- Anybody keeping chickens?
Well we had loads of the buggers when I was a kid. It was always important to make it fox and rat proof. The wire fence we had was dug into the ground and the house was shut up tight at night.Posted 9 years ago
I dont remember much else apart from they destroyed the area they lived in. The eggs were amazing, really bright yolks.julianwilsonMember
does mudshark still post here? He has an amazing ‘chickenopolis’.
Yes we had rats and red mite (ours were ex-battery so came with a few ‘passengers’ I think.)
Far more time consuming and garden-trashing than you would imagine but there is nothing like a just-laid egg, and chicken poo is great fertiliser. Plus kids think they are hilarious. As long as you don’t get a cockerel (and you really only need one if you are breeding) they are actually really quiet too.Posted 9 years agoransosSubscriber
I’ve had 2 hens for a couple of years now. We went all middle class and bought an eglu. Overpriced, but very easy to maintain. The hens are great fun, but they will ruin your lawn, best to fence off an area of the garden for them. Never had a problem with rats but did get field mice taking their food, we caught them in humane traps and released them in the park. They’ll try to escape when you first have them, so clip their wings.
Oh, and the eggs are absolutely delicious.Posted 9 years agocorrodedMember
Got to disagree with sharki. Ours don’t smell and pretty much look after themselves. They’re great, especially if you have kids who can help. You’ll find that there will be a certain amount of inter-hen violence as the pecking order is sorted out – at its worst just make sure they have enough space (ie don’t keep them cooped up together in the mornings). Over the years we’ve had various health issues to deal with – scaly leg, caused by mites, worms, etc. But nothing serious. Rats can be problem – make sure the hen house and food is rat-proof. We lost two to a fox this year, for the first time in 10 years of having hens. Again, vigilance and fox-proofing can prevent that happening.Posted 9 years ago
They do tear the place up if allowed to. We put straw down on the ground of their pen. They’re let out in the garden every afternoon and will peck at pretty much anything (flowers, frogs etc). They’ve made dust baths under trees.
Regular handling should make them quite tame, though different breeds seem to have different levels of friendliness / intelligence. But, all in all, wouldn’t be without them or their eggs!sharkbaitMember
Next week we get our first hens. It’s a new experience for us and should be fun. I’ve tried to do the whole thing as cheaply as possible so I’ve made the hen house from wood that was lying around and have managed to get electric netting and energiser off ebay.Posted 9 years ago
Anybody else keeping them? Any hints or tips I should know about?sharkbaitMember
Good points, thanks everybody.
I’m not too worried about them trashing the place as they’re going into a biggish orchard area well away from the garden. If they get out they’ll either have to face our Spaniels or get back in pretty quick! Hopefully the electric fence/netting should keep the fox away.
I’ve read about the red mite which sound pretty nasty. It seems that old fashioned creosote (not the modern substitute stuff) keeps them away as it dissolves them or something. Luckily I managed to get hold of 25l and I’ve pretty much drenched the inside of the house in the stuff – smells but will hopefully do the job.
Rats – I’ve put the house up on legs so the rats can’t burrow underneath. I’m also making a peck feeder using an plastic keg and a pheasant feeder spring thingy. This should make sure there’s little in the way of food hanging around which may help as well. If that fails I’ll get the gun out 🙂Posted 9 years agoCregMember
Just finished building an ark for our new chooks. Got the plans off the internet for $15 and set to and built it in just over 3 days. Its big enough to house 4 birds quite comfortably. Its a very sturdy, very heavy A frame job that is very well secured (needed to be due to having a neighbour with a untrained border collie that runs riot around the neighbourhood)
Its the first time we have had chickens here but my mum has experience of keeping them so she knows what shes doing. Thankfully we live in a remote area with only a small number of neighbours, the majority of which are really pleased were getting some. We’re not getting a cockerel mind. The birds we are getting are ex battery ones, two sometime this weekend then another two in June.Posted 9 years ago
saladdodger – all my own design! Well, didn’t make plans but visualised what I could build based on the materials I got hold of then built to what I had in my mind. Worked out quite well really but took quite a while. All wood was scavanged from skips and some came from freecycle as did some wire fencing but had to buy the weld mesh and chicken wire as well as hinges, nails, screws and the like. Spent just under £100 on all that, bought a 30 litre drinker for £20 and built the feeder from an old desk – I reckon that can hold over 60kg of feed! I spent a bit of time on backyardchickens.com, especially the forums, and decided to get a bit carried away with my build based on what people were building on there – many of them are in the US with a lot of land.
Some great coops here:Posted 9 years agodawsonSubscriber
we’ve got 3, named Dipper, Nugget and Chips.
They love grapes – when the missus lets the chickens out of the run for a bit, we sometimes throw grapes to them, down the garden – they chase around trying to be the first to get them! I’ll try to film it…
The names were my idea, but the chickens are defintely ‘her’ project…Posted 9 years agowoffleMember
We’ve got 4 and I think we’ll get another 2 or 3 this summer. Fantastic fun – getting 4 fresh eggs a day at the moment. Ours are really tame and my daughters think they’re brilliant – also a good introduction to the realities of life (we’ve had 2 die over the last 2 years).
In terms of tips – you can get something called bokashi (sp?) mash which you can spread on the floor of their run to help with any smell and it helps with the composting process. Also you can get garlic powder to add to their food which actually helps with their poo and keeps the ‘chicken’ stench down a bit. I’d also recommend fencing off any plants and areas of the garden you want to keep intact as they’ll eat any greenery and tear holes in your lawn. Clipping their wings is also a good idea as two of ours are really spritely and would roost in the trees given 1/2 a chance.
They’re great for ripping out moss on the lawn and they create great fertilizer…Posted 9 years agomiketuallySubscriber
We’ve got three who are fenced into a 16′ by 16′ (ish) corner of the garden – we just got some low fence panels from B&Q to do that. This area is conclusively trashed, so we’ve put a load of bark chips down.
The coop was a chipmunk house that my bro-in-law made, which I’ve adapted for the chickens. There’s a meshed in area to the front of this, which the chickens are confined to if we’re away on holiday, but otherwise they have the run of the enclosure all day.
We found that they were a bit noisy first thing, so we don’t let them out of their bedroom area until after 8am.
Three eggs a day, which are delicious.Posted 9 years agomcMember
If a fox wants your hens, they’ll get them.
Foxes will quite happily scale a netting fence, or jump your typical electric fence netting. They’ll also manage to squeeze through very small gaps/holes, even holes that the hens can’t get through.
My parents have only stopped having fox issues since running a solitary electrified wire just above the existing 5ft net fencing. The fox will climb the fence, but as soon as they put their paws over the electric wire, they get kicked back of.
Other technique that apparently works is a single wire mounted about 6″ above ground level in long grass. The foxes nose hits the wire as they’re moving in, and because they can’t see it, they’ll give up and move away again.
As for feeders, if you’ve got room, use a feeder suspended from a wire (wire is less grippy than string/rope for mice to try scaling). That way feeding is kept up of the ground, out of the reach of vermin.Posted 9 years agoonewheelgoodSubscriber
I’ve got two hens, Paris and Britney (Thelma and Louise got eaten by a fox). We’re middle class Eglu owners too – not sure I’d do that again as it is a bit pricey but it is very easy to clean and our hens have always been very healthy – can’t prove it but the two may be related. They are the easiest animals to look after that we’ve ever had (cleaning the Eglu is easier than cleaning even a goldfish tank) – and as everyone else has said, the eggs are fantastic. They are entertaining to watch, and keep the slug population down. What’s not to like?Posted 9 years agocorrodedMember
Yep, they’re silkies. The hens make good broody hens. Seem to remember their flesh is blue…Posted 9 years ago
WCA – not kept ducks but a friend has kept quite a few on his large pond. IIRC they’re much noisier, much dirtier and more territorial than hens. On the plus side, the eggs are larger and richer.
We have dual-purpose chicken breeds (layers and eaters) so when their time comes they’re good for cooking, but I think with ducks you need to get specific eating varieties, if you’re fussy.
WCA: Ducks make a mess of ponds from what I hear; my local supplier sells some and says they can lay up to 200/year:
Silkies have black flesh rather than blue I believe.Posted 9 years ago
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