Want to keep chickens but know nothing at all, well this post will teach you everything you need to know.
Why keep chickens
Chickens are great they are friendly so make great pets with funky personalitys and some are Sooo friendly they’ll jump up onto your lap at any given chance. Only needing 1 square meter at the least of run space you can keep at least a flock of two in any garden, allotment or smallholding. And two hens will lay around 12 eggs in the summer weeks and some hybrids (cross breeds) will even lay through out the winter months too. If you have a compost bin their manure make great fertiliser for the garden as well as the vegetables grown can be fed back to the hens along with egg shells.
Routines for the hens
It’s simple alike any other pet they need cleaning of the house each week the nest boxes can be changed every two days for clean eggs. Water and food can be checked every day but most feeders and drinkers are large enough to be refilled every couple of days. Birds can be wormed 2 a year using medicated feed and can be de- liced using powders and can be powdered with DE to prevent mites ( a blood sucking “nit like” Parisite that lives in crevices of chicken coops and come out at night to feed on the birds turning from a grey colour swelling into a blood red colour). If you have bark in your run this will have to be changed usually every 3 months (or what is perscribed) other materials that can be used in a run are leaves,gravel,concrete,sand or soil but when leaving the ground bare with soil it can get extremely muddy and can cause deseaises and infections so best to cover your run. Although when using concrete,gravel or paving slabs leave an area of dry soil for dust bathing wich can reduce lice and mites. Chickens love being kept on grass but if you have a run on your lawn then move it regularly or it will soon turn to mud.
What do I need
Hens- to start of with buy 2-6 Point Of Lay hens (aka POL or 20 week old pullets) as this is an easy number to manage.
Food- layers pellets or mash for laying hens and as treats sun flower seeds, oats and corn flakes,vegetables such as luettice hung up, strawberries and raspberries and corn on the cob, spaghetti and egg shells or grit this is really important to produce eggs but most layers pellets allready have this in them.
A coop- you can find a house on eBay or build one yourself wether it’s wooden or plastic it must have adequate ventilation, rooting bars or branches for the birds to perch on, a nest box wich is an dark area for the birds to lay eggs and hatch chicks this area must have soft materials such as sawdust or hay, NOT straw.
And there you are ready to go just funk up your coop with fancy feeders, and logs and toys to keep your hens entertained and that’s it get ready for eggs any time soon.
Do I need a cockerel for my hens to lay eggs? No, hens will happily lay without males and even sometimes try to hatch unfertilised eggs but males do make great members to a flock, warning the hens when danger is around , fertilised eggs are also OK to eat and even keep for longer.
Are chickens noises and smelly? It depends, if you Coleen and manage your hens well then they won’t smell. Hens can be noisy when laying or if they are sounding an alarm but for 90% of the day they’re quiet and make relaxing chirps.
Do chickens lay different colour eggs? Yes, here are a few breeds for mixed eggs the legbars lay blue eggs, marrans lay dark chocolate eggs, leghorns lay blue eggs and orpingtons lay pink eggs. Also if yo cross breed them you get other colour eggs, such as a legbar X marran create a olive egg layer.
How much do chickens cost? It depends, genrally hens cost more than males. Rare breeds cost more than hybrids and cross breeds and it also is depending on age. A average brown egg laying hybrid costs £17 at point of lay, pure breeds can cost £20-25 at this age.
I hope this helps, happy hen keeping!