Chicken Care Calendar -
Looking after Chickens Month by Month
calendar will tell you what to do each month to make sure that your
chickens stay in good health and be profitable, all year round.
This is especially useful for those of you who are beginners at raising
chickens. Throughout the year when keeping and breeding chickens for
table or for eggs, you will need to do certain chores.
Chicken Care for January
This may be one of the
coldest months of the year, but January is one of the
most important if you
This is the month when you need to go through your flock
and pick out the chickens that are either undersized and not performing
to expectations. Once you have dispatched these, the pick of your
poultry are then placed in the breeding pens with your best cocks.
If you are mating poultry you need to get the ratio of cocks to hens
right. If you are mating heavy chicken breeds then you
will need 1 cock
for 5-7 hens. If you are mating light chicken breeds, then
you will need 1 cock for 6-8 hens. However, this is a guide only. You
may find that your cocks with unlimited access to the outside may be
able to mate more hens than the numbers given.
Watch your roosters
to see if they are good with the hens and if they
will readily mate with the hens. If they don't, and/or bully your hens
instead, remove them from the brooding pens and replace them with
Make sure that your
breeding stock is not too old. A cockerel mated to
2 year old hens, or an older, but vigorous rooster mated to pullets
will produce robust chickens.
During this month you need to make sure that your breeding stock is
getting a good diet full
of protein. Cut bone, meat scraps or pea meal
should be part of their diet.
If the weather is too bad for the chickens to go outside, make sure
that their coops are dry,
have plenty of clean litter and that they
have enough scratch in the straw to keep them happily amused while
Chicken Care for February
February is the month that
people will be wanting eggs that they can incubate themselves.
are incubating your own eggs, go easy on the moisture content. The
average time for chicken eggs to hatch is 20-22 days, with the average
being 21 days.
If you are incubating other poultry, then the number of days differ:
Incubation time for ducks: 28-30 days
Incubation time for geese: 28-31 days
Incubation time for turkeys: 28-30 days
Incubation time for guinea fowl: 26-28 days
Incubation time for pea fowl: 28-30 days
Continue to look after your breeding stock well, giving them a good
protein diet as well as making sure that they have access to grit and
shell at all times.
Unfortunately February is a rainy month, and you want to try and keep
your chickens as dry as possible to minimize disease.
Continue to collect the eggs and place them large end down in boxes and
covered with bran to keep them a little longer than normal. Or, you can
do what I do. I grease them well with butter. And then I plac thew
small side down in a box layered with salt. Fill up the gaps with salt
and your eggs should be good for a year.
Check on your brooding hens daily for health and disease.
Chicken Care for March
If you are keeping
heavier chicken breeds such as the American breeds, or Asiatic crosses,
then the main supply of pullets for the following winter's laying
should be hatched during the month of March. March is one of the best
months for hatching chickens
remember that just like you, they get fed up
of eating the same thing, day in and day out. Change their food,
sometimes offering them a warm mash, and other times a dry mash. It is
better to feed them a little, often rather than feeding them too much
in one sitting.
Chickens will benefit from greens and fresh vegetables as part of their
daily diet. The older chickens will also do well on a daily portion of
boiled barley. Add linseed meal to their daily rations, along with some
ground oats and middlings for good feathering, and green cut bone will
give them stamina, a good growth rate, and will help in keeping up the
Keep an eye on your breeding
making sure that that breeding cocks
are still on form. If any of your stock look off-color and you can't
find a cause, feed them a little cod-liver oil, and they usually perk
Chicken Care for April
April can still be used
for hatching the heavier breeds. Eggs from those chicken
aren't good brooders, such as the Anconas, Leghorns and Minorcas can
all be placed in the incubators now.
This is important to make sure
that these birds will be laying before the winter sets in. These are
your profitable egg layers, especially the Leghorns, and are always
sought after by those starting off with chickens, or those wanting to
replace existing chicken stocks.
Because you could end up with a lot of chickens hatching this month, it
is important to remember that over-crowding
has to be avoided at all
costs. Disease can easily take hold during April. Therefore as soon as
the sitting hens have finished hatching their chicks their brooding
quarters should be washed out with ammonia or washed with quicklime
containing a little paraffin oil, and try and get as much sun into the
area as possible.
Don't keep mixed-aged
poultry together. This is inviting disaster from
a health point of view. The cockerels and pullets of earlier batches
should be kept together, the older poultry on their own, and the chicks
in a different area altogether.
Any surplus eggs
can be hatched and sold off during April as day
Chicken Care for May
Eggs from the lighter
breeds can be hatched in May. If you are raising chickens
table, then this is also the month to do so.
Add some dry bone meal to the food for pullets and cockerels that are
going to be kep for breeding stock in the future.
Because the temperatures are heating up less artificial heating
needed during the daytime in the brooders.
Give the eggs in the
incubators more airing and allow the broody hens
15 -20 minutes daily to get out and about, although some breeds, like
the Rhode Island Reds may not even want to leave the nests.
Don't forget to watch the lice
at this stage as the weather warms, and
make sure that the nests are regualary treated with lice powder. A
sprinkling of powdered sulfur over the nests also helps keeping lice
and mites down. If you have pine trees in your gardens use pine needles
in the nesting boxes. Pine needles will also keep lice and
mites at bay.
Chicken Care for June
June is the month of
long days and short nights which means more work for the chicken
Examine your chickens for
ticks, especially the young pullets and
cockerels. You will usually find ticks on the head and neck of the
chickens. You can kill ticks with a couple of drops of carbolized oil.
The chickens should also
be checked for lice every couple of days. A
good insect powder for poulty can be used here. However, I prefer to
treat their nests with a sprinkling of tea tree oil. You can also put a
couple of drops on the chickens, but only where you know they won't be
able to get at it with their beaks.
Litter in the coops and nesting boxes should be renewed often.
Keep a sharp lookout the
red mite as this is a most difficult chicken
pest to get rid of once it takes hold.
Go through your stock and dispatch any hens that are too old to be
productive, and any cocks that are past their prime. Any cocks that you
want to keep can be moved to the cockerel pens.
The pullets should be given as much space as possible to run around in,
and if you can move them into pens that have access to open fields,
much the better.
Chicken Care for July
Most of what you have
been doing during the month of June, will apply here too.
It is still
very necessary to keep on top of the lice, mite and tick population,
and avoid overcrowding both during the day and at night.
As the weather heats up always make sure that there is plenty of water
available and that your chickens have access to shade during the heat
of the day.
Chicken Care for August
Continue to separate
your pullets from the old hens during August. Although
some of your pullets will be
laying now, their eggs will be small, and won't be able to be used for
sale at this stage. You will have to be patient and wait until the eggs
increase in size before you can sell them commercially.
Chicken Care for September
September is the month to go
through your stock again and weed out those that you will be keeping
for the following breeding season.
You will also need to go through the stock to see which birds will be
selected as table birds.
Your chickens will be
moulting this month. They should be given a
little powdered sulfur in their soft mash to help them with the
regrowth of their feathers.
Set good, quality table bird eggs now so that you will be able to sell
the offspring to be ready for Christmas.
Get in a good stock of peat moss, or collect a large amount of autumn
leaves and allow them to dry out completely to use for winter
littering. I use oak leaves in my chicken house, and after the chickens
have scratched through it for a couple of months, I add it to my
compost heap for my vegetables at a later stage.
It is a lot cheaper than buying in straw or hay, especially if you have
lots of oak trees on the property like I have.
Chicken Care for October
Begin feeding your
pullets more generously during October. Include green cut
bone as often
as possible, daily is best. And if you can let them into a spent
vegetable garden at the end of the month they will definitely benefit
from this, as well as picking out any unwelcome insects.
Dry bone meal can still be used and piece of sulphate of iron, the size
of a hazelnut placed in a quart of water will be good for them. Also
give them apple cider vinegar in their water for good health.
all chicken coops
another thorough cleaning with ammonia, or quicklime
and paraffin oil.
Chicken Care for November
Your pullets are your
investment during November, so it is wise to continue to feed them well.
Continue feeding them green bone, and also give them cracked corn and
buckwheat in the afternoons. It will also help keep them warm.
Keep the chicken houses
dry and clean, and place scratch deep in the
litter on the days that you may have to confine them due to bad
weather. It pays to keep your chickens dry as any dampness will result
in a drop of egg production.
During November you can add pea or bean meal to their diet, and linseed
meal is also highly beneficial if you live in an area like I do where
you have a lot of cold, damp weather.
The fall chickens must be given a lot of vegetable and animal food, and
be kept just as warm and clean as the layers. Give them a good protein
diet, house well and market for good Christmas orders.
Chicken Care for December
going to be dispatched this month for Christmas can be given skim milk,
or buttermilk and ground oats to finish them.
Now look ahead for the New Year and see where you can make improvements
on what you did this year to improve not only your stock, but your
profits as well!
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