Lessons from Experienced Chicken Keepers

Reader Contribution by Anna Hess And Mark Hamilton
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As a followup to my post last month about ten tips for getting started with chickens, I thought I’d share what our chicken-keeping friends said they wished they’d known about chickens when they brought their first birds home.

Several readers told me that their biggest lesson was how easy chickens were, how fun they were, or even how much their family could learn to love their birds.  The take-home message?  Don’t delay your own chicken adventure!

Others had more trouble with their poultry flock.  Jane often had to coop her birds up in the chicken tractor since they kept invading her garden and Joe found out the hard way that it’s a bad idea to mix chickens of various ages.  Finally, Mason learned that roosters aren’t the only noisy ones in the flock, and that even the hens can bother neighbors.  (Some breeds are much quieter than others, so be sure to take this into account when planning your flock if you live in the city.)

One of the biggest problems many of our readers reported was chickens being eaten by owls, dogs, raccoons, and more.  I recently shared my own thoughts on protecting chickens from predators on the homestead.  My top suggestion is to make a secure coop you can close your chickens into at night, and I also recommend keeping a well-trained dog and rooster to protect the hens.  Giving your chickens plenty of bushes and brush to hide amid will help too.

On a related note, many of our readers reported that they learned a lot about good chicken coops from watching their birds reject certain aspects of their current housing.  If your chickens are roosting in trees at night, they definitely don’t like the coop you made for them!  One problem can be poor drainage, another is not planning ahead for manure management, while Charity wishes her coop had more sun, dirt floors, and fewer rodents.

Pests and diseases weren’t mentioned much, but mites are sometimes a problem with chickens.  Eva wrote in with her advice on mite prevention, which is sure to help if these critters come to call in your coop.

Finally, may of our readers wrote in to tell us that they wished they’d realized how simple chicken care would become after they invested in a POOP-free chicken waterer.  This week, you can furnish your flock with an Avian Aqua Miser Original for only $25, so why wait?