Hen-keeping is incredibly rewarding and life-enriching! We want you to enjoy your hens, and to be flock wise, so here are some basic tips on keeping your hens happy and healthy.
- Commitment to daily care – hens are sentient creatures and therefore need commitment before you even think about keeping some.
- Secure accommodation – Wood or plastic? No matter which you choose the most important factor is that your hen house is protected against attacks from predators such as foxes and badgers. A sturdy hen house is best and will also need nest boxes and perches appropriate to the number of hens your keep.
- Daytime access to fresh water and food – an average-sized adult hen will need 100–120g of feed per day and feed can either be given in a rationed amount daily, or via a feeder that is large enough for several days’ feed. We recommend feeding birds within the hen house to discourage wild birds and rodents. Fresh water should be put down each morning and topped up as necessary.
- Daily coop clean – Don some rubber gloves and pick up droppings and patches of wet bedding on a daily basis.
- Weekly coop clean – A thorough clean should be undertaken weekly, including sweeping out bedding, and using a paint scraper to remove floor debris. A fresh layer of bedding will make your coop cosy again.
- Good hygiene – Make sure your coop is cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis with a product such as Bio VX or Poultry Disinfectant; this can be used monthly.
- Prevent wild birds and vermin stealing poultry food – keep feed and water inside your hen house where possible to discourage wild birds. If you must feed outside, ration quantities to ensure feed is eaten quickly and clean up any spillages regularly.
- Routine health care such as regular worming and treatment for parasites – routine worming should be carried out three or four times a year using a licensed product such as Flubenvet. Also regularly check your hens and their coop for external parasites such as red mite.
The most important piece of advice we can give you is to spend a bit of time watching your girls each day (it’s very therapeutic!) and you’ll quickly learn their normal behaviour and how to spot if one or more is out of sorts. Here is a link to our helpful examination guidelines if you think a hen may be under the weather. Maintaining good husbandry at all times will help you, and your hens. Be flock wise.
All commercial hens are vaccinated against the following diseases:
- Gumboro disease
- Infectious bronchitis of various strains
- Newcastle disease
- Infectious Laryngio Tracheitis
- Egg drop syndrome
- Avian Rhinotracheitis
- Sometimes Pasturella and E. Coli
Avian Flu does not have a vaccine and therefore you should be aware of what to do in the event of an outbreak in your area. Please see our advice on Avian Flu here or below.
Be Flock Wise – register your hens with DEFRA
We also recommend all flocks, small and large, are registered with Defra. Registration will give you valuable information on what to do in the unlikely event of a notifiable disease outbreak. Click here to register.