Tell me stuff about your chickens.

Since last Sunday I am the proud carer / guardian / responsible adult in charge of six chickens rescued from Big Egg. They were barn hens rather than battery hens, so they weren’t in too shocking a state.

I have done my due diligence, and have bought them a nice coop, good quality food, supplements, oyster shell grit, feeders, drinkers, nesting material and lots of other stuff I probably didn’t need to.

So far I have been rewarded with almost six eggs a day, and far more amusement than I thought I would.

So tell me about your chickens. What treats do they like? What ghastly medical complaints should I look out for? What chicken-looking-after mistakes should I avoid? You know… chicken stuff.

Chickens are fun - lots more personality than one might expect.

One thing to watch out for is one of the hens getting egg bound ie an egg has got stuck. It’s not uncommon, and potentially fatal, and the first sign is usually a change in behaviour: the hen becomes listless, loss of appetite, attempts to squat. Luckily human intervention is possible, either by massaging the egg out, or using a finger to break it internally.

That sounds… fun!

I have had one strange egg. It was shell-less, like a water balloon. Most likely a calcium deficiency according to my Google investigation. Probably my fault too. I read they like spinach as a treat but gave them too much, which can hinder calcium production.

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feed 'em your oyster shell grit, and the egg shells will be fine. They can also eat egg shells and get calcium that way as well.

Chickens will peck at anything. They love worms, meal worms, dried meal worms, watermelon (peck it down to a very thin rind), any protein (meat or fish), salmon. We call them our living garbage disposal. They won’t eat chicken meat but will do duck. Get a big bag of scratch and toss that out every day.

Watch out for predators. Racoons are nasty and will kill your flock for sport. Bobcats will take one a day. So, you probably need to lock them in at night.

Also, they can dig up your garden looking for bugs and worms in a heartbeat. Basically, chickens will clear cut vegetation, so have an enclosed area for them.

I have 11 at the moment, which is almost too much. we get 6 - 10 eggs a day.


Owls will wipe out an entire flock overnite. They tear the heads off to get the crop, then discard the rest. Makes for a mighty mess in the morning.

Chickens? Well, uh…they shit on everything, all the time.
We have sixteen dirty birdies at the moment, two of which are roosters. We get strange eggs sometimes too. Once I got a tiny one, like a quail egg, and when I broke it open it looked like nothing but blood. :eek:

Yikes! Better watch out for that. Definitely owl country in this part of the UK, also fox and badger (but thankfully no raccoons or bobcats). I have been putting them back in their coop every night, and will continue to do so. Trouble is, having been in a commercial egg producing environment for the first year of their lives they now have a taste for freedom. Little buggers do NOT want to go back in.

Always lock the coop at night. Chickens are quite docile and helpless after dark, their only defense is hiding and being quiet. I put locks on my coop because I had a simple wood block to keep the door shut and a racoon ripped it off and took the head of one of my chickens. :eek:

Later on I got an automatic chicken door like this:

It was pricey but worked great and I didn’t have to be home at dusk to lock my chickens up.

This is not entirely accurate. “Clear Cut” typically means there will remain some sign that vegetation was once present. Chickens are much more thorough. In our yard, if you were to scrape the grass away from a given area, the space will quickly be covered in mallow weeds before the grass can grow back. In the places we kept the chicken run for more than a couple weeks, nothing grew back. Not even the mallow. We’re talking about a weed that seems to use roundup for fertilizer–it’s crazy tough to eradicate. Our choice was to re-seed the patch or wait for vegetation to creep in from the edges.

Bumblefoot can be troublesome.