These are answers from your Burbank veterinarian to the most asked questions about your baby chicks that you might have bought for Easter or your new backyard hen house.
Chickens are popular right now, why? Some people want to know where their food is coming from and what kind of foods or drugs were given to them. Other people say that they are awesome pets!
What is the most common mistake people might make with their chickens? The most common mistake that people make is just fencing them in and thinking that it is good enough. Chickens need protection from the sun and cold and they need to have a place that is inside and protected by a roof. If they are kept inside too long though, they go crazy and peck each other so a covered run is also good. You need an indoor-outdoor place for them and an automatic door especially if you need to leave them alone for a space of time.
How do you decide on a number for your flock? This really depends on the breed. People may get six Polish chickens but you might only get 2 eggs/week. If you want interesting looking birds and maybe fun colored eggs, you may end up with 15 chickens. You should probably build a bigger chicken coop than you think you need. Many people find that keeping chickens is additive.
Do you need a rooster for a chicken to lay eggs? The answer is no and every new chicken owner asks it.
Many people also want to know “How long hens lay eggs” and “How long do they live”? Backyard chickens commonly live eight to ten years and lay fewer eggs as they get older.
The last question people usually ask is “What do you do with older birds once they have stopped laying eggs? Really the older birds teach the little chicks lots of things they need to know about where the shade is, how to find great food in the yard and they also stabilize the flock.
Oh yes, everyone also wants to know why people give chickens crazy names. Chicken experts say that everyone evidently calls one of their birds Lady Gaga. People like to give their companion pets crazy names also. Our veterinarian calls his two dachshunds “AppleJack” together. They are Apples and Jacques separately.
Our veterinarian in Burbank says that chicken medicine is difficult because the government doesn’t allow administering of most antibiotics or other treatments because they may be eaten later. You might need to consult a large animal veterinarian trained in food animals.
If you wish to learn all about chickens, read:”My Pet Chicken Handbook: Sensible Advice and Savvy Answers for Raising Backyard Chickens” by Lissa Lucas and Traci Torres. They also have an online resource called “My Pet Chicken”. Happy eggs!