If you want chickens for eggs, you will need to include nesting boxes in your hen house design. A laying hen will produce an egg every one to two days. Frequent gathering will assure freshness, keep eggs clean and minimize breakage.
All chickens lay eggs in a series - never more than one or two per day. If the eggs are not collected, and a sufficient number of eggs are allowed to remain in the nest, the hen may stop laying eggs and start brooding.
Feeds are available to suit the changing needs of the chickens. Chicks can be fed a starter mix until they are feathered out. Then they can be fed maintenance feed until they start laying. Layers can be fed egg booster and scratch. Feed comes in 4 forms: mash, crumbles, pellets and grain. Mash is powdery, just as it sounds. Pellets are made of compressed mash, and crumbles of broken up pellets. Some feeds are medicated.
Coccidiosis is a disease that can kill chicks that have not built up a resistance to it. They can pick it up outside from the droppings of other birds. If your chicks go outside you may want to give them a feed medicated with Amprolium, which controls the coccidiosis while allowing the birds to build up a resistance. Some medicated chick feeds are sold with antibiotics in them. Adequate storage is needed for the feed to keep it dry and keep rodents out. A galvanized trash can is ideal. Chickens like other birds need a supply of grit for digestion.
Grit is small stones that the bird stores in its gizzard, where they act like teeth and are used to grind up food. For chicks, grit is only necessary if the chicks have access to grain or other foodstuffs. Chicks on mash or crumbles don't need it. You can get chick-sized granite grit through your feed store.
- Chick: a newly hatched chicken.
- Capon: a castrated male chicken used for meat.
- Cockerel: a male chicken less than a year old. These often make it to the barbecue.
- Hen: a female chicken more than a year old. These are the ones that lay the eggs.
- Pullet: a female chicken less than a year old.
- Rooster: a male chicken more than a year old.