils such as melaleuca and lemon when cleaning their coop will help keep their home clean and hygienic.

 

It’s important to not use household cleaners such as bleach – the fumes can harm your chickens, and when bleach mixes with the ammonia from your flock’s droppings, it can produce mustard gas! Yikes!

 

So, all natural cleaners are a must to keep your flock healthy.

 

Keeping urban chickens is fun!

Provide Environmental Enrichment

Like we talked about earlier, urban chickens have more stressful lives due to different environmental circumstances than their pasture raised counterparts.

 

So in order to avoid negative habits such as feather picking, you need to provide your chickens with some environmental enrichment activities.

 

This could be things like providing herbs for them to pick at or ensuring that there are places for your chickens to perch in your coop.

 

Providing environmental activities for your chickens helps to keep them happy and helps keep them from developing bad habits.

 

Predator Proof Your Coop

I’ve seen way too many urban chicken owners get burned because they didn’t predator proof their coop. They thought there weren’t chicken predators in the city.

 

While you might not have to worry about chicken predators like raccoons or possums in the city, you do need to worry about cats, dogs and any other animals that might be “interested” in your chickens. Always make sure that your coop is predator proof so you can keep your chickens safe.

 

Dogs can be another problem for those raising chickens in the city. If you have a pet dog they can be just a little bit too interested in your chickens and that can cause huge problems.

 

My number one tip is to keep your chickens and dogs separate. Even the best behaved dogs might get curious and ANY dog has the potential to seriously injure your chickens (even little dogs), so I recommend that you just keep them apart if you think there’s a chance your dog might play too rough with your chickens.

 

Make Sure Neighbors Are On Board

Many of the readers I get messages from are concerned about their neighbors getting upset because they have chickens. Honestly, as long as you don’t have a rooster, it very unlikely that anyone will know you have chickens at all!

 

In fact, I know someone who was raising chickens in the middle of a neighborhood for years and his neighbors didn’t even realize they were there! Hens can be very quiet!

 

I keep my coop super clean so it doesn’t smell as bad, and hens aren’t typically noisy. In fact, I think dogs are 10 times more annoying for neighbors than chickens could ever be!

 

Most chickens are docile, quiet, and pretty well-behaved from my experience. And trust me the second your neighbors try some of your chickens’ delicious eggs they won’t complain. In fact, they’ll probably want to get chickens of their own!

 

I always recommend that you check your cities’ ordinances and policies about chickens to be sure you know the rules about raising chickens in your area. Some cities might limit the number of chickens you can own based on how big your backyard is. Check it out to be sure!

 

Do you have experience with raising urban chickens? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!




Web Analytics


Pumpkin Seed, Cayenne, & Wormwood Deworming Treat For Backyard Chickens!

Pumpkin Seed, Cayenne, & Wormwood Deworming Treat For Backyard Chickens!

If your chickens have worms, it can seriously derail their egg laying.

 

Worms (aka freeloaders) rob your hens of vital nutrients while making it more difficult to pass manure, and generally just trash the insides of your chickens – so you gotta get rid of them (and it doesn’t hurt to be proactive).

 

Unfortunately, because chickens walk around without shoes and socks on, they’re likely to be exposed to parasites more than we like.

 

There’s not really a good wormer on the market for chickens, although Ivermectin is considered safe and it’s definitely effective against worms in dogs, horses, pigs, etc.

 

But the problem with wormers, aside from the fact that we don’t really have great dosages for chickens, is that they have withdrawal periods, meaning you can’t eat their eggs for about 30 days (unless you want to get a mouthful of Ivermectin. If that’s your thing, then by all means, go for it).


Have a hen that loves treats? (Who doesn’t?!)

Yes, my hens love mealworms!


For those trying to raise their chickens organically, then of course pharmaceutical wormers aren’t ideal.

 

That’s why I developed this fun treat with ingredients that might help your hens expel those nasty critters and hopefully prevent them in the future.

 

Now bear in mind that with many of these ingredients, their effectiveness is merely anecdotal; there’s not a TON of studies to show whether pumpkin seeds, pepper, or herbs will truly leave your hen’s insides squeaky clean of freeloaders.

 

But I put these things into the category of “can’t hurt, might help,” and at the bare minimum, your hens will have fun eating the seeds and gobbling down garlic.

 

And that’s always a good thing!

 

You should also remember that treats aren’t a meaningful replacement for a quality layer feed that’s formulated to ensure your fluffy butts get all the vitamins and minerals necessary.

 

Treats should comprise about 10% of your flock’s diet, so feed treats just a few times a week, or daily in small amounts. I feed my hens the recipe below about once a month (and of course I feed other treats in between time!)

 

Pumpkin Seed, Cayenne, & Wormwood Deworming Treat For Backyard Chickens

 

Pumpkin Seed & Cranberry Deworming Treat For Backyard Chickens

 

Ingredients (per chicken)

½ c raw shelled pumpkin seeds

2-3 freeze dried or fresh cranberries

1 tsp cayenne pepper

½ cup kale

1 tsp fresh garlic

¼ cup wormwood (buy here)

¼ cup sunflower seeds (optional)

 

Directions

Multiply amounts of ingredients based off the amount of chickens you have. Mix all ingredients together and serve as a treat. Be sure to use raw, unsalted, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

 

Pumpkin seeds are a popular folk remedy for preventing and curing worms, although it’s not really been studied in chickens.

 

There was one study done in mice that showed extracts from pumpkin seeds reduced the worm load when fed in 8 grams of pumpkin per 1 kg of animal weight.  

 

There’s also been studies that showed pumpkin seed oil is good for the urinary tract in humans and might help against tapeworms.

 

At a bare minimum, chickens love pumpkin seeds, so they’ll enjoy gobbling them down. It’s also important to note that an all-seed diet can cause Vitamin A deficiency, which might cause bumblefoot, so don’t only feed your chickens seeds.

 

The other main ingredient in this recipe, the cayenne pepper, has long been purported to help humans and animals get rid of worms. The reasoning behind it is that the worms don’t like a chemical constituent in peppers – Capsaicin – and it causes them to detach from their hosts, and chickens can then poop the worms out. This breaks the lifecycle of the worms.

 

Again, evidence it works to expel worms in chickens is limited, although it has been studied in rats.

 

Wormwood has long been used as a remedy to prevent and treat worms since nearly as long as humans have been around.

 

During the middle ages, it was the go-to cure because worms find the herb bitter, and choose to not stick around.

 

It’s also the “active ingredient” in some herbal wormers you’ll find on the market.

 

Garlic is never a bad thing for chickens, and it’s been shown to help living creatures be healthier and have better immune systems. Parasites also object to the smell and spiciness of garlic, so it’s possible it’ll help your flock stay worm-free as well.

 

If you want to prevent worms in your chickens, making sure their surroundings are clean and moisture free is a good place to start. A healthy diet will help keep them in tip top condition so if they do get a parasite infestation, they have the energy to fight it off.

 

This treat is a great addition to any feeding plan out there, and you’re chickens will love it as much as mine do!


Have a hen who loves treats? (Who doesn’t?!)

Yes, my hens LOVE mealworms!


 

Get Rid Of Wasps Naturally and Practically For Free!

Get Rid Of Wasps Naturally and Practically For Free!

If your organic garden has been invaded by wasps, chances are you’re probably wondering how to get rid of wasps naturally.

 

While they make great pollinators, unfortunately, if wasps have decided you’re invading their territory, you might be getting stung – which can put a damper on any fun garden activities very quickly.

 

Similarly, wasp nests are no fun – and they can creep up in the smallest places we wouldn’t expect (we’ve found them in chicken coops – no fun for you OR your chickens, believe me!).

 

(This article is based off my #1 Amazon Bestselling book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. Get your copy here).

Get rid of wasps naturally with these organic tips!

 

You CAN go for the stuff you buy at your local big box store – but we personally try to avoid those products, and have gotten rid of them in our house. They’re full of chemicals that neither our children or our animals need to inhale (in fact, for chickens, with the delicate upper respiratory systems, commercial insecticides can cause a lot of damage or even death in your flock).

 

To preserve the effort you’ve put out keeping your backyard organic and your family healthy, you’ll want to get rid of wasps naturally and ALSO stop wasps from coming back so you can enjoy your backyard once again.

 

Luckily, these organic options also happen to be pretty cheap, and you can create an effective natural insecticide for just pennies.

 

Create a wasp trap…naturally

 

If you’re like us, you probably have some soda bottles hanging around your house. To create a trap that’ll get rid of wasps naturally, cut the top 1/3rd of the soda bottle (also be sure to remove any wrap – if the bottle is reflecting light, it’s less attractive to wasps).

 

Leaving the screw cap off, turn the cut piece upside down and place it back inside the remainder of the bottle.

 

Pour apple juice into 1/2 the bottle – wasps will be attracted to the juice and enter the trap, but won’t be able to leave. Eventually, they will get caught in the juice and die.

 

You’ll want to place the trap away from areas of the garden you visit frequently to reduce your chances of crossing paths with a bunch of angry wasps (or worse – you might tip it over, and find yourself surrounded by a swarm with your name on it).

 

Empty the bottle when it’s full of dead wasps, or sooner if it starts to smell (if you’re pregnant and sensitive to smells, this is a “must do” and I suggest having your spouse or partner do it for you).

 

How To Get Rid Of Wasps Nests Naturally

 

If picking off wasps one by one isn’t for you, then you’ll want to turn to getting rid of the entire nest. Chances are you WON’T get all the wasps quickly with the soda bottle trick – but you CAN get rid of wasps in your backyard by knocking out the entire nest.

 

For this all natural solution, you’ll need pure liquid castile soap (I like this brand) and a hose-end sprayer like this one. Pour the soap into the sprayer until it’s ½ full, and attach to your favorite garden hose.

 

Turn the water on, and wait until you see suds. Spray the wasps nest thoroughly for a couple minutes, depending on the size of the nest.

 

Check to see if any wasps are still flying around – if they are, then keep spraying. Rinse and repeat the following day if some, but not all, are dead.

 

It’s better to use this spray in the early evening as the sun is going down – wasps will be back in their nests and will be subdued by the lack of light. They will then be less likely to sting.

 

Preventing Wasps Naturally

 

While nothing is 100 percent effective to prevent wasps, there are something you can do, and it’s easier than trying to get rid of wasps later on.

 

Wasps are attracted by sweet smells and rotting garbage – so try to keep your trash closed and on lockdown. Don’t just dump it outside and out in the open (this will also cut down on other pests like raccoons, opossums, dogs, etc).

 

If you have an orchard, be sure to pick up any rotting fruit from the ground.

 

Want to get rid of wasps naturally? Here's how to do it organically!

Plants that Deter Wasps Naturally

 

If you have room in your garden, you can plant some wasp-repelling plants. Just be aware that these plants might also deter bees, which is no good for an organic garden, since we depend on bees for pollination.

 

Some plants to deter wasps naturally include:

 

  • Wormwood (Artemisia)
  • Mint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citronella

 

You can also try essential oils for these plants (there isn’t one for wormwood that I know of). Simply sprinkle a couple drops of the oil on a rag and hang in your garden. You can also soak cotton balls in the oils.

 

Photo of wasp: By Richard Bartz, Munich aka Makro Freak – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2576477

I’d like to hear from you!

Have you tried to get rid of wasps naturally? Leave a comment below!