Chicken Care

The domestic chicken is the most common bird in the world and makes a great addition to any backyard. Dozens of breeds exist in New Zealand all of which have an average lifespan of 7years. Regardless of their breed or age, the following recommendations will help you give the best care to your chickens.



A good coop should have enough room for your birds to move, at most 7 birds per square metre. It should also provide protection from the weather such as draughts, rain, the sun and have good ventilation. Food and water bowls should be easily removable in order to clean, and the provision of nesting boxes and wooden perches will help keep your chickens comfortable. There are a wide variety of chicken coops available to suit both you and your chickens needs.


A good diet is the best way to achieve healthy, productive chickens. Chickens have different requirements as they grow and layers have different requirements to meat breeds. Chickens under 16weeks of age should be offered a high protein diet such as Starter-Crumb or Pro-chick.

Young layer hens that are nearing point of lay (16-20 weeks old) should be offered an adult layer feed diet which contains high concentrations of protein and calcium which is required for shell production. Boiled, crushed egg shells or oyster shell grit can be offered as an alternative source of calcium. Kitchen scraps can also be offered as a treat but should not replace a balanced commercial mash or pellet diet.


Chickens can become infected with a range of internal parasites and require regular treatment as would your cat or your dog. Young chickens are more susceptible to worms than adult birds but every chicken should be treated especially ones that spend a lot of time on a dirt floor.

We recommend the following worming programme:

  • Young chickens once every three months until one year old with a broad spectrum wormer (Aviverm, Panacur 2.5, Nilverm).
  • Adult chickens, over 1year old,  once every six months with a broad spectrum wormer (Aviverm, Panacur 2.5, Nilverm).
  • Worm all chickens once a year with an anti-protozoal (Emtryl, Baycox)    Worm any new birds that are brought onto your property with a broad spectrum wormer and an anti-protozoal (i.e Panacur + Baycox).
  • Remember, there will be a withholding period for eggs and meat from treated birds.

Mite & Lice Treatment

Mites and lice are a common problem for chickens, causing feather loss, itchiness and soresRed mites, scaly leg mites and avian lice are the most common mites and lice seen in New Zealand poultry and in bad situations chickens may stop laying eggs, lose weight and even die.

We recommend the following treatment options:

  • An insecticide powder such as Pestene can be used to treat birds and nesting boxes.
  • Insecticide sprays such as Extinosad can be used to treat chicken coops only, not the chickens. 
  • In bad infestations, a small dose of ivermectin can be used to treat individual birds. (Veterinary advice should be sought prior to ivermectin use).
  • Remember, there will be a withholding period for eggs and meat from treated birds.


Unfortunately poultry vaccines are not sold in small volumes for individual chickens, however if one-day old chickens are bought from a commercial poultry breeding company  they will have already been vaccinated against Marek’s disease and Salmonella.