Chicken FAQs

Table of Contents

There is no table of contents. 

This is an FAQ book.


#1 My Dorking has five toes! Is she deformed?

No. Dorkings and Silkies both have around three to five toes.

#2 My chicks are feathering in from the wings! Is this supposed to happen?

Yes, don’t worry. But do worry if your chicks fledge from the head to tail. Also, the tail fledges at about the same time the wings do. 

#3 How can I stop hawks from getting my chickens? 

Offer other meat far away from your coop (preferably not chicken).  Disperse hawk predators, and buy predator-proof wire to nail over the coop or yard. Do not use chicken wire.

#4 Why is chicken wire bad?

It’s not bad, but not good either. Chicken wire is made to keep chickens in, not predators out. I once heard a story of a lady who had chickens. The pullets had an enclosed chicken wire yard. The lady was out weeding the garden and a hawk swooped down. The greedy bird took its talons and ripped right through the wire, killing a Silkie hen.  

#5 Raccoons are eating the chickens! What should I do?

Set out raccoon traps with cat food inside, but be careful, raccoons are sneaky! Sit outside when you think the raccoon is coming and shoot it. If you think the raccoon is climbing in the coop, nail hardware wire in the opening.

#6 Blue jays have been flying around my chicken run. The chickens are coming down with an illness. Is it something the blue jays gave them? 

Yes, maybe. One of the most important health measures is to keep wild birds away from your flock, as they can transmit diseases the chickens wouldn’t have had anyway, even if the flock had gotten sick on its own. 


#7 I loved Storey’s Guide to Raising Meat Goats. Is there one for chickens? 

There is, in fact. It’s called Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. The book is by Gail Damerow, published in 1995.

#8 I started shaping the nests into cup-like bowls. The hens are now laying on the floor, in the feeder, in the run, and I even found an egg floating in their water. What did I do wrong?

You shaped the nests. If your hens are used to a flat floor of shavings to lay eggs on, they prefer that. The simple fix: flatten the nests back out.

#9 What are the best chicken books for a child?

I’ve found these books to prove extremely helpful:

  • A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens, Melissa Caughey, 2015 
  • The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens, Kathy Shea Mormino, 2017
  • The Chicken Encyclopedia, Gail Damerow, 2017
  • Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, Gail Damerow, 1995
  •  How to Speak Chicken, Melissa Caughey, 2017

#10 Three Dominique hens and two Vorwerk hens of mine have spurs! Are my “hens” roosters?

Depends. Some hens have spurs. But how long are they? If your hens have small nubs as spurs, your hens are hens. But if their spurs are long and sharp, your hens may not be hens. Check for other features, like big combs and wattles, dominance, and long tail feathers.

#11 I feed my chickens table scraps. A few weeks ago, I thought the hens were looking a little fat. Three days after that, one experienced egg binding. Was this because of the treats?

Yes. If even one thought slips into your mind and whispers to you about your hens looking fat, put a hold to the treats until they thin out again. If the hens go on being fat, switch brands of feed.  

#12 What’s a pedigree? 

It’s a record of a chicken’s ancestry, with no gaps. Dogs, cats, horses, other birds, and mostly any other animal that came from a breeder will have a pedigree. By having an animal’s pedigree, you can determine whether your chicken is a purebred (1 breed), a total mutt (tons of breeds), or a mix (maybe 2 or 3 breeds). You can also use a pedigree to tell which vaccines your chicken has had and hasn’t had. A pedigree is available at a breeder – along with the chicken – if they have one. So, you can use a pedigree to tell your Java hen is purebred, came from Mount Healthy Hatchery, and has had her coccidiosis vaccine. 

#13 What is the maximum and minimum number of chickens I should have? How many per person?

The maximum: one hundred fifty. The minimum: four. Why four? Well, if one gets eaten by a predator, that leaves you with three. And two is one too little. Chickens per person? Two. 

#14 What is the number of chickens per everything?

Maximum: 150

Minimum: 4

Chickens Per Person: 2

Chickens Per Garden: 4-6

Small Flock: 5-6

Large Flock: 45

Chickens Per Plant: 0-1

Chickens For Eggs: 4

Medium Meat Flock: 25

Longtail Roosters: 2

Companion Flock: 5-6

Cockfighting: 0 (my point is it’s bad sport)

Showing Hens: 3

#15 Whats the difference between a Rosecomb rooster and Red junglefowl?

I know, they look a lot alike. The red junglefowl is the descendant of all chickens. The Rosecomb is a standardized chicken breed.

#16 Is cockfighting good or bad?

Opinion. On one hand, the owners get entertained. On the other hand, the poor cocks get badly injured, sometimes to the death of one cock. I think it’s just a bad idea, personally (not to insult the owners 😊).

#17 I recently read in a book that heat lamps are dangerous to use, but I’ve used them for years without problems. Is the book right or am I right?

Depends on how you use the heat lamps and the type of chickens you have. If you keep chickens who are flighty and like to fly, the book is right. Having a bunch of flying animals in a small space with a hanging attachment that gives off heat isn’t a very good idea. But if you keep docile chickens who only fly when necessary, it’s fine. Just be careful with heat lamps, even with docile chickens.

#18 My friend calls the short feather on my chicken’s wing a key feather. I call it the axial feather. Which is right?

Both refer to the same feather. Call it whichever name is easiest to remember.  Let your friend keep calling it a key feather, and your terms of an axial feather are fine.

#19 What is Eimeria infection?

Eimeria infection is another word for coccidiosis.

Coccidiosis is an intestinal disease. Symptoms are slow growth and loose, watery, or off-color poop. You can use coccidiocide or coccidiostat to treat it. Do not mix any of this into the water. Even if every chicken in the coop has coccidiosis, they will most likely not drink the flavored water and die from dehydration.

#20 Should I feed my hens scratch every day?

No. If you do, you hens will be fat, and that can lead to an early death. 

#21 How is cockboxing different from cockfighting? 

Cockboxing: Covering your rooster’s spurs with spur covers to protect the other fighting cock from your cock. Cockfighting: Letting the cocks go at each other without putting spur covers on. 

#22 Will chickens be in heaven?

No one knows. But we all hope so, right? God did make all animals, and it’s mentioned in the Bible:  And God said, “ Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” It gives me the idea that when we go to heaven, all the birds will fly up with us. It does say “birds” and chickens are birds.

#23 I have two broody hens. The first one  keeps making this noise that sounds like “waaaaaah buk buk buk waaaaaaah buk buk buk”. Is she choking on something? The second is always silent and rarely moves. When she does, she’s really jerky. Is she dying?

The first hen is fine. The ‘waaaaaah’ is a broody growl, and the ‘buk buk buk’ means she’s talking to her chicks in their eggs. But the second… Take her off her eggs and check her for injuries. If she’s fine, watch her and make sure she’s eating and drinking properly. If she is, great! She’s just extremely serious about hatching those eggs. If she’s not, then she might be…well…you know.

#24 Why is my rooster chasing the hens?

He just wants to mate with them. When the first hen goes broody, expect two things: CHICKS!! and back wounds on the hens. To prevent further injury, buy some chicken saddles.

#25 What’s the difference between a Holland and a Dominique?

Everything except coloring. Dominiques are ornamental, Hollands are not. Hollands have a single comb, Dominiques have a rose comb. Dominiques are often broody, Hollands are not. Hollands lay large white eggs, Dominiques lay medium – large brown eggs. Dominiques come from Haiti, Hollands are from the USA. 

#26 Do chickens like cucumbers?

I don’t exactly know. Try it for yourself with a small bit of chopped up cucumber. All hens and roosters are different; some might like it, some might not.

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