Beginner in keeping chickens

(10 Posts)
Katka52 Wed 24-Aug-16 02:33:13

Hello,

I'm new to keeping chickens. I do not have any yet. But was thinking having 4 or 5. I would welcome any tips please.Which ones are good and is 4-5 not enough or too much, etc..?!

Thank yousmile

Rubytuesday2980 Wed 24-Aug-16 02:50:43

I would take your size of family into consideration - we have 3 chickens and when they're all laying (not broody/moulting/having an off week) they will lay approx 6 eggs each/18 eggs altogether every week! If you get just 'standard' chickens, they'll easily do this, if you choose specific breeds based on what they look like, you might find that they lay slightly less. Egg production goes down with age too.

Freespirit99 Sun 11-Sep-16 21:47:58

Sorry to jump in here, but I inherited 2 chickens and 4 ducks when I moved in 6 weeks ago and their egg production has just stopped completely this last week. I wasn't expecting this. Can I do anything to encourage them into laying again?

ZippyNeedsFeeding Sun 11-Sep-16 21:59:08

Freespirit, I used to breed chickens and ducks, so hopefully I can help.
Going off the lay can be caused by all sorts of things.How old are they? Are they moulting? If they are, then that may be your lot for this year. Chickens are also day length sensitive, so shorter days can make them stop laying. What are you feeding them? A balanced diet is important, as is plenty of grit. It's a good ides to buy/borrow a book about keeping poultry and you will get more of a detailed idea about what they need.
Katka, 4 or 5 should be fine, but a lot depends on the space available. Pay careful attention to the house you choose as well. there are some really awful ones which cost a fortune but aren't really the best for your birds. The best height for the perches (and chickens really do need perches) is about 18 inches. You might want a house where the floor is not on the ground- this helps to prevent rats being attracted by the heat. If you live in an area with either foxes or polecats then you need very secure fencing.
Don't get a cockerel unless you have no neighbours and you want to hatch some eggs. Hybrid hens will lay for far longer each year, but all breeds will have a break for moulting.
Bantam breeds are about half the size of standard chickens but also lay small eggs.

beccy11 Sun 11-Sep-16 22:06:14

We bought 3 Gingernut hens in April (they are our first) and they are fantastic. We've had 3 eggs a day since having them (it took 10days for them to settle and lay) but since then they've not stopped.
We're a family of 4 and this amount of eggs suits us
When they're laying they do sing which can be noisy so if you have neighbors do warn them. Ours live right at the bottom of the garden and apart from the odd field mouse when the orchard is being cut (we are very rural) no pests *touch wood
They gave very distinctive personalities and there is a definite pecking order. But I love having chickens (part of the reason we moved to the countryside)
The picture is Ginge she's our baby chicken ( she loves to be held and fussed)

Freespirit99 Sun 11-Sep-16 23:05:28

Zippyneedsfeeding, many thanks. I have no idea on age for any of them, sadly. The big duck has moulted and she was quite a good layer, her feathers are growing back, but is that it now? The other 3 ducks are call ducks and I don't think they are more than a year old, but no eggs from any of them. The 2 chickens are quite big, one has quite reddish feathers, the other much darker. I have had no eggs for about 10 days now, but they don't appear to be moulting. I feed them layers pellets plus veg scraps and they are out in a fair sized run so presumably also eating insects etc. A friend has lent me a very good book, so I am learning as I go. I do love watching them, they are totally absorbing!
Beccy11, I am in awe of your chickens productivity! Lovely chicken, by the way

Shallishanti Sun 11-Sep-16 23:14:06

Maybe they just aren't used to you yet!
I once left my prolifically laying hens (4 of them) in the care of a neighbour for 2 weeks, they completely stopped laying until i got back, very embarassing.

ZippyNeedsFeeding Mon 12-Sep-16 08:10:31

Yes, the duck which has moulted won't lay any more this year (probably, there is always one that does something different!).
According to this; www.callducks.net/problems.htm call ducks lay about 80 eggs a year at most, so they've probably just stopped for the year.
Chickens can indeed be touchy and may just be sulking a bit! Or they might be old, or they might be of a breed that doesn't have a long laying season. Since they have good food, greens, grit and plenty of water it doesn't sound like they are lacking anything in their diet.

ZippyNeedsFeeding Mon 12-Sep-16 08:17:34

I forgot, have you checked them for mites and worms?

OrchardDweller Mon 12-Sep-16 08:27:11

How many you get will also depend on the space you have. We had four until the fox came by recently which really upset us as they had become part of the family - they were free range and used to join us when we were in the garden and sit by the table when we had lunch outside.

You should look for chickens advertised as point of lay and buy them from a reputable supplier (ask around locally to you). Different breeds have different personalities - some are really friendly and some are quite shy. We had a mixture - from the standard brown, through to a white Sussex, a Bluebell Maran and a rather beautiful black one with a green iridescence. This meant that we had a regularly layers and some that just look fabulous but didn't lay so many eggs. Don't underestimate the amount of chicken poo they will produce which goes back to how much space to you have!

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