This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through these links, I may earn a small commission.
Earlier I put up a post with Chicken Questions and Answers, go check it out if you are thinking of getting chickens for the first time. Here’s a follow up post with more questions and answers. If you’ve got questions, just leave a comment on this post and I’ll get an answer for you.
Are chickens any good at tick control?
Yes they are. Chickens are great for any type of pests, like mosquitoes, flies, and grubs. However, for ticks, you may want to look into guineas. Those are supposed to be extremely effective against ticks. We have never had guineas, so I don’t know much about them.
If you want to reduce the number of pests inside your vegetable garden, you can build your chicken coop right outside the garden. Then, build the run around the entire garden. You will find that the number of bugs goes way down. It’s like building a moat around your food garden – I saw pictures of one setup a fellow did and it was really fantastic. He said he had hardly any bugs inside the garden at all.
Even if you have your coop close to your garden, you should see the benefit of less pests in there. After harvesting, you could let your chickens free range inside the garden. They’ll find the grubs that are there and enjoy eating them. However, they will also eat every single worm they find, so it is a trade off. I like to have our worms stay in the garden soil to give some aeration.
In general, having chickens around free ranging will definitely help to keep the bug and tick population somewhat under control.
Why do chickens peck the feathers off each others’ backs?
This could be happening for a few different reasons. Chickens get bored if they are not kept busy. Boredom can lead them to picking on each other (both literally and figuratively). Keep your chickens busy by having a large enough grassy area for them to look for bugs and weeds to eat. Try to not keep them confined all the time. Use some temporary fencing to set up an area that they can hang out in. You can move the fencing from time to time so that the chickens are placed in a new area.
Don’t we all remember long car rides when we were kids with our siblings and having fights breaking out? Yes, same thing…too much of a confined space is not a good thing.
Chickens will also peck each others feathers if they are missing something in their diet. I think this is usually protein, but it could also be some mineral deficiency. Make sure they are getting a well rounded diet, usually including laying pellets that you can buy at the feed store. Feeding them weeds and table scraps are fantastic for chickens, but if you aren’t feeding them any scraps with protein, they aren’t getting all they need to remain healthy. Think about how difficult it must be for them to lay an egg a day on an inadequate diet.
There is protein in the bugs and worms they eat, but is it enough? I’d rather feed them the lay pellets every day and then supplement that with the foods they find while free ranging.
Do chickens get taken by hawks or other predators during the day at all?
Absolutely. Predators can get very brave during the day. They are braver at night, but they’ll scope out your coop during the day. If no humans are around, they could snatch a hen or two in broad daylight. Hawks, owls and other birds of prey will definitely go after small chicks. Sometimes here in the Valley, Mama could raise 12 chicks and have 11 of them taken by the ravens here.
Birds of prey are merciless and they are usually far more patient than us humans. They will wait us out and as soon as we turn our backs, here they come. Screening in the top of your chicken run so that no birds can swoop down into it will help a lot. Make sure the holes in the screens are quite small, as you won’t want a hawk getting caught in the holes of the netting or screening.
Does a rooster protect his hens in any way?
Yes, he does protect his hens and a rooster will usually do a good job. However, a rooster is no match for a hawk or owl. When the rooster senses danger, his call will alert the hens who will go running for cover. He’s kind of like the captain of a ship that is going down, in that he will put himself in danger to save all his ladies and their children. Roosters can be really mean and I have seen some that are incredible fighters.
Is there anything you absolutely should not feed chicken in terms of leftover food and whatnot?
There are a few things I know chickens should not eat. Green potatoes is one. Be sure no part of a green potato peel gets cooked up for them. Potato leaves, tomato leaves, eggplant leaves are also no no’s, as they are members of the nightshade family. They don’t like citrus fruits and I am not sure if its just the taste they don’t like or if they don’t eat them because they know somehow they shouldn’t.
If you are going to feed their eggs back to them, be sure to cook them thoroughly first. You never want them to taste raw eggs or they may start pecking at their own eggs to get at the inside.
If anyone has more chicken questions, let me know!