So, are you thinking of raising some chickens, but are unsure if you can make the daily commitment? Can you fit them into your schedule?
This article will show you a day in the life owning chickens. It will cover morning, afternoon, evening, weekend and cleaning routines as well as give you tips to make it the best experience possible.
- Morning Routine With Backyard Chickens
- Afternoon Routine with Backyard Chickens
- Allowing Chickens Time to Free Range
- Feeding Chickens Treats
- Feeding Chickens Table Scraps
- Evening Routine with Backyard Chickens
- Weekend Routine with Backyard Chickens
- Cleaning Routine with Backyard Chickens
- Conclusion: A Day in the Life of Owning Chickens
Morning Routine With Backyard Chickens
Chickens do not need to graze on food all day long. It is up to you as far as what time you feed them. Just try to stay consistent. Chickens do get used to a schedule.
As long as you give them the appropriate portion, they will do just fine. Early in the morning is when their crop is empty, so this is when I prefer to feed my chickens.
An adult size chicken requires 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) of food per day. Chicken feed is sold in pellet, crumble or mash form.
If you choose to leave food out all day long, that is fine too. I have found that my chickens will eat a little bit more if I leave food out all day for them. Unlike humans, chickens will stop eating when they are “full.”
If you are leaving food out all day, just make sure to put it away during the night so you don’t invite predators!
If your chickens free range during the day, they will get a lot of their nutrients from the bugs, flowers, seeds and the greens that they graze on throughout the day.
Chickens need access to clean, cool, fresh water throughout the day. The average adult chicken will drink about 1 pint of water a day and up to 2x this amount in hot weather.
I like to start my flock out with clean watering containers each morning. If it is a hot day, make sure that they have access to more than one water source.
Use a scrub brush to scrub the water containers and add clean, fresh water to start their day.
Once a month for a week, I will add ACV (apple cider vinegar) to the plastic water container (1 TBS/Gallon of water). This is good for a chickens digestive system, helps to kill parasites and is thought of as a natural wormer.
ACV also helps to stop algae from growing in the water.
TIP: On hot days, place the water containers in the shade so they are less likely to grow algae.
TIP: Don’t add ACV to metal watering containers because it can cause them to rust and release harmful toxins into the water.
During the morning feeding is a good time to do a visual inspection of your chickens and their surroundings. Daily visual health and safety checks are a must if you want to catch an illness or problem early. It doesn’t take any extra time to scan your entire flock when you are out caring for them.
- Are all of your chickens accounted for? Try your best to do a head count while they are all in one place eating.
- Make sure all of your chickens are active and eating. Chickens should be hungry in the morning and if they are not actively eating, this is an indication that something isn’t right with them.
- Are any chickens off on their own, not eating or interacting with the others?
- Do you see any missing feathers or blood?
- Are any chickens limping? If so, check for broken legs or “bumblefoot.” These are the two most common injuries in chickens.
- Check its comb. Laying hens should have a bright red comb. A chicken that isn’t acting right and has a pale comb could be a signal to you that something is wrong. Check for injuries, parasites.
While I’m out feeding my chickens, I always check and gather any early morning eggs in the nest boxes. Most chickens will lay their eggs in the early morning so you will have to check back later in the day for most of the eggs.
It can get a little loud during the early morning hours when hens are laying eggs. Some hens are a little louder than others and want to tell the whole world that they just laid an egg by singing their “egg laying song.” They all have their unique personalities!
Afternoon Routine with Backyard Chickens
Allowing Chickens Time to Free Range
If you have a smaller chicken run, afternoon is a good time to let your chickens free range while under supervision.
It is important to know what kind of predators are in your area and take the right precautions to protect your flock from them. Even the neighbors dog can wreak havoc on your flock. So be aware of your surroundings while you are letting your chickens free range.
Chickens love to explore, foraging for bugs, seeds and nibbling on various greens and flowers.
Do your chickens have enough room in their coop and chicken run?
Each adult chicken needs at least 8 sq. ft. of space in the chicken run and 3 sq. ft. in the coop. Larger breeds, such as Jersey Giants and Giant Cochins, can use a little bit more space and the bantam breeds a little less.
F.Y.I.: Chickens that are allowed to free range are healthier chickens. And healthier chickens will produce eggs that nutritionally better for you!
Feeding Chickens Treats
Chickens go crazy over treats! It’s fun to see them go into a feeding frenzy when you pull out the treats. Just remember, treats should not consist of more than 10% of a chicken’s diet.
The average adult chicken should eat 1/2 cup of chicken feed a day. So this would mean that they should have a little less than 1 TBS of treats a day.
Later in the afternoon is a good time to give your chickens some treats! This way they will go to bed with a full crop.
When a chicken eats, it will store the food in its crop.
“A chicken crop is a temporary storage pouch for its food. Because chickens are prey animals and are at risk of becoming attacked by predators, they swallow their food whole. This shortens the amount of time out in the field foraging for food. Instead, it is stored in the crop until the chicken can safely break it down as it is pushed along through its digestive system.“Chicken Sour Crop – How to Best Cure
Feeding Chickens Scratch
Chicken scratch is a treat that consists of a variety of different grains and seeds. Most scratch contains oats, cracked corn, wheat, sunflower seeds and barley. It gets its name because when you throw it out to your chickens, they will peck and “scratch” the ground grazing for the food.
Scratch is a great afternoon treat to give, especially in the wintertime. It is full of calories and will make a chicken’s digestive system work hard throughout the night digesting. This process generates heat, which is perfect for chickens on a cold winter night.
Feeding Chickens Mealworms
Mealworms are another treat that chickens absolutely love, especially if they are alive and wiggling around! A variety of different types can be picked up at your local pet store.
Mealworms are high in protein and ideal to feed when your chickens are going through a molt.
To save money on the cost, you can breed your own mealworms. It’s really simple to do and very little up front cost.
Feeding Chickens Fodder
Fodder is made by taking seeds such as wheat, barley, oats and allowing them to germinate and sprout. By doing this you are “unlocking” 15x more vitamins.
By sprouting the grains, you strip the starches from it, making it much easier for your chickens to digest.
Because it is filled with more nutrients, you will find that your chickens will not eat as much. This will help you to save on feed cost!
Feeding Chickens Lactose Free Instant Pot Yogurt
If you own an Instant Pot, you will have to try to make some Lactose Free Instant Pot Yogurt for your chickens! It is excellent to give on a hot day and also “just because!”
It can get quite messy. So you might want to stand far enough away after you serve it to them!
Feeding Chickens Crickets
Crickets are high in protein and are another great treat for chickens. They will go absolutely nuts chasing the live one’s!
To save money, consider breeding your own mealworms at home. It is really inexpensive to do and will provide you with never ending cricket treats!
“Most pet stores carry small (pinhead), medium and large crickets. They can also be purchased from online breeders. Online breeders have a wide variety of sizes available and you can even buy them in bulk for a lower price than you can get from your local pet store.”Backyard Chickens Mama Article-9 Best Tips-How to Breed Crickets at Home
Feeding Chickens Table Scraps
If you choose to feed your chickens table scraps, limit it to no more than 10% of their daily diet. For an adult chicken, this averages a little less than a tablespoon of table scraps or “treats” a day.
It is also best to avoid any sugary, sweet or salty foods. Just like it isn’t good for us, it isn’t good for your chickens either. Will they eat it? Yes, and they will love it, but it isn’t good for them.
Collecting Chicken Eggs
Afternoons can get pretty loud with your hens singing their “egg songs.” This is a time when many hens want to announce to the rest of the world, “I laid the most beautiful egg!”
All hens are different. Some get pretty vocal, while others will just lay an egg and carry on with her day pecking and scratching the ground.
Do a second collection of eggs during the late afternoon. You will find this is when you will gather the most eggs.
Doing more than one collection of eggs during the day will also decrease the chances of your hens breaking the eggs.
It is also important to do frequent egg collections during very cold weather to prevent the eggs from freezing.
Evening Routine with Backyard Chickens
Lock the Chickens in the Coop
It is important to lock your chickens up in the coop every single night. Chickens are the most vulnerable when they are sleeping and are prone to getting attacked by predators during this time.
Chickens will seek the highest place possible to roost at night to protect themselves from a predator attack. Help them out by making sure predators cannot get inside their coop at night.
Many chicken owners will install an automatic chicken coop door that will close at sundown and go back up at sunrise. Others set the door to go up and down at scheduled times. Either way is fine, as long as your flock is locked up safely each evening.
Sometimes there are a few stray chickens that will not make it in before the automatic coop door closes. Gather up the stray chickens and place them on a roost in the coop.
One Last Egg Collection
While you are out checking to make sure your whole flock is locked up safely, do one last look for any eggs. Occasionally, you may have a late afternoon egg layer.
It is important to gather all eggs each evening. Predators such as snakes and opossums love eggs. Don’t give them any reason to break into your coop at night.
Predators that learn there is food will frequently try to return for more!
Put Uneaten Feed Away
If you are giving your chickens late afternoon treats or if you keep your feed out all day, make sure that there isn’t any feed left out overnight.
Gather all chicken feed and lock it up inside a metal garbage with a 2 step latch system. This will stop predators such as rats from chewing into it and also deter smart raccoons from using their hands to open the storage container.
If you have any cat or dog food, bring this indoors.
Compost piles should be located far from your chicken coop. Predators often try to get to uneaten and fermenting food in a compost pile. The less temptations in your yard for predators, the better!
Weekend Routine with Backyard Chickens
Letting Your Chickens Free Range
If you work full time, you may not have enough daylight hours to let your chickens out to free range. Weekends are a great time to let your flock out while you can keep an eye on them.
If you work full time and are thinking of getting into raising chickens, but are unsure if you can make it work, read my article:
When chickens free range, they have access to more nutrients that they get by eating various bugs, seeds, flowers and greens. Increased nutrients means that the chickens are healthier.
Healthier chickens produce eggs that are nutritionally better for you!
Making Repairs to Your Chicken Coop
Weekends are a pretty good time as any to work to make any repairs to your chicken coop.
- Make sure all of the gates are closing properly.
- Are your automatic doors opening and closing properly?
- Check for any rodent holes in the coop.
- Are there any rodent droppings in the coop?
- Do you need to make any repairs to or add additional roosting bars?
- Clear any weeds or debris around the chicken coop to help deter predators and rodents from visiting.
- Is your hawk netting secure?
Cleaning Routine with Backyard Chickens
Using the “Deep Litter Method”
By far the easiest method to use when cleaning out your chicken coop is the “deep litter method.” It is easy because it involves the least amount of time out of your day to get the job done!
Start by adding 4″-6″ of bedding material (pine shavings works best) to the bottom of your chicken coop. Every few weeks add more bedding material on top of the chicken poop.
Your chicken coop shouldn’t ever smell. If you find that it is smelling, add a couple inches of bedding material on top.
1-2 times a year, remove the bedding and replace with 4″-6″ of fresh bedding.
Don’t throw your bedding and manure material away! It can also be used to make organic garden soil!
Deep Cleaning of the Chicken Coop
I like to coordinate the deep cleaning of my chicken coop with when I replace my chicken poop bedding 1-2 times a year.
How to Deep Clean Your Chicken Coop
- After you get all of the old bedding material out, spray the coop and laying boxes out with a mixture of 1 TBS ACV (apple cider vinegar) to 1 gallon of water.
- Let this set for a 10 minutes. This will help kill bacteria and also to soften the chicken poop, making it easier to knock off.
- Take a scrub brush and scrub all the dried manure off of the walls, roosts and laying boxes.
- Take a high pressure hose to wash all of this out and keep the coop doors open, long enough to let it dry out.
- Add 4″-6″ of fresh bedding to the bottom of the coop and line your laying boxes too.
I always keep a bottle of apple cider vinegar and water solution by the coop. I will often spray down the roosting bars. This helps to kill any parasites that can be clinging to it. I do the same when changing out the nesting boxes.
It’s better to stay on top of it, than waiting for a chicken mite infestation to occur in your flock! Even if just one chicken gets it, you need to treat the whole flock.
Conclusion: A Day in the Life of Owning Chickens
It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get a good routine going, it really is quite simple to incorporate caring for chickens into your day!
For any of you that are thinking about keeping chickens, I want you to know that it is really not that difficult to do! It’s just a matter of falling into a good routine:
- Morning Routine
- Letting Chickens Out
- Visual Inspection
- Egg Laying
- Afternoon Routine
- Free Ranging
- Feeding Various Treats
- Collecting Eggs
- Evening Routine
- Locking Chickens in Coop
- Last Egg Collection
- Cleaning Up Uneaten Food
- Weekend Routine
- Free Ranging
- Making Coop Repairs
- Cleaning Routine
- Using “Deep Litter Method”
- Sanitizing Coop
What are you waiting for? Go get yourself some chickens!