Happy 2020! Many of us start the new year off resolving to eat more healthfully, exercise more frequently, and otherwise improve our individual wellness. There are those amongst us, however, who go a step beyond with our resolutions. Instead of setting personal goals, we set poultry goals, determined to be better chicken keepers and improve our flocks in the next 12 months. An informal poll of more than 2,000 poultry farmers across the U.S. and Canada yielded a myriad of poultry resolutions for 2020, many duplicated, most serious and some droll. Whether your own intentions are included here or not, here’s hoping 2020 brings you memorable—and positive—poultry-keeping experiences.
New Year, New Food
A popular resolution amongst backyard flock keepers is to switch their birds to a more wholesome feed. “I’m tired of fillers in their food,” noted Cammy G. “I want everything my birds eat to be good for them.” Looking to offer your flock more nutritious eats? Check with your local feed mill or farmers co-op for suggestions; some feed mills can formulate feed to specifically suit your flock’s nutritional needs.
Keeping It Dry
Frequent rains throughout 2019 left many a chicken run soupy, marshy and muddy. Putting down shavings, straw, sand and other absorbent materials to sop up the excess run moisture is a common concept amongst those who responded. Some were driven by a concern over adverse affects, such as bumblefoot and parasites; others simply didn’t want their chickens looking like they just fought in World War II trenches.
Approximately half of those who replied noted that they wanted to expand their flocks in the coming year, many planning to purchase chicks locally or from online hatcheries come March or April. The other half? Looking to trim down their flock to a more manageable number. Not one person responded about keeping their number of chickens the same.
Home Sweet Home
Several chicken keepers commented one of their poultry resolutions was improving their hens’ housing with a brand-new coop. “I’ve added a few more hens over the years than I bargained for,” Rick K. explained. “It’s time I gave my girls a home they can actually spread their wings in.” For some poultry owners, a new coop was more about human convenience than chicken comfort. “I’m planning for storage shelves for feed sacks and spare equipment,” Hoon H. shared, “and human access so I can actually stand inside.”
No More Welcome Mat
It appears that some of us might have been … overly hospitable when it came to giving homeless birds a place to call their own. “My New Year’s resolution is to stop my husband from ‘finding’ roosters to bring home,” asserted Cristy R. “By the way, anyone need one (or two)?”
Extra treats are in the works for numerous chickens in 2020: More than a dozen chicken owners noted that, instead of throwing away or composting their kitchen scraps, they’ll be offering these to their flocks. “I was composting vegetable butts and meat trimmings after Thanksgiving when I looked out the window and realized my chickens could be eating these,” said Angela D. “I got caught up in Christmas prep and didn’t start doing that yet, but I will once all the holidays are over.”
A Chick, Chick Here
Those lucky enough to receive an incubator as a holiday gift have a very specific resolution for 2020: hatching their own chicks. From mini-machines that carefully coddle six eggs to cabinets that can contain hundreds, the holidays were happy ones for those with peeps in their plans. Coincidentally, many of those responding that they would be expanding their flocks also replied that they’d be hatching chicks.
Keeping It Clean
A few chicken owners admitted that one of their poultry resolutions for 2020 was to keep a cleaner coop. “Work, kids, clashing schedules … I can barely keep my own house clean,” Melissa C. commented. “This year, I’m going to keep on top of keeping the waterers and feeders clean.” Others planned on changing coop litter more frequently, scrubbing out the coops themselves, and ensuring no insects, mice, or parasites set up shop inside. On that note….
Better Medical Care
The resolution closest to unanimity was improving the health of one’s flock. Whether it was getting birds tested yearly for pullorum, fowl typhoid and avian influenza; checking their birds regularly for frostbite and bumblefoot during the colder months; and inspecting for mites, worms and other parasites on a regular basis. “They’re my feathered babies … it’s time I took care of them like my own kids,” declared Carmen M.
Starting Down the Path
A resolution that was unexpected—and put forth by several people—was best voiced by David S.: ” Have my own chickens.” To those for whom this is a chief New Year’s resolution, we all welcome you to the world of chicken keeping!