An incredible 416,000 Aussie homeowners have chickens at home, making them the fourth most popular pet behind dogs, cats, and fish. Even homeowners in the middle of Sydney raise chickens in their backyards for wholesome, homegrown eggs or just as fluffy affordable pets to love and care for.
Want to join the craze?
The good news is that chickens are low maintenance compared to other animals — they need food, water, and their coop to be cleaned fairly regularly, but otherwise, they’re very easy to raise!
The main thing is researching before jumping the gun and adopting a flock of chickens. Even though they’re easy to raise, chickens still need love and care, and it’s important to know what’s required to give your chooks a happy, healthy life.
Here, we share tips on how to raise chickens at home, from the basics and essentials to raising chicks and more.
Before adopting a flock of chickens, you must consider why you want chickens. Are you adopting them for meat or eggs? Do you need them to produce compost and fertiliser? Or do you simply want a fluffy, feathery flock of chickens to love at home?
Why you want chickens will determine which breed to adopt. For example, hybrid chickens like ISA Browns are ideal for owners who want lots of eggs — they’re heavy layers but have a shorter lifespan than heritage layers like Leghorns.
Here’s a rundown of common chicken breeds in Australia, so you can get to know your future pets!
|ISA Browns Chickens||
|Plymouth Rock Chickens||
|Naked Neck Chickens||
|New Hampshire Red Chickens||
|Belgian d’Uccle Chickens||
|Rhode Island Red Chickens||
Once you’ve chosen what kind of chickens you want to raise, the next step is to prepare a safe, comfortable space for them to live and stock up on all the essentials, like chicken feed, lots of clean water and scratch mix (grains for chickens to peck and scratch at in their coop).
Here are some of the essentials!
A chicken coop is absolutely essential for raising chickens, whether you’re raising chooks on a farm or in your suburban backyard. As a rule, chickens need at least one square metre per bird to run around — generally speaking, it’s better to overestimate how much space your chooks will need to ensure their comfort and quality of life.
Your chicken coop should have two key areas for your chicken’s comfort: nesting boxes and roosts.
Nesting boxes are where your chickens will lay their eggs. Without nesting boxes, your chooks might lay eggs somewhere hard to reach or difficult to find. One nesting box per four or five hens should be efficient — think handmade wooden boxes, buckets, or milk crates filled with hay.
Roosts, on the other hand, are where your chickens will sleep. Think of a bird snoozing on a tree branch — chickens, like most other birds, need a safe place to sleep off the ground where predators can’t reach them. A few wooden boards will do the trick but space them out so your chooks aren’t too crowded at night.
Chickens are much happier with space to roam, which is why we recommend investing in a run. The run attaches to the side of the coop and should have around one square metre per chicken. Be sure to surround the run with chicken wire to keep predators (like neighbourhood cats or foxes) at bay.
Free tip: add dry dirt to the run where your chooks can dust bath and roll around. This is a natural behaviour that will keep your chickens healthy.
Chickens need a balanced diet that combines protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals to ensure good health and productivity. The right food varies depending on the age, breed, and purpose of your chooks.
Generally speaking, chickens need a diet consisting of commercial feed that contains at least 16% protein, fresh water, and access to grit and calcium supplements. If you’re raising chickens for eggs, they will need additional nutrients like calcium to support eggshell formation, while meat chickens need higher protein diets to support growth.
All in all, we recommend seeking advice from a veterinarian or poultry nutritionist for guidance on the specific nutritional needs of your chickens!
Free tip: chickens confined to a coop or run will need access to grit — small pieces of rock and stone — to help break down their food in their gizzard.
One of the most important things your chickens will need is other chickens! Chooks are social animals and become sad (or bored) without companionship. Plus, chickens tend to flock together for warmth, comfort and company, especially when stressed or frightened.
We recommend keeping a flock of three chickens or more to keep your chooks happy.
Raising chicks can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it does require a lot of time, effort, and attention to detail. It's important to understand their basic care requirements to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some tips for raising chicks!
Chicks need a warm, draft-free environment to thrive. A brooder box or a large cardboard box with a heat lamp is a good choice. The temperature should be maintained between 30-35 degrees for the first week and then gradually decreased by 5 degrees each week until they reach 21-24 degrees.
Their bedding should also be clean, dry, and absorbent — pine shavings are always a popular choice.
Chicks require a high-protein starter feed for their first 6-8 weeks. A medicated feed is recommended to prevent coccidiosis, a common and potentially deadly disease in young chicks. Fresh water and grit should be available at all times to help them digest their food.
Chicks should be checked daily for signs of illness, like lethargy, diarrhea, or respiratory issues. Any sick birds should be isolated and treated ASAP. They should also be vaccinated for common diseases such as Marek's and infectious bronchitis.
Chickens are social creatures from hatching! Chicks benefit from being kept together in a group and should be handled gently and frequently to help them become comfortable with humans. As they grow older, they can gradually be introduced to other birds.
As chicks grow, they develop feathers and become more active. It's important to provide plenty of space for them to move around and stretch their wings, e.g. a run. They should be gradually weaned off starter feed and transitioned to a grower feed at around eight weeks.
Ensure your chickens are safe and comfortable in their new home with a chicken coop from Organic Garden Co! Available in various sizes and made from recyclable, high-strength BlueScope Steel, ideal for keeping your chooks protected against Australia’s harsh weather conditions.
Shop chicken coops online! We offer flexible payments through Afterpay, so you can start raising chickens now and worry about the costs later.