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Chicken care FAQs

Woman caring for her hens in the Omlet Walk In Chicken Run

Care for your chickens the Omlet way with our Walk In Chicken Run.

Caring for chickens comes with its own set of questions. From their needs to their life expectancy, every chicken keeper has thought about some version of these common concerns. Chicken care in general shouldn’t be difficult, but every now and then the unexpected can happen. Learn the answers to the most pressing questions about chicken care, and how to head off potential problems before they start.

How long do chickens live?

This is largely dependent on the chickens themselves and their environment. Hens kept in a secure chicken coop and run and that are fed a quality diet can live as long as 8-10 years. Other hens may pass at a relatively young age due to genetic anomalies or other risk factors. Most hens will only lay during the first 3-4 years of their life, but this again can vary between hens. In general, the average lifespan of chickens is between 5-10 years.

Can chickens fly?

Flight is limited for chickens. They’re capable of flying short distances, but can’t sustain actual flight. Bantam chicken breeds are most capable of these short flights, averaging 20-25 feet and able to clear tall fences. Heavier breeds like Orpingtons or Brahmas are hardly able to get off the ground, and breeds with unique feathers like Silkies or Frizzles are completely incapable of flight. Hybrid chickens or mixed breeds are a bit of a wild card and can surprise their owners with flight, but it varies between each bird. No matter the breed, you won’t see your chickens flying around with wild backyard birds, but it’s entirely possible to see them hopping up into trees and shrubs for a higher vantage point.

Do chickens need to be put in at night?

The vast majority of chickens will listen to their natural instinct to roost, and will head to the coop when dusk starts to settle. Occasionally, you may have a wayward hen trying to peck through the lingering light in the evenings, but they’ll often take the cue to roost from their flockmates. As long as your chicken coop door is open, or your automatic chicken coop door is programmed to close just after dark, your flock should put themselves to bed every night. If your chickens free range, they may deviate from their routine and attempt to roost in trees, but this is uncommon if they are comfortable in their chicken coop. If your chickens suddenly stop going into their coop at night, it’s time to investigate the reason behind their behavior.

Is noise an issue with chickens?

Chicken noises aren’t usually at a volume set to disturb – unless of course you have a rooster. As long as your chickens’ coop is a considerate distance from your or your neighbor’s home, the noises hens make shouldn’t be noticeable throughout the day. There are a few, brief instances when your flock might emit loud noises. These are:

  • The “I just laid an egg” call where a hen loudly proclaims their contribution
  • When your flock perceives a danger and raises the alarm in response
  • If the pecking order is challenged

The majority of your flock’s dialogue will be in muted tones that are likely to go unnoticed, unless you have a particularly unsympathetic neighbor.

Do chickens need baths?

Chickens are very clean animals, and will keep themselves tidy by preening their feathers and taking dust baths. While the concept of bathing in dirt sounds messy, it’s essential to the health and cleanliness of chickens. They’ll burrow down in loose dirt or a dust bath of your creation and flap their wings to coat themselves in dust. This works its way in between their feathers to purify their skin of oils and parasites. When they’re done, they’ll shake off the excess and preen any remaining debris – resulting in lustrous feathers.

Why do chickens dig up the ground?

As foragers by nature, chickens will scratch around in the ground in search of fresh insects and vegetation. This can spell trouble for your yard if you have them in a stationary setup. To avoid your flock creating bare patches in your yard, consider housing them in a chicken tractor, which is a mobile chicken coop and run that can be moved daily to prevent overgrazing.

When can chicks live outside?

Chicks can take short excursions outside when they’re around 2 weeks old. Choose sunny days with minimal wind, and never leave them unattended. Most chicks can move into their coops by 12 weeks of age. By this time they will be fully feathered, have the coordination necessary to navigate roosting racks or ladders, and have a grasp on their daily schedules.

Can I leave my chickens to go out of town?

Chickens are fairly self-sufficient and can fend for themselves for a few days. Still, it’s always best to have a chicken sitter check in on your flock while you’re away. Leaving plenty of food and water out for your hens will keep them supplied for a couple of days, but someone will need to make sure that these don’t run low, and ensure that no predators have been busy in your absence.

Do chickens need vaccines or deworming?

The US doesn’t currently require vaccinations for chickens, and there isn’t a set deworming schedule to adhere to. Some hatcheries administer vaccines to their chicks before sending them to their new homes, but generally vaccines are only warranted if a flock has had a history of the diseases being vaccinated for, or if flock members will encounter other chickens, like at poultry shows or exhibitions. The best practice to ensure overall flock health is to conduct regular chicken health checks and to observe their activities daily. If you notice anything amiss with any of your hens, separate them from the rest of the flock and call your veterinarian.

Do all vets treat chickens?

Not all veterinarians are able to treat chickens, so it’s important to find one that does before bringing your hens home. Most rural veterinarians will have experience with poultry, but it’s still best to call their office for verification. More urban veterinarians are beginning to treat chickens, as they are rising in popularity as pets, but don’t assume that your dog or cat’s veterinarian will be willing to treat your pet chickens. Ask breeders, hatcheries, or other chicken keepers in your area for their recommendations for a poultry veterinarian.

Omlet and your chickens

Caring for chickens is easier than ever with our expertly designed chicken-keeping essentials. Our line of Eglu chicken coops, walk in chicken runs, and chicken toys and accessories takes the guesswork out of optimum flock care. Combined with the safety and convenience of the Autodoor, you and your hens will experience the confidence and peace of mind that comes with the utmost in quality care.

Girl cleaning the Eglu Cube Chicken Coop

The whole family can get involved with chicken care thanks to Omlet’s easy-to-clean Eglu Cube Chicken Coop.

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