Should I get chickens - i have some questions???(4 Posts)
I'm thinking about getting 3 chickens in our garden but I'm after a little advice from other people with chickens in the garden. My friends/family with chickens have smallholdings and farms so the chickens are all very free range and live in large coops/sheds etc. I live by a main road in the middle of a village so this would be impossible, they need to be fenced in so the questions I have are as follows:
1. Coop size and area guides on the Internet seem tiny to me? What is a sensible size coop for 3 happy chickens (let's say a maximum of 6 to be on the safe side-I've heard numbers kind of creep up!)? So that they have room and aren't squashed in like sardines?
2. If I fenced off the corner of our lawn approx 30sq metres with the coop inside would this really be enough or would they trash it in no time? They need to be in one permanent location on our lawn really rather than a chicken tractor thing. Again this is much more than area guides but I'm doubtful it's really and truly enough space?
3. Fence height? I would clip a wing to prevent high flyers. Would the fenced area need a fenced roof to prevent foxes etc?
4. Is it really fair to keep chickens in the garden-I'd rather no chickens than unhappy chickens.
5. How much do they Smell? Really and truly? They would be about 3 metres from our patio.
We have 4 and initially intended to keep them confined in the bottom of the hen house (approx 2x1m) but it felt much too tiny so we fenced off quite a large area under a tree. They have totally trashed the ground there but we tend to top it up with bark chippings in the summer and leaf litter in the autumn. We initially fenced at approx 1.5m high but they is massively inadequate. Ideally they need to be in an entirely enclosed area (prevents airborne predators - not that we have many around here that could carry off a chicken) but I think a fence of at least 2m should be ok. I've never really noticed mine smelling. My only occasional complaint is that if I get a rare lie in in the summer I can hear them squarking and wanting to be let out. Also mine don't go to bed until dusk so on the very long nights we have to stay up to lock them up for the night. I love having them and the fresh eggs are great.
I'll answer as per you numbering!
1. Totally agree. I've had my three chooks for 3 weeks now and they live in a Eglu Go Up. I have three medium hens (one probably on the larger side) as per omlet guide for coop and I wouldn't add any more. Other coops I have seen are smaller and suggest you could have more hens in. Crazy. They do seem to snuggle up at night though. The Eglu is SO easy to clean and use.
2. I have much the same area fenced off (omlet net) and I think it does my three fine but I do hope to extend it a little. They will trash the grass - a mix of scratching, making holes for dust baths and pecking grass. Mine still looks like grass after 3 weeks but I can see it losing the battle! Again, I wouldn't add any more chickens to this space.
3. The omlet net I have works perfectly to keep the ladies in but is not at all predator proof. I lock my ladies up at night. Mine haven't made any attempts to try and fly over. They would hop up on to things and over top if they could though so think about how you place things inside the run.
4. I think mine are happy. 2 out of 3 already happy being held and stroked and all laying away happily.
5. I don't think they smell but don't really spend leisure time in that garden area. I also live in NE Scotland so poo flies are not much of an issue. On the odd nice sunny day we get (!) there are quite a few flies and I keep my chicken coop and run really clean. If I lived in a part of of UK that had nice weather I wouldn't want to sit too close to the flies that appear. Maybe look into some sort of fly trap? I wrote more about smell on the other thread re smell!
Hope that helps!
1 : Coops don't need to be huge, enough room for all your girls to sit but a covered area as well to give weather protection is always appreciated. If it's snowy where will they stand during the day?
2 & 3 : That should be big enough for a few girls, especially smaller breeds. I'd have the roof covered, and wire underneath, foxes can be tricky. Likewise I'd reinforce the bottoms of the sides. They WILL trash your lawn. Can you put wood chips down? They will root for hours hunting bugs.
4 : Chucks can be very happy in gardens, give them "toys" like a chopped log to sit on and scratch.
5 : If you keep them clean, and the house dry, they don't smell too bad. If you wood chip, regular raking and maybe annual full change, will keep them fresh.
Enjoy the fresh eggs, remember that they won't lay over darkest winter but they'll earn there keep over summer.
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