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Keeping chickens?

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clothmama
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Keeping chickens?

Postby clothmama » Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:02 pm

We are really keen to keep some chooks. Can anyone give me and idea of what I need to do / look for. Any particular varieties for laying? How do I look after them? How much time a day / week does it take? Can I get my chooks before we build a proper chook house - can they just go under a cover as long as they have a run? I had chooks on the farm as a kid but it was a huge full on system of sheds and my job was just to feed them our house scraps so I didn't have anything to do with anything else!

@Allie I think you had chooks?

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_michelle_
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Re: Keeping chickens?

Postby _michelle_ » Sat Jun 06, 2015 5:17 pm

Hi,
We have 2 chickens in an Eglu cube with run as I'm lazy and they are so easy to clean and no maintenence although they are £££ but they have a good resale value.

We initially were going to let them free range but unless your garden is huge I wouldn't recommend it as they poo everywhere and dig up everything. We have some hybrid chickens which are supposed to be the best layers. I think they were about £15 each. We brought different colours so my son could tell the difference.

In terms of time they take very little probably around 5 minutes a day to feed them, collect the eggs (we get one per bird per day except for in winter when they usually slow down) and change their water. Every couple of days we change their straw and fully clean them out every week.

Ours are really fussy eaters and refuse any table scraps so they mainly eat layers pellets and corn with the occasional handful of mealworms and whatever they can find in the run. They do go crazy for the occasional tin of tuna though which someone suggested as we had one that plucked the others bums bald which can apparently be a protein issue.

I'm not sure about just keeping them under cover until you get a house as they like to be in a dark space with straw to nest and lay their eggs and from experience of once forgetting to put mine back in their house until about 11 on the night they did nest in a corner of the garden but didn't seem very impressed.

Happy to do my best to answer any other questions if you have any :)

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Re: Keeping chickens?

Postby clothmama » Sat Jun 06, 2015 8:15 pm

Cool thanks @_michelle_ that sounds promising! We have some time before we can start work on the house so I think it will be chook shed building time! I was thinking 5 chooks to give us enough for us and gifts / barter. How big is your family with only 2?

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autumnalgirl
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Re: Keeping chickens?

Postby autumnalgirl » Sat Jun 06, 2015 8:50 pm

Stupid question, but are there foxes in France? I'm presuming there are in which case I would strongly suggest putting them away at night. We have just had to replace our original three after Mr Fox had a feast. We also have hybrids. Our previous ones had a mix of layers pellets/grit and any leftovers. The new ones are still learning what leftovers are, very funny to watch their suspicion! Ours are in a large run and when they're more settled I will let them out into the garden. They don't take much work, topping up food and water and scooping the poop! The eggs are gorgeous :D

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Re: Keeping chickens?

Postby cuppachaplz » Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:06 am

Eglu are fab, but pricey.
You can make a cheap plastic coop with a dog kennel (can pick up cheap), a broom pole for a perch and a cat litter tray or similar for a nest box. Just fix a door (we just clipped one on)
Make sure your garden is secure if they're not in a run, and if they are move it occasionally.

In theory if they gave a lot of space they can grub for Al, the food they need, but in practice laying pellets are a complete diet, supplement with grit.
Oyster grit is for extra calcium if their diet is lacking and will gum up the crop if rock grit is lacking, whereas rock is essential to grind up food.
Corn is high fat and oil, and shouldn't be given daily to layers (we just use a tiny amount to get them in if we need to, but mainly for extra warmth in the winter). I've seen far to many very poorly chickens with fatty livers from over feeding corn :(
Bear in mind it is actually illegal to feed kitchen scraps to food producing animals in UK and Europe (yes, I know we all do it, don't all hit me at once ;) ), but likewise make sure it's not too much.

You can spend a lot of money on chickens, you can also often find some pretty cheap. We paid about £6 for ours. Have a look in agricultural merchants for ads.
Ex. Bats can sometimes be great, but are often a bit worn out (and don't get me started on the dreadful advice sheets they get sent away with...)

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Re: Keeping chickens?

Postby mamavan2 » Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:38 am

Image
Our girls
We currently have 3 different varieties andere have had one other varietie before.
Rhode island red, nice hens very bossy rooster
Bielefelder, Nice hens even more bossy rooster
Australorp, don't know how they are fully grown, a bit shy
Dutch blue, don't know how they are fully grown, the are curious. When i call them, these are the first who react.
If you want chickens and no rooster then the bielefelder are nice because you can sex them by there colours, only the girls have a dark (chipmunk) stripe on there back.

Whe no langer want a rooster, most of the time our chickens are free in our garden and so far the roosters have been unsafe for the children.

Our coop needs tot be replaced but the chickens are already here and for know they sleep in an old indoor rabbit cage in our kitchen coverd with a towel. In the morning I will taken them outside.
There is a run, but most of the time we let them out so they can eat what they want.

I agree with autumnalgirl, be awere of foxes, close the doop door as soon as the chickens are in. They don't taken just one they take all of them.
Last year we even lost 1 chick to a Bird of pray. I was in the garden, he just took one right in front of me( our gader is next tot open land and there are all kind of wild animals,just the small Dutch kind ☺)
I love seeing them around the garden taking a sand Bath or chasing an insect.

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_michelle_
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Re: Keeping chickens?

Postby _michelle_ » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:09 am

There are 5 of us but we only really use the eggs for baking as no one except me really eats them so 2 is plenty for us plus I'm expecting again and one thing I can not stand the smell or sight of is cooked eggs when I'm pregnant. If you had 5 in the warmer months you should expect around 30 eggs a week and maybe 20ish per week in the cooler months although it does depend on the breed you go for.

We had 3 initially but a fox got into the garden and although they were in the run one decided to be nosey and lean up the run and it had some feathers ripped out and we believe it died of shock as there was no blood only a patch of missing feathers outside the run and the other two were fine. We moved late last summer as we needed more space and unfortunately the compromise was the garden size so I think that when these go we will probably get no more until we can afford to move which is a shame. I am certainly jealous of your outside space!

If you do not have a run with with a top it's worth bearing in mind that although they obviously can't fly, with their wings un clipped mine have been known to jump and flap over 5+ feet of fence and often used to get thrown back over by the neighbours :D their dog which would probably of eaten them only made them more determined to get in there and investigate. Also it is recommended to have hard wood chippings in the run and not bark as I believe bark carries spores that can cause them lung problems although there is a bit of a debate over that as my grandad who had a farm always used bark and the man who runs our local pet shop has a small holding and uses bark for their runs too although everyone online seems to be against the use of anything but hard wood chippings.

I forgot to mention grit but as cuppachaplz mentioned it is essential for digestion and I believe without it you can end up with them laying soft shell eggs due to lack of calcium. Mine have a little pot separate and help themselves when they need it. We worm our chickens twice a year using a powder which I think is called flubenvet but I will have to check on that. It's a powder that you mix in with their food although I'm sure you can get alternatives. Otherwise if they get worms they cost you a small fortune in food so I think it's definitely worth doing.

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clothmama
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Re: Keeping chickens?

Postby clothmama » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:10 am

Thanks for your awesome replies. Will be back with more questions I'm sure!

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Re: Keeping chickens?

Postby clothmama » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:18 am

OK so plans are moving on :yahoo: :widesmile: .

I am going to build a wooden coop with attached fully enclosed run over the 2m squared concrete section, there will then be a huge chicken wire enclosed run I think it is about 10 metres long by 4 wide so lots of free range for them! I am trying to source the best value wire and then can crack on.

The hen house itself is going to be an Ikea hack :giggle: - in the recent sales I picked up 4 wooden futon bases at 10 euros each so masses of wood :giggle: I'm currenly drawing up my plans so I can go and buy the uprights and other bits required. I can't wait!

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