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How to care for your Backyard Poultry

Posted on 14th Mar 2012 @ 8:12 AM

The following article is brought to you by Janes Chooks, If you are in the Townsville or surrounding area there is only one place to go for all of your poultry needs.

 

Hens usually lay at approx 24 weeks (depending of management e.g. food, shelter and growing conditions). Chicken are great for eating all your kitchen scraps & remember that meat is part of their diet, so any left over meat scraps are good too (but not chicken or eggs).
 
The following details are a guide for you.
 
More information on each breed is shown in the next page with photos.
 
REARING YOUR CHICKENS
 
As a rule of thumb, chickens need
  • Warmth (In colder weather)
  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Water
 
  • Keep your young chicks out of the elements for the first 4 weeks in summer and the first 6 weeks in winter.  The laundry, carport or backyard shed is suitable. Keep chickens in a well secured and ventilated box or cage.  Always keep young chicks out of the breeze and watch for stray cats and even the pet dog etc.
 
  • Warmth can be provided in the way of a light bulb. Hang a brooder light approx. 6 inches above the chicks (60W frosted bulb) and the chicks will mover closer or further to suit their need for warmth.  After 3 weeks chicks reared in summer can do without the light, even at night.  As a general rule, watch the chicks to see if they crowd around the light or move away form the light.  This body language is an indicator whether the birds are too hot or cold.  Chicks evenly spread out indicate correct temperature.
 
  • Feed, is important to their laying ability, a good quality feed such as “Chicken Crumble” is perfect for the first 9 weeks.  It is very high in protein and has medications to prevent illnesses.  At 8-10 weeks, introduce fine growing mash, scraps and fresh water. Around 12 weeks introduce shell grit to help provide calcium needed for the formation of eggshells this should be given at least once a week.
 
  • Drinking water should be fresh and clean.  Dirty, green algae water promotes feather loss and promotes worm infestations.  Dry, stressed birds will take longer to lay.  For internal and external parasites I use Ivermectin, this can be purchased from Jane’s Chooks.  It is important to worm your birds every 3 months or any signs of external or internal parasites.
 
  • At 18 weeks introduce the laying boxes, with plenty of straw or shredded paper.  This will trigger the hen’s egg laying senses as she begins to arrange and shape a nest from the straw, grass etc.
 
Information Books and Website:
Google-Australian Poultry Forum (there is a lot of information)
Barastoc –www.barastoc.com.au
A Guide to Keeping Poultry in Australia by Dorothy Reading
Starting out With Chickens by Bruce Pattinson (this can be purchased through the Australiana Poultry Magazine)
Australiana Poultry Magazine (this is at the Willows Newsagency)
 
Remember to keep your hen locked up for at least 1 week before letting them free range.  This is so they learn to go to the hen house on dusk. It is best to let hens out each day if possible to green pick and do this anytime after 2pm in the afternoon as most hens lay in the morning and they will lay in their nesting box instead of in the garden.