This article on chicken health and poultry care was written by 7th-grader Sedona O., whose teacher suggested she try to submit it somewhere!
I’m just a country girl who loves all breeds of chickens. I can spend all day around my fluffy feathered flock. I thoroughly clean and diligently care for them, and I also play games, feed homemade treats and lovingly carry them in the large barnyard. Put another way, it’s not just all fun and games, this task requires consistent hard work to own and manage chickens.
I joyfully watch my chickens follow at my heels, although at times I stumble to avoid tripping over them. This flock of mine needs extensive attention around my feet and in areas concerning safety issues, unyielding weather and demanding chores. But in the end these things build long-lasting character.
Owning chickens teaches responsibility because a healthy and happy flock requires careful planning, different management skills for every season and maintained cleanliness.
Read more: Check out these tips for free-ranging chickens through the seasons.
Planning chicken safety begins with securing the barnyard. In order to prevent predators from entering the premise and wreaking havoc, a rooster is helpful. Or, better still, a fenced chicken run and a sturdy coop are the best choices.
Above all, protection starts with a secure area that includes high chicken wire and netting over the top of the coop area. Fencing prevents the birds from flying out. Netting over the top prevents hawks from attacking.
The ideal coop provides adequate shelter and space for the number of poultry housed there. Defensive features on their home include latched trapdoors and tight screens on windows to maintain a stress-free environment. This arrangement safeguards the flock.
Though they might not be happy about it, at least they are out of danger.
However, with the changing seasons come various tasks. Altering climates contribute to different types of care for chickens. Thus, hot weather overheats birds, causes watery poops and weight loss. Frequently refreshed waters, juicy treats, such as watermelon, and the breeze from fans keep the flock cool.
Cold weather brings freezing waters and shivering poultry. That is why it’s important to provide water heaters and well-insulated coops to help hens solidly endure the colder months. Chicken care that accommodates change builds management skills each season.
Of great significance, cleanliness matters for chicken health, and if ignored, fatal things start to occur.
Diseases from flies landing on uncleaned poopy vents and mites or lice breeding in unchanged egg box bedding are both very deadly. In other words, a filthy coop attracts unwanted flies that can spread fly strike. The infection is caused when flies lay their eggs on the chicken’s vents. The newly hatched maggots speedily eat the poultry from the inside out.
Mites and lice thrive in moist laying boxes and circulate quickly between birds, causing skin irritations. The pests bite the bird’s skin causing the fowls to peck themselves therefore losing feathers. Additionally, they burrow under leg scales and make the hens’ legs red.
Uncontrolled, these parasitic insects will kill them. Without a doubt, maintaining a clean coop and healthy chickens save their lives.
Most importantly, chicken care leads to personal accountability. Protecting poultry, adjusting to cope with weather changes and preventing diseases all play very important roles for healthy birds. Although these tasks are difficult, fun and games still fit in the schedule.
“The work never goes away,” my mom constantly reminds me. I still have tasks to do when my insistent chickens perch on my arm wanting to play. Though it pains me to say “no,” I still tell them: “Toiling comes before frolicking.”
Even though cute chickens are useful animals, they require a lot of care. People around the world prize chickens for their eggs, companionship, and lessons that teach responsibility.
This reader-submitted article on chicken health originally appeared in the September/October 2022 issue of Chickens magazine.