Whole volumes have been written about poultry keeping, many for each single species. This is only meant to give you a very rough overview and hopefully some useful hints. By observing your animals closely they will teach you more than any books will be able to do. Although they can´t directly speak to you, they will show you clearly what they like and what they don´t. Most breeds of poultry will become broody after laying their eggs, and if provided with appropriate nesting opportunity will readily hatch their own or other bird´s eggs. Most are great mothers, too, but should be observed closely for the first few days. Careless hens can either trample their chicks or bury them under food or bedding material. There even might be the occasional “racist” mum who will try to kill odd coloured chicks. On the other hand some will adopt any chick they can find, even other species, and will foster them to full size, often many times their own. After hatching, chicks are best kept under their mother for another day, then altogether moved to their rearing house, which should be warm and free of draught. Drinking water should be there ready for them, shortly after followed be a low bowl of commercial feed (broiler starter crumbs will almost always do, or chick&duck mash). You should add some soft, boiled food as rice or fine ground eggs, and after some days greens as salad or grass as well. Always remember: The smaller the chicks the smaller the food should be chopped!
Here are some samples of poultry housing design, especially the movable houses are quite practical and easy to maintain. In colder climates more permanently constructed houses might be obligatory, but all poultry should still be provided with an open area for roaming & grazing. Water and food including greens must always be provided and everything kept as clean as possible. Perching for their night´s rest is also enjoyed by most species. Most poultry diseases and parasites can be prevented by good hygiene and with a regular vaccination plan, especially for chicken, but the golden rule will always be that the more natural and happy a bird is kept the more healthy it will be!
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