Friday, 17 May 2013

keeping chickens

with the chicken family of 5 fitting nicely into my plans of self-sustainability and a permaculture based garden i am trying to raise and keep the chooks as healthy and free from chemicals as possible. i have listed a few of my favourite tips and tricks to keeping healthy and happy chooks.

adding apple cider vinegar and garlic to their water. i add a couple of crushed, peeled garlic cloves, and about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to their water dishes. these additions help deter red mite, aids in digestive health, acts as an antiseptic and also keeps the water dish free from bacteria and algae. the garlic is an immune booster (as it is with us people too) and is also a natural wormer. i try to replace the water, garlic and apple cider vinegar at least twice a week.

allowing the girls to free range in the garden eating bugs, plants and dust bathing. now the two Wheaten Marans free range the whole yard but the young Light Sussex remain in their relocatable tractor which we move several times a day, following the autumn sunshine. they are still fairly small and we don't want to tempt the cats to a feathered toy or three.

adding herbs to their shed and nest box. i have bunches of rosemary tied with twine hanging up. plus i hope to add to this lavender and lemon balm. the herbs help in deterring pests as well as creating a nice fragrance in the shed. or coop pot pourri.

an occasional treat of plain natural yoghurt is popular. the good bacteria in the yogurt helps maintain a healthy gut. plus there's all the calcium and other goodness of yoghurt too.

feed them the kitchen scraps. silver beet stems, tomato and apple cores, banana peels all go into a 'scrap bucket'. the girls get first pick of what they want and what's left gets tipped into the worm farms.

using food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) both applied directly onto the chooks and sprinkled in their straw bedding. DE is fossilised algae. it kills hard-shelled insects. and very effectively i might add. we noticed the chooks had some lice and after one application the lice were gone. a week later we applied more to be sure and the chooks are happy and lice-free. a sprinkling of DE into their layer pellets also ensures internal parasites are kept under control. i sourced this online and can highly recommend it. it has plenty of other uses too.

and a favourite resource is this book- Free range chicken gardens: how to create a beautiful, chicken-friendly yard, by Jessi Bloom. this was a gift to my other half at easter and it is full of practical information and beautiful photos. the lists of chicken friendly plants is especially useful.

do you have chooks? or dream of one day having a couple clucking in the garden and collecting fresh eggs for breakfast?
i'd love to hear your chicken keeping tips too.


  1. The book sounds great Zara.......we are about to put in an offer on a country home...I'm dying to have some chookies

  2. So much great information here - thanks. I make my own ACV and have plenty to spare - will give our girls a dose tomorrow.

  3. Great chook tips. We are getting chickens in the next couple of weeks. I can't wait. I will definately use the Apple Cider Vinegar and like the idea of hanging up some rosemary, we have a hedge of it so will be great to find another use for it. xo

  4. I've heard feeding them porridge keeps their spirits up over winter-its certainly always the first thing to go from the scrap bucket. Weve got twogolden wyandottes-cant wait for spring/first eggs!

  5. I don't know anything about keeping chooks..well I didn't before reading your post. It all sounds wonderful. They look like they all have their own little personalities about them. Lulu's preschool have free ranging chooks. Both the children and the chooks play minding their own business.

  6. So many good tips...thank you!
    We just adopted two ex-battery hens and they have settled in so nicely.
    It is lovely to see them taking dust baths and stretching their wings in the sun.

  7. What perfect timing, Zara! We've almost finished our chook pen and will be ready for chookies very, very soon. Loved your tips. I'll be trying it all. Thanks heaps for that. Can't wait to get some girls of our own. x

  8. It's lovely to see another taking such care with their hens. Your girls diet is almost the same as ours! Another edition to our hen's diet is soaked wheat grain. They love it, and it increases the the vitamin content for them. Another chicken book you might enjoy is Alana Moore's "Backyard Poultry Naturally". I found it really good when first starting out :-)

  9. Great tips, you have some lucky chickens! I wouldn't know the first thing about caring for them...

  10. Your hens looks so lovely and healthy, they are lucky to have you as their owner! I'm going to keep an eye out for that book, i'd be interested to see how you can have a garden that doesn't get ruined by chickens. Mine make a right mess of mine! x

  11. What a fabulous insight into your chook pen! :) I'm yet to convince hubby to get chooks - but will keep trying!
    I'm also in the Highlands and have just done a 6 week permaculture course... would love to pick your brain over a coffee sometime... :)
    Anyway, off to continue looking around your delightful blog... found you via a long line of blog hopping tonight which led me to your Johnson plate collection post! :)

  12. Pinned for future reference! Thanks! xx


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