We recommend worming your chickens four times a year. Signs of worms include weight loss, diarrhoea, depression and decreased egg production. Contact the practice for advice on worming products. The worming product we use does not require any egg withdrawal time, meaning you can still eat your chickens’ eggs during this time.
The living quarters should be thoroughly cleaned weekly and disinfected every two months. This will help prevent bacterial and mite build-up.
Wing clipping is necessary to prevent your birds from escaping. Only one wing needs to be done to unbalance the chicken and prevent it from being able to fly over fences. Using scissors, trim all the long primary feathers on the edge of the wing back to the point where the next line of feathers starts.
Chickens will moult once a year, once they are a year old, usually in the autumn. Feathers will be lost from all over the body and she will look quite bald until the new feathers come through. Chickens do not lay during a moult, which usually lasts around 6 weeks.
From time to time a hen may go broody — she will spend most of her time sitting in the nest box and she will be quite grumpy if you try to move her. It is not easy to snap a broody hen out of a broody spell, so during this time ensure she has twice daily access to food and water — lift her out of the nest box and put her outside if she doesn’t come out herself. Also check for faeces in the nest box and clean out regularly. Broody chickens can also pluck out the feathers on their lower abdomen — in chickens that are hatching for real, this allows body heat to pass better to the clutch of eggs underneath.
Broodiness usually lasts for around 3-4 weeks and it can be brought on if you don’t remove eggs often enough from the nest box.
Every group of chickens will have a pecking order. A cockerel in the group will naturally be in top spot, but if there is no cockerel, then the chickens work out their own order. This can involve vicious pecking and squabbling and the bigger the group, the longer this will take. Unless one hen is being badly picked on, do not interfere as they will finally sort it out and go on to live peacefully with each other. Introducing new chickens or removing chickens will disrupt the order and will generally trigger the whole process to start again.