Wednesday, October 21, 2015

6 Common Myths About Chickens

There are a lot of misinformation about chickens out there! Some of these myths even prevent people from getting chickens when they want them. Let's clear up some of that information, so everyone who wants chickens, can have them!

1. Chickens are dirty

While chickens aren't the cleanest of pets, they spend a lot of their time - often hours a day - preening to clean themselves and waterproof their feathers. Unless their pen is not kept clean and they can't escape the dirt, they are fairly clean animals. Just remember to clean your pen weekly, or stir the litter daily and add plenty of new material if you're using the deep litter method. If you do this, your birds will be clean as can be!

2. Chickens are loud

Unless you consider the average human conversation loud, this is untrue! Hens measure at about 60-70 decibels at their loudest. Roosters are a bit louder, clocking in at about 90 decibels, or about as loud as a dog's bark. Chickens aren't exactly quiet, but they're no louder than the normal sounds that go on in a community!

3. Chickens will transmit disease!

There are few rare diseases which can be transmitted between poultry and humans. The most well feared one, the Avian Flu, is quite rare. The Avian Influenza scare as of recently may put people off from getting chickens, but it is important to look at the facts. The vast majority of those cases were in factory farms with over 10000 animals, where disease spreads quickly. Another thing to remember is that the strain of flu in the US appears non-transmittable to humans, posing no threat to small flock owners. Salmonella is another concern for chicken owners. Salmonella is the primary bacteria that causes food poisoning, and can be avoided simply by washing your hands after handling chickens, and cooking your food thoroughly. 

4. You need a rooster to get eggs/you can't eat fertile eggs!

Hens will lay with or without a rooster, though it is necessary to have a rooster in order to hatch eggs! As for eating fertile eggs, you can. A fertile egg is nutritionally the same as an infertile egg. The only difference is, if it were to be incubated, it would develop into a chick! This can't happen on your counter or in your refrigerator, so eat up!

5. You can never have more than one rooster

Oh, this old myth. The truth is, what matters more is rooster to hen ratio. That ideal ratio is one rooster for every 10 hens, but some people keep a 1;7 ratio or similar, for higher egg fertility. Too few hens to a rooster can cause "overmating" in which the rooster mates individual hens too often. Two roosters housed together will fight on occasion, but will generally get along decently after they have established which one is Alpha and which is Beta. 

6. Chickens can live solely off of kitchen scraps

While kitchen scraps can make up a large chunk of their diet if those scraps are varied, chickens have nutritional needs that scraps don't always meet. Modern chickens use a lot of much needed nutrients in the egg laying process, so they need a very complete feed to make up for the lost protein and vitamins. A good layer or all-flock feed should be the staple of their diet, with scraps offered as they are available. Oyster shell should also be available for laying hens. 

Chickens can be such a valuable asset to many types of people. The environmentalist, the survivalist, the animal-lover, and those who simply want to be self sufficient. Don't let myths turn you away from getting chickens! 

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