Directorate Communication__________________________________________________

Chicken care

Shelter and care

  • Chickens must have a warm, dry sleeping area. It is best to provide perches or branches for them (for sleeping at night).
  • Chickens in a cage cannot escape from animals such as dogs, so make sure that the cage is secure and the chickens are protected from other animals.


This cage has a roof and two of the sides are covered to protect the chickens from rain, cold winds and sun This cage can not protect the chickens from rain, cold winds and sun

  • If one chicken becomes sick or injured take it away and put it by itself in a safe and dry place, and give it very special care and food until it is well again. If the chicken is very sick or badly injured it will be better to humanely slaughter the chicken.
  • Never leave an injured chicken in a cage with other chickens or they may peck at it until it dies.
  • Small or weak chickens must be kept, fed and cared for separately.


  • The hen will be very protective about her chicks and it is better to keep them separate from the other chickens until the chicks are big and strong. They must always have water and food (Grower Mash or Chick Chick No. 1).
  • Never keep too many birds in a cage, they must all have space to move around freely, and stretch their wings. It is best to keep chickens in small groups of about 20, this will help prevent fighting and competition, even among the hens.
  • Do not keep roosters together in the same cage because they may fight.
  • Do not keep more roosters than hens because the hens will be injured and damaged by the roosters mating them too often.


  • Chickens must always have clean, fresh water to drink.
  • One chicken needs at least 100 ml of water every day.
  •  In hot weather they need to drink more water to help keep them cool and maintain their appetite.
  • The water must be put in the shade.

100 ml water

More than 100 ml water when it is very hot

Good idea

Make your own water container:

Cut off the top of the cooldrink bottle and fill with water

Put an upside down bowl on top and turn over

Refill every day



  • Clean the floor of the cage at least once a week.
  • Putting some grass on the floor will help to absorb the chickens' droppings, especially under the sleeping perches. After a week grass should be removed and replaced by new grass.
  • Grass or bedding from the nest boxes must also be changed at least once a week.

If water does collect in the cage, it is important to dig a drainage furrow or ditch, leading out of the cage, allowing the floor to dry.


Compiled by Directorate Communication, National Department of Agriculture in cooperation with National Council of SPCAs

Printed and published by National Department of Agriculture
and obtainable from Resource Centre, Directorate Communication, Private Bag X144, Pretoria 0001, South Africa

ISBN 1-8687-085-8
This publication is also available on the website of the
National Department of Agriculture at:
For further information contact the 
National Council of SPCAs, Farm Animal Unit,
P.O. Box 1320, Alberton 1450, South Africa
Tel (011) 907 3590
Fax (011) 907 4013