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Problems You Should Expect With Raising Backyard Chickens
Chickens are generally healthy, brave and happy animals that can also be very friendly with people and each other (and other animals). But, unfortunately, a reality about raising chickens it’s just that chickens are very prone to disease, illness and behavioral problems. It’s never apparent how careful chicken keepers are – health and behavioral problems always seem to arise even with the best of care, and careful attendance pays off. Basically, the truth is, problems arise with raising chickens.
Most problems with chickens are very common and generally quite benign. Some require minimal tweaking to resolve. Some of the common issues, no matter how careful you are, require an immediate and drastic response to avoid losing the entire herd. Here are the most common problems you can expect with chickens and how to fix them.
Robbery. This is a very common and heartbreaking problem that every chicken keeper will probably have to deal with at least once in their life. It seems that everything wants to eat chicken – from the common hawks and eagles that fly in the sky, to the neighbor’s dog. Raccoons, foxes, bobcats, bears, snakes, cats, owls and many other animals are common problems. Your insurance chicken coop right or purchase well done chicken coop kits it can help discourage predators from taking the chickens while they are in the coop (which is very common). While the chickens are out of the cage, having safe the chicken runs that is covered will help discourage aerial and daytime predators. If you insist that your herd be free outside the boundaries of a fenced chicken runprovide plenty of tree cover to fend off attacks by hawks and eagles, and buy chicken breeds that are very free-range and very smart for predators.
Disease. Chickens are just as susceptible to viral, bacterial, parasitic and congenital diseases as any other animal. There are vaccines available to immunize your birds against common but deadly diseases such as Merick’s disease. You should check with your local vet or agent if these diseases are prevalent in your area before purchasing birds, or if you have birds that are healthy but have not been vaccinated. Other diseases, such as simple viral infections, can manifest in chickens in many ways and are usually best isolated, as you would in a person, in isolation. Practice the best sanitation you can and don’t be afraid to use products such as diatomaceous earth or bird dust. There are medications available for use on the farm that you can find at feed stores, but always check with a vet first before medicating. Have a quarantine system ready to go at any time, clean and primed. A dog kennel lined with old but clean towels is a good start. Any sick chicken should be isolated from the flock.
Attack. Roosters are the usual culprits, but sometimes chickens can be aggressive towards humans and other chickens in the flock. Aggressive chickens can be very problematic if they attack people and other chickens. These chickens can do more harm than good within the flock and are often difficult to rehome and may need to be euthanized. Fortunately, aggressive chickens are rare. Too many roosters in a small flock of hens will almost guarantee rooster aggression toward each other, toward hens (with aggressive, violent mating behavior), and toward humans. If you want a rooster, keep a single rooster for every 6-10 hens to help quell aggressive forced-mating behavior and lessen his need for competition. If your rooster is attacking people, this is generally an issue that cannot be resolved through training or adding chickens to breed and protect. Human-aggressive roosters should either be rehomed, or in extreme cases euthanized. Sometimes people report being able to retrain an aggressive rooster by picking it up and holding it, which can work. And of course, not all turkeys are aggressive towards people.
Behavioral issues not necessarily related to aggression. Chickens can be neurotic. They do things like cannibalize each other out of sheer boredom. They will lay eggs, then come back and eat the eggs they just laid. They will eat things like paper clips and screws and pieces of plastic. Their startle order can isolate a chicken and prevent it from eating. To avoid these types of behavioral issues, make sure your chickens are fully engaged at all times – this doesn’t mean you have to set up a 3-ring coop for your birds, but they do need space to enough to move and explore as they normally do. They must be able to wash themselves with dust and scratch on the ground, explore under the stones of the logs. They should be able to jump over things. They need a varied diet more than their formulated crumble (but scientifically formulated crumble is great for staple food and will help prevent occasional egg and junk cravings). Offer simple and fun snacks like a head of lettuce, a halved watermelon or even a cooked winter squash. Suet cakes make great winter treats. Provide plenty of natural shelters and rocks for them in their enclosed run, or risk free-roaming.
Raising chickens can be a wonderful addition to the home garden and are essential in the home. They provide immense pleasure and seem to simply “adapt” to human life. They are fun, cute and beautiful. They offer much more in return for what they are given. Despite the problems that chicken owners will have to face, they are well worth it!
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