Chicken Care 101: Nurturing Grown-Up Chicks

Congratulations, chicken owners! You have successfully raised your chicks into beautiful, healthy adult chickens. It’s an exciting milestone, but it also means that your approach to caring for these feathered friends must change.

As your chickens reach maturity, their needs and behaviors will evolve, and it’s essential to stay informed and adapt your care accordingly. SoMo Farm and Ranch discusses all aspects of caring for adult chickens, from nutrition and housing to health and socialization.

Related Post: The Essential Baby Chick Care Manual: A Week-by-Week Guide


Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Adult Chickens

Adult chickens have different nutritional requirements than chicks, primarily because their growth phase has been completed, and they now need a balanced diet to maintain health, lay eggs, or enjoy life as part of your backyard flock. 

A commercial layer feed is often recommended as it’s formulated to provide the necessary nutrients, including calcium, for strong eggshells. However, offering a variety of foods is essential to ensure a well-rounded diet. 

  • Greens, vegetables, and occasional fruits can supplement their feed, delivering vitamins and minerals that promote healthy plumage and overall well-being.
  • Grit should aid digestion since chickens do not have teeth to grind their food. 
  • Protein is also a critical component of an adult chicken’s diet, especially for those laying eggs, as it helps in production. Mealworms, small amounts of cooked meat, or specially formulated chicken treats can be good protein sources. 
  • Importantly, clean, fresh water must be accessible at all times. 

Creating a Safe and Comfortable Coop Environment

A safe and comfortable coop is essential for the well-being of adult chickens. The coop should be spacious enough to accommodate your flock without overcrowding, allowing at least 3-4 square feet per chicken

  • Ensure the coop is well-ventilated to prevent respiratory issues yet draft-free to keep chickens warm during colder months. 
  • Straw or wood shavings make great bedding and should be spread generously on the floor to absorb moisture and provide comfort. This bedding needs to be changed regularly to maintain hygiene and prevent the proliferation of parasites and diseases. 
  • Predators can threaten backyard chickens, so the coop and outdoor run should be secured with predator-proof fencing and locks.
  • Additionally, providing roosting bars allows chickens to sleep off the ground, which is essential for their safety and comfort. 
  • Nesting boxes with soft, clean materials encourage hens to lay eggs in a designated area, making egg collection easier for you and reducing egg breakage. 

By creating a coop that prioritizes safety, comfort, and cleanliness, you’re setting the stage for your adult chickens to lead happy, healthy lives.


Health and Wellness Checks for Adult Chickens

Regular health and wellness checks are crucial for identifying potential issues early and keeping your adult chickens in shape. Start by observing their behavior daily. Health problems can cause changes in:

  1. Activity level
  2. Appetite
  3. Social interactions

Check For Injury or Illness

Physically examine each chicken periodically for signs of injury or illness, such as limping, abnormal swelling, or respiratory distress. 

Check For Parasites

Check their feathers for parasites like lice or mites, which can be uncomfortable and cause severe health issues. 

Monitor Weight Gain/Loss

It’s also essential to monitor their weight, as sudden loss or gain can signal nutritional deficiencies or disease. 

Check Beak and Nails

Beak and nail care might occasionally be needed, although chickens often manage this through natural behaviors like pecking and scratching. 

Keep Them Vaccinated

Ensure vaccinations are up-to-date and consult with a veterinarian experienced in poultry health for any concerns or when introducing new birds to your flock to prevent the spread of diseases. 

By conducting these regular checks, you can help maintain your chickens’ health and catch any problems before they become serious.


The Importance of Exercise and Enrichment

Exercise and enrichment are vital components of keeping adult chickens healthy and engaged. Allowing chickens ample space to roam and forage in a secure outdoor area supports their physical health by promoting muscle development and reducing the risk of obesity. It also stimulates their natural behaviors, such as scratching, pecking, and dust bathing. 

These activities are crucial for their mental well-being, preventing boredom and stress that can lead to feather pecking and aggression among the flock. To enhance their environment, add items encouraging exploration and play, such as perches at different heights, logs, and safe, interactive toys. Edible treats hidden around their area can mimic the foraging experience, offering nutritional variety and mental stimulation. 

Additionally, dust baths with sand or dry dirt allow chickens to maintain their feather condition and help prevent parasites. Integrating exercise and enrichment into your chickens’ daily routine ensures a vibrant, active flock and promotes a harmonious backyard environment.


Understanding Egg-Laying and Reproductive Health

Understanding the intricacies of egg-laying and reproductive health is critical to ensuring the well-being of your adult chickens. As hens begin to lay eggs, monitoring their health closely is essential, as the process can be taxing on their bodies. 

  1. Ensure your hens have a high-calcium diet to support eggshell production and prevent egg-binding, a condition where an egg gets stuck inside the hen.
  2. Look for signs of distress or discomfort, such as lethargy or reduced egg production, that may indicate reproductive issues. 
  3. Be aware of the potential for broodiness in hens, which is the desire to sit on and hatch eggs. While this is a natural behavior, if you do not intend for your hens to hatch chicks, you may need to discourage broodiness for their health and well-being.
  4. Additionally, consider the role of roosters in your flock, as their presence affects egg-laying dynamics and can lead to fertilized eggs. 
  5. Regularly collecting eggs ensures freshness and reduces the chances of accidental hatching or attracting predators. 

Maintaining a keen eye on these aspects of your chickens’ lives can support their reproductive health and ensure a steady supply of eggs for your household.

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Chicken Feed in Springfield, Missouri

Stop by SoMo Farm & Ranch Supply to view our selection of chicken feed and other chicken care items. For more information on our current stock, call (417) 865-0312.