Sunday, 7 February 2010

Keep Your Chickens Laying For an Amazing 12 Years

If you want to raise happy, healthy and productive chickens, your main concern should be the quality of feed you offer them. With all of the options for feeding your flock, it can be a daunting task to select the right method for you. One solution is to let your chickens roam around the yard, hunting for their own bugs and wild plants. This approach however, will drop their egg production to oblivion due to filling their stomachs with protein-lacking grasses instead of high-protein foods. Another choice is to use a premixed vegetarian diet, possibly this same type of diet with the addition of animal proteins. The last method that we will be covering is mixing your own feed grains.

Before we get into our lengthy discussion on chicken feed, let us first mention another important element, which is an integral part of feeding your chickens; hen houses. The reason I bring this up now is because, as you will soon see, hen houses also play a major part in feeding your flocks. Whether you call them poultry houses, chicken coops, hutches, pens, runs, or any other name, they are all the same. And properly constructed portable hen houses can provide valuable protein which can help keep your chickens healthy while saving you money on store bought feed at the same time.

The mass producers use a strict vegetarian diet due to the fact that their old style of feeding, using feed that included animal proteins, had the potential to pass animal diseases to their flocks. The no-animal-protein diet eliminates the risk of these serious diseases, which have been known to kill thousands of birds in a flock. The negative side to this diet is that it is possible for the birds to end up with protein deficiencies if care is not taken to mix the feed properly.

The mass producers obviously want their chickens to be as healthy as possible, but that is not their main objective. They are driven by the questions "how many eggs am I going to get and how much is it going to cost me?" Since they typically replace their laying hens every year they are not as worried about keeping them active and healthy for 10 or 12 years as they are getting the most production at the cheapest price. The home grower of chickens on the other hand, can use feeds containing animal protein relatively risk-free, so it is not as worrisome for the backyard enthusiast raising just a small number of birds. Backyard farmers can also let their flocks graze around the chicken coup for a portion of their protein in the form of bugs and insects, which has the added advantage of lower their feed bill.

The simplest and quickest approach is to get feed that is already premixed for you, where the feed is already packaged and bagged, ready to distribute to your birds. This approach saves time and work, but it also means higher feed bills. You can save money while still getting the same results mixing your own feed. You buy the individual elements and mix them on your own. It does not take a lot of work to do.

The final alternative we will mention is allowing your chickens to forage for their own food, but there are two potential problems here. One, if they roam unconfined they can quickly become the prey of a predator or neighborhood pet. Also, they can end up eating too many grasses and too little protein, and this will dramatically decrease egg production. Both of these problems can be solved with the help of portable hen houses.

As I said previously, portable hen houses are a terrific way to help you save money on feed. With poultry houses that are movable there are inside and outside sections, and your flock can find a portion of their food in the outdoor area. When your birds have eaten most of the grasses and plants in one area, you simply drag the portable poultry housing over to a new area where there are plenty of new plants for your chickens to feast on. It is the circle of life, simply moving your hen houses to new vegetated areas, so the recently used areas will have a chance to grow back their greenery. This is the best way to lower your feed bills while still giving your chickens a reason to be happy and healthy.

Mr. Harding has raised chickens and many other types of poultry since 1981. Feel free to visit his fun for more information about chicken feed along with exciting details about building your own hen houses. Also find entertaining reviews of products regarding poultry housing. You can visit his web site at

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  1. Do you know if it's possible to keep two roosters together without them fighting (father & son). We started keeping hens for the first time last year and let one go broody. Two cockerals hatched from the brood and we found a home for one of them. We can't bear to kill the other as he's such a tame pet! We don't know what to do though.

  2. Hi Dee, There is a pecking order among all breeds and varieties of chickens (with the exception of game chickens) that is like the steps on a ladder. This pecking order applies to both males and females. The top male in a flock or group picks on ALL the males below him and the second male in line picks on all the remaining males below him etc. etc. The same pecking order exists with females in the same fashion. Once a pecking order has been established within a group or flock, there will be little if any fighting as every chicken knows his or her place within the order. If a new male or female is introduced into the flock, he or she must establish a position or place in the pecking order which usually means there will be some fighting between the new male or female and other members of the flock until a new order is determined.

    There is no peck order among male gamecocks. A gamecock (fighting cock) will not allow another male to intimidate him. He will fight to the death rather than surrender his will to another male. This is natural and there is no way to keep two gamecocks from fighting other than total separation from one another.
    I hope this is of some help Dee, please let me know how you get on. MARK...

  3. The answers to many chicken related questions can be found in the book (Incredible Chickens, The Complete Guide)by Martin Ashway its advertised as a digital download on this blog.
    Well worth reading and keeping for future refrence.