With backyard chickens, there are lots of approaches that have been passed down and established as conventional wisdom. In this post, I debunk some of these conventions, by studying the evolution of chickens from Junglefowl (their primal ancestors) to the domesticated chickens we have today.
And it’s often these conventional approaches that cause problems with backyard chickens, such as:
- Damage to your backyard: They can be very destructive when let loose in your backyard, digging up grass, your vegetable patch or anything green in sight
- Barren chicken runs: Chickens runs that turn into stinky, barren mud pits
- Predator attacks: Local wildlife such as foxes and wild dogs seem to come from nowhere because chickens and eggs are such a tasty treat
- Bullying: Aggressive behaviour and bullying between chickens
- Egg laying: Chickens that stop laying eggs
- Health problems: Dead or sick chickens
Many of these problems can be solved by working with the chickens' natural biology, lifestyle and behaviours, rather than against them. When you take this approach chicken keeping becomes a whole lot easier and your chickens will be a lot happier and more productive.
Here’s what I cover in this post:
Part 1. Why study the evolution of chickens and their natural environment
Part 2. The evolution of chickens, from T-Rex to chicken nugget
Part 3. 6 important lessons for backyard chickens
- Lesson 1. Habitat: Instead of grass lawns - provide trees, plants and mulch
- Lesson 2. Flock Size: A small flock of 2 to 5 chickens is ideal
- Lesson 3. Behaviour: Keep your chickens physically and mentally active
- Lesson 4. Diet: Supplement grain with as much foraged food as possible (leaves, vegetables, fruit and insects / animal protein).
- Lesson 5. Threat from predators: Choose alert breeds, provide secure coops, use fencing and include plenty of trees and shrubs for natural protection.
- Lesson 6. Health: Worming, dust bathing and a stress free environment