SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Keeping your backyard chickens healthy

Chickens can be wonderful companions and are energetic, inquisitive, and friendly animals.

However, in order to keep your chickens as happy and healthy as they deserve, they need dedicated care.

So before adding a flock of chickens to your family, there are a few important points you should consider:

Check your chickens

Chickens should be checked daily for changes in their health, such as looking for wounds, feather loss, scaly legs and parasites, such as red mite and basically just to check their general health.

Chickens are a lot smarter than most people think and can also be trained for regular handling, such as you would use to pick them up and check their health. And if you’re really interested, chickens are easily clicker trained to do tricks and even walk mazes.

Worm and mite treatment

Your chickens should be wormed regularly and possibly treated for red mite (talk to your veterinarian about parasites to watch out for in your area). It is a good idea to include the chicken coop in your regular cleaning routine. Remember after giving any kind of medication to your hens you will need to avoid eating their eggs for a certain amount of time, called a withdrawal period, which varies with different medications and will be stated on the medication information. Remember that your chickens may need veterinary care, so take this into account when considering the costs of caring for your flock of chickens. 

Collecting eggs

Hens do not lay eggs all year round, and need time off every now and then, just like we do. When your hens are laying eggs, collect the eggs every day to prevent the eggs going rotten, possibly hatching (if you have a rooster), getting broken and to stop your hens eating their own eggs.

Get to know your chickens

Observe your chickens regularly, not only is it fun to watch them, but you will get to know your different birds, their personalities and what is normal and abnormal for each bird. If a chicken is behaving abnormally this is usually a sign that something is very wrong. Birds tend to hide signs of illness until they are very ill, so ensure you get veterinary care as soon as possible if you notice any problems.

Introducing a new chicken

If you already have chickens and are introducing new birds to your flock you should temporarily quarantine the new birds for two weeks, treat them for parasites, watch the birds closely for signs of illness and only introduce the new chickens into your flock if they are healthy.

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