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I want to keep chickens but need to convince DH - can someone talk me through the basics?

(9 Posts)
becklespeckle Wed 03-Jun-09 12:57:18

I would love love love to keep a couple of chickens in my garden and after months and months of gentle nagging I have DH teetering on the brink of agreeing! We don't have a huge garden so 2 or 3 would be the limit I think and ideally I would like to re-home some ex-battery hens. A lovely friend bought me a book about keeping chickens so I have done a bit of reading up but what I need to know is the basic day-to-day care, how much time they take up, how often they need to be out of their run etc.....

Any tips gratefully received!

Stories of marvellous chickens to show DH even better! smile

daisydotandgertie Wed 03-Jun-09 14:08:00

Our chooks are self sufficient really.

They get themselves up and put themselves to bed and in the summer we don't shut the coop up. They have complete freedom in our garden, but we're very rural and have a reasonably foxproof garden.

Eggs obviously need collecting daily grin and they are cleaned out once a week. The chook house gets a thorough scrubbing once a month ish.

We have big food and drink hoppers which last a long time - the food for about a week and water for much longer (haven't found out how long yet ...). They're fed on organic layers pellets, and in late afternoon/early evening they get a handful of corn. They queue for the corn!

So, in answer to your question. In exchange for eggs every day, we have to check their water and food every 4 or 5 days, clean them once a week and in the winter open and shut the coop door.

Not much effort goes into them here!

becklespeckle Wed 03-Jun-09 16:18:33

Sounds fab! Are they worse to clean out than say, a rabbit? I live on an estate although in a rural town, fairly sure there are no foxes about but there are loads of cats. Are cats any danger to chooks? DH is also concerned about chicken droppings all over the garden as its not particularly big and the children play in it a lot.

daisydotandgertie Wed 03-Jun-09 20:38:08

I think chooks and rabbits are about the same on cleaning out revoltingness - not too bad really.

We have 13 hens and a cockerel and they live in a converted shed (6'x4') - the dirty straw/sawdust fills a big bin liner each week.

Chooks can sort themselves out with cats and although they poo, with only a couple of birds I don't think it should be too much of an issue. I just hose the grass and patio down regulary - but we have A LOT of chickens!

becklespeckle Thu 04-Jun-09 00:27:57

Hmm that doesn't sound too bad at all, have chatted at DH about chickens again this evening and he has asked to see pictures of runs and such to see if he can build one... he'll change his mind again tomorrow I bet!

daisydotandgertie Thu 04-Jun-09 08:10:09

A run is easy to build - even my DH managed it. He used sawn timber and chicken wire, but weld mesh would be good too.

We eventually took it down though, because it was fixed and the garden suffered a lot underneath it (mostly because I got carried away with the number of chickens we have).

If you're planning a run for 2 or 3 birds, I'd make it a moveable, roomy one with a way of hooking it to the chook house so they can't come apart because if there's a gap, the girls will try and explore it.

For a chook house, most things would do. A converted dog kennel, if it's 2 birds I think even a guinea pig hutch would do the job. As long as you can put a roosting pole in the sleeping area (a smooth piece of timber with rounded edges and a flat top - ideally 2/3 inches across the top).

My girls mostly lay in big flower pots filled with straw in their shed, although about 4 of them favour the old guinea pig hutch that's there.

They haven't damage any plants yet, although their feet have done a bit of trampling and kicking. The damage is balanced by the entertainment they give.

Our garden would be so, so dull if the girls weren't there. Oh yes, and they've eaten all the black and greenfly and slugs and snails. Our hostas and beans are fabulous!

ouchitreallyhurts Thu 04-Jun-09 12:59:13

we have a couple in our garden and they are great fun! they jump up and sit on the half open stable door to our kitchen and 'talk' to me while i potter about.
the eggs are absolutely brilliant, they collect pests from the garden like snails, woodlice etc
they also answer to their names now

I usually scoop big dollops of poo daily (takes 5 minutes) and hose the path down (esp. if people are coming!!)
kids wear wellies/trainers at all times in the garden.

our 4 cats are scared of the hens and the cats are good for catching any rats that accompany being chicken and rabbit keepers.

good luck! it took me 6 years to persuade my dh - on the whole he enjoys them until one flies in and poos on the kitchen rug or something!

stealthsquiggle Thu 04-Jun-09 13:06:00

Chickens and cats no problem at all.

In fact, chickens and crows, jackdaws and buzzards also evidently no problem.

Don't bet on there not being foxes around, though - and rats. Get your DH to build Fort Knox if possible. Also there is a lot more poo than you might imagine.

On the plus side, our 4 chickens have done wonders for our (large, scruffy) lawn and reduced the number of ants nests to a more manageable level, cut down the snails and other bugs in the garden and take maybe 5-10mins a day to look after (and we have more eggs than we know what to do with!).

becklespeckle Fri 05-Jun-09 13:25:21

Thanks guys! Have read this thread to DH (accompanied by pictures of the spoiled hens on the Battery Hen Welfare Trust website!) and he has agreed I can have a couple of chooks (providing I do all the work/cleaning/caring involved) - yay! Just got to wait for him to build me a house and run now...

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