What to do When You Bring Your New Backyard Chickens Home
There’s more to just popping your chickens in the backyard and saying ‘have at it.’ They require - and deserve - care and attention regarding their food, bedding, shelter, and overall care.
So let's dive in.
What Do Backyard Chickens Need (and what to do when bringing them home)
- Take the same care when transporting chickens as you would for any other pet
- Never transport chickens in feed bags or a car boot of a sedan – this is both cruel and illegal
- You can transport your chickens in a cardboard box (with air holes cut in the side) or in a standard pet carrier
- Place a handful of wood shavings in the bottom of the box to help keep it dry and reduce smells
- Do not overcrowd your birds, as they can quickly overheat and become stressed
- Be mindful of the weather — transport in cool weather; opt for early mornings if you’re collecting them in summer
- When you get the birds home, put them straight into their coop so that they can find their way around it before venturing outside
What to Buy for Backyard Chickens (or Build)
- Chicken coop or house
- A perch and nesting box
- Chicken feeder
- Chicken feed
- A dog crate, rabbit cage, or similar for separating new or sick chickens
- Bedding (or litter) if required in the coop or run
- Vitamins such as Solaminovit, heat & stress supplements, and the best probiotic for chickens
- Gauze and Vetrep bandages
- Puppy training pads for use in a sick pen
- Dog nail clippers for overgrown nails
- Chlorhexidine 2% solution for cleaning wounds
- Shell grit
- Diatomaceous Earth for treatment of mites around perches and nesting boxes
- Pestene or a similar product for treating mites and lice
- Worming treatment such as AvitrolBird cage feeder
- A copy of the book The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow
A Checklist of Things to Do
For optimum backyard chickens health, follow this list:
- Collect eggs
- Feed grain and greens
- Check supply of clean water
- Chickens naturally go inside and onto their perch at nightfall - lock them in unless the chicken coop is in a safely enclosed run
- Check over birds and ensure none are broody or looking sick
Twice a Week
- Top up shell grit
Once a Week
- At night, go out to the chicken house with a small torch or flashlight on your phone. Run the light along your chickens’ perch. If you see anything crawling, you likely have red mite!
- Scoop up any manure from under their perch (as required). The perch area should never smell
- After dark, when your chickens have perched for the evening, feel the chickens’ breast bones to ensure none are rapidly losing weight or have a hard crop (between their throat and breastbone)
- Check your chickens’ vents for signs of lice or mites
- How do their legs look? Are the scales on their legs smooth, or do you need to treat for scaly leg mite?
- Replace nesting box material and sprinkle one tablespoon of Diatomaceous Earth under the new shavings.
- Remove all litter/bedding from the coop. Wash down surfaces with hot water and white vinegar. Replace with fresh bedding/litter.
Want your chickens to be the healthiest and happiest they can be? I offer backyard chicken workshops, online programs, phone coaching, and in-person support to families, schools, and free-range egg farmers. Visit my online shop for natural, tried-and-tested poultry supplies in Australia.
Become an expert in Backyard Chickens 101 and check here for the latest tips and trends all about chooks.
Elise McNamara, Chicken Consultant & Educator.