Layer chickens, also known as laying hens, are popular backyard pets in Australia, providing fresh eggs and companionship. Proper care is essential to ensure their well-being and egg production. Here's a care sheet to help you look after your pet layer chickens:
- Coop: Provide a secure and well-ventilated coop that offers protection from predators and harsh weather conditions. The coop should allow at least 2-3 square feet of space per chicken.
- Nesting Boxes: Include nesting boxes filled with straw or hay for your hens to lay eggs comfortably.
- Perches: Install perches for resting and sleeping, ensuring each chicken has at least 8 inches of perch space.
- Layer Feed: Offer a balanced layer feed with 16-18% protein content. Layer feed contains essential nutrients like calcium for strong eggshells.
- Protein: Offer black soldier fly larvae, as a daily treats which encourages natural foraging habits. And helps ensure healthy digestion, shiny feathers, and rich eggs.
- Fresh Water: Provide clean and fresh water at all times, checking it daily to ensure it is free from contaminants.
- Supplements: Occasionally, offer crushed oyster shells or eggshells as a calcium supplement to support strong eggshell formation.
- Scratch Grains: Treat your chickens with scratch grains like cracked corn as an occasional snack.
- Vet Visits: Schedule regular check-ups with a poultry veterinarian to monitor the health of your chickens.
- Parasite Control: Keep an eye out for external parasites like mites and lice. Use appropriate treatments as needed.
- Egg Collection: Collect eggs daily to prevent broodiness, egg eating, or egg contamination.
- Culling: Be prepared to cull unproductive or elderly hens to maintain a healthy flock.
Safety and Legal Considerations:
- Predator Protection: Secure the coop and run with sturdy fencing and locks to deter predators like foxes, snakes, and birds of prey.
- Local Regulations: Check local regulations regarding the number of chickens allowed, coop placement, and waste disposal in your area.
- Biosecurity: Practice good biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of diseases into your flock.
- Companionship: Chickens are social animals and thrive in the company of other chickens. Keep a small flock to prevent loneliness.
- Human Interaction: Spend time with your chickens daily, offering treats and gentle handling to build trust.
In summary, pet layer chickens can be a rewarding addition to your backyard when provided with proper care, nutrition, and protection. Tailor your care to the specific needs of your chickens, and consult with poultry experts or veterinarians when necessary to ensure their well-being and egg production.