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COCK A DOODLE DOO

Chickens are cheap and easy pets. They are also productive backyard friends and pay for their own upkeep with delicious and healthy fresh eggs

I live just outside the city in a big farm. I would like to keep chickens What are the benefits of keeping chickens?

Chickens make fun pets. They are intelligent, speak a language, have family groups, communicate. They are also very good for the rest of the farm as they eat scraps, pests and their natural manure is good for the soil. Free range chicken eggs, I am told (since I don't eat them), are much tastier than commercial ones.

Will keeping chickens cause any problems with my garden?

No, they don't eat flowers or vegetables. They eat bugs, beetles and ants. They enrich soil.

What do chickens eat and drink?

Keeping chickens is easy when they have enough to eat and drink. Full grown chickens need a constant supply of chicken feed, shell grits and water. Scraps like leafy greens and porridge can be additional treats. Chickens need a constant supply of fresh water, as they drink between 500 ml to 1 litre of water per day – depending on weather conditions.

How long do chickens live?

Chickens in small flocks live several years if conditions are correct. A life span of 6-8 years is reasonable.

How should I build a poultry house for my chickens?

A chicken house should have an eastward orientation with ventilation windows on the sides facing south and north. Make sure the ventilation exists and there are no major temperature increases.

You can use iron sheets, grass, palm leaves to cover the roof. On the covered part of the wall you can use bricks, sand blocks, iron sheets, wood and mud.

The floor can be prepared in several ways including plastering with sand and cement or mud.

Make sure there are no cracks on the wall nor on the floor. You can have bedding materials include wood shavings, saw dust, peanut hulls, rice husk and dry grass. Once this is removed, it could be put into fertilising gardens to boost crop yield. When, removed from the poultry house, the bedding material should be heaped and covered with a polythene sheet to allow healthy bacteria to ferment all the residual feed material resulting in an increase in temperature which kills all the infection. But that is if you have not used antibiotics in the feed for the chickens or pesticides. If you have, then the material is dangerous to fields and crops.

How can I make sure that the condition inside the chicken house is pleasant for chickens?

Building the house as described above on East-West orientation.

Not allowing litter material to cake by turning it frequently with a rake or other objects.

Providing clean potable water always.

Opening and closing the curtains on the window when it is hot and cold

Avoiding overcrowding.

Providing chicken with balanced

feed rations

The most important is to give them lots of space to move and naturally fresh air and sunlight. Sustainably raised poultry eat grasses, greens, grains and insects, whereas factory farmed poultry are fed bone, feathers, blood, other animal byproducts and manure, arsenic, enzymes and antibiotics.

(Views expressed and information provided are personal. Send your questions to manekaanimallove@gmail.com)

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