Keeping our girls happy is the easiest.. and yet sometimes the most difficult thing to do. When doing my research to look into how to raise chickens- both pros and cons- I had a ton of questions. Sure, I wanted to learn the basics.. What they needed to eat, where to get the best coop or a type of coop that fit our needs for where we live, how often do you have to clean out their coop, do they free range and if so, will they get along with our dogs? OH MY! These are literally just only a few questions that I came up with. Can you imagine the million other questions that have come about since?!
So through this year of trial and error, I have come up with a list of things that make OUR girls happy. And trust me, what makes Rosy happy sure as hell doesn’t make Pearl happy.
1. Always, Always, Always make sure there is plenty of water. We have two hens right now… and we also have TWO water pails for them. Pearl is a bit possessive. She likes to hog all of the water. I realized that their egg laying went down and my initial thought was, is there enough water? I added a second water pail and now I get a productive TWO eggs/day.
2. Free Range!! Rosy, our Rhode Island Red, loves to free range. She explores our entire yard– loves checking out the plants (yes, I planted herbs for her to eat). Every now and then she steals some food from the dog bowls if she is lucky enough to have some left in their from the morning. Pearl on the other hand, would rather stay in her coop and eat the laying pellets we supply them. Every once in a while, I see her venture out of the coop, but always stays right by. Pearl is our newest hen and is still very hesitant to trying new things.
3. Treats!! These are so important. There are so many things that chickens can have.. and that chickens LOVE! Our girls favorites are meal-worms and pumpkins! Check out my earlier post of our list of favorite treats. Halloween has come and gone.. what are you to do with your left over pumpkins?! My solution- cut them in half and let the chickens go wild!
4. FOOD. Yes, even though our girls free range, sometimes they just prefer their normal food. We feed the girls laying pellets mixed in with grains pretty much daily. I fill up their feeder and they eat whenever they want. I always have it offered to them. Since I have made it available 24/7, I noticed their egg production is more steady and consistent.
5. BOREDOM BUSTERS!!! This is one that I still am working with. Always trying to come up with new things that keep the chickens happy. Watermelons were a favorite in the summer time. They would eat at one watermelon for hours. I found a fabulous list of boredom busters that you should definitely check out! Our coop is pretty small so I am looking forward to renovating our shed to make a bigger one and try out some of those for the girls! Our favorite boredom buster is the chicken blocks! Pearl and Rosy could go at those for days!
6. Attention! Rosy loves attention. She prefers it. She follows me around the yard, takes dust baths in the kids play sand under their playground, and likes to peck at the lemons on our lemon tree. She is a curious little hen. Pearl, well she hasn’t quite come out of her feathers yet. She is very timid, not so curious, and likes to be left alone. Rosy loves a good game of chase with my son while Pearl is petrified of hearing the shrieks and laughs that are in the yard next to her. With a little attention, I see that our hens are much better and more fun to be around.
And there you go! The top things that make our chickens happy. Do you know or have another idea that make your chickens happy?! Leave them in the comment section!