Chickens undergo the most changes in their life during the first year.
As adorable little baby chicks covered with fluffy feather, they require continual care and monitoring in preparation for their transition to outdoors coop life.
From 3 to 6 weeks old, their fuzzy covering begins to shed as they slowly grow mature feathers making them look mangy and diseased-looking. You will also notice at this stage that their wattles and combs grow bigger and turn a deeper red. Young roosters will also start crowing.
When the young hens (pullets) reach 20 to 25 weeks of age, they will start laying eggs – initially their eggs will be small with shells that are weak (sometimes none at all). However, as they lay eggs more frequently, the eggs will become bigger and the shells harder.
Your hens may go broody at any time – this is when they tenaciously persist on sitting on eggs in order to hatch them. It doesn’t really matter to them if the eggs are fertilized or not.
You should be aware that a broody hen gets grumpy when you try to collect the eggs from underneath her; you have to beware as she might even peck you! Another factor to consider is that since the eggs are not fertilized if you allow the hen to sit on them, the eggs will decompose at a faster rate.
You have to break your hen of this habit by collecting the eggs on a daily basis.
You can employ several tactics to break hens of the broodiness habit. The most common technique is to repeatedly remove the errant chicken from the nest and carry her around for 15 minutes or more, two times daily for two or three days.
For hardcore birds, you can place ice cubes or ice pack in the nest. However there may be instances when really extreme measures may be necessary like putting your hen in solitary confinement with of course ensuring that the hen has adequate supply of food and water.
Once a year, chickens shed and re-grow some of their feathers usually during summer time. During the molting phase, they look ugly and sick and will not lay eggs. This is no cause for alarm since their feathers will grow back and they will look better than ever.