11 Mistakes to Avoid When Raising Chickens

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A beautiful rooster and a bunch of hens relaxing on a bunch of hay

There can be some HUGE mistakes while raising chickens.

These mistakes can be deadly to your chickens.

Making small mistakes is one thing in itself, as in running out of feed and having to make or get more, but mistakes that can risk the lives of your chickens must me avoided.

Whether your chickens are being raised for profit, for your own family either just for eggs or meats, you want to keep them alive and well.

Especially for those homesteaders or off the grid living folks, you can’t have anything happening to your chickens since that is literally a food source of yours.

Would you want to have a devastating drop in your food source living off of the grid by making necessarily simple but detrimental mistakes? Most likely not.

For me it doesn’t matter if I’m raising them for just eggs or meat, my chickens are my feather babies, so I treat them like kids.

So with that fact I protect them as such.

What Mistakes You MUST Avoid

Yellow baby chicks nestled together

1. Not Counting Your Chickens at Bedtime

If you allow your chickens to roam freely around the yard during the day, or even in a specific open closed in area, they always get put in the coop at night.

When putting them in for bed you will want to make sure that all of the chickens are accounted for.

You don’t want one accidentally being left outside of the coop.

Being left out, leaves them at risk for predators

Chickens can tend to wander.

We also know predators are also mainly out at night and LOVE chickens.

So you must always make sure that ALL of the chickens have made it into the coop at night.

2. Adding New Chickens to the Flock Too Soon

Introducing new chickens to your flock is fine and a must, but there are ways to go about it.

You want to slowly introduce all of the chickens so they can get used to each other.

This is one of the most common chicken mistakes (besides forgetting to lock them up at night).

Chicken fights (and I’m not talking the pool ones haha) can happen especially when adding new chickens.

The different size ranges matter too.

Chickens can tend to be able to go out into the coop when they’re about 4-5 months old (once they have their real feathers).

But, they are also still pretty small compared to the full grown chickens.

They won’t be able to defend themselves as easy compared to the full grown chickens.

Also, if you have a rooster and it tries to mate with one of the younger chickens, being so small they can really get hurt.

Say if you like to house your chickens and ducks together, you have to watch out for small hens around male ducks.

If the male duck decides to try to mate with the small hen it WILL end up killing the hen. Not intentionally of course but it will lead to the hens death.

Group of three hens in an open air chicken run

3. Not Checking for Parasites

Chickens CAN get parasites and get very sick, or worst case scenario, die.

This is one of the important mistakes you do not want to make.

Always be on the lookout for Mites and Lice.

Lice eggs can be laid around their vents and stop them from breathing.

They can also get worms and must be dewormed.

You can add Diatomaceous Earth to their dust bath to help prevent fleas, mites, and lice.

Just add it to their dust bath and the chickens will take care of the hard work.

Severe infections can cause weight loss, reduction in eggs, anemia, poor growth, etc.

4. Forgetting to Predator Proof Your Coop

You must look at everything!

Make sure that a predator cannot get through the top of the coop or enclosure, the sides, the bottom, everything.

We tend to use chicken wire that is very small that way predators cannot get in through the openings.

Or instead you can make a rat wall when beginning to build your coop. Which is a concrete wall underground beneath your coop.

Actually we even put some underneath our coop to prevent snakes or rats from coming up under the ground into the coop.

Even raccoons can try to get into the coop. And raccoons CAN open latches so remember that fact.

Snakes can kill chickens, whether they’re big enough to eat them or not, they will also eat the eggs.

Of course there are also predators like foxes, wolves, etc.

Where you live will decide on what types of predators you have to deal with, but don’t forget about the basics any area tend to have like rats, snakes, and raccoons.

5. Forgetting to Lock Up Your Chickens at Night

Yes this goes with the counting your chickens, but you never want to forget entirely about locking them up at night.

Not locking up your chickens in the coop at night risks them to be eaten by predators.

The coop is the safest and only place the chickens should be at night.

Something as simple as forgetting this can risk your entire flock. This is one of the biggest mistakes you DO NOT want to make.

Set a reminder on your phone daily if you need to, or fear you may forget.

6. Water Issues

You must watch your chickens around buckets of water, ponds, swimming pools (even kiddie pools).

Chickens CANNOT swim

They can easily drown especially if all their feathers get wet, it makes them very heavy and they cannot get themselves back out.

7. Pesticides and Other Chemicals

Make sure you are using chemical free pesticides or rat poisons around the coop.

You don’t want to lose your chickens over something you’re doing to try to protect them.

Chickens may eat grass that was treated, a dead mouse that ate the poison, etc.

If it looks edible they’re going to try to eat it.

Seriously, they’ll try to eat anything. I used to wear polka dot rain boots to work in the coop and my hens thought they could eat the dots. HAHA

8. Heat Lamps in the Coop

Heat lamps can be helpful in the winter time and are a must with baby chicks.

But you DO NOT want to leave a heat lamp unattended in the coop especially at night.

Look at it this way, would you leave your house with the oven or stove on?

Hopefully you said no. I mean it’s common sense for our houses, it should be common sense for the coop.

The lamp can be bumped or fall and catch everything on fire. Chickens are not the most graceful creatures.

There are more natural ways to try to heat your coop in the winter time. Such as the deep litter method.

As for baby chicks, we keep them in the house in a large crate or something with their heat lamp so we can always have an eye on them and the lamp.

9. Debris Free Coop

You want to keep your chickens coop area free of litter, trash, etc.. As I said if it looks like food they will try to eat it.

Especially even things like screws, nails, nuts and bolts. They do love shiny things.

Sharp things can tear up their insides and lead to death.

We use a magnet sweeper around our yard to pick up any nuts, bolts, screws, nails, etc. that may have fallen while we’re building things.

It helps make sure the kids and animals won’t get hurt.

Plymouth Rock (Barred Rock) hen amongst other hens

10. Too Many Chickens for Your Sized Coop

Too many chickens equals disease.

It’s basically like way back in history when a TON of people would be on a ship below deck for a couple months at a time crossing the ocean. How many diseases people ended up with and/or died from those diseases.

Crowding chickens can end up with the same results.

Each chicken needs about 3 sq feet of room.

So in saying that you want to either measure your coop before getting your chickens or if you know how many chickens you want, you will want to build a coop big enough for that many.

Coops also tend to be harder to clean with too many chickens with all the droppings and mess.

11. Having a Rooster and Not Legally Being Allowed To

As I had discussed in our Benefits to Raising Chickens article, if you are raising backyard chickens in an urban area you must check the laws.

They may state how many chickens you can have, and especially if you are LEGALLY allowed to even have a rooster.

When we had lived in the city we had a few chickens and the laws specifically stated that we were not allowed to have a rooster.

It also had other laws like the fact we could not sell our eggs for profit and where the coop could be.

They even had a law where you had to BUY a permit to even have backyard chickens or you could be fined.

Always check the laws in your area when you decide to raise chickens.

Raising chickens is an absolute delight.

I love raising them and cannot wait to get my new flock.

They’re adorable, they’ll follow you around your yard, and of course provide you with fresh beautiful eggs!

Chickens will clear your yard of bugs as well. So they can be super helpful in many different ways.

2 thoughts on “11 Mistakes to Avoid When Raising Chickens

  • Chloe

    Would a Turkey protect our flock of chickens? Because our chickens were free ranged but got attacked by 2 small dogs and 1 died and 1 got injured and we believe it might die and we wanna prevent it for out new flock

    • Mrs Ski

      A turkey may be able to protect them since they can be known to be mean but I can’t be sure if they will actually protect them. One of the best things is to keep the dogs away from the chickens. We always kept our dog away from ours since we didn’t know if she would hurt them or not and I’ve known many people that have had their chickens killed by their dogs. A more proven protector would be a Guinea. They’re very big, loud, and protective, plus they will eat mites and stuff to keep them off of your chickens. There are tons of homesteaders and such that use Guineas to protect their chickens.

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