first timer looking for help!!(3 Posts)
Hi there DP and I want to get chickens..we have found a coop we like. So what we need to know is
a)where do you get chickens from?(need hardy ones as live in Scotland so they need to be able to cope with cold winters)
b)what food do they need?is it layer pellets and corn?
c)do they eat out of a bowl or do you scatter food about? DO they need grit?
d)our garden backs on to a quietish public footpath, we are more worried about local kids(not the nicest) doing something to the chickens....is it ok to lock them in when they are roosting?
e)if we move the coop around te garden to stop the wear and tear on one patch, how often do you move it?
f)any other advice/tips greatly welcomed!TIA
A few thoughts:
a) you may find them advertised in local papers or if you're in a rural area then I expect there will be livestock sales nearby which will usually have a poultry section (or sometimes a special poultry sale). Talk to local farmers if you know any as they will be able to help on breeds that are best in the area. It is usually best to go for pullets (which are almost full grown), they are hardier than chicks but you know they are not too old so should produce plenty of eggs
b)corn is fine and they will also love your left over (cooked) food scraps
c)scattering is best otherwise they may fight over the food but tbh either is fine
d)sure you can shut them in at night (sensible to do so with foxes etc as well) but you must make sure that you get up to let them out when it gets light or as soon as you can manage (which can be quite early in the summer!) as they wake up when it gets light and can get quite distressed if they can't get out particularly if the coop is small.
e) really depends on how many chickens, what the size of coop is, what breed and what time of year (in the winter the ground will turn to mud quickly and they don't like that).
f) if you are planning a moveable coop then bantums may be a better bet as they don't need so much space, generally the moveable coops are really only big enough for couple of hens. It's also a good idea to have a cockerel (if you don't mind the crowing!) as the hens are generally happier and lay better then
there are loads of websites with advice so I'd have a good read before you go any further
best of luck!
And a few more thoughts;
a) this list of breeders might help
b) layers pellets will give more eggs; it's a more balanced diet. We give corn as a treat at the end of the day.
c) We use a standard poultry feeder, it means we fill it every 4 or 5 days and the hens can help themselves as necessary. A bowl is very easily tipped up and food is then wasted. Scattering is fun for corn, but I would be worried about getting quanities right. Ours don't need grit because they free range and find it in the garden. A bag of grit will last a very long time if yours do need it.
d) yes - lock them in at night, and we've made a rule that whoever puts the kettle on for the early cup of tea also slips on wellies (we look lush) and opens the chooks.
e) The coop moving is a bit variable - depends how many birds you get and how muddy your garden is. Probably every few days is my best bet.
Afraid I don't agree with the cockerel advice; they're not necessary for good laying and if you have only a few hens he's likely to shag them too often and make their backs completely bald and very sore. We have a cockerel with 13 hens, and 2 of his favourite girls struggle to keep feathers on. It is lovely to see the cockerel looking after his girls though. Depends what you have in mind.
Good luck - and ask more if you like. I'm sitting watching my chicks hatch. It's lovely.
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