A lot of people are put off by the thought of the work required to keep backyard chickens, it’s perceived as time-consuming, requiring a lot of hard work and energy. However, this really isn’t the case, keeping chickens does mean you have to take care of them, as you do with any animal but it isn’t as much work as you think.
Read on to find the answer to the question “are chickens low maintenance and easy to care for?”
Are Chickens Low Maintenance?
Most people think chickens are easy to look after and do not require much time and effort. I have to admit that this is one of the initial reasons we decided to get chickens (other than the number of eggs we go through as a family!). However, I was surprised at the amount of time and effort it takes to look after my small flock of 10 hens and a rooster.
Care for and maintaining healthy chickens is not difficult, but they do need some of your time. Caring for any living creature will never be low maintenance. So, in my experience, chickens fall in the moderate maintenance category.
Are Chickens High Maintenance?
While it is true that hens are relatively low-maintenance, you must first consider why you want to keep them and where you want to keep them.
Below are some of the primary considerations to keep in mind, and further down, we delve into detail chicken maintenance chores. There are additional helpful recommendations if you start keeping chickens, and you can read about other people’s experiences here.
How Much Of My Time Do Chickens Need?
Allow for around 15 minutes per day for basic hen-keeping duties
Caring for chickens doesn’t have to be difficult and time-consuming. Manage their bedding, water, and food by maintaining a daily task schedule that will keep your chickens happy and healthy. When you neglect or skip chores, it will become obvious very quickly.
Remember, the more time you spend with them, the calmer they’ll become and the easier they’ll be to manage.
In addition, the coop and run area do require regular cleaning. Take extra care during the summer months as dirty coops are a haven for disease and possible rodents and flies. Remove the chicken droppings every second day to keep the coop from smelling. Read more about keeping chickens in your backyard.
A happy chicken is a low-maintenance chicken!
What Are The Daily Chicken Care Tasks?
There are few daily checks you have to do when you have chickens:
- Let them out of their coop in the morning and back in at night. Putting your chickens safely back in their coop is essential to help prevent them from being attacked by predators.
- Ensure clean and fresh water daily: Without enough water, chickens can dehydrate very quickly if left without clean drinking water. Also, clean the water container daily to remove any debris or sliminess in the container. You may use dish soap but rinse well before refilling it again.
- Feed your chickens: Correct feeding is essential to maximize egg production. Use a hanging feeder or feed them a set amount of chicken feed each day.
- Collect the eggs on a daily basis: Collecting their eggs daily will protect them and keep them fresh.
- Spend daily time with the girls: By observing the chickens, you will quickly notice if they are not healthy or if their run and coop are free from obstacles or dangers.
What Are The Weekly Chicken Care Tasks?
There are two main tasks I consider essential and should not take you more than 30 minutes.
1. Examine each hen thoroughly
The first is to give each of your hens a thorough look-over for any injuries or weight loss. Examine each of your girls closely looking for:
- Feather Loss
- Weight loss (most easily felt over the breast bone area)
- Any evidence of mites or other parasite infestations
- Any discharge from the nostrils
- Eyes are clear and bright
- Check their legs and claws
2. Sanitize the water containers and Feeders
Once a week, you should sanitize and deep clean their water containers. Use chlorine bleach or similar for the cleansing process. Also, scrub them with dish soap and rinse well before refilling with fresh clean water.
3. Ensure the nesting boxes are clean.
Chickens do not like to lay eggs in soiled nesting boxes (would you?). If your pet chickens are not laying in their nesting boxes this may very well be the reason.
4. Sweep the floor of the coop and replensish the bedding.
While you only need to deep the clean the henhouse every month to few months. A quick sweep out of droppings and topping up of bedding such as wood shavings will help keep the coop smelling cleaner.
What Are The Monthly Chicken Care Tasks?
Allow about an hour for these tasks monthly
1. Maintain the coop bedding:
For small coops, completely change the bedding monthly. You will notice the build-up of droppings in the coop and in their run. You can use the used bedding for compost in the garden.
2. Refresh their nest boxes:
Remove the old bedding and add fresh clean nesting materials to the boxes
3. Check for predator damage:
Each month, do a quick check around your chicken run for any digging or damage that may have been caused by predators. If you find any, take steps to fix the issue immediately.
What Are The 3-6 monthly Chicken Care Tasks?
Deep cleaning the chicken coop will take you a couple of hours. Always choose a warm sunny day for this task.
Sanitize the coop:
At least twice a year, deep clean the chicken coop thoroughly. Remove all of the bedding and perches. Scrub down the entire coop with a 1:10 bleach solution. Rinse well and let it dry before adding fresh bedding and putting the chickens back in. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in the coop to curb mites and keep the chickens healthy.
Prepare for the winter months:
Depending on your area or state, you may need to prepare for the colder months. First, ensure your chickens are ready for the winter weather. For example, add heaters to your water containers. In addition, ensure all chickens have roosting space as they will roost together to stay warm.
What Are The Annual Chicken Care Tasks?
Check and repair chicken wire: Each year, check your chicken wire for any holes or tears. Mending any damage will help keep predators out and your own chickens in.
How To Care For Chickens In Winter
Cold weather brings a different set of challenges for your chickens than the Summer months. Firstly, you will have to minimize the draft in your coop while keeping it ventilated and allowing sunlight in for heat. Secondly, opt for a deep litter method over winter that is easy to clean and provides insulation on the floor. Lastly, ensure their water is drinkable (not frozen), and all have roosting space.
What Are The Best Low Maintenance Chickens?
While I have a whole article dedicated to this. The following breeds of chickens are considered the best low maintenance chickens – easy to care for, and good egg layers
- Rhode Island Reds
- Plymouth Rock
- Buff Orpingtons
- Easter Eggers
How Long Can I Leave My Flock of Chickens Unattended?
So, you’ve decided to take a trip but are concerned about leaving your adult chickens behind. You may leave chickens alone for a few days if you provide adequate food and water. Then, get a caretaker to visit them every day, check on them, remove the eggs, and top up their water and food if needed.
How Many Chickens Do I Start With?
Firstly, how many chickens do you plan on keeping? It is always advisable to start small; therefore, we started with three hens, giving us a reasonable trial period while reaping the benefits of fresh eggs and beginning the caring routines. A starter flock size is at least three hens. Chickens are social birds and any less can cause problems such as hen pecking and loneliness.
There is no need for a rooster, we did not get one initially, but it is your choice. Remember, roosters come with different concerns and responsibilities. Before you start, source information on chicken breeds that are ideal for beginners. In addition, you can get more info and learn more about how to start keeping chickens here.
How Much Yard Area Do I need For Keeping Chickens?
A general rule is to have about twelve square feet of space per chicken. If you have enough space, it will be better and create an environment for happier chickens. Note that chickens need a run and a coop. I have a specific article on how much space chickens need here.
Do I Need A Chicken Coop When Keeping Chickens?
No, you do not have to, but your hens would prefer a coop for laying eggs, and if you care about your animals, a chicken coop will provide them with shelter and safety from predators. In addition, add roosting bars to your chicken house and allow about fifteen inches per chicken for comfort. Although chickens can stay in the enclosure all day, they need a light source through a window.
Can You Keep Chickens Indoors?
It is possible but not easy to keep a chicken indoors. Remember, it is not the same as owning a cat or dog, and it comes with its fair share of challenges. It requires tremendous commitment but can be very rewarding as you can uniquely bond with the chicken. However, we would not recommend it in our experience and concerning the level of maintenance and care required.
What Do I Feed My Chickens?
Chickens are omnivores that will eat just about everything, but they particularly enjoy seeds and specific fruits like berries and apples. Vegetables, for example, leafy greens and corn, are favorites of theirs. They also enjoy grains and even table food scraps. Finally, chickens adore hunting for insects and eating worms and beetles, etc and it is an important part of behavioral enrichment.
In terms of specific types of chicken feeds to feed layers and broilers check out my article here.
I hope I have answered your questions regarding are chickens low maintenance? and are chickens easy to care for?. Chickens are often thought of as low-maintenance animals, but they do require some basic care in order to stay healthy and happy. Our feathery friends need a clean environment, plenty of fresh food and water, and regular health check-ups. With just a little bit of effort, you can keep your chickens healthy and content for many years to come.
David Cameron is a passionate chicken enthusiast. Growing up, he always wanted to be a veterinarian and loved animals. After graduating from veterinary school, David spent over 40 years as an equine veterinarian. He and his wife retired a few years ago and moved to North Carolina. Here, David’s love of chickens grew even more – he now has 7 chickens and 6 quail. If you have any questions about chickens, feel free to reach out.