Considering Chickens? Q&A Just for You!

By Jennifer Murtoff, Home to Roost LLC

This article provides answers to some common questions asked by people who are considering getting chickens.

Q: What breed of chicken should I get?

A: Consider the right birds for your climate! For cold climates, choose cold-hardy, dual-purpose birds, such as the Barred Rock, Buff Orpginton, and Wyandotte. Their smaller combs and wattles prevent heat loss. For warm climates, consider Mediterranean breeds like the Leghorn, Minorca, and Andalusian. Their bodies are slimmer, and they have large combs and wattles. A first-time owner may have better success with all the same breed or a flock made up of all large fowl, rather than a flock that includes bantams. See Henderson’s Breed Chart for more detailed info on breeds.

Plymouth Rocks are good cold-hardy breeds and Leghorns are great for warm climates.

Q: Do I need a rooster to get eggs?

A: Nope! Your hens will lay on their own. If you want to hatch chicks, you’ll need a rooster. A rooster also helps protect the flock and keeps peace among the hens.

Nutrena NatureWise provides optimal nutrition for your birds.

Q: Can I feed them table scraps?

A: Fruit and veggie scraps are fine, but make sure that 85% or more of their diet comes from a quality, balanced layer ration. A properly formulated layer feed like Nutrena® NatureWise® supports the immune system, provides important nutrients for great eggs, and supports healthy and effective digestion.

Q: Will I get eggs all the time, and how many?

A: Different breeds lay different numbers of eggs. You can get a rough idea of how many eggs per breed on Henderson’s Breed Chart. Your girls will lay the most during their first 2 to 3 years of life but will likely continue to lay for several years afterwards. They generally stop laying during the winter, but with a few tricks like supplemental lighting, you can maximize your winter eggs. Your hens will start to lay again in the spring. Female birds also stop laying when they’re molting (losing and regrowing their feathers). Sometimes a hen will go broody and want to hatch eggs. When this happens, she’ll stop laying. Following some simple tips can help your hens lay their best.

Your hens will lay different numbers of eggs based on several factors.

Q: How do I know when my chicken is sick, and what do I do about it?

It’s important to develop a relationship with a vet who can care for your birds.

A: Chickens are very good at hiding signs of illness, so try to pick up your birds on a regular basis to know what is normal for their bodies and weight. Also know what behaviors are normal. Weight loss and changes from routine can indicate something is wrong. Establish a relationship with an avian or poultry vet in your area, and have an emergency fund for veterinary services. Your state’s agricultural extension office may be a good resource as well. Put together a chicken first-aid kit, including a hospital cage. Get your birds used to being handled in case they have to be treated.

Pullets at point of lay have small, pink combs and wattles, which become larger and more red as they mature.

Q: Should I get chicks or older birds?

A: Chicks are great because they become tame the more you handle them. But they are messy and should be kept in a brooder box (often in the house!). You can also get pullets at point of lay (female birds that are about 20 weeks old). If they were not handled a lot, they may be skittish and wary of humans, but they will lay eggs sooner. You may also adopt a flock of older birds.

Q: Can I add new birds to my flock?

A: Yes! Chicken math is a thing: once you start getting chickens, you’ll want more! But adding new birds to an existing flock can be tricky, so be sure to follow these tips. Also consider the source of the birds and observe proper biosecurity to prevent illness in your flock.

Q: Can I leave my chickens for a few days when I’m out of town?

A: Consider your birds to be a 24/7 commitment. You should have someone plan to look in on them twice a day while you’re away. Morning care should include letting them out of the coop, feeding, and watering. In the evening, around dusk, have your sitter put them back in the coop and collect eggs. The sitter should also monitor for any signs of predators or injury. If you have a veterinarian, provide his or her contact information. Read this post for additional tips.

Q: What kind of housing do I need?

A: Chickens don’t need a fancy home, but they do have a few basic requirements. The coop should be well ventilated but draft free; there should be some air circulation, but, in winter especially, cold air should not come rushing through cracks. Keep the coop and run as dry as possible to prevent illness and frostbite. You’ll also need to have enough space for your birds to prevent them from pecking one another: 4 square feet per bird in the coop; 6–8 square feet per bird in the run.  

Q: How do I convince my neighbors that chickens are a good idea?

A: Sometimes chickens are a hard sell, but they often end up being a fun neighborhood-building activity. Find out what your neighbors’ main concerns are, and then research solutions. Demonstrate that you are following best practices. For example, if rodents are a concern, you can run ¼” hardware cloth underneath the coop and run and keep food stored in metal cans. Provide your neighbors with resources that address their concerns, such as this article by a well-known chicken author. Invite them to go on a tour of well-kept coops in your area. Be prepared to make some compromises!

Most neighbors will come to love your chickens!

 

What’s Inside Counts: More Than Protein for Happy, Healthy Chicks

By Jennifer Murtoff, Home to Roost LLC

Healthy Happy Strong Chicks
These happy, healthy chicks are off to a great start in life!

Walk down the aisle at your local feed store or browse online, and you’ll notice a number of different chick starter/grower feeds at different price points. Many chicken keepers consider only the protein content of feeds and choose the lowest-priced feed with the acceptable amount of protein. But why is there a difference in cost? And is protein the most important ingredient in a chick feed?

Correct levels of protein are an important part of your chick feed, but they are only one element of a good nutritional foundation. A feed with advanced nutrition combines high-quality ingredients and additives in the precise blend to support vitality, health, and growth for a superior start. It will also provide appropriate levels of amino acids, which are critical for protein formation, enabling your birds to live their best lives from the very beginning.

Reviews from the Field

We asked our customers to review our NatureWise® Chick Starter Grower with FlockShield, and it earned rave reviews from across the United States.

    • I’ve been raising chicks for years on a different feed and decided to check out NatureWise® this season on my first group of chicks. My goodness, the difference is huge! These little chicks sprouted feathers faster than my chicks last season, are super hardy, run around like crazy rockets, and look amazing. They always feel plump and thus far have been a blast. The crumble is a nice size, is not full of powder (like other brands), and is easily accessible at my store. I will keep using it this season.
      –Tucson, AZ

       

    • Two weeks ago I started my new chicks on this feed and have noticed how happy, healthy, and perky they are. No instances of sick chicks or poopy butts. So thankful!
      Madison, WI

       

    • I started feeding Nutrena NatureWise® Chick Starter Grower three weeks ago. My baby chicks have grown tremendously beautiful and healthy. I recommend this product to anyone starting a new chicken family.
      –Havana, FL

       

    • My chicks have loved Nutrena NatureWise® chick starter. I am happy to say that I haven’t lost a single chick started on it. I’ve also noticed a big difference in a sickly chick I purchased a few days ago since getting her home and on Nutrena feed. She’s perked up and made a complete turnaround. I love that Nutrena uses nature to add a little extra boost to the feed.
      –Birmingham, AL

       

    • I’ve been raising chicks for many years and recently purchased NatureWise® Chick Starter Grower medicated feed for my new babies. I am aware that chicks grow quickly, but I cannot believe how quickly the girls are growing—especially their wings. Much faster than previous years using a different feed. The girls are healthy, active, and vibrant. I believe it’s all about the feed! I’m impressed!
      –McDonough, GA

 See more customer reviews here.

What’s in a Chick Feed?

But what makes the difference? It all comes down to Nutrena’s motto: What’s inside counts. The quantity, quality, and kind of ingredients all make a difference. Chick feeds typically have several main components.

    • Proteins and amino acids help build body tissues. They also assist with metabolic function, conduct specific biological reactions, build hormones, and coordinate functions of different cells within the body.

    • Carbohydrates power cellular activity. They are the body’s preferred source of energy. They make up the largest percentage of a chicken’s diet and come mostly from grains.

    • Vitamins and minerals perform many functions in the body: they encourage healthy growth, create strong bones, and form blood cells. They also support energy use and muscle function.

Two chicks eating feed

The quantity of the ingredients affects the health and growth of your chicks. For example, too much calcium can damage your chicks’ kidneys, and too little protein can cause them to process feed inefficiently.

Feed quality is also important: the quality of the ingredients—the vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates—matters. NatureWise®’s high-quality ingredients make a difference!

Finally, the kind of ingredients is key. Some premium feeds contain extra ingredients that provide supportive nutrition for your birds, such as pre- and probiotics, yeast culture, and essential oils. These extra ingredients boost the immune system, support healthy growth, promote optimal digestion, and cut down on odor in droppings. Our NatureWise® products contain a proprietary blend of these additional ingredients called FlockShield.

But how do we know that these ingredients are useful? In addition to the reviews from satisfied customers, our scientific trials provide the proof.

Scientific Evidence

In July 2021, we set up a research trial to test the quality of our NatureWise® Chick Starter Grower feed at our Cargill Innovation Campus in Elk River, Minnesota. We selected 510 speckled Sussex chicks and divided them into six groups of 85 chicks each. Each group was fed one of six different feeds manufactured by national brands, including Nutrena’s NatureWise® Chick Starter Grower and other brands of chick starter. The birds were housed under the same conditions, with the only difference being the brand of feed, and we observed them over 18 weeks.

We examined the birds for several different variables, including body weight and breast muscle, death rate, feed conversion ratio, as well as feed consumption and instances of illness. Our NatureWise® Chick Starter Grower yielded superior results in all categories.

    • No chick deaths: We compared the 85 chicks fed NatureWise® to 85 chicks that ate a premium diet of a national competitor. Based on the study results, 3 of the chicks fed the competitor’s brand died (3.5%), which is in line with industry averages. However, none of the chicks fed NatureWise® were lost.

Chart showing 0 chick loss on NatureWise Feed and 3.55 chick loss on the leading premium brand

    • Better use of feed: The chicks in the two groups ate roughly the same amount, but the NatureWise® chicks had higher weight gain, which means their bodies used the feed better, gaining 3.7% more weight per day than the birds fed the competitor’s feed. The NatureWise® chicks also ate 2% less feed; thus the NatureWise® birds converted feed to weight more efficiently, showing a 5.9% improvement in use of feed. For owners, this means less money spent on feed.

The results of this study show that Nutrena’s blend of quality protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, as well as its FlockShield™ proprietary blend of additives, led to faster-growing, more feed-efficient, and healthier birds across all categories that we examined.

So the science proves that what’s inside counts: Nutrena NatureWise® provides superior nutrition, setting the stage for your chicks to live their best lives as healthy, happy chickens.

, ,

What To Know Before Building Your Own Chicken Coop

backyard chicken on grass

Are you looking to build a coop for your first flock of backyard chickens? This article has everything you need to know about building a safe coop for a happy flock.

The perfect chicken coop protects your birds from heat, cold, weather, predators, and diseases, while also being comfortable for them and accessible for you.

I’ve had chickens in my backyard for decades, and in that time, we’ve gone through at least three chicken coops. Every time we build, there are new lessons to be learned, but the fundamental principles always stay the same. The perfect chicken coop is big enough to house the whole flock, sturdy enough to withstand the worst weather, and safe enough to keep out the most determined predators. Perhaps most importantly, it is easy for you, the owner, to clean, maintain, and keep in the best possible shape. This keeps your hens safe and healthy as long as possible. In this article, we’ll break down the things you need to know before building such a perfect coop.

  1. Choose a plan that meets all your needs. There is no one-size-fits-all perfect chicken coop plan or design that will work for every flock owner, but there are a number of universal concerns everyone should consider before picking a coop plan. One of the big ones is capacity: How many and what kind of chickens is the coop able to safely hold? How much space your birds will need will depend on a number of factors. Free-ranging birds or birds with a run will need significantly less space than birds that will be confined all day; roosters generally need a bit more space than hens; and bantam breeds can usually get by with less floor space but need more vertical space. Your personal accessibility needs – how well you can get into the coop to clean and collect eggs – is another major concern people often overlook.
  2. Pick a location that will keep your girls safe and cool. As with plans, there is no hard and fast rule about what makes the perfect location, only a series of concerns to balance against your own needs and preferences. Shade is a big one; placing the coop out of direct sunlight can help keep your flock from overheating. However, building your coop directly under the trees can run afoul of another concern, which is accessibility to predators. Hawks will see a flock that lives directly under a sturdy tree as easy prey, and ground-based predators will more easily access your coop if it is surrounded by good hiding places. Finally, human accessibility is key. Building a chicken coop can take anywhere from a weekend to about two weeks, and maintaining a flock in one more than five years. Consider how far you want to schlep building materials, tools, chicken feed, and eggs to and from the coop. As you may be doing this every day for half a decade, reconsider before picking the spot furthest away from the house.
  3. Add enough ventilation for all seasons. It’s hard to think of a few wall vents as a lifesaving design feature, but for a chicken coop, having proper ventilation is absolutely crucial. In fact, it’s one of the best things you can do to keep your girls safe and healthy. A well-ventilated coop will bring in lots of clean air, which will help stop potentially fatal respiratory diseases like Newcastle and bird flu from spreading in your flock. In addition, ventilation will help keep your birds cool in hot weather. Even though modern-day chickens are descended from tropical junglefowl, they are much more susceptible to overheating than freezing. However, both heat waves and cold snaps can be dangerous to chickens. The solution is to have a lot of vents at all heights throughout the coop, which will blow cooling drafts over your birds on hot days, but to have those vents be closeable. In the winter, closing all but two vents at the very top of the coop (above the roosts) will help keep your flock both warm and disease-free.   
  4. Use hardware mesh to keep out predators. When it comes to keeping predators out of the coop, hardware mesh (also called hardware cloth) really can’t be beat. Its small holes (much smaller than those in chicken wire) keep out all manner of ground-based predators, and you can’t use too much of the stuff. Use it to reinforce your walls, your floor, your outer fence, and then bury some more at least six inches into the ground around your perimeter. The one place chicken wire is a better choice is for the upper parts of the run fencing, to keep chickens in and other birds out.   
  5. Customize your nesting boxes and roosts for maximum safety and comfort. Nesting boxes (for egg-laying) and roosts (for sleeping) are the two parts of the coop your hens will use most often. They aren’t fussed about what they look like, as long as your nesting boxes are filled with something soft (like wood shavings or straw) and your roosts are the highest available sitting place in the coop. Have 10 inches of space per bird in your roosts, and one nesting box for every three hens, plus one more than you need for if a hen goes broody or picks a favorite box.

Building your own chicken coop can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are only a few crucial elements to keep in mind when building that, if planned for correctly, will result in a sturdy coop and a safe, happy, healthy, productive flock.

 

The Chicken Digestive System and Immune System: An Important Partnership

By Jennifer Murtoff, Home to Roost LLC 

How are your chickens’ diet and their overall health connected?

Overview of Immune System

As humans, we rely on our immune systems every day to protect us from viruses, bacteria, toxins, and fungi. When this network of organs, cells, and proteins defeats a threat to our body, it makes a record of how to defend against the invader. The next time the body is faced with this particular attacker, the immune system can defeat it swiftly and efficiently.  

The chicken’s immune system functions in a similar way. It is also complex. Its main defenses are lymphoid organs, which produce, store, and carry cells that fight infection. The primary lymphoid organs in a chicken are the thymus and the bursa of Fabricius:

    • Thymus: This series of lymphatic lobes runs almost the whole length of the neck. It is similar to the thymus in humans.
    • Bursa of Fabricius: This organ is unique to birds and is located on top of the rectum. It forms a kind of pocket (the word bursa means “purse”) that contains folds of lymphoid tissue.

These two organs produce immune cells: the thymus produces T-cells and the bursa of Fabricius produces B-cells. These immune cells migrate to other areas in the body, including the Harderian gland, spleen, and bone marrow. However, more than 60% of these immune cells migrate to and reside in the various places in the digestive tract, including the cecal tonsils and Peyer’s patches. From these locations, they defend the body against invaders.  

In addition to hosting immune cells, the digestive system also contains other important components that support the chicken’s immune system. Beneficial microflora (bacteria and yeast) live in throughout the digestive tract. They provide important services, such as protecting the walls of the intestine from colonization by harmful bacteria. Scientists also think that the friendly microflora help keep the bird’s body on high alert for disease-causing organisms.

So, the immune system of a chicken includes both immune cells and beneficial microflora that are located in the digestive tract.

Benefits of a Diet That Supports the Immune System

You can help keep your chickens healthy by providing a high-quality, commercially formulated feed containing elements that are necessary for gut health. These include probiotics, prebiotics, yeast culture, and essential oils. These ingredients populate the gut with good microflora and can boost the immune system. Studies have shown that feeds formulated to boost the immune and digestive systems can result in better health and quality of life and improved egg production and quality. In addition, healthy chickens are less likely to harbor harmful bacteria in their reproductive tract, meaning safer eggs for you.

Finally, a diet that supports the immune system can increase absorption of nutrients from food by increasing the surface area of the intestine, meaning your birds will use their feed more efficiently. It also aids in digestion of calcium, which is important for strong eggshells and healthy bones.

In short, a chicken with a diet that supports a healthy immune system is a chicken that is both happy and productive, living her best life.

Support Your Chickens’ Immune Systems

Nutrena® NatureWise® Poultry feeds with FlockShield® and essential oils are specially formulated to support both the digestive system and the immune system for birds at every stage of life. They contain probiotics, prebiotics, yeast cultures, and essential oils that contribute to gut and immune system health. Choosing Nutrena NatureWise with Flockshield will help your birds live their best lives by improving their health, digestion, and productivity.

Top 3 Poultry Myths – HENS

Let’s bust some myths on laying hens. The internet is filled with lots of information on hens, some are true some are opinions. In this video Twain Lockhart, Nutrena’s Poultry Expert, debunks the top three myths on hens.

How to Choose the Right Chicken for Your Family

Right chicken for your family

As more and more suburbanites join the ranks of would-be homesteaders raising flocks of chickens in their backyards, it only makes sense that more and more children are being exposed to chickens. While many folks remember fondly having a little incubator in the corner of a kindergarten classroom, having chickens in the backyard gives children the opportunity to not only experience the joys of raising an animal, but also learn about responsibility, caring for animals, and where their food comes from.

            Families with young children have a few more things to take into account when choosing a chicken breed then other chicken owners. As one example, personality becomes much more important when looking for a breed that will bond with children. There are a number of useful tools online to help folks pick the best breed for their level of experience and space, production, and interaction needs. Here, we’ll focus on families with young kids looking for their first flock of hens.

Universal Concerns

            First, it should be noted that there are some things all chicken owners need to take into account, children or no. These are largely logistical considerations, like how much space the flock will need and how many eggs you’ll want each week. Chickens are more energetic than many people assume, and they need their exercise just as much as anyone else; folks planning to keep their birds in the coop all day should plan for a commensurately larger coop to compensate for the lack of outdoor exercise. Those looking to raise chickens for eggs should also plan for a flock that will give them a reasonable number of eggs for their consumption – different breeds can lay anywhere between two and six eggs a week, which obviously makes a huge difference across a typical starter flock of five or six hens.

Chickens for Children

            For future chicken keepers raising their own future chicken keepers, there are a couple of other factors to take into account. The big one, as mentioned above, is personality. While chickens, like people, are all individuals with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies, certain breeds tend toward certain personalities – gentle or aggressive, sociable or loners, cuddly or standoffish. There are tradeoffs to getting the most people-friendly chickens, though; they’re mostly breeds like the cochin or the silkie, historically cultivated as pet or ornamental birds – beautiful feathers, docile personalities, but generally poor layers. Both the cochin and the silkie only lay about two eggs per week.

            The good news is that even production breeds inclined to be less friendly and cuddly can still be brought up to be gentle and even affectionate with their owners. The key to raising docile hens, more important even than their breed, is to bring them up from chicks, so they learn early on to trust their humans. This is especially good for children, as they get an opportunity not just to observe the undeniable cuteness of baby chicks, but also to form a bond with the animals and learn how to interact with them in a low-stakes environment where the animals are unlikely to hurt or scare them. 

Top Tips for Raising Chickens and Children

  1. Establish ground rules early. Children, even more than most people, like to know what’s going on; they thrive on structure and routine. Giving them a clear picture of what life with the chickens will look like – maybe designating a certain time of day or area of the house for ‘fun chicken time’ and another time/place for the chickens to be ‘working’ – will help the kids adjust to the chickens and build an appropriate relationship with them as animals that are both pets and livestock.
  2. Practice good hen hygiene. Chickens are carriers for a number of dangerous bacteria, most notably salmonella, and the kinds of behaviors children are most likely to enjoy – petting and cuddling – are also the ones most likely to spread an infection. Washing hands before and after any interaction with the birds, as well as taking care while collecting and preparing eggs, is the best way to prevent transmission of an at best unpleasant and at worst very dangerous illness.
  3. Keep the kids involved. Kids, especially small children, love to feel important and have the autonomy to make decisions. Keeping them actively involved in the decision-making process around the birds – the littlest ones might get to name the hens, while their older siblings have a voice in the breed selection process – will help them feel emotionally invested in the flock as a collective, family project.
  4. Supervision is key. Children should never be left alone with the birds, especially when they’re both strangers to each other. Remember that both parties here – the children and the chickens – have the potential to hurt one another. When the kids play with the hens or help with chicken-related chores, there should always be a chicken-literate adult nearby to monitor the kids and watch out for potential accidents. 
  5. Chickens aren’t toys. This is one of the hardest things for children (and some adults) to understand, but just because the chickens are pets doesn’t mean they’re required to meet every whim of their owners. There are times where the birds won’t be interested in interacting, and they have a tendency to express this with their beaks. Helping the kids understand this ahead of time will hopefully keep them from having to learn the hard way.
  6. Establish emotional boundaries where appropriate. If you have any intention of ever killing one of your birds for meat, draw a clear line between the chickens and pets – especially if you have a dog, cat, or other full pet. Otherwise, it will be easy for small children to get the idea that the family might one day kill and eat Fido. This is another place where establishing expectations and boundaries ahead of time is crucial.

Raising chickens in a family with kids can be hugely rewarding for everyone involved, but it does mean the adults have to take on a few more responsibilities in regard to safeguarding both the kids and the hens from one another. Luckily, a few precautions – like picking a child-friendly breed and establishing expectations with the kids beforehand – will go long way in making sure the backyard flock is a happy, healthy addition to the family.   

Backyard Chickens Launch Careers

Many parents build a backyard coop and stock it with a few hens as an interesting way to help their children learn responsibility by caring for animals and where food really comes from.

These are important lessons, but chickens offer children much more.  A small flock can spark curiosity and imagination that gels into a rewarding career or lifelong hobby. 

That may sound far-fetched but ask successful people what sparked their interest and led toward a career or meaningful hobbies and often they’ll say: “When I was only four or five years old Dad and I made a birdhouse and ever since I’ve been fascinated with building things…..so I became an engineer.” Or, “When I was only a few years old I spotted a brilliant red bird out our kitchen window. Mom and I looked in her bird book and identified a Scarlet Tanager. Birding’s been my passion ever since.”

Parents never know what might ignite a child’s interest, so even brief exposure to a diversity of positive experiences can spark a lifelong passion. Master teachers recognize that curiosity is a powerful precursor to learning. Rather than doling out facts, gifted teachers create an environment that stimulates curiosity. Students eagerly take it from there.

Jane Goodall, famous for observing and documenting chimpanzee behavior in Africa, began her naturalist career as a young child carefully watching how chickens lay eggs in her grandmother’s chicken coop.

Chickens are fascinating creatures, and a small flock can begin a child’s adventure in science. A few hen’s ability to teach out values the eggs they might contribute to the family. Children who joyfully interact with their chickens are poised for a satisfying career in animal care and agriculture. 

According to Dr. Susan Lamont, Distinguished Professor of Agriculture at Iowa State University, many career opportunities are open in poultry and other areas of agriculture. More will be available when today’s youth hit the job market in 10 – 15 years. “Even children growing up in urban or suburban neighborhoods can find a rewarding career in agriculture.  Lessons learned caring for a chicken flock can nudge a youngster in that direction,” Lamont says.  

“There are many careers of various types open for students at all levels of education. Some have PhD degrees but others work as research associates or lab technicians with lesser degrees. Some openings require a high school diploma and further technical training in robotics, electronics, and other areas if they are doing maintenance or facility services on larger farms. Some farms hire engineering graduates. It depends on the situation. Then there are jobs in food safety that may require a certification. There certainly are jobs open in poultry and salaries are competitive,” says Lesa Vold, Communications Specialist at the Egg Industry Center. 

Do some experimenting

Parents can help pique kids’ curiosity by encouraging simple chicken experiments. These help kids learn the scientific method while letting the hens be teachers. Here are a few simple examples:

Do chickens prefer sleeping with certain flock mates?

It helps to have five or six hens that are easy to identify as individuals. Perhaps they have different feather colors, patterns or physiques. Each evening take the child to the coop and photograph roosting birds. This is data collection. After taking photos for a week analyze them. Is there a pattern?  Does the Rhode Island Red always or usually sleep next to the Black Australorp? This is data analysis. If a clear pattern emerges then the child has learned that hens like sleeping by a certain flock mate……or not.    This is drawing conclusions based on observation and analysis.

 Do chickens have food preferences?

Put a cup or two of chicken scratch or wild bird seed mix in a bowl. Take a picture of the contents. Let the chickens access it. They’ll usually crowd right in and start pecking. Observe carefully. Do hens prefer certain seeds over others?  If yes, which ones?  Do they shun some seeds? What does this mean? Can chickens distinguish one type of seed from another? How do they do this?

These are basic and simple experiments that can be done with very young children. They sharpen observation skill, spark curiosity, and introduce kids to the scientific method used by researchers in dozens of areas to advance human knowledge.

A fulfilling career just might be hatched in the backyard coop. 

Privacy Policy | Terms