Food and Drink
All chickens require a balanced diet. It is a myth that they can produce eggs to their fullest ability on scraps and free ranging. For optimum health and output they require a good clean source of pellets. Buying a layers pellet is a good option for ensuring they are getting all the protein and nutrients they require. You can buy grain as an extra treat or grain and seed mixes, but these tend to make chickens more fussy eaters. When feeding grains you will also need to supplement with grit so the chicken can grind food in their crop.
Food must be stored safely away from rodents and dampness; it must be kept fresh. Having a feeder in the coop away from rain and water is also important as it must not be allowed to go mouldy. Chickens should have access to pellets at all times. It is not wise to just scatter feed on the ground once a day.
Feeding out a little extra is a delight to most chickens - they love it. Fresh kitchen scraps (not the old compost) are great to get your birds running to you. They love bread too but don't overdo it. You will soon work out their favourite fruit and vegetable scraps.
During daylight hours fresh drinking water is a must too. Having a drinker rather than a bucket means that you won't have chickens mucking in the water. There are automated drinkers and manual options available.
Your chicken coop needs to be dry and safe from predators. They do require regular cleaning as damp pens are no good for chickens and can cause health issues. How often you do this will depend on the numbers of birds you have and how much time they are locked in. Having a dust extracted wood shaving on the floor of the coop (which we have available) is ideal. It is not good to use just any wood shavings as the small particles can play havoc with a chicken's respiratory system. Wood shavings have a dual purpose too; they absorb the wetness from the manure which makes it last longer than hay and straw and can then be used a mulch for the garden. Using wood shavings in your nest box keeps eggs clean too.
Lice and Worms
Regular inspection of your birds for lice is important too, as is thorough pen cleaning and watching for signs of mites and fleas in your coop. Pestene powder is most commonly used for treating lice in small flocks.
Chickens, like other pets, need to have regular worming. This is a simple job and is administered through the drinking water a few times a year.
Another natural factor in a chicken's life is moulting. Often people think there is something wrong with their chicken because they are losing feathers but this is a process of rejuvenation - they lose old feathers and grow new ones. This usually occurs in autumn and most chickens will go off the lay during this time. Some birds lose very few feathers while others can be quite dramatic but it is nothing to be alarmed about.