Chicken Quick Care Guide
Clever and charismatic, chickens make choice pets.
Did you know?
There are more chickens in the world than any other bird.
A young hen is called a ‘pullet’.
Every local council in New Zealand has different rules for how many chickens you’re allowed to keep and where. Best to check them out!
Hens start laying eggs when they’re 5-6 months old and will continue for 2-3 years.
Battery farms get rid of their chickens when they’re around 18 months old because it’s cheaper to raise a new batch of pullets.
Thankfully, there are lots of organisations that rehome ex-battery hens throughout New Zealand.
Chickens are very social creatures, so it’s best to get two or three so they don’t get bored or lonely.
There are lots of breeds of chickens.
Some are beautiful to look at, some are regular layers and others have big personalities.
Egg shells are mostly calcium.
That’s why putting out oyster shell grit is so important. As well as helping digestion it’s a good source of slow release calcium.
Chickens need a calm and consistent routine to their days.
Stressful events can stop them laying or make them behave strangely.
Sometimes a hen gets dead-set on hatching her eggs even when there isn’t a rooster around to fertilise them!
This is called going ‘broody’.
Coop: with plenty of shelter, dark nest boxes and perching areas
Run: a fenced of area for foraging, scratching, dust bathing and general roaming
Soft bedding hay
Low fat and high in protein
Balanced with the necessary vitamins and minerals
Coop should be regularly cleaned. Laying newspaper under the roosting area makes this easier.
Hens need around 20 cm of perching space each.
Nest boxes should be dark and around 30cm x 30cm for one to six hens.
Layer soft bedding hay, wood shavings or shredded newspaper in the nest box
Feed a quality chicken-specific feed mix every day with some nutritious extras like silverbeet and dandelions.
Change water daily to keep fresh.
Loud noises, moving the coop, and other stresses.
Overweight or underweight chickens.
Patchy or mangy feathers outside of moulting season- this could indicate lice or mites.
Dirty bottoms, dull or cloudy eyes.
Feeding orange peel, uncooked potato peelings or onions.
Loss of appetite.
Predators like possums, cat and dogs.
For more New Zealand-specific information on keeping chickens, have a peck at