Check you’re allowed chickens on your property
Check with your local council to make sure that you are allowed chickens and how many you can get. Some areas have rules about roosters and the rules are often different for urban and rural locations.
For example, in Auckland urban properties of up to 2000 square metres can keep up to six chickens – but roosters aren’t allowed.
In Wellington, you may keep no more than eight chickens without written permission from the council. Roosters may not be kept in urban areas of Wellington.
Auckland Council Reference
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Get a good chicken coop
If you plan to keep chickens for a long time then it’s worth getting a strong, well-built hen house. It’s always a good idea to get a bigger one than you think you need because most chicken owners end up with more chickens than what they start with.
There are heaps of designs for chicken coops online and if you have a bit of time and the ability to hammer a few nails, you will be able to find plans to build you own or you can buy one of the many kitsets available. Whatever you decide to do, here's a list of things you should make sure your hen house has to make sure you get your fair share of eggs.
- A dry, draft free place for your hens
- Perches for them to sleep on at night
- Next boxes for them to lay eggs in
- Access to food & water
- Ventilation & light
A Chicken coop should have at least 30cm of roost or perch per chicken and at least 1 nest box per 6 birds. Outpost have a great range of hen houses that are available as kitsets delivered nationwide to a transport depot near you.
Dust Baths for chickens
Chickens naturally like to roll around in dust or dry dirt. This is their way to prevent parasites such as red mites. Even if you do not provide dust baths your chickens will still find ways to clean themselves. They may end up doing it in your flower or garden beds. Provide them with some nice dust baths so they can remove any lice and mites trapped in their feathers.
Choose the right chicken breed to suit your needs
If you want lot of eggs then you’re best to get some Brown Shaver hens. Brown shavers are probably the most popular breed in NZ and they are good at consistently laying eggs pretty much all year round. They don’t go broody very often (if at all) so you won’t have a drop in egg production or problem trying to get hens to stop being broody.
Orpington chickens are very friendly and look adorable with their big fluffy feathers. They are a dual-purpose bird, laying large, creamy white eggs. They also make excellent mothers and are known for their ability to hatch out huge clutches of chicks.
Araucana chickens are small to medium-sized birds that lay the most stunning eggs in a range of green-blue shades. They aren’t as consistent performers as the Shaver, but the novelty of their eggs and their friendly natures make them a great addition to your flock.
Light Sussex chickens are a good dual-purpose chicken, so good for meat and eggs. They have a white body with a black tail and black feathers around the neck hackles. This breed do go broody and are good at rearing chicks if that’s what you want to do. When they go broody you won’t get any eggs until after they’ve reared their chicks or you’ve stopped them from brooding.
There are many other breeds of chickens out there so it’s a good idea to do some research and figure out what’s best for you. Find out more at https://www.goodground.com/
How to deal with a Broody Hen
When a hen is broody it will sit on the eggs in the nest box to try and hatch the eggs. If you're not intending them to be mothers then this can be a bit of a nuisance.
- Broody hens can be grumpy and aggressive if you try and take the eggs.
- Broody hens will sit in their nest virtually all day
- Broody hens will eat less and put their own health at risk while they concentrate on hatching eggs
Put the broody hen in a wire pet cage in a well lit location - it sounds mean but it will help them calm down and is one of the most proven methods. The wire cage means they can't sit like they would in a nest. Make sure they have plenty of food and water in the cage.
Otherwise it can be enough to move them to another hen house if you have one. Moving them away from their normal house can be enough to stop them being broody. How long? This depends on your hens and how long they've been broody for. Let them out daily & see if they try to run back to the nest box - if they do then put them back in the cage. If they've been broody for a couple of days before you put them in a cage then it may take about a week to get them back to normal. Some chicken breeds go broody more often than others so keep this in mind when choosing your chickens.
Moulting is the natural process of feather shedding and re-growth. Hens divert protein and energy away from egg production to concentrate on feather growth. Moulting chickens will lose some or lots of their feathers and look pretty scruffy for a while until their new feathers grow back. Supplementing a hen’s diet with extra protein during a moult can aid in feather growth and egg production. A good supplement option for moulting chicken is Meal Worms which you can buy on the Outpost website or your local pet food store.