Today, we’ll be dealing with an issue that has perplexed many a chicken keeper, especially those of us who are just starting out: how to keep your chickens from wandering into your house. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with effective, easy-to-implement strategies to ensure that your feathered friends stay where they belong—in the great outdoors!
Understanding Your Chickens
Before we dive into the solutions, it’s important to understand why your chickens might be crossing the threshold. Chickens, like most animals, are driven by their basic needs—food, water, comfort, safety, and curiosity. Your house is likely warm, full of interesting things to peck at, and sometimes, it’s where their food comes from!
Setting Boundaries: The Poultry Edition
Secure Your Chicken Coop
A secure, comfortable, and enriching coop is key. Chickens will naturally seek the best place for shelter, so make sure their coop is a chicken paradise. This includes installing proper roosting bars, nests for laying eggs, a reliable water supply, and ample space for them to move around. Chicken boredom can lead to exploratory behavior—so, a bustling coop could keep your adventurous hens occupied.
Install Chicken Fencing
One practical way to prevent your chickens from waltzing into your house is by installing chicken fencing. Chicken wire, electric poultry netting, or hardware cloth can effectively keep your flock within designated areas. Remember to dig your fence about a foot into the ground, too, to discourage any escape artist hens from digging their way out.
Make Use of Poultry Training
Believe it or not, chickens can be trained! Use treats to teach your chickens where they’re allowed and not allowed. Try scattering treats in their designated areas and away from your house to incentivize them staying outdoors.
The Role of Diet
Keep your flock’s feeding station away from your house and maintain a consistent feeding schedule. Chickens are creatures of routine. If you’re randomly feeding them, particularly near your house, they may start to wander in search of food.
The Element of Distraction
Distractions such as a chicken swing, mirrors, pecking toys, or even a pile of leaves can keep your chickens entertained and less likely to explore indoors. Plus, these can also help reduce chicken boredom and aggression!
Cover Access Points
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: keep your doors and windows closed or screened to physically block their entry.
Remember, keeping chickens is a fun and rewarding venture, but it does require thoughtful management. Utilize these tips to maintain harmony between your indoor living spaces and your outdoor chicken haven.
ALSO SEE: How Can I be a Friend with My Chickens?
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do my chickens want to come inside?
- Chickens may come inside for a variety of reasons including seeking food, warmth, shelter, or even out of simple curiosity.
- Can chickens be house trained?
- Chickens can be trained to some degree using treats and positive reinforcement, but they aren’t capable of being house-trained like a cat or dog.
- Can chickens climb stairs?
- Yes, chickens can climb stairs. If you have outdoor steps leading to your house, consider installing a small gate or barrier.
- Will chickens return to their coop at night?
- Chickens naturally seek roosting spots (usually their coop) when the sun begins to set. Maintaining a comfortable, secure coop encourages this behavior.
- How do I keep my chickens entertained?
- Chickens love pecking toys, scratching posts, chicken swings, and exploring new treats! Adding these to your chicken yard can keep them happy and busy.
- How often should I feed my chickens?
- Chickens should have access to a balanced poultry feed throughout the day. Supplement this with fresh fruits, vegetables, and treats.
- Do chickens like human company?
- Many chickens enjoy human interaction, especially if they associate you with food or gentle handling.
- Can chickens fly over fences?
- Yes, some breeds can fly short distances over fences. Consider clipping their flight feathers (a painless process) if this becomes a problem.
- Are chickens destructive to gardens?
- Chickens can scratch up gardens in search of bugs and worms. If you want to protect your garden, consider a separate fenced area for your chickens.
- Do I need a rooster for my hens to lay eggs?
- No, hens will lay eggs without a rooster. If you want fertilized eggs for hatching, however, you’ll need a rooster.
- Why are my chickens pecking each other?
- Chickens may peck each other due to stress, boredom, or establishing pecking order. Make sure they have plenty of space, food, and distractions.
- How many chickens should I start with?
- For beginners, starting with 3 to 6 chickens is usually manageable and provides a steady supply of eggs.
- How can I predator-proof my chicken coop?
- Predator-proof your coop by ensuring it has a sturdy build, secure doors, and fine mesh or hardware cloth fencing. Remember to check regularly for any signs of attempted intrusion.
- What should I do if one of my chickens gets sick?
- If a chicken shows signs of illness, isolate it from the rest of the flock and consult a vet or experienced poultry keeper.
- What treats can I give my chickens?
- Chickens enjoy a variety of treats like mealworms, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Just ensure treats make up no more than 10% of their diet.
- Can I leave my chickens alone for a weekend?
- With adequate food, water, and a secure coop, chickens can generally be left alone for a weekend. For longer periods, consider arranging a chicken-sitter.
- Is it legal to keep chickens in my backyard?
- Laws vary by location. Always check local ordinances and HOA rules before getting backyard chickens.
- Do chickens need vaccines?
- The need for vaccines depends on local disease prevalence and your flock’s specific risk factors. It’s best to consult with a local vet.
- How long do chickens live?
- Chickens typically live between 5 to 10 years, but this can vary widely based on breed, diet, and overall care.
- How old do chickens have to be to start laying eggs?
- Most hens start laying eggs at around 5 to 6 months old, but this can vary depending on the breed.
Remember, patience and consistency are the name of the game when dealing with chicken behavior. Here’s to a happy, healthy flock and a chicken-free living room!