Keeping chickens is not hard. But there are certainly some things you learn along the way when you do. Case in point? Chicken supplies. There are some basics that are obvious, like chicken feed and bedding, but beyond that there are some little oddities that I always keep in my coop.
Chicken supplies for your coop
It might sound like a bizarre thing to keep in a chicken coop, but I use mine all the time. While some of my girls are friendly enough to pick up, others are a bit on the wild side. If I need to catch them during daylight hours for any reason, a fishing net makes quick work of it. It works for ducks, too.
Hot tip: Be gentle when extracting the chicken from the net. Their feet and wings can get caught.
We live on an island where there are copious amounts of wild fruit. Lovely for foraging, but this abundance also means that rats tend to think they’re living on easy street. Even if you don’t live in an area that’s quite so friendly for rats, scattered chicken feed will eventually draw them. I keep a couple of different types of rat traps in the coop so that I can set them as soon as I see signs of an invasion. (Of note: I haven’t had any luck with those fancy electronic traps.)
Hot tip: Feed your chickens some distance from their nesting boxes if you can. This keeps rats from calling your coop home, and keeps them from so readily finding eggs and baby chicks. (Yes, we’ve had rats attack chicks.)
Live trap for larger animals
In my case, this means mongoose. Mongoose were imported to Hawaii to help control the rat population (see above). The only problem? The brilliant people who devised this plan neglected to note that while rats are nocturnal, mongoose are not. During daylight hours, mongoose sneak and snarl their way into nest boxes and chicken runs taking both eggs and live chicks. Catching them live requires the willingness to dispatch them once trapped.
Traps like these can work for raccoons, opossums, and skunks, too.
Hot tip: If you know you have a skunk problem and put a trap out for them, be sure to devise a plan for disposing the live skunk without getting sprayed.
Diatomaceous earth (DE)
When I had my big mite outbreak, I used diatomaceous earth (along with a number of other tactics, as I share here) to help get the infestation under control. On a more regular basis, though, I sprinkle it into nest boxes as a preventative measure. When the hens settle into a box, they’ll kick some of the DE into their belly feathers making them inhospitable to bugs. I also sprinkle diatomaceous earth inside their coop and on their roosts once in awhile.
Hot tip: Always use food grade diatomaceous earth and avoid breathing the dust as you scatter it.
I use scissors in the coop for cutting open bedding and straw bales, but also for clipping wings. When I discover that one of my girls has been escaping, the time to clip her wings is immediately. Having scissors on hand makes that easier to do.
Hot tip: Tie the scissors to the coop with a long string to prevent people from wandering with them. Ahem.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This is one of those “can’t hurt, might help” situations. I’ve been unable to find any solid evidence that apple cider vinegar is the cure-all many claim. And yet, I do add it to my chickens’ water. Not regularly, but when remember to do it. My chickens are mostly healthy. I can’t say it’s the apple cider vinegar that keeps them so, but again — maybe it helps.
Hot tip: Choose apple cider vinegar with the “mother,” which includes proteins, enzymes, and good bacteria. This is what I use.
This is kind of a no-brainer, right? Zip ties (and let’s face it, duct tape) are a must for emergency repairs. They’re good for fixing fencing, securing cage doors, or hanging items in the coop, even though you might not qualify them as “chicken supplies” immediately.
Hot tip: If you buy bales of straw for your garden or barn, be sure to hang on to that really strong baling twine and keep some of that in your coop, too.
What must-have chicken supplies to you keep in your chicken coop?