This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure << here >> for further information.
This year make a commitment to having the healthiest flock possible. Whether growing layers, fryers, or heritage breeders, here are the signs of happy, healthy chickens and a list of happy, healthy flock goals for this year.
1. Feed a High-Quality Food
We feed our hens Purina Layena crumble and then treat them with mealworms. They have regular forage space and access to grit as needed. We also supplement with oyster shells in the spring to give them a calcium boost coming out of the wintertime. A high-quality food makes sure they’re getting all the nutrition they need to produce nutritious eggs. It should give them everything they need without forage, allowing foraging and other chicken behaviors to improve their diet even more.
2. Encourage strong eggshells in a Healthy Flock
Strong eggshells are the sign of healthy hens that are free of disease and have plenty of calcium. Shells are crucial in maintaining the integrity of the egg and decreasing the likelihood that your hens will peck at them to eat them. Thin shells can be a sign of calcium deficiency, and incomplete shells can be a sign of issues such as egg drop syndrome, Newcastle disease, and lack of Vitamin D.
3. Energetic Birds with a Healthy Profile
Your hens should stand erect with their head and tail elevated. Their faces should be filled out, their eyes should be bright and alert, and their nostrils clean. Feathers should look neat and clean, legs should be filled out and when you pick them up, the joints should be smooth and cool to the touch. Heat in the joints indicates issues like arthritis. Scales on legs and feet should be clean and waxy, and their skin coloring should be characteristic of their breed and age.
Birds should have lots of energy, be social and curious and feel like they want to move around their space, and engage in normal poultry behaviors like scratching and dirt bathing. If they look depressed, un-energetic, and are holding their heads low then they are probably sick!
4. Combs and Wattles
Combs and wattles should be a bright red unless the bird is colored differently. Regardless the color should be vibrant and not dull as these areas receive heavy blood flow and can be the first sign of issues like anemia or that a molt is coming.
5. Egg Production is High in a Healthy Flock
When egg yields are high, hens are healthy. Depending on their breed, your hens should do their greatest amount of laying in their first year or two, decreasing as they age.