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Soft fruit

(17 Posts)
MatNanPlus Mon 29-Jun-09 23:55:25

We are giving serious thought to 2/3/4 hens when we move house.

The house has an established fruit patch 5m x 3m with raspberry, gooseberry and rhubarb in it and room for more (total size is 9m x 3m) - yet to be decided.

I am looking to net this to stop birds and wondered if the hens would enjoy the extras (slugs etc) and leave the fruit/plants alone?

Thoughts welcome please.

If a good idea then would make sure it was rat/fox proof and have house in there or attached to the side.

frumplump Tue 30-Jun-09 12:43:10

Hens will do best on ground that is changed frequently to stop a build up of worms.

A moveable ark is suitable for the number of hens you are thinking of having.

Then you can fertilise the soil via chickens' droppings out of season

Bramshott Tue 30-Jun-09 12:50:41

Our neighbours have a large fruit cage and although they have a chicken house at the top of the garden, they bring the chickens down into the fruit cage most days. They don't seem to have had any problems with the fruit, and they keep the weeds down a treat. TBH they probably would have been there full time if we hadn't complained as the fruit cage is right up against the wall with our garden, and they have a cockerel!

MatNanPlus Tue 30-Jun-09 22:17:34

Do chickens not like worms Frumplump?

TY Bramshott not looking to get a boy

bramblebooks Tue 30-Jun-09 22:31:05

I haven't yet put my chickens into the fruit and veg garden - I've kept them out as they really think that they can eat anything. Chickens love worms and slugs, it's the internal parasites that aren't so pretty ...

frumplump Tue 30-Jun-09 22:40:43

You know I meant intestinal worms? Not earthworms?hmm

MatNanPlus Tue 30-Jun-09 23:16:19

nope i didn't Frumplump

so too many slugs / earth worms = wormy chicken?

frumplump Wed 01-Jul-09 08:24:23

No! Earthworms, insects of all kinds etc are a valuable source of protein for chickens, you can also give them meat scraps from the table.

Intestinal worms come from scratching about and pecking at grass (which chickens like to eat)which has been infested from their droppings which happens if the ground is not changed regularly.

Chickens, (originally jungle fowl) should ideally have unrestricted 'grazing' (like most grazing animals)to prevent contamination from fecal matter (poo), but if this is not possible then changing the confined ground they are in is important.

Or you will need to get deworming powder for them to add to the feed.

bramblebooks Wed 01-Jul-09 08:25:40

chickens can also get gapeworm from eating slugs and snails. You need flubenvet, which you can get from vets or feed suppliers.

frumplump Wed 01-Jul-09 09:18:52

Yes, all sorts of nasties. In this sort of weather they can also easily get infestations of red mite so it's important that they are cleaned out regularly, esp nesting boxes and they are able to have a dust bath whenever they feel like it as chickens like to keep themselves clean. (which is why any form of intensive rearing or confinement is horrendous for a hen's physical and mental health unless practical steps are taken to mimic natural conditions as far as possible, goes for all farmed animals really)

MatNanPlus Wed 01-Jul-09 11:31:17

Ok, i get you.

So tho the hens could happily be in the fruit patch in the day and also having a run in the rest of the garden for a while, supervised as 1mt hedges only.

Also scrapping up poop would be a good plan.

We were looking at a nest box / hen house clean out once a week? as that seemed to be suggested on sites we looked at.

I am guessing a dust bath is like that the chinchilla has, so a tray of bathing sand somewhere dry?

How much poop does 1 chicken make?

i have read about layers pellets, grit, corn, chicken mash, cucumber as a reward, anything else.

frumplump Wed 01-Jul-09 12:59:23

To stop the hens flying off you need to clip the long wing feathers on one side only, just the feathers mind you, not the quill as too far down or would bleed and cause distress. They cannot fly with one set of wing feathers.

It's difficult to scrape up chicken poo from the ground. The amount they make depends on what they eat.

A sunken patch of dry sand for the dustbath would be great.

Personally I would feed them layers pellets as the mash gags them unless you mix it with water.

They need access to grit to harden the shells.

They love all manner of leftovers and things like potato peelings if cooked up in a pressure cooker so soft.

The more greenery in the diet the more orangey the yolk, which is why there is nothing better than home produced eggs. Even the expensive free range eggs from top supermarkets fail to be as delicious and have'orange rich yolks' as happy hens' eggs, (by which I mean optimal conditions btw!).

MatNanPlus Wed 01-Jul-09 23:22:37

Thank You very much Frumplump i appreciate your time.

Yes i read about clipping.

I was looking at collecting the peelings of the week and cooking them but then wonder if they would be nice after a week of hanging around on the fridge before cooking? So wondered at just cooking the peelings as we have them.

Do chickens eat all veg peelings ?cauliflower leaves / cabbage / carrot.

I was thinking of the mash as an extra and the pellets etc as daily food.

Would they hop into a tray for a bath or should it be ground level/flush?

So what eats are big / little poop makers?

MatNanPlus Wed 01-Jul-09 23:23:29

What about apples / pears / melon / banana asks DH?

MatNanPlus Wed 01-Jul-09 23:24:09

Whole fruit not cooked.

frumplump Thu 02-Jul-09 07:52:56

You do not need to cook apples,melon,pears or cabbage leaves, they will enjoy pecking at these. If you put them on top of chicken wire they can peck through it so that it doesn't get soiled.

It will end up a mess on the ground if you put in too much, so best watch them and add more a little at a time so that it isn't trampled on. Put in enough and spread around so they don't fight.

They love cooked up veg too (so definitely save peelings in the fridge for a batch for the pressure cooker as if it's too fibrous they won't eat it), cooked pasta, old bread/cake etc.

Not banana/peel, orange/peel.

They can hop into a tray but the sand will fly out as they fluffle their wings and turn over so sunken/ground level is better.

Mash is not extra, it's similar in composition to pellets but it is nice to give them mash in the winter mixed with warm water and pressure cooked peelings, a nice steaming morass when they are cold.

For extra you can scatter mixed corn for them to scratch around for. But don't put too much of anything, you don't want to attract rats.

Only feed them in the mornings. Handle them as much as possible (get them used to being fed from a small bowl on your lap, be careful if you have young children as hens are normally gentle when pecking from your hand but not when very hungry.Also make sure you divert your eyes from theirs as they do go for spots or moles! )

They make excellent friendly pets with time and patience and will happily sit on your lap or on your shoulder. Hens always return to roost before it's dark.

meltedmarsbars Fri 03-Jul-09 22:50:52

Ours love currants for a treat.

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