Basic chicken care

Chickens must be provided with a warm, dry sleeping area, and plenty of fresh, clean water.

Basic chicken care
Chickens should be kept secure to protect them from predators such as dogs.
Photo: Scot Nelson
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Chickens kept in a cage must be protected from rain, hail, cold wind and direct sun. Extremes of heat or cold can prove fatal. Even if they don’t die, the birds will not be as healthy and strong as they should be.

In a hot, humid area, it is particularly important that air can pass freely through the cage to cool the chickens down.

Roofing and protection

Ensure that at least half the cage is roofed. If you use metal sheeting, cover it with grass or other material, properly tied down, to prevent the metal from becoming too hot or too cold.

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Cover two sides of the cage to protect the chickens from rain, cold wind and sun.

Place roosting poles or branches in the cage to enable the birds to perch and sleep properly at night.

Secure the cage well to protect the chickens from predators.

Sick and injured birds

If a chicken becomes sick or injured, remove it to a safe and dry place, and care for it until it is well again. If it is very sick or badly injured, rather slaughter it humanely. Never leave an injured chicken in the cage with other chickens or they may peck at it until it dies. For the same reason, small or weak chickens must be kept, fed and cared for separately.

Chickens should always have clean, fresh water to drink. One chicken requires at least 100mℓ of water a day. In hot weather, it will need more to help it stay cool and maintain its appetite.

Place the water container in the shade, putting it on bricks or flat rocks to raise it above ground level. This will prevent the birds from scratching sand and dirt into the water.

Tie the container to the side of the cage, or put a clean rock in the middle, so that it cannot be turned over.

The sides of the container should be low enough for small chicks to reach the water comfortably. Clean the container and refill it daily.