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Questions about chicken keeping

(9 Posts)
TwentiethCenturyHeffa Mon 07-Sep-09 08:37:29

We're thinking of getting some chickens, and there's a few things I want to know. Sorry for the long list but I'm trying to get answers for all of DH's queries. We kept chickens when I was growing up but I don't remember all of the details.

We have a small enclosed back garden so room for an ark/run. What I want to know is:

Do they create much mess in the garden?

Is it very expensive to keep chickens after the initial outlay?

Are there any health/safety risks to children? DD is 14 months.

Are they labour-intensive?

Do they make much noise/smell?

How often do you need to muck out their house?

If you get smaller chickens do you end up with smaller eggs? I know that's a really stupid question but DH wants to know!

Thanks in advance for any replies! I'm soooo excited about getting some.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Mon 07-Sep-09 08:41:18

Do they create much mess in the garden?

If they are free in the garden they will leave chicken poo everywhere and eat all your flowers as well as dig out your flower beds.

Is it very expensive to keep chickens after the initial outlay?

Not really. I buy layers pellets and they eat all scrap food. Have to buy red mite powder every now and then.

Are there any health/safety risks to children? DD is 14 months.

Same as any other animal. Don't eat the poo and wash hands after handling them.

Are they labour-intensive?

Not really. I clean the coop once a week and the run every 2 weeks. If its wet then yes, its a pain but same as cleaning out rabbits or guinea-pigs.

Do they make much noise/smell?

Sometimes they announce their eggs loudly. I open the back door and tell them to be quiet. They are then so excited that food might be coming they stop shouting about the egg. Their poo does not really smell but accumulated poo after 2 weeks can smell a bit farmyardy.

How often do you need to muck out their house?

Every week

If you get smaller chickens do you end up with smaller eggs?

Yes

TwentiethCenturyHeffa Mon 07-Sep-09 08:48:04

Thanks I was assuming that they'd be in their run/house most of the time but I'd let them out to roam in the garden for some time each day - should they be allowed out more than that or would that be OK?

TheDMshouldbeRivened Mon 07-Sep-09 08:51:25

as often as you want. in the winter I let mine in the garden all day. They eat the pests and tehy cant destroy my veg!

ABetaDad Mon 07-Sep-09 08:59:14

We have chickens in a run in our garden.

My biggest problem has been rats and being attacked by the cockerel I have. Otherwise not hard to keep.

I would suggest that if you have a run make sure you dig and trench and bury the wire mesh fence down at least 30 cm so rats cannot dig underneath to get to the feed.

Do not get a cockerel. Noisy and can be dangerous for kids.

TwentiethCenturyHeffa Mon 07-Sep-09 08:59:40

Eating the pests would be useful I only have a herb bed in the back garden and lots of pots so there's never much out there in the winter. We live on the end of an estate but our only direct neighbours are deaf so I'm sure they won't mind the noise, especially with some free eggs every now and then!

Madsometimes Mon 07-Sep-09 11:32:24

Our chickens are very quiet. Ginny sometimes announces that she is laying an egg. Other than that, there is just an occassional gentle cluck. They certainly cannot compete with the noisy A road at the end of our garden.

We keep our chickens in a woodchip and aubiose run, which is about 2m by 4 m. I want to let them free range about the garden, but dh disagrees!

TwentiethCenturyHeffa Mon 07-Sep-09 13:17:18

Thanks for all the advice I think DH is on board so hopefully we can get set up soon.

I hadn't thought about rats ABetaDad so thanks for that.

I'm very excited now

TheDMshouldbeRivened Mon 07-Sep-09 16:08:58

check for foxes. 3 of mine got ate.
As for rats, you're never more than 6 feet from one, chickens or no chickens.

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