More and more families are jumping onto the bandwagon of having backyard chickens. And it makes perfect sense: chickens are affordable, enjoyable, and productive little pets! But the biggest question I get asked about my feathered girls is “How much work are they to take care of?” So in real simple fashion, here is a breakdown of our usual chicken chores. Look for the video at the end of the article!
I may have affiliate links in this article. The items don’t cost you more than normal, but my flock and I might get a cut! So thank you for supporting us all.
If you haven’t gotten your little chickies yet, you can see about how much they cost to have here.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: backyard chickens are fantastic. They’re very inexpensive to keep, and they’re quite useful! But I appreciate anyone who wants to look at the level of responsibility before getting any live animal. After all, our pets need us every day, even if we don’t feel well or are busy. And chicken chores are a real thing.
Once your chickens are grown and living outside, the chore list is pretty basic. Here’s what I do every day.
The main thing is to make sure that your flock has ample food and water. We have a waterer which only has to be filled about once every five days, and same goes for the girls’ layer crumble food. You can see it on my YouTube video about Chicken Coop Hacks.
We let our girls out to free range about 10 hours a day this time of year, and they’re always ready to get out when I come outside in the morning! I open their coop windows too to allow ventilation, and I clean out the PDZ which is like farm cat litter, since they poop while they sleep on their roosts. One bag of PDZ will last you a long time, and I only have to refill the roost pan once every two weeks or so.
I also check every morning that the nesting boxes are clean. My girls lay every day since they’re still young, but sometimes they sleep in the nesting box to stay warmer. So yep, poop. (Luckily the pine shavings I use don’t have to be cleaned or changed out that often, so a quick sweep with the cheap cat litter scoop is usually all I have to do.)
One of my favorite chicken chores is to collect the eggs! If it’s not terribly hot outside you don’t even have to do this once a day, but I like to so that I can keep tabs on the girls and make sure they’re all laying normally. Fresh organic free-ranging eggs, mmm. They can stay on the counter for up to two weeks at room temperature but don’t wash them! (Then they must be refrigerated.) My countertop egg organizer keeps the eggs ready to go from oldest to newest. Trust me, the first time you see a little egg in that nesting box, you’ll shed a tear. I know I did! I did a video on that too and I freak out a little bit.
And I would be a bad Chicken Mama if I didn’t add on here that your chickens love a treat every day or so. Non-chicken food shouldn’t make up more than a small percentage of their diet – not including free-ranging for bugs and foliage, of course – so don’t go too crazy. My hens love anything from leftover veggies to some fresh washed fruit to hot oatmeal! I talk more about chicken snacks in my Chicken Hacks article.
Lastly, I do a wellness check on my girls when I get the chance. This looks different on different days: sometimes it’s as simple as hanging outside until I see all of my hens eat and drink something; sometimes I watch them until they poop to make sure everything back there is working and looks normal; and sometimes I physically pick up a hen to give her a once over, looking at her eyes and beak, feet and legs, and under some random feathers for parasite checks. If you’d like to hear me teach you way too much about chicken poop, you can watch my “Common Sense” chicken video on YouTube.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten in regards to chicken care is to get a bucket and watch your chickens. You’ll learn so much and may catch an illness or injury before it gets more serious. Take time to observe your flock!
My daily chicken chores take easily less than 10 minutes each morning… Not including their afternoon snack!
At night, you’ll want to make sure all your chickens made it into the coop by doing a poultry roll call – take a flashlight out with you as it’s getting dark and check for all of your birds. They will likely go to bed on their own, but sometimes there will be a straggler or something random will happen (like the coop door shutting by the wind and your birds can’t go inside!) Be sure that all the doors and windows of the coop are closed and locked. Like I said, most chickens will go up to bed on their own but you want to make certain that they’re safe throughout the night!
These chicken chores are more infrequent but are still important. I do these on Sundays and whenever else they may be needed.
If you don’t do a chicken physical exam on a daily basis, be sure to do it on a weekly one. This helps your chickens get more used to being handled, and will help you be proactive in case there is something a little off about one of your chickens.
I also inspect the coop for wear and tear, and to see if anything needs to be repaired. This is especially important since predators in your area may be trying to dig their way in to the coop at night! Make sure everything is secure, water tight, and clean.
If you haven’t recently, this is also the time to clean out your chickens’ water and food supply.
I add extra pine shavings to the nesting boxes, PDZ to the roost pan, and wipe down cobwebs as needed. Then I use my adjustable rake to dig around in the run’s dirt to remove any poop and just stir things up a bit. I also spray a deodorizing spray in the warmer months once the girls are done laying for the afternoon. (In the photo above you see my homemade deodorizer as well as Poultry Protector, which is a more natural spray to help against lice and other parasites. Neither are meant to treat nor cure anything, but they’re nice preventative measures that aren’t laden with chemicals. The homemade deodorizer is a simple recipe I found on Pinterest, and I have it pinned on my Homestead board.)
While these chicken chores may sound like they’re time consuming, it only takes an extra 20 minutes or so to do this weekly list.
Another great thing about chicken chores is that you can recruit your children to help! My four year old loves to “let out” the girls in the morning and look for the eggs. And my kids really enjoy giving treats to the chickens. I even have a video on my YouTube channel of the kids and chickens playing in the sandbox together. I really could go on and on about how wonderful it is to have chickens.
Chicken Chores Gear I Recommend
Quickly I’ll list the items that I use on a regular basis. These are affiliate links – no extra cost to you, but a benefit for me! So thank you!
My storage shed is amazing, durable, and made for the outdoors.
I use pine shavings for bedding: you don’t want anything too long like hay that a chicken would consume and choke on (or get stuck in their crop), and avoid anything cedar! It’s harmful for poultry respiratory systems.
My egg counter storage organizer is right here (looks like it went down in price on Amazon by a few bucks, too).
We don’t have that many birds, so flies aren’t a huge issue. But we do have two of these fly traps hanging around the coop to keep the flies from coming into the house. These traps are cheap and the stinky inserts can be replaced (simply dump out the trap and reuse it!).
I also recommend a pair of outdoor-only “coop shoes” that you can easily slip on and off, that are easy to hose down, and that won’t bother you to get poop on. Because it’s inevitable! And you don’t want to trail chicken poop into your home. I use Crocs but I also have farm boots for heavier work and volunteering at a local horse rescue. And someone please please buy me these chicken Crocs!!!
Hopefully this article gives you a good idea of the workload that chicken chores will add to your daily life. I can ensure you that it is totally worth it! We love our girls and I daydream about having acres and acres of happy chickens.
Find all of my fowl content here, and of course check out my YouTube channel for tons of real simple help with chicken chores! Let me know what questions you have in the comments, and how else I can help!