FAQ Chicken Questions
Do I need a rooster for my hens to lay eggs?
The answer is no, unless you want chicks. If you/re just looking for eggs to eat and/or some nice yard pets,
hens minus the rooster can provide you with plenty of farm fresh eggs without a single crow to wake you
How long do chickens live?
The life expectancy of most standard chicken breeds shielded from predators is 8 to 15 years. There are many
reports of pet chickens living as long as 20 years!
At what age do hens start laying and how many eggs will they lay?
Typically hens will start to lay when they are around 5-6 months of age and will approximately 200-300 eggs
annually, based on the breed type.
How much feed do chickens eat?
The amount of feed a chicken will consume varies dramatically based on breed type, feed quality, climate and other
variables that make it difficult to provide one good answer. However, a typical laying hen will consume
around 4 to 6 ounces of feed each day with an increase during cold months and a decrease during warm
When a hen lays an egg which end comes out first?
The large end comes first.
How long can newly hatched chicks live without food?
Chicks, just before they hatch, draw into their abdomen the nutrients in the egg. Rich in food value and liquid,
the yolk provides the newly-hatched chick with all it needs to eat and drink for over 3 days. My advice: Don't NOT
feed them for 3 days just because this is true; make sure they have food and water around them all the time quickly
after they hatch. This fact though does allow newly hatched chicks to be mailed in a quick fashion without food or
Will Raccoons Hurt My chickens?
Yes. Raccoons are one of the most common predators of chickens. They will attack mainly at night, and can tear a
bird apart very quickly. They frequently will kill more than one. Good secure coops will help to protect your flock
When can my chicks go outside?
You should wait until they are fully feathered to put them outside.
Depending on the temperature, they can go outside when they are from 5 to 12
What is the difference between a bantam egg and a regular egg?
A bantam egg is smaller. Nutritionally there is no difference.
How long do chickens lay eggs?
Chicken can lay eggs into their teens, although they sometimes stop earlier.
How tall should the side fences be on the chicken yard? Is seven feet
Six feet is a common level for poultry fencing. Seven feet would be sufficient in most cases. There have been cases
of chickens flying out even at that level, however. Chickens can be kept contained in their pens as well as
protected from overhead predators by covering the pens with some form of netting.
Common, lightweight, and easy to use netting is deer netting available in most large home improvement stores as
well as hardware stores.
What is the best material to spread on the coop floor?
Pine shavings (or similar) work very well. Straw is also ok, but has spaces inside which can harbor mites and other
How much space do I need in my chicken house and run?
Inside space should be a minimum of 2 square feet of floor space. Outside, a minimum of
square feet in the run per bird
How many nest boxes do I need?
Generally, one nest box for every 4 hens.
How big should my nest boxes be?
For larger breeds, a box 12" high, 12" deep and 14" high is fine.
How far off the ground should I place my nest boxes?
18" to 24" is a good height.
What is the difference between a bantam and a regular chicken?
A bantam is a miniature chicken, usually about 1/4 to 1/2 the size of a
What should I feed my chickens?
Starter ration until they are 8 weeks old, grower ration until they are 18
weeks old, then layer ration; or combination starter-grower until they are
18 weeks, then layer ration. It is a good idea to supplement the layer
ration with ground oyster shell. Oyster shell helps keep eggshells thick.
Can I feed my chickens treats?
Yes. Scratch is a good treat for chickens. Chickens like many things: cooked
spaghetti, clean vegetable peels, fruit, cereal, meal worms, bugs, and
snails. Avoid strong tasting foods like onions and garlic; some sources say
this makes their eggs taste funny
What is scratch?
Scratch is a cracked corn and wheat mix for chickens. It is available at
most feed stores
Do roosters need to be separated from each other when they are in with pullets? If so, at what age do they need to
Roosters that grow up together generally get along and may not need to be separated. Even if one is bantam and one
is a standard they could live in harmony especially if they have a large area. It is individual however and can
change with age so always keep an eye out.
How many roosters do I need for my chickens?
One rooster for every 8-12 hens will probably produce fertile eggs.
When and how can I tell if a chicken is a rooster?
It is VERY difficult to tell male from female at an early age.
Depending on the breed, cockerels (males) develop larger combs and wattles
earlier than pullets (females) and will start trying to crow at 6 to 10
weeks (we had one start to crow at 16 weeks - it's not a precise science,
sorry!) Cockerels tend to bigger and/or taller than the pullets. You may
also observe more aggressive "rooster behaviors", like play fighting,
hassling, mounting and such.
Why aren't my chickens laying?
1) they might be too young 2) they might be too old 3) if they look sick, an
illness may have caused them to stop laying 4) chickens frequently stop
laying while they are molting and 5) they might just need a break!
My chickens are eating their own eggs. What should I do?
Usually, egg-eating is due to a need for more calcium. Supplement with
crushed oyster shells (available at feed stores). In a pinch, crush up
regular chickens eggs and supplement with that (although that may encourage
them to peck at eggs). For occasional stubborn hen who has just decided she
likes the taste of eggs, you may have to try a nest box that allows the eggs
to roll out of reach.
Can you wash a chicken?
Yes. Show chickens are given baths often so their feathering is perfect for showing. Most people recommend Dawn dishwashing soap as it is gentle and will remove
grease. Others prefer baby soap or shampoo.
What is the best way to introduce new chickens to an already established
Separate newcomers and established birds with a barrier (i.e., wire), so they can see each other but not directly
interact for a period of 1-4 weeks. This will help keep fighting to a minimum. Always introduce them while
SUPERVISED, so you can control any fighting.
What is the molt?
The molt is an annual process in which the chickens lose and regrow their
feathers. Usually chickens molt in the late summer or early fall. They may
stop laying eggs while they are molting.
Do chickens smell bad?
No. The only time chickens will smell bad is if they are sick or their coop
is not cleaned often enough.