Frequently Asked Questions

Here we answer the most commonly-asked questions about ordering, chicken care, and more.

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What is a feeder for my pet chickens?

A feeder is the item you use to dispense feed for your flock. Of course, you could always just dispense feed on the ground or in a dish, but there would be a lot of feed wasted that way. Chickens tend to scratch and scatter the feed around, so chicken feeders are designed to minimize that. There are many different types of chicken feeders to choose from. For example, there are the common and inexpensive basic plastic feeders. They're tried and true, but they aren't fancy! Then there are the feeders with special features. For example, some feeders can be...

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Should I heat my chicken coop in the winter?

We don't recommend you offer supplemental heat to your coop unless your temps regularly drop well below freezing... Seriously! Chickens adapt to the cold weather over time. Their body metabolism actually changes along with the seasons. Along with that, they fluff up their feathers in the cold do help retain body heat, as pictured below. If you were to heat your whole coop to, say, fifty degrees, you would rob your birds of the chance to acclimate to the colder outside temperature - so if the heat were to suddenly cut out (due to loss of electricity, for instance, the...

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Do I need to give my hens oyster shell or supplemental calcium?

If your hens have a good, "complete" layer feed, they may not ever need oyster shells or any supplemental calcium. However, it never hurts--and it can really help avoid potential pitfalls in a number of ways. Oyster shell is inexpensive and lasts a long time, so it's worth adding to your flock's diet. The reason they may need it is that some flocks that spend most of the day foraging, or are given too many treats, can develop a calcium deficiency, particularly if they are high production layers. If they're eating too many treats, they won't get all the calcium...

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What is this black spot or thin string attached to my baby chick's rear end?

It's your chick's umbilical cord, and if you notice, that black, scabby spot or string will be below your check's vent or "pooper." Be SURE not to confuse this with pasting, which occurs on the vent, not below it. Usually the umbilical cord falls off immediately during hatching, but sometimes it can hang around for a few days (or it falls off but the belly button takes a while to heal, leaving a scabby spot). This can happen whether you hatch at home, or if you order from My Pet Chicken or another hatchery. Please don't try to remove it,...

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How do I find a new home for a rooster I don't want?

Unfortunately, as you've learned, sexing is more of an art than an exact science, so when you buy day-old chicks, there's always a small risk of receiving a mis-sexed bird. We're sorry if this has happened to you, whether you purchased your chicks from us or from another hatchery or feed store. It can be stressful to try to find a home for your unwanted rooster, and sometimes the most stressful part is having to part with him at all. Juvenile roosters are usually very friendly, and almost invariably are the favorite "hen" of the flock, so the disappointment can...

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How much feed should I give my chickens each day?

We recommend feeding "free choice"; that is, letting them eat as much layer feed as they want and leaving their feeder out at all times (although you may take it up at night if you like). Even if your chickens have access to pasture, free ranging simply supplements their diet. Chickens will eat as much food as they need to keep themselves healthy. Some breeds may be able to barely subsist in good weather by free ranging (although this is unlikely, as chickens are domesticated animals, not wild animals), but most will simply starve if you don't provide them enough...

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My chickens run away whenever they see me. Can I tame them?

In general, chickens can be tamable and friendly by the same sorts of general methods you would use with a dog or a cat. Presuming they are healthy and receiving proper shelter, food and water--as well as nesting places--they will often be tempted by treats (given in moderation) of wild bird seed, meal worms, sunflower seed and so forth. If they learn to associate you with good treats, they will probably come running to you when they hear you, rather than in the other direction. Keep in mind that chickens do not usually like the same kind of handling a dog...

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How do I transition my juvenile chicks to their outdoor coop when it's cold outside?

There is no perfect age to transition your chicks to their outdoor coop, but generally by the time they are 4 to 6 weeks old, they're getting large for an indoor brooder and will want more space. Plus, they will be mostly feathered and able to maintain their body temperatures on their own. But just because you've adjusted the heat gradually down to the ambient temperature of your home doesn't mean they can go from 68 F inside to 15 F outside in the dead of winter! Sudden temperature changes are a real danger to your birds. You'll need to...

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"The Clubhouse" Coop

Easy to assemble and built to last, the Clubhouse Coop is the perfect starter coop for a small flock.