Here are the five chicken keeping essentials I choose not to live without…
1. Dried Soldier Fly Larva
Don’t knock it until you try it! Well.. I wouldn’t recommend you personally try it, but your chickens will absolutely love it! Think cat nip, but for chickens, with the added benefit of being a high protein snack! We buy the biggest bucket of Flock Party – Dried Soldier Fly Larva that TSC sells.
Our girls have learned the “here chickie chickie” call means you better waddle your fluffy butts over here for first dibs on treats! The bucket doesn’t give quite the same snack shake sound effect that the smaller bag does, but they still get very excited!
2. Diatomaceous Earth
When I started my chicken journey I had never heard of diatomaceous earth(DE). It has several benefits, including killing external parasites like ants and fleas, killing internal parasites like worms, but the main reason I use it is to keep gnats off of my chickens! I googled bug spray for chickens and I found several recommendations for DE..
I add DE to the areas where the chickens take their dust baths most frequently. They get themselves nice and dusty and the gnats, for the most part, leave them alone! I can’t stand to see gnats landing and flying all around there faces. I immediately saw an improvement once I implemented DE, making it a chicken essential for us. You can order on Amazon here.
3. Food Storage Bin & Automatic Feeding System
I can’t stress how important well stored food is. There is nothing worse than going to feed your chickens and finding little bugs or water mucking up your precious feed. We use this waterproof Husky storage bin, purchased at Home Depot. We have had it almost a year and our food stays dry and bug free. I have tried other bins and everything else has let me down. Its worth the money to protect your feed.
In addition to the storage bin, we built two 3-inch PVC automatic feeders. We are weekend warriors, so most weekends we are not working on a project at home, you can find us camping at a state park somewhere. The automatic feeder allows us to supply the chickens with enough food to get by for a few days without us being home. You can easily build this yourself with a few items from your local hardware store:
- 3 inch PVC Pipe (the longer pipe you can use/fit, the more food you can supply at a time)
- 3 inch PVC Cap (for the top so water cant get in)
- 3 inch 90 degree elbow
- 3 inch hub adapter
If you don’t feel super confident in your handyman skills, there is a similar concept feeder on Amazon here.
4. Watering Cups and Watering System
Much like the automatic feeder, the automatic waterer is perfect for people who go out of town for a few days and don’t want to mess with having someone come look after their flock. We used a regular old 50 gallon trash can, some PVC, and some screen netting to create a rain collection barrel to source our chicken water. Another PVC pipe and shut off valve come off the bottom of the can and into a smaller hanging bucket with chicken watering cups. You can install these cups into any bucket, round buckets will work too. I do recommend using some plumbing tape when you screw the watering cups into the bucket to ensure a tight seal. We also keep a small pallet under their hanging bucket with cups in the coop to prevent the chickens from kicking debris into, and clogging, their water cups.
If you’re not worried about refilling the waterer every couple days you can find this handy water on Amazon here.
5. Automatic Chicken Door
This one is the newest addition to our little homestead. We have survived without one for years, but with our very busy schedules, coming home late from work or sports, its not unheard of to forget to close the chicken coop at night. Luckily we haven’t had any run ins with predators at night, but I’d rater err on the side of caution. We ordered this one from Amazon. It is battery powered but can also be converted to use solar power, which we are doing on the new Hen House. It was very simple to install, setup, and configure the open and closing times.
You can find links to all of my favorites, here.