A novice farmer who has decided to start breeding chickens is interested in many questions about the maintenance of the chickens. What are the varieties, where to keep, feed, or why do chickens eat rocks? Taking care of them at home is not difficult because you will get many rocks around which are eaten by chickens at home. The main thing is to provide them with the necessary conditions for a comfortable existence, and they will not cause much trouble to the owners.
Why Do Chickens Eat Rocks?
The chickens eat rocks to help in food digestion. At the same time, they train the stomach muscles. In digesting food, rocks irritate the walls of the stomach and cause them to contract. From this, the cycle of muscle contractions increases significantly. And the pressure in the chickens’ abdomen rises to 100 and even 160 millimeters of mercury.
Without such stimuli, muscle work is significantly weakened. The chickens need to feed more to be full. Also, without such solid fractions with food, they are more likely to experience disturbances in the functioning of the digestive system. So, by taking rocks to the chickens, we are contributing to their digestion.
How to Keep Chickens at Home
The chicken coop should be located in a place where flooding is excluded. The height of the ceilings is suitable in the area of 1.8 to 2 m. The best material should be wood, and the concrete floor is not ideal for a chicken coop. The litter can be straw, hay, wood shavings, or sawdust. The amount of light is supposed to affect the ability of chickens to lay eggs directly.
During the day, there should be at least 15 hours of daylight. The room needs good ventilation. In the summer, it is enough to open the window for this, but this option is not suitable in the winter. It is best to install ventilation pipes. The perches need to be made of wooden beams, 5 cm in diameter, and a height of 1 meter above the floor.
One brood chicken needs approximately 20 cm of perch. Nests are installed farther from the window, with a height, width, and depth of about 30 cm. The wooden boxes are adapted for this. Likewise, the litter is used the same as on the floor. Particular attention should be paid to the chickens during winter. The room where they are kept should be warm, light, dry, and fresh.
The house needs to be heated in the northern regions, but ventilation must not be forgotten either. The floor should be covered with straw or sawdust. For the chickens to rush in winter, they need a long day of light. You can turn on the lights at 7 am and turn them off at 10 pm. The temperature should not be lower than +15 degrees, the optimum – + 23 to 25 degrees.
It is great if the chickens have the opportunity to graze freely, rake and sweep the ground, eat pasture, a peck on the sand, and swim in the dust. In the shed for chickens, it is imperative to make small manholes go out at any time. The minimum size is 40×40 cm and is made at the height of 5 cm from the floor.
Feeding of The Chickens
You can feed the chickens with different grains, including wheat, barley, corn, and oats. Wheat can constitute up to 60% of the total feed mass, as it contains a lot of protein. Barley increases the palatability of the meat. Oats are high in fiber, and corn increases egg production in chickens. In the summer, it is imperative to give green food. Chickens love young nettles, sugar beets, and chopped vegetables.
You can also feed the chickens using the garden crops. Some owners give their chickens yogurt because it saves them from the heat and helps to increase the number of eggs. Chickens should always have fresh and clean water. The feeder must be installed so that they cannot climb into it. It would be best if you fed them in the evening, one hour before the chickens roost. The amount of food is necessary so that they eat it in half an hour.
>> Read More: What Animal Eats Tomato Plants – 8 Common Animals
The Problems that Can Cause Chickens to Lay Small Eggs
Many breeders wonder why chickens lay small eggs. If the reason is not in age, cycle, or breed, you need to look for the wrong and take appropriate measures urgently. This include:
- Poor nutrition and maintenance and lack of vitamins D and E can lead to the formation of small eggs. Deformation, changes in eggs’ size, shape, and content can also be provoked by a lack of water, a draft, a lack of light, cold, and dry air.
- Foreign body in the oviduct. Sometimes a foreign object can enter the oviduct of a laying hen. It can be a feather, a stone, or a piece of bedding. The chicken’s body perceives it as a formed yolk; therefore, a protein and a shell form. Thus, a resemblance of an egg without yolk and irregular shape is obtained.
- Hormone problems or metabolic disruptions can also affect the quality of eggs that chickens lay. In addition to reducing the weight of the eggs, the absence of the yolk can also be observed. Minor signs of hormone problems are brittle feathers, baldness, obesity or weight loss, sluggish gait, and nervousness.
- Salpingitis (inflammation of the oviduct) can be the reason for the decrease in the eggs that chickens lay. This problem most often occurs in young layers. Eggs initially decrease, and then the hens stop giving them altogether.
- Stress can also trigger this problem. At the same time, the eggs that the laying hen lays in a state of stress will be small, the number will also decrease, and sometimes the females will stop laying at all if they are frightened too much. Stress can be triggered by moving to a new chicken coop, new birds in the room, changing the diet, sharp, frequent noise, etc.
According to experienced poultry farmers, chickens should be allowed to move around. They will be able to find everything they need for proper digestion, including rocks. It is important to satisfy their need for it. Indeed, the reasons why chickens eat rocks lie in the peculiarities of their digestion. Since chickens need such a specific diet, it is imperative to provide them with it. If birds are kept indoors or in pen, then they need to put dishes with rocks.