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Please can and help set up our chicken family.

(52 Posts)
Roundbales Fri 11-Jul-14 18:38:23

We are hoping to buy some chickens in 3-4 weeks time. A large fenced off area is already done, it's one concrete and we were thinking of putting bark down. Would this be ok? The hens would also be able to roam our garden when we are home too.

We need to buy a coop and thinking of this one

We would like three hens, are we able to buy 1 of each breed? Or is it better to stick with 1 breed? At first we wanted 2 hens and a cockerel but after reading online people are saying we would need more hens to keep the cockerel happy. Has anyone had a small number of hens and a happy cockerel?

Last question blush what breed would you recommend with primary aged children?

Roundbales Fri 11-Jul-14 18:42:26

come and set..... Sorry typos!

TheWomanTheyCallJayne Fri 11-Jul-14 18:45:09

Bark isn't recommended as it can harbour spores. May I recommend a hemp bedding, it's what I use and is great at absorbing smells.

TheWomanTheyCallJayne Fri 11-Jul-14 18:47:04

Breed wise any are ok really, it's just preference. In your position I would possibly go for ex commercial layers (not ex bats as they can be vulnerable)
A cockerel can be a dodgy thing with children. Our last one had to go as he was vicious.

That is insanely small for 6-8 chickens. It is recommended to have 4 sq ft minimum per bird in the coop.

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 18:54:56

So, the house looks fine -I would be inclined to raise it of the floor if on earth.

The chooks will need access to the garden, so that's good that its ok as they will want to dust bath.

We have had 2 hens to 1 cockerel ratio, but not by design, more by circumstance.We were fortunate as it worked by some random stroke of luck.I certainly wouldn't go with that ratio by choice.

I am a believer in hens and cockerel if you live somewhere where you can but I would reckon on a 6:1 ratio.

Why not have a bare earth run?

You can mix breeds.If you do, and get a cockerel, just ensure you haven't got a huge cockerel and tiny hens as he could hurt them.

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 18:57:42

That coop looks fine to me for 3 chooks on face value (I haven't looked at the dimensions).
So long as they are shut away at dark and let out pretty early, its only for sleeping.

Having said that, our best chookhouse was a 2nd hand shed that dh customised.

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 18:57:59

That coop looks fine to me for 3 chooks on face value (I haven't looked at the dimensions).
So long as they are shut away at dark and let out pretty early, its only for sleeping.

Having said that, our best chookhouse was a 2nd hand shed that dh customised.

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 18:59:51

I have hybrid rescues.
Bantams are great.
Silkies very pretty.

Look out for breeds that have pretty colour eggs as children love that.

TheWomanTheyCallJayne Fri 11-Jul-14 19:00:31

They all try and sleep in one nest box anyway. Or is that just mine? (Even when there were 30 of them wink)

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 19:02:45

Or roost in the trees in the woods.....

Roundbales Fri 11-Jul-14 19:42:19

Wow, lots of replies.

Hemp bedding in the coop? What could I put outside on the concrete? Or is it ok if they run is concrete flooring?

Our garden is mostly 'bricketted', only a small patch of you think that will be ok?

Would they get dirty in wet weather if the run had bare earth flooring? or am I being too precious? blush

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 19:52:34

So, we just use woodchips and hay as bedding.
I've never had them on concrete -but I think the crucial thing is that they have access somewhere to dust bathe and scratch around.Mine are actually currently enjoying a big terracotta pot where they evicted its contents and took to wallowing in the dry dusty soil in there.Its very civilized! If you only have a small patch of grass, be prepared that they may well mess it up -but, hey, its grass, not gold dust grin
Earth runs can get muddy.We have part roofed ours so they have shelter in snow and rain, or they just look miserable and retreat under the trampoline.
I've never known any of my free ranging chooks to get particularly filthy.

Roundbales Fri 11-Jul-14 20:13:53

Should I set up 3 dust bathe at the end of the run? They would have access to it all the time then.

I'm a bit concerned that we only have a small patch of grass although our garden is large but bricketted!

Roofing the run is an option and shouldn't be to hard to do.

that your chooks seem like a lot of fun.

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 20:29:58

What's bricketted mean?

I think a couple of nice deep dust baths could be a workable solution.

Oh yes, chooks are fun. smile

Pixel Fri 11-Jul-14 20:36:24

Our coop is almost the same as that but a wooden version and there is plenty of room in there for our three as they all cram into the nest box together anyway (I've taken out the partition so no one gets left out wink). I reckon I could put another couple in there without it being too crowded because as ThatBloodyWoman says it is only for sleeping.

We've had a bare earth floor in the run for a couple of years and it's been fine although you risk a broken ankle if you venture in after dark as they dig holes all over the place. We have got it roofed to keep the worst of the weather out. However we are just about to pave it over because they've knocked down an old factory along the road from us and we've suddenly got loads of rats. They've dug up into the run from behind a wall and I don't want the neighbours to be able to say it is our chooks encouraging the rats (we do remove all food at night but the rats still get in).
We will carry on putting bark down as we do now but it will be on top of the slabs instead of the earth so we will provide them with a dustbath of some sort. I know there are probably better materials than bark to use but we have somewhere we can get it for free so will stick with it. Anyway it encourages woodlice etc which the hens like.

We've got Goldlines (hybrids) which are very friendly.

Roundbales Fri 11-Jul-14 20:37:04

Sorry, around here we say brickette but most people say block paved! Most people have it on a driveway, we have it all over the garden as DD can use her bike.

Pixel Fri 11-Jul-14 20:38:12

Btw I want that plastic coop envy.

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 20:43:04

Ah, I understand now Round !

It is true, what Pixel says about rats.

Chooks are rat magnets.

You need to store food in really good containers -we have a thick steel bin -and feed in the morning, removing food at night.

We have sited the coop and run as far as possible from the house for this reason.

polkadotdelight Fri 11-Jul-14 20:51:34

We have 3 bantam hens. I did not want a cockeral because the ratio wasn't right and I didn't want complaints from the neighbours!

I had the run on our patio over winter, covered with a clear tarp to keep it as dry as possible and filled with woodchip. You need to buy hardwood chips as it lasts longer than softwood and avoid bark because it can harbour fungal spores which cause respiratory infections. I have been buying mine from Flytesofancy but they are expensive and I keep meaning to contact local tree surgeons. Also I use ground sanitising powder in the run to keep it smelling sweet!

We have moved the run onto the lawn now (few weeks ago) as I wanted my patio back. Im trying the mud management system where the run is lined with a mesh and covered with woodchip so they don't dig the ground into a muddy mess. We use aubiose in the nesting box and I think it's brilliant stuff.

I've given up on dust baths because they just poo in it, on the subject of poo, chickens poo A LOT! They also destroy lawns so don't be too precious about your garden! It is worth it though, I love our ladies.

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 20:53:54

How very rude of them to poo in their dustbath shock

Yep, chooks do big slippy poos all over your paths.

Roundbales Fri 11-Jul-14 20:55:26

Thank you that and pixel

I shall add thick steel bin to the list of what I need. smile

I might try to leave the run as it is (concrete) and put either a large or three smaller deep dust baths at the furthest end away from the coop. If this doesn't work I can easily buy something to put on top of the concrete.

Lucky the run is already set up the furthest point form the house. Just hope we don't see many rats here, we are rural and imagine they are lurking ready!!

What age is the best to buy? We have the option to buy 16 weeks fully vaccinated or days old chicks. My only concern buying at 16 week is they might not be so friendly and will take time to tame them.

Roundbales Fri 11-Jul-14 20:58:31

Cross post polka

I have so much reading and learning to do! I'm sure it will be worth it though.

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 11-Jul-14 21:02:28

I would buy the older ones myself.

(If you were planning to eat them shock I would say day old....)

We are rural too so I figure the rats have every right to be here -they just use the run as their dining room sometimes wink Seriously, as you know, the rats are there whether the chooks are tgere or not, it just gives them somewhere to hang out.

Pixel Fri 11-Jul-14 21:15:16

I always thought there were rats around as we have a bridleway at the back but they'd never got into the run before now. Unfortunately my neighbour saw a couple in there and is now freaking out so I'm just keeping the peace really. Also we are renting and I'd hate the letting agent to see rat holes when he does an inspection!

We got ours at point of lay rather than as chicks and they became tame very quickly so don't worry about that. They will soon recognise you as food-giver and best pal!

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