Raising Chickens/Keeping your chickens happy
Taking care of your Chickens:
Keeping your chickens happy is very easy to do. If you have a big enough pen then you will already have very happy chickens. There are also many things to can do to keep them even happier.
WARNING: Roosts should only be built in shelters that are large enough for you to stand in comfortably.
Building roosts is easy to do. All you need are some thin poles and wire. Wooden poles work best as they are most like what a chicken would find naturally. One method that works is the use of poplar trees as poles. If you are using poplar (or similar tree) then use young saplings. Trees that are around 5 years old are best. When selection used trees that are about the thickness of a broom handle. In the case of poplar don't worry if you are killing the tree. Poplar Trees reproduce by sending up shoots from their roots as well as seed. Even if you do end up killing a poplar tree in a couple of years more will grow to replace it. When you have your poles, make sure that they are the right size to fit in your shelter. Adjust size as needed then use your wire to tie that together so that they form a ladder that covers the width of the shelter. Your roosts should be fairly tall and strong. From experience, some of our contributors have found that chickens prefer to sleep in their roosts
Scatter food (for them to find)
To do this all you have to do is scatter your chickens' food around and let them follow their natural instincts. In the jungle, where chickens originally came from, wild chickens spent their day looking around for things to eat. Scattering their food around their pen allows them to do this in a safe (no predators and guaranteed food) setting.
If you have hay down to keep the mud away try scattering some corn in the hay. This results in the chickens spreading the hay around while being entertained (IF you do not let them out).
Give them scraps you normally wouldn't
This method requires that you give your chickens scraps that aren’t unhealthy for your chickens but they still won't eat. These are scraps that, for whatever reason, your chickens would rather (or can only) play with instead of eat. A good example is Orange peels. Chickens find it difficult to eat these because they are too tough. However, if your chickens are bored then giving these to them will give them something to play with. Orange peels won't cause harm to your chickens and as such are safe. For a complete list of foods that Chickens normally don't eat see Feeding.
Also, if your chickens don't have the ability to free range for their nutritional needs, you must provide them with grit (ground stone) to aid them with digestion. Birds lack the ability to chew their food so must crush it in the gizzard, a strong muscle that uses grit to break apart the grain they consume.
For a list of methods that have worked for other people (or to post your own) go to the discussion page for this chapter. Keep a small pail under your kitchen sink and add tasty bits to feed later to your chickens. You can save carrots, bits of celery and lettuce, etc. If you just throw them on the ground inside their pen, they will rush over to investigate and enjoy a treat that is more interesting than their regular chicken food, but make sure the food isn't rotten or spoiled.