We love our chickens because we love their eggs, their meat and we love to play with them. Yes: we play with our chickens! Games like: “find the hole in the fence” (their favorite) or “Jump to the bread”. They also like to be petted and to be carried around. And I think our chickens love us back because we take good care of them.
Good chicken housing
We made a great bedroom for them. It has a north facing window so they can enjoy the first and the last light of the day, but it will never be too hot from direct sunlight. Their bedroom has 2 sticks on the same level so they can all sleep in the same rank.
In the morning we keep them in stable (so we can find their eggs) and after lunch they can stroll in their garden. The chicken garden is a fenced piece of terrain with 2 plum trees and a walnut tree, and lots of blackberry shrubs. It also has a “tipi” made of branches to give them shelter and to make it difficult for birds of prey to find a landing strip.
There is a cage connected to their sleephouse, which they can access through a little door. We only let them use it in winter for extra vitamins (although they eat all these vitamins in no time), and to have a safe outdoor area to get some extra light. It gives us some more time to sleep 🙂
Of course it is better to prevent diseases than to fight them when they are there, so I have several ways to boost my chickens health. Like giving them the left overs from our herbal tea, especially nettle tea. Or a clove of garlic that I crush, and put in their water. Garlic helps against worms, lice and mites.
Nasturtium leaves and seeds have antiseptic and medicinal properties and are also good wormers.
In their chicken garden we grow lemon balm, rosemary, lavender and fennel to help them being clean from mites and lice. And those herbs grow also on the other side of their garden fence because they like to eat some of the plants!
When I have vegetable seed leftovers, I throw them in their chicken garden for some surprise veggies.
Fermented grains booster
What yoghurt is for our intestines, are fermented grains for chickens. I fill a big glass jar half with oats or wheat grains, sometimes acompanied with sunflower and/or flax seeds. I fill up the jar with rainwater (or well water or mineral water), leaf the cap off and wait for 2 or 3 days. When it smells good (you can smell the fermenting process), I start feeding my 10 chickens with 2 spoons a day stirred under their regular (corn) food.
Fermenting grains for your chickens improves its enzyme content and increases its levels of vitamins B, C and K. It also makes food more digestible, and boosts the protein level. Their shit is more solid and smells less.
You can find a great article on fermented food for chickens on Natural chicken keeping.
Chicken rescue tea
When a chicken accidentally eats chicken shit (because it fell into their water or the chicken ate something from the unclean ground), it can become ill. It just sits there, and doesn’t want to eat or drink. And when you don’t do anything, it dies.
My chicken rescue remedy is a herbal tea with:
– 50% chamomile (anti-bacterial, anti inflammation, with stomach problems, painkiller)
– 15-20% nettle (full of vitamins, minerals. cleans and strengthens the body, diuretic, strengthens immune system, stimulates intestines, diarrhea & flatulence).
and the other 30-35% are herbs like
– wild marjoram (boosts the immune system and cleanses the body of bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast and other germs),
– dandelion (detoxifies, cleans blood, cleans lymphatic system),
– hyssop (anti septic, stimulates the gastro intestinal system),
– calendula (anti inflammation, detoxifying, blood cleaning, stimulates liver and stomach, helps digestion)
I feed the chicken this (cooled) tea with a pipet, at least 3 times but more if I can, and the next day she is better!
Eating our chickens
We don’t have our chickens for meat. We have them for the fun of it (they are definitely in our top 3 favorite animals) and for their eggs. Only when our chickens are old and they retire from laying eggs after a happy life, we will eat them.