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Top Five Hacks for Backyard Chickens

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I am the crazy chicken lady. I love anything to do with chickens and have learned so much along the way.

This is the nipple-style water attachment. They will tap at the metal part in the middle.

This is the nipple-style water attachment. They will tap at the metal part in the middle.

Chickens are fairly easy pets. They can be quite messy though. I am sharing my top five hacks to help make chicken keeping go even more smoothly.

1. Ways to Keep Water Clean

Any chicken keeper knows how big of a pain it is to keep chicken water clean. If you use a large water bowl for your chickens, the water gets filthy. Chickens scratch and throw dirt or grass or bugs gets in the water.

There is a much easier way to keep the water clean and fresh. Take a five-gallon bucket with a lid and use water cups or nipples. These attachments can be bought on Amazon and are very easy to install. All you need is a drill and drill bit (the drill bit size will be on the instructions included with the cups or nipples.).

I have used both the cups and nipples and both work great. The chickens adapt and learn how to use them so quickly. All they do is tap at the part that sticks out with their beak and then water comes out for them.

These attachments are very inexpensive and make water duties SO much easier!

This is the cup style. They will tap at the yellow part in the middle and water comes into the cup.

This is the cup style. They will tap at the yellow part in the middle and water comes into the cup.

No more waste

No more waste

2. How to Keep the Chickens From Wasting Their Food

Let me start by saying how much I hate using chicken crumble food. They make a mess of it and throw it everywhere. When using layer food, I use pellets for them but unfortunately, when raising chicks they have to have crumble chick food for their small beaks.

I was getting so frustrated because I would fill up the chick feeder and within hours the feeder would be empty and the feed would be scattered all over the ground. It wouldn't be that big of a deal if the chicks would eat it off the ground but they wouldn't!

I came up with the idea of putting a bowl under their feeder to catch all the extra food they wanted to scatter. The bowl has to be slightly larger than their feeder for this to work but it makes such a huge difference. I no longer despise crumble as much as I used to.

I used hardware cloth on top because it is a very sturdy fencing

I used hardware cloth on top because it is a very sturdy fencing

3. An Easy Brooder Box

There are some expensive brooder box options out there. I have a cheap alternative to that.

I use a 50-gallon rectangle tote, cut a large hole in the lid for ventilation, and put some wire fencing over it—ta-da. You have a cheap and easy brooder box.

If you buy the clear totes, they are extra fun because you can see the chicks walking around and keep a good eye on them without looking through the top all the time. The lids have snap handles on the ends to keep the chicks safe. They are also easy to clean.

I put wood shavings in the bottom and when needed to be changed, just dump the shavings in the trash outside. The boxes are light so they are easy to pick up and move around.

All that is missing is some eggs

All that is missing is some eggs

4. Cheap Nesting Boxes

If you have laying hens, nesting boxes are a must. I have found that short baskets from the dollar tree that cost $1 are very useful for laying boxes. Chickens will poop in them and sometimes an egg may get broken in there if a hen steps on it. These baskets make it so easy to pull them out and clean them. Then replace it with fresh shavings or hay and you're all done.

In our coop, we have little "cubby holes" for the hens to lay in and these baskets fit perfectly in each hole. The only thing I found that I wasn't fond of is they will flip forward if the hen steps on the front of them. I fixed this problem by putting a 2x4 across the front of the cubby holes to hold the baskets in a little better.

Your chicks will thank you

Your chicks will thank you

5. Rubber Incubator Lining

Our last hack is for when you incubate eggs. When chicks first hatch, they come out very wet and their legs are weak at first.

If you use the rubber lining that you would use in a cabinet or drawer, it helps the chicks get a better grip as they are "learning" to walk. If chicks have to walk around on a slippery surface for their first few hours/days of life, it could cause leg issues like splay leg or spraddle leg. It also helps make clean-up a little easier.

Because I hatch so often, I wash the rubber lining after hatches and reuse it. Just cut the liner to the shape of the incubator that you are using. Since they are reusable, it makes this hack very affordable and can make a huge difference for your chicks.

I hope you enjoy these hacks and they are as helpful to you as they are to me. They are some of my favorite ones I have came across in my many years of having chickens.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.