So…you’re thinking about chickens. It is best to do some research and planning before you purchase your birds.

Things to consider:

  • How much space is available/distance from property line
  • Will your birds be pets, raised for eggs, meat or to show
  • What breed of chicken best suits your needs (consider their adaptability to changes in the weather, feather/egg color, egg production, and temperament as all breeds are different)
  • Will you allow your birds to free range or provide protection from predators (hawks, owls, coyotes, raccoons, skunk, rats, opossum, snakes, squirrels, cats, dogs) in an enclosed run which offers ample sun, shade and a place to bathe in the dirt
  • # of birds can you accommodate in your coop/run/nests
  • Are you looking to use the deep litter method or install poop trays to catch/scrape/scoop…do you plan to compost
  • Are you looking to purchase chicks/pullets or hatch your own birds (remember…hatching will yield 50% cockerels)
  • Check your local city codes to see if they permit chickens/roosters in your neighborhood and confirm the maximum number of birds allowed
  • Will you vaccinate and for what conditions
  • Do you have the budget for food/treats/bedding/medical care

Once you have made these decisions, you must then consider whether to purchase a coop/brooder or have one built for you.

I suggest the following resources to help with your research, purchases and chicken questions:

  • Kruse Feed and Supply in La Habra
  • My Pet Chicken
  • Meyer Hatchery
  • McMurray Hatchery
  • Dare 2 Dream Farms in Lompoc
  • Malibu Feed Bin
  • Tractor Supply Company
  • Kahoots
  • The Chicken Chick
  • Backyard Chickens
  • Pinterest
  • California Poultry People
  • The Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts
  • UC Davis San Bernardino Laboratory/Pathology Department

You have many choices when it comes to feeding. The easiest is pre-bagged food that comes in mash, crumbles or pellets. This runs the spectrum from inexpensive to pricey depending on content and whether you select organic or no soy added mixtures. Some people choose to ferment their food which takes extra time but offers many benefits. Fresh water is a must. All food and water should be protected from wild birds.

­Choices for treats:

(No beans, avocado skin/peel, citrus, potatoes/skin, eggplant, green tomatoes, tomato leaves, onions, uncooked rice, raw eggs, apple seeds, candy/sugar/chocolate, anything sprayed with pesticides, salty or moldy/rotten food. Watch the amount of scratch/corn/black oil sunflower seed you provide as they can cause fatty liver which could result in death.)

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (pumpkin with seeds, cucumbers, grated carrot, chard, cabbage, watermelon and berries are particular favorites of my birds)
  • Meal Worms
  • Black Oil Sunflower Seed
  • Scratch
  • Plain, non-fat yogurt (probiotic)
  • Meat scraps
  • Sprouted seeds and grains
  • Scrambled egg
  • Canned dog food during molting season

Chickens provide tremendous enjoyment and can become your best friends. If handled from a young age, they will sit on your lap and allow you to stroke them. On occasion, there may be a need to bathe your bird. I have found that once they enjoy the warm water, towel snuggling, primping, nail clipping and blow drying, the two of you have bonded for life! There are also chicken lovers that will allow their birds to spend time in the house. Chicken diapers or a surgical mask with straps over the wings can keep your home poop free!

It’s best to have a long-term plan as chickens can live up to 11 years of age. Egg production will slow down/stop as they get older. Chickens can get injuries, illnesses and will die. We are lucky to have Doctors Cassie Jones & Teresa Micco at Point Vicente Animal Hospital, adjacent to Golden Cove Plaza in Rancho Palos Verdes. They are trained to treat chickens, have a wonderful bedside manner, they are realistic about what should and shouldn’t be done and will provide comfort in the event you should have to humanely put your chicken to rest.

It is good to have the following first aid supplies on hand:

  • Vinyl or latex gloves
  • Protective eyewear/mask
  • Rubbing Alcohol/Chlorhexidine solution for wound cleaning
  • Aspirin added to water for pain
  • Neosporin without pain reliever for cuts/wounds
  • Blu-kote applied on top of Neosporin to discourage pecking
  • Vetericyn HydroGel Spray
  • Wazine for round worms
  • Colloidal Silver for healing and immune support
  • Non-stick pads, gauze, waterproof tape, self-adhering first aid wrap, popsicle sticks to splint legs
  • Children’s liquid vitamins without iron/electrolytes
  • K-Y Jelly and Preparation H for prolapse
  • Benadryl for insect bites
  • Corid for Coccidiosis/Sulmet for respiratory issues
  • Petroleum jelly for leg mites/frostbite on combs
  • Frontline (canine) for mites
  • Apple cider vinegar (I use in drinking water daily for overall health but do not use in a galvanized waterer)
  • Various Syringes
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Crazy Glue/tea bag for minor beak repair
  • Pet Nail Trimmers and Nail File (nail and beak trimming)
  • Flour or blood-stop powder
  • Scalpels, tweezers, small needle and thread
  • Flashlight
  • Scissors
  • Chicken saddle for overbreeding
  • Old towels/shirts
  • Dog crate to quarantine

In the event of death and you are interested in knowing the cause, you can send or deliver your bird to UC Davis’ San Bernardino Laboratory. They will also test poop and euthanize birds.

CAHFS Pathology Department

105 W Central Avenue

San Bernardino, CA 92408-2113

(909) 383-4287/ (909) 884-5980 (FAX)

Call for instructions/packing/shipping/Fed Ex account #

I wish you luck on your adventure in chickening. The rewards far outweigh any moments of loss and pain. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions:

Karen Duncan Cutler