Got some curly questions? Welcome to owning chickens for the very first time or those thinking about stepping into this very addictive life style. Or maybe you are doing a project for school.
Everyone has to start somewhere.
If you have never been told, how do you know?
If you do not see your question amongst these, please add them to the comments so that I can answer them for you.
Let’s jump into some of the most common questions I receive.
Do all hens have wattles and combs?
A wattle is UNDER the beak.
A comb is ON TOP of the head.
The trickiest ones to see this on is the Araucana, Polish and Silkie breeds (amongst others).
Depending on their breeding, they will still have these parts of their anatomy on their heads, but much smaller. The smallest type of comb is called a Walnut or Pea. There are many different shapes and sizes on different breeds of chickens.
These parts indicate the health of chicken, helps with their heat regulation and indicates their breed maturity.
Do chickens make noise all of the time?
They have their quiet times and different noises that they make to communicate with one another.
The noisiest part of their day is usually around egg laying time.
They may sing a lot before they even lay an egg, or maybe they only sing the loudest after they have laid their egg. Some hens like to encourage others to lay too, so they can also be the noisy ones.
Happy quiet talking is a sign of happy chickens, especially when you walk out into the yard, as they will get excited that you may have a treat for them.
How many eggs do chickens lay every day?
It takes around 26 hours for an egg to develop inside her reproductive tract in order to be laid.
The amount of eggs laid every week will vary between breeds. Some breeds lay less often.
Hybrid hens (ISA Browns or utility Australorps) will lay every day, but other breeds may lay only 3-5 eggs per week.
Will a chicken peck me to make me bleed?
Roosters can be quite aggressive especially when he is mature and protecting his girls. His peck feels worse than a hen’s peck, but his claws and leg spurs are his most dangerous part.
What is the difference between hens and chickens?
Cockerels and Roosters are BOY chickens. (male)
Can I buy some chickens from Adelaide Chicken Sitting Service?
I am not a breeder, but I can tell you where you can find what you are looking for.
How do I catch and hold a chicken?
Easiest method is to pick them up from head on, rather than from behind when picking them up (e.g. from a roosting rail).
Trying to catch a running chicken is the worst, so DO NOT RUN.
Instead, stalk them. Think like a fox and corner them.
- Grab at the tail, leg or hands on top of their wings to hold them from flapping.
- Once you have grabbed your chicken, place one hand UNDERNEATH from the chest. You should be able to feel the keel bone underneath. Your other hand can either rest on top, around them or hold the legs. If your hand is resting gently on the keel bone, they should not be struggling.
- A variation on holding them upright: Turn them around and slide your hand around the tops of their legs and interlock your fingers around their legs. This is how birds are inspected at poultry shows.
- A chicken can also be held UPSIDE DOWN.
This is important if you are pest dusting them around the bottom, under the wings and through their chest. It is also useful when you need to catch many chickens at once, to hold many legs together in each hand. Interlock your fingers with their legs.
- For INTERLOCKING: Think of how wine glasses hang up.
- Do not be scared of a chicken flapping and squawking while being held upside down. They run out of steam quickly and settle down fast. Place your hand on their breast to place them back down on the ground.
Please do not drop a chicken. They can get injured.
Best to place your hands over the wings to hold them from flapping and place them down feet first to the ground – and then release. You can use your body to hold down a wing, too.
Do eggs come out hard or soft?
How can you tell if a hen is pregnant?
If they are housed WITH A ROOSTER, they may or may not lay fertilised eggs. These eggs will only develop into chicks if kept at the correct incubation heat for 21 days once laid.
A fat chicken does not indicate fertile eggs.
How do the chickens get the chicks to hatch all at once if they only lay one egg a day?
How do you get the eggs out of a chicken?
The eggs come out the back end of the hen. The same place they poo from.
Do roosters lay eggs too?
They are boys. Egg laying is only for the girls.
How do chicks get milk from the mother hen?
Is a cockerel a boy or girl?
Does the rooster fertilise the egg before or after the egg is laid?
The sperm needs to travel the hen’s reproductive tract to fertilise the yolks that are waiting. The shell will then form over the yolks to create the complete egg, which will then be laid.
How do you know that the eggs are fertilised?
They have to be tested by cracking open a few eggs on a plate. The yolk is inspected for the “bullseye” which shows development. These eggs can be eaten or thrown away after this inspection. They cannot go on to become chicks because their shells are broken. Once the consistency of “bullseyes” are found, then you have the green light for hatching.
When we know they are fertile, we can assume that the other eggs that the hen is laying are fertile too. Mother hen is likely to become broody and willing to keep sitting on her eggs to hatch them.
Do chickens catch a cold when they lose their feathers during moulting time?
Should I make or buy some clothes for my chickens when they moult?
Many people like to KNIT outfits for hens thinking that they look cute and are helping with keeping them warm.
When knitted clothing gets wet, they hold the cold up against the chicken, which can affect their health. They have no way of drying out naturally.
Ever had wet sleeves on a cold winter’s day? It wasn’t comfortable was it? Same for the chickens. They are better without chicken clothing.
I want 10 chickens so that we can have eggs every day. Is this a good plan?
If you choose a utility hybrid breed like an ISA Brown, Hy-Line or similar, you will be rewarded with daily eggs.
Can you eat 10 eggs a day? Do you have family/friends who would also like fresh eggs?
If you do not need 10 eggs every day, then consider another breed that lays less eggs per week.
Research which breed is right for you.
Do you want big eggs or little eggs? (Standard breed or Bantam breed)
The shell colour makes NO DIFFERENCE to the taste of the eggs.
Won't the chickens just fly away? How do I keep them in my yard?
For a chicken, it’s more about getting up or down from perches than taking off into the wild blue yonder.
There are the occasional escapee chickens, usually of the ISA Brown breed because they are so curious and lightweight. Some chickens prefer to roost up in trees. To limit escapees, ensure that all fences in your yard are at least 1.5m tall, and that’s most properties. Wing clipping can also stop escapees. EASY.
Chickens know where the food is and that’s what they hang around for.
Can humans catch Chicken Pox from chickens?
What does it mean when a chicken's comb LAYS FLAT?
What does it mean when a chicken's comb is PALE?
- During winter or cold days the blood flow recedes and makes the comb look paler.
- Egg laying reduces or ceases during late autumn/early winter. When they are ready to lay again, the comb will become redder.
- Sick chicken. Check for other signs of illness. Make an appointment to see your vet.