As promised, this is our daily routine for caring for our precious hens. I usually do the early stuff and look after them through the week, then my husband looks after them on Saturday and Sunday morning whilst I’m at work. Our son helps too, mostly with collecting the eggs!
5.30-7am depending on the time of year. I get up and let the hens out of the house, I watch them all come out to make sure none of them are injured and that they all look normal. I take the droppings out of the nest boxes, top up the feeder and put fresh water in the drinkers. The hens are then let loose into the garden for about 3 hours if I’m working, or all day if I’m home.
8am I change the newspaper in the poop catching trays in the houses, top up the nest boxes and collect any eggs that my have been laid already. If the girls are still laying, I’ll leave the newspaper changing till later, as they really don’t like being disturbed when they’re ‘busy’. I give the garden a quick poo pick and check on all the girls.
The girls either stay in their pen whilst I’m out of the house, or they just roam around our garden for the day. We have an enclosed garden with a high fence border which also has high trees and bushes. As we live in the middle of a residential estate, foxes are only seen out at night. Our estate is surrounded by woodland which is full of bunnies, which I guess are slightly more accessible than hens. I check on the girls regularly and can see them out of the kitchen window, I actually spend a lot of time watching them too!! They are addictive and very amusing to watch! I poo pick quite often whilst I’m home and also interact with the hens as I do this. Bunty enjoys following me around the garden trying to scratch the contents of my dustpan back out onto the grass again…. not very helpful, but everso cute!
12pm I come out to re-check the feeders and drinkers, check for eggs and poo pick again. I also like to give the girls a little treat at lunchtime, whether it’s some sultanas or cheese, just something to get them all excited! I also like to move the plant pots around too, just so the girls can get any worms!
2.30-3pm I put the girls into their pen, mostly to give the cats a chance to enjoy the garden! My cats are getting on a bit now, and mostly sleep in the house during the day, so just before dinner time, I put the hens away, the cats come out and have a leg stretch!I poo pick the garden, top the feeder up if needed and check the drinkers again. I make sure the houses are still tidy, or change the newspaper if I didn’t get to do it earlier and make sure everything is ready for bedtime.
The girls will now have some time in their pen, they have branches to perch on, a dry covered earth area to dig and dustbathe in and their run which is on concrete slabs for when it’s raining. They always have somewhere dry to stand and we’ve made sure there is plenty of shelter and space to avoid squabbles. The girls also have plastic shatterproof mirrors in their run, which they all enjoy and even perch on top of!
The hens will put themselves to bed when it starts to get dark. Again, as with the waking up time, this varies depending on the time of year. Earliest will be about 4pm in the winter, the latest is about 9.45pm in the summer. We can hear our hens quite easily in the lounge and I can check on them very easily from the kitchen.
You need to watch your hens, although they take care of themselves, you need to be very predator aware, especially with ex-battery hens. Ex-battery hens won’t have had the chance to develop hen skills and will have no experience of the outside world when you get them. It’s very important that your housing and pen area is predator proof. This is another reason we have our run on concrete, so nothing can dig into it.
4pm-9.45pm depending on the time of year I go out and shut the hen house doors and also bolt all of the run doors. I make sure the catches on the nest boxes are closed and clipped shut (we use a hasp and climbing clip to ‘lock’ the nest boxes). I also check the climbing clips are in the bolts of the hen house doors (this means only animals with thumbs can open it!).
I personally think padlocks are a bad idea, just in case you need to get in quickly, but again as I’ve said before, it’s personal choice. I do have a solar powered light for the pen and the run, but I only use these in the winter just to poo pick once the girls are locked in.
An extra daily job should be checking the integrity of your garden fencing, checking that hole digging isn’t getting out of hand and generally making sure the area is safe.
Once a week, I scrape the houses down with my paint scraper and scrub the perches with a weak Jeyes fluid solution. I check for red mites and any other beasties everyday. They usually hide under the ends of the perches, in fact any nook and cranny in your house. This is why it’s very important to be vigilant even in winter.
The feeder and drinkers get scrubbed out thoroughly once a week, but both are checked everyday. The drinker can be checked by rinsing, and running your finger round the drinker, if it feels slimy, it needs a scrub. This is most important in the summer or if your drinker is sat in sunlight, as this will accelerate algae growth.
The bedding in the nest boxes is changed once a week. As previously mentioned, I use shredded paper from the office, but again, it’s personal preference. I’ll scrape the paving slabs in the run, especially the areas the girls like to sit (usually closest to the house in case I come out with food….) and give the slabs a scrub with the weak Jeyes solution. The patio needs a scrub at least once a week too, as the girls love to hang out there.
Monthly jobs include red mite powdering the birds, worming (added to the feed), louse powdering the birds and buying new feed! My birds go through a 20kg sack of layers meal every month. They do eat a lot of food, especially newly released ex-battery hens!
Yearly jobs would mostly include re-painting/treating your housing, depending on what it’s made from. Also things like preparing your garden for the year ahead (hen proofing the veg patch!) and making improvements of repairs.
So that’s how I take care of my girls everyday. Hopefully this will help you if you’re thinking of getting hens. It’s different for everyone and really depends on what space you have and what suits you and your birds!
Thanks for reading!