Like any pets, a flock of chickens requires ongoing care. Because chickens are able to meet their own physical and social needs, caring for chickens usually demands less of your time than other domesticated pets do, but you’re also responsible for maintaining an environment where chickens can meet all their needs for a happy, healthy life.
If you’re new to chicken-keeping, here are some of the chicken chores you can count on being part of your routine. For the less frequent chores, mark your calendar or set an alert on your smartphone, so that you remember what needs to be done.
Daily Chicken Chores
Check feed levels and offer fresh water first thing in the morning and again before dusk. Chickens should always have access to food (continuous feed year-round or structured mealtimes plus free ranging in the summer) and clean water. Chickens should also be able to access grit as needed.
Collecting the eggs several times a day, versus once a day or once every other day, keeps eggs clean, avoids breakage and encourages broody hens to get off the nest. It’s much easier to put away a handful of clean eggs (whether you wash them or not) than it is to gather two days worth of eggs that need to be scrubbed free of chicken poo. Periodic egg checks save time in the long run.
Remove the dirtiest bedding every day and add clean bedding if it’s needed. Removing the overnight poo from below the roost will keep the coop smelling chicken-fresh, and it will discourage flies from breeding in the coop.
Weekly Chicken Chores
Inspect The Flock
Give the girls (and boys) a good once-over for any signs of illness, injury or infestation.
Remove all the bedding you’ve been tidying up over the course of the week, and replace it with clean bedding. Changing bedding weekly helps keep the coop free of parasitic pests and other invasive critters. It also removes moisture from the coop that allows bacteria to thrive and that promotes dangerous frostbite in the winter months.
Rake The Run
If your run is fixed (versus mobile), keep the run tidy by raking out chicken waste and any wet/dirty ground material, like straw. Buildup of moisture and chicken waste creates an environment where disease thrives. From intestinal worms and external parasites to respiratory infections and bumblefoot, chickens are at risk on a filthy run floor. Keep it clean.
Monthly Chicken Chores
Assess the Seasons
Like gardening, keeping chickens emphasizes the nuanced differences between each month of the year. When the pest population is high and the grass grows too fast, chickens can eat less feed. When the summer becomes hot and dry, fewer and/or different pests are available, and the grass slows, more feed is required. Every month of the year demands tweaks in daily and weekly chicken care. Only you can determine these changing needs in your flock based on your climate.
Twice-Annual Chicken Chores
Scrub the Coop
Clean the coop with soap, water and a scrub brush every six months. I prefer to use plain old dish soap. Soap will kill pests but not the grass. Once the coop is completely dry, dust its nooks and crannies with food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) to help stop insects from moving in.
Fill The Bath
Freshen up the dust bath with peat moss, wood ash and sand. Peat moss absorbs oils from the skin, wood ash coats the skin with a barrier that deters parasites, and sand helps to weigh it all down.
Allow Garden Access
Spring and fall garden cleanup exposes the flock to a boost in dietary protein and to edible greens. Chickens also help turn soil and organic matter. Chickens are voracious eaters and unparalleled garden workers.
Annual Chicken Chores
Keep the coop in tip-top shape to discourage predators and infestations and to keep chickens clean and dry.