Many consider the hen to be a bird from which to simply obtain eggs. However, it’s not hard to imagine her as a pet. Many have accustomed her to being a companion bird rather than a working bird.
- 1 Types of hens
- 2 Can you really have a chicken as a pet?
- 3 How long can a chicken live?
- 4 Learn to choose your pet hen well
- 5 Locating the hens
- 6 How do you take care of a chicken?
- 7 How do you clean the chicken coop?
- 8 What do I feed my chickens?
- 9 What if I want my hen to lay eggs?
- 10 What diseases do chickens have?
- 11 What do you have to know to train a chicken?
- 12 Is it compulsory to have a dog to watch the chickens?
Types of hens
Can you really have a chicken as a pet?
Domestic chickens tend to be more related to farms, but you can have a hen as a pet, just as you can have ducks and other types of birds that turn out to be rare.
However, there is a big difference between having a laying hen and a pet hen. To have a pet hen, first of all you have to acquire an egg that is about to hatch and be present at that time. The hen will be left with the imprint of the face of her new owner, whom she will consider as her “mother”, and then the master-pet relationship will begin.
How long can a chicken live?
One of the most populous birds on earth is also one of those that can be the longest living. The average life expectancy of a hen is around 12 – 13 years, although some hens can reach 15 years.
They live longer than the rooster, which usually has a life expectancy of 10 years. This is the same as in other species of birds, where the female’s life is longer than that of the rooster. Not for nothing, it is the one that lays and can lay up to 300 eggs a year. But this rate slows down when they reach two years of age.
Learn to choose your pet hen well
Choosing a good hen as a pet can be a challenge, but there are a number of features you can look at on the specimen to see if it is appropriate or not. You have to look:
- If it’s an active hen. If so, it will mean that you are a healthy hen.
- He’s got to have good posture. If she appears to be drooping or crooked, it means she is in poor health.
- Their eyes must be alive and colourful.
- There should be no traces of mucus in the nostrils (the hen’s nose at the top of the beak).
- The color of its crest has to be striking and vivid.
- You have to make sure the color of the plumage is alive. This also ensures that the hen is in good health.
Locating the hens
Like every bird, the hen needs a place to live, and this is the chicken coop. There are many types of henhouses, according to the space you have on your land and the number of hens you will have.
But if you don’t have much knowledge of the subject, you have to look at what:
- Be the right size for the number of chickens you want to have. If you are only going to have one, it will be enough to make a small corner in your land or in the house.
- The materials used in the poultry houses must be waterproof, especially if you live in an area with a lot of rain.
- It must have adequate ventilation.
- Count on a small door so you can get in and out.
- Have a hen feeder and perches.
- They have to have a park, so the chickens can lay their eggs.
With all this in mind, the time has come to locate the chicken coop. Ideally, it should be in a very bright area, as the hens need about 14 hours of light a day. On the other hand, keep in mind that the major cause of mortality of this bird is predators, so it has to be in a place that is not easily accessible to them.
If you’re only going to have a couple of chickens, a small chicken coop will do. Or you could make them a small hut where they can go in and rest when it’s time to go to bed, as well as have a straw nest to lay their eggs in.
How do you take care of a chicken?
It’s the most important moment of all; learning to take care of the chickens. Although it may not seem like it, the hen needs very special care, especially if you want them to lay eggs.
The first thing to do is to let them out of the chicken coop in the mornings, so that they can walk and walk around the area until it’s getting dark, at which point you’ll have to leave them in the chicken coop again. In this henhouse they will have to have beds, made of wood shavings, hemp or chopped straw, on which they can rest easily.
On the other hand, you have to give them a place to have their “dust baths”. An instinctive need of birds. So you will have to prepare an area with sand, or ash, so that they can cover this need. But if you have a lot of land and you let them out in the field, they will find the place to do it themselves.
The feeding trough is located in an accessible area and is large enough for all the hens to eat. Also, you have to look for one that can’t be contaminated by its passage near this one.
How do you clean the chicken coop?
It’s actually one of the simplest jobs there is. It will be enough for the hen house to be cleaned once a week if you have a lot of chickens, or every two weeks if you have very few.
It is important to clean all corners to avoid parasites. The “dust-bathing” area has to be changed at the same time as you clean the chicken house. In the same way, when you clean it, you have to change the beds for a new one. During the cold months, it is important to make the bed thicker so that the hen can warm up as she likes.
Avoid using toxic products that can harm your chickens. In addition, it is important that you do the cleaning work while your hens are out so that they cannot become contaminated.
What do I feed my chickens?
You may have heard that there is a tendency to overfeed chickens with poor quality products in order to make them fatten. And that’s wrong, because all you do is harm the animal.
You have to give him some premixed feed, in which there is a special composition that covers the hen’s nutritional needs. In addition, you have to give them a mixture of corn, wheat, vegetables, rice, pasta seeds… avoiding at all costs food that contains salt and meat. You have to feed them twice a day, at the same time, to get them used to it.
However, if you have good soil and let them go for a walk, you can also let them eat a little bit on the ground, like worms or larvae, and then give them a smaller ration of food.
The hens need a lot of water, so you will have to buy a watering trough for each of your hens, instead of shaded, as it is an animal that prefers to drink water that is fresh. Remember, this never has to be missing from your chicken.
What if I want my hen to lay eggs?
Hens begin laying eggs at 6 months of age, some may start a little later. However, one thing must be clear: do you want fertile or infertile eggs? Because your answer to this question will determine whether you have to buy a rooster or not.
In the case of wanting fertile eggs, for your hens to have young, you will have a rooster to fertilize them and then be incubated by the hen. In case you want them for your own consumption, it is not necessary to have a rooster in the henhouse. You may have heard that having chickens always requires a rooster in the henhouse. Well, it’s a lie, having a rooster or not will depend solely on what you want the eggs for.
When the hen has laid the egg, you must carefully and dryly catch it and then clean it. Check that the shell is hard, because if it is soft, it is an egg that will not serve you much. It’s also a sign that your chickens need more calcium. Once the egg is well cleaned, you will have to keep it below 20º C to ensure its conservation.
What diseases do chickens have?
It is true that the hen is a fairly long-lived bird, but it can also suffer from many diseases, some of which can be fatal to them. Like, for example:
- Infectious bronchitis: It is caused by the coronavirus virus. You will notice that your bird produces strange breath sounds, wheezing, wheezing, coughing, nasal discharge and will have difficulty breathing. There is no treatment for this disease, but if the bird is vaccinated, it may be immune to the disease.
- Avian cholera: A disease caused by the bacteria pasteurella multocida. A highly contagious disease that causes the death of the animal. Some symptoms are swelling of the face and chins of the hens, which may take a red wine and be very hot.
- Infectious Coryza: It is produced by the bacterium Haemophilus gallinarum. The hen will sneeze and gradually develop swelling in the eyes and sinuses. The disease is contagious, and can be treated with antibiotics. It’s best to try to raise a specimen that can be immune.
- Avian encephalomyelitis: It is caused by the enterovirus of the pycomavirus group. It affects birds when they are young, having a strange gait, incoordination and partial or total paralysis. There is no treatment for this disease and it is recommended to kill the bird that has it.
- Aerosaculitis: It is caused by mycoplasma gallisepticum bacteria, but also by escherichia coli according to the latest research. Among its symptoms, the hen will have difficulty breathing, mucus and rales from the trachea. To treat it, the hen will need to be given antibiotics.
- Bursitis: Also known as gumboro, it is caused by a birnavirus, very resistant to unfavorable environmental conditions. This makes it difficult to eradicate if it has spread. The first symptom is a respiratory noise, and gradually decay, ruffled feathers, tremors, watery diarrhea, and prostration will begin to appear. No treatment is yet known to treat it.
- Avian influenza: The bird will feel depressed and have bristly feathers. You’ll lose your appetite, but you’ll drink plenty of water. You will reduce egg laying and have watery diarrhea. You’ll need to talk to your vet about the best treatment.
- Marek’s disease: It is caused by a herpes virus. The bird will have paralysis of the legs, they will not be able to move to the troughs, so they will lose a lot of weight. It is true that it is rare that the infected hen can die, but not impossible. So you’ll have to talk to a vet quickly.
- New Castle: It is produced by a paramyxovirus, and only one serotype of virus is known. They show respiratory problems, with coughing, wheezing, trachea rales, and a hoarse snoring sound. It is a very contagious disease, and since there is no treatment, the infected hen must be culled. To avoid it, the hen must be vaccinated.
- Avian smallpox: This disease is caused by avian smallpox, which is spread slowly. It affects the mucous membranes of the throat, mouth and tongue, causing ulcers and false yellowish membranes to form. There is no treatment as such, but you can try to cure it with antibiotics.
- Parasites: If you do not clean the chicken pen properly, it would not be unusual for your bird to be attacked by a parasite. This may be internal, which will appear in the digestive tract and can lead to loss of appetite and weight loss in the bird. We need to get her to the vet.
- Worms: One of the largest parasites affecting birds. They affect their development and productivity. So you’ll have to take it to the vet to have it removed. The most dangerous is the ascaris, which can measure up to 8 cm in length, followed by the stalk, but this only measures 12 mm. Another one that can affect your hen is the tapeworm, recognized for its flatness.
- Lice: It’s not unusual for a chicken to have lice. But it’s something you have to deal with right away, to keep it from spreading to other chickens. Also, because of the lice, the feathers will be torn off and it is possible that it will become somewhat violent.
- Ticks: An invader much more common than lice. You have to give your chickens baths to help them get rid of them before they start pulling out their feathers.
What do you have to know to train a chicken?
You may think it’s completely crazy, but you can train a chicken. It is true that his intelligence is not much higher than that of an agaporni or a parrot, but he is one of the best animals to learn some tricks.
They run fast, can move from one point to another at high speed, and can get used to a routine with a little training. Knowing all this, why not try?
All you need is a little free time in your daily life and a lot of patience. If, for example, you want to create a little game with your hen, such as overcoming some obstacles, you will need patience. You’ll have to guide her along the route yourself several times until she can do it on her own. Quite a hard job, but one that will be well rewarded by the bird when you have finished the circuit, as it will be very happy to see you spend more time with it.
You can also get used to her obeying a few simple commands. Especially if you have her living in your house because you have decided not to have a chicken coop, it would be good for her to come to your call when you want to feed her or if you need her to return home from her walk. To do this, he repeats his name several times while you caress her, making her come to you. When he answers, you can give him some treats as a reward, and he’ll know he’s done well.
Remember that there is something very important for your hen to listen to you: that you have it since birth. If there’s no chicken with you, he’ll probably never listen to you and it’ll be very difficult for you to train him later.
Is it compulsory to have a dog to watch the chickens?
If your land is small and well fenced, you won’t need a dog. Especially if you only have two or three chickens. Otherwise, however, it would be advisable.
A well-trained dog trained to watch over chickens will be with them for the duration of their walk, making sure that none are separated from the others. And when you give the order, he’ll take them back to his chicken coop. A fantastic way to save yourself from having to watch them all the time.