Maintaining poultry is a huge responsibility. The health and hygiene should be the number one priority for a farmer or poultry keeper. Taking care of a chicken is like taking care of a human child. It needs the right amount of love and care. The happiness of poultry is also essential. A happy and healthy chicken increases the chance of a good product. There are various steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your chicken.
Some of these are listed below–
- Choose the right breed of chickens—- Not every breed of chicken is the same. A different breed of chicken performs differently in a different environment. It is most important to initially decide which type of chicken you want – laying eggs, providing meat or show. It is also vital to study the different breeds and their characteristic which will help you choose the right fit. Not every single suggestion from people might help as every individual prefer a certain breed which might not fit you. Choosing the right kind of chicken will ensure the health and happiness of the chicken.
- Clean water in the right containers—- Cheap plastic containers contain different chemicals that seep into the water if kept for a prolonged period. It is important to provide water for your chicken in the right containers. Metal container and recyclable containers are both helpful to the environment as well as to ensure the health of your chicken. To safeguard the young chicks put some rocks in the bowl or container or you can also use a large flat bowl. Remember to change the water every day as most poultry diseases are carried by dirty water.
- A safe house— Although chickens can roam about the farm during the day, they should have a safe and comfortable place to sleep at night. A spacious chicken coop will help in keeping the chicken happy also it will be very much suitable for your use. An easy chicken coop can be made from wooden poles, wires and a roof. But you must make the chicken coop according to your weather conditions. If you live in a high monsoon area it is important to have a drainage system to safeguard the chickens from drowning. You should also plan the coop for easy access to the egg. The chickens need to be saved from different predators like snakes, mongoose, fox etc. It is important to check the chicken coop annually for maintenance. Letting your chicken out during the day guarantees a happy chicken.
- A consistent source of food— Balanced nutrients are essential for the well-being of your animals. A well‐fed chicken lay more eggs, grow faster, produce better meat, and have better immune systems to fight off disease. A balanced diet chart with the proper amount of nutrients should be prepared. But there is always a chance of lacking which can be fulfilled by high quality feeds. It is also necessary to keep a check on the amount of food given.
- Ensure the right minerals and vitamin—- Lack of minerals leads to different diseases. Calcium deficiency is one of the common problems that lead to bone and joint abnormalities and also soft-shelled eggs. Foods may contain most minerals but there is always a chance of lacking. These can be fulfilled by supplements and vitamins and mineral supplements. These also help in boosting the immunity of the chickens. Oyster shells are a well-known source of minerals for hens and chicks. It is essential to give the accurate amount and right kind of supplements to the accurate chicken breed.
- Maintaining Hygiene— Maintaining the hygiene of a chicken coop it the utmost importance. A dirty chicken coop leads to a diseased chicken. Regular washing the coop and bathing the chickens helps to keep the disease away. Chicken manure can be composted for use in vegetable or flower gardens. But can be a source of disease if it is allowed to build up. Flies and other insects bred in unhealthy conditions. Keeping the area in and around the coop as clean as possible ensures healthy chickens. Always remove and bury dead chickens.
- Breeding and hatching— Breeding and hatching is an essential part of chicken keeping. If you want chicks, you will need one rooster for every five to six hens. Remove the other male birds from the coop after they mature to prevent noise and fighting. Hens start laying at about six to eight months. Collect the eggs every day to ensure that the hens keep on laying. Because of the eggs are not collected, the hen’s maternal instinct will kick in i.e. it will become a broody hen and want it will want to hatch the eggs. But if you want to breed chicks, keep some clean and good eggs for a broody hen. Grass or straw is appropriate for nests. But often change it to prevent parasite infection. Always keep food and water close by for hens used in hatching. It is a must to keep the chicks with the mother hen for the first two to three weeks after hatching.
- Parasite management— Small parasite infections can lead to many diseases even death. Annual check-up helps in preventing such incidences. Pest and parasite management is vital for the health of your chickens. Red mites can stop hens laying or sitting on eggs as they are an irritant. Sand Tampans can cause paralysis and death. These can be controlled using pesticide sprays designed for chickens. Hen fleas are small black insects that gather around the eyes and combs of chicks. Chickens also suffer from roundworms and tapeworms. Necessary steps need to be taken for preventing these. Take advice from your veterinary doctor. Always keep a clean coop and keep a solution handy for such problems.
- Vaccinate and prevent disease— Prevention is better than cure. Annual vaccination prevents diseases. Flu and other deadly diseases spread very rapidly once it starts. It can kill the entire flock in a very short time. For baby chicks vaccination at the earliest is a sensible idea. Vaccination has to be given at different stages of a life cycle of a chicken- much like a human baby. Vaccination can be provided through nose, mouth, by injection, and also by spray depending on the kind of disease prevention. While several vaccines require various doses, some prevent disease in just one dose.
- Beware of disease-transmitting dangers— Several chicken diseases are passed on through clothing, shoes, and hands. While going for a show or giving tours of your farm make sure to prevent much e visitor interaction. Always wash hands and clothes before tending to your flock. Also, while visiting other chicken farm make sure to not interact with your flock in the same clothing as you may transmit the disease from the other farm. Make sure to disinfect all borrowed equipment, such as carriers, before and after use.
- Use quarantines whenever necessary— To maintain a healthy chicken, it is compulsory to keep the chickens quarantined after coming from a show or sale. This helps in preventing transmission of diseases to the other chickens in the flock. Always keep the returning or arriving chickens away from the rest of the flock for 2 weeks minimum. A sick chicken can spread disease very fast. Quarantine and transfer the sick chicken away as fast as possible from the flock. Injured chickens also need to be quarantined so that others don’t pick on them. Also injured poultry are prone to infections and diseases and should be handled with care.
- Keep an eye on your chickens daily— Probably the best way of keeping your poultry healthy is by observation and acting fast when something seems wrong.