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Does anyone keep chickens?!!!!!

(27 Posts)
eviletc Tue 06-Feb-07 15:53:50

what do you keep them in? are eglus any good?

do your neighbours mind?

are they a lot of hard work?

are they expensive to maintain/initially purchase?

if you have a clause in the deeds of your house saying that you can't keep hens etc, will anyone mind/tell on you?

this is all deadly serious - would love some chickens but have no idea where to start....

finecheese Tue 06-Feb-07 16:19:27

don't have chickens now as live in the city, but miss them. had loads when we were little and they are the best. great pets and great eggs. you can teach them to come to you - we used to shout "coop coop" and they would run up the garden. mum used to buy morans from farmers when they old enough to lay. the only thing you have to be sanguine about is if they get mauled by foxes - we got through 24 chickens - all were attacked by les renards! easy to maintain - just corn and then you can give them ALL leftovers and veg cuttings - v. environmental. Apart from the intial output for a coop i don't remember them being expensiveat all. sorry for no puntuation - baby on lap. i say get the chickens - i don't reckon anyone will tell on you.. let me know how it goes! xxx

LadyMacbeth Tue 06-Feb-07 16:25:24

Hello.

You don't have to justify how serious you are! Keeping chickens is a fab thing to do - not only do their eggs taste better than any you have probably tried before but they provide endless amusement to saddos like me.

Now, to answer a few of your questions:

You basically need a hen house and an enclosed grazing area. This can be a small run attached to a small house (a la the Eglu) or an independent house situated inside a fenced off area of your garden. It depends really on how much space you have. I would argue that the more grazing space they have, the happier the chooks are and the better the eggs taste especially if they have access to grass. Mine are allowed to roam freely in our spacious garden (we are lucky in that it is walled all the way around) however they will be fenced off into an enclosure once this year's vegetables have been sown (we also don't want chicken poo all over the lawn during the spring and summer!)

My chickens roost inside a wendy house that DH converted into a hen house (he made a couple of nesting boxes and a slatted perch with droppings board underneath.) However if your DH is not much of a handyman you can easily buy houses. Broughton Cottage Arks (google them) are really lovely but also quite expensive. You can usually find quite good bargains on Ebay and in your local Trade It. Eglus look seriously cool but IMHO they are quite small and also very expensive!

It is worth buying a couple of books to start off with. (I read 'starting with chickens' by Katie Thear). Amazon stock loads - it's worth you having a browse through first.

Chckens are not hard work. All you need to do is check every day that they have enough food and water, let them out into the run, collect their eggs and clean them out regularly. I have six and find they need cleaning out every 10-14 days. It's not the loveliest of jobs as they poo more than newborn babies but I think considering they are really easy in every other way it's not much to ask!

Set up costs are reasonably cheap; expect to pay 2-300 for house, run, fencing etc (if in doubt about how fox-proof you garden is and don't underestimate the wily buggers) it's good to buy electric fencing. The chickens themselves cost anything for around a fiver (read up on various breeds and see what you can get locally - I have four various hybrids that cost fifteen each and two silkie pullets that were a snip at a fiver a pop. Food costs around a fiver a month for corn, grit, shell and layer's pellets. It's worth buying a hopper for their water as they drink a lot.

I don't know what your neighbours will think - it depends on whether they like chickens! It's prob best you don't get a rooster as they are really noisy. Make sure they are cleaned out regularly and locate the hen house as far away from your and other's houses. Your neighbours will not thank you if rats start sniffing out their food. Keep feed bins weighted shut and be scrupulous about not leaving food lying around the garden/floor of your shed etc. I suggest if you live in a built up area that you speak to your neighbours first.

No idea about deeds; everyone around me has chickens so I never bothered to check!


HTH

LadyMacbeth Tue 06-Feb-07 16:29:21

P.S. Excuse typos. Typing in a hurry. My pound key has broken too.

Greensleeves Tue 06-Feb-07 16:29:37

If they are killed by foxes do you eat the remains?

Ali5 Tue 06-Feb-07 16:30:06

Research some breeds - do you want them to look pretty or be good egg layers? You need somewhere to keep them overnight really, a converted shed with a pole for them to roost on is fine and they like little boxes to snuggle in for egg laying. You can put them in a coop - we had about 6 in a 4/5m square. If you want them to run about your garden resign yourself to no flowers and bare scratched parts of your lawn (oh and treading in poo). We lived near a farm that kept them (the ones we had would have been battery hens) and bought our chicken feed from them which we supplemented with scraps. The chicken feed ensures a balanced diet and the right nutrients for them to lay good eggs. As with all pets our main problem was finding someone to look after them whilst we were on holiday and administering medicine if they got poorly. Good fun to have and nice eggs but a bit of a tie.

finecheese Tue 06-Feb-07 16:34:59

well, people eat roadkill don't they, I reckon a home grown slightly mauled chuck would be delish,,,,

Ali5 Tue 06-Feb-07 16:37:32

would be like eating your pet dog!!!

eviletc Tue 06-Feb-07 16:43:38

wow thank you everyone for your wonderful responses!ladynacbeth, you are truly the chicke queen!think will show this thread to dh...

if i just wanted to get 2 or 3 would that be ok? just one on its own wouldn't be fair, but 2 or 3 , is that ok? is there a good time of year to buy chickens? (sorry about the silly questions )

eviletc Tue 06-Feb-07 16:44:07

*ladymacbeth even.

was so excited i spelled your name wrong

Neena28 Tue 06-Feb-07 16:46:28

Lady macbeth did you used to have a different name? I'm sure someelse on here sounds just like you about chickens!!

LadyMacbeth Tue 06-Feb-07 16:48:21

Thanks, what an accolade! No seriously I'm a wee beginner compared to some of the eperts you might meet on here (pph knows a fair bit, I saved a link somewhere from way back and will see if I can find it)

2 or 3 chickens fine - a lovely number, Deffo not one though, they love each other's company.

The montths coming up are the perfect time to buy. Eggs are in abundance during the warmer lighter months. I bought mine in October just as their laying was slowing down and they were starting their annual moults (thought one of them was ill!)

LadyMacbeth Tue 06-Feb-07 16:49:45

Experts (or should that be eggsperts?!) and months. I can spell just have one and two year old snapping at elbow!

allmytimeonmumsnet Tue 06-Feb-07 16:50:23

We've had chickens for several years now as we are lucky enough to live in a very chicken friendly place. A friend wanted to get rid of a trio so we inherited them and fell in love. I never realised eggs were seasonal until we had chickens and I could NEVER EVER buy supermarket ones now.

We have a mix of breeds. We get most of ours from Chatsworth farm - if you have a farm, city farm or similar nearby then thats a good place especially if you want a specific breed. Our warrens and light sussex have always been the best layers and greatest characters but we have a real mix now. We've also had them from an animal market berfore - ex battery (we had one called oven ready!)- you can get those for less than a £ each. There is also a website for adopting ex battery chickens.

DH trimmed down an old shed that was rotten at the bottom and put a couple of poles in it with boards until. This helps loads to catch the droppings. There are places that sell them - depends on your time, skill and how much you want to spend but as with all these things you can bodge as much as is necessary. Ours are now in an enclosed pen due to a neighbours dog but used to roam freely. DH insists that the meat from free ranging chickens has similar qualities to fish oils!

They are not that tying - a neighbour is always happy to watch them a couple of days in return for the eggs. If we are just away for the weekend we can leave the hatch open (foxes can't get in, just a slight risk of stoat but they get in even if we are here). We have a hopper in the house we can fill with food if we need to although I prefer to feed them daily. Otherwise its just a case of checking their water.

They need cleaning every week or so. We use wood shavings for bedding and it makes a great mix for the garden.

We;ve never had major health problems - only mites in the summer and we now paint the house to get rid of them and dust the chickens with organic powder.

They have our scraps and organic corn or layers pellets which we collect direct from a feed merchant but only because we go there anyway for pig food. Before that one of our local pet shops used to sell corn. Worth asking. Otherwise just look for an animal feed supplier in your area.

The eggs are like nothing else you can buy. Even shop organic ones don't compare. Go for it......

LadyMacbeth Tue 06-Feb-07 16:51:18

Neena28, yes but not posted much about chickens before. So I can't be whoever you're thinking of!

Greensleeves Tue 06-Feb-07 16:53:08

lol Ali5, so are all chicken-keepers veggie then?

allmytimeonmumsnet Tue 06-Feb-07 16:55:32

Fab time of year to start. They are cheaper in the Autumn as they are stopping laying then but now young birds are coming into lay so you get eggs from the word go. Traditionally they lay from Valentines to Halloween but many lay longer now - depends on the breed.

Wouldn't eat the ones got by foxes simply because they'd be too tough - best to eat in their first year. We hatched a batch of cockerals one year and ate them all eventually. They were fab.

allmytimeonmumsnet Tue 06-Feb-07 17:04:48

battery hen welfare trust

MrsDoolittle Tue 06-Feb-07 17:15:17

This was me this time last year. I was disappearing into an abyss that is post-natal depression and I deeperately needed to help myself.
I am absolutely certain that my hens helped me out of what at the time felt like a terrible black hole.
I started with three, now I have 14 hens.
I love them.

I would start on the Practical Poultry forum, this is where I started. I bought a house from a lovely lady who wanted a bigger house for her expanding flock - we have since kept in touch.

No they are not hard work, I say that with a husband, two small children, two dogs and I work full-time.

They are not expensive, about £8 for a hybrid at 20 weeks and £16-25 for a traditional breed.

I rent so I made sure this was okay with the landlords. No problem, only I can't keep cockerels because we are in a residential area and they are noisy.

What's more - make sure your neighbours are onside. Two of my hen houses I bought from people selling because their neighbours didn't like their chickens.

If it's what you want to do, go do it. I have never regretted it!

Goodluck!!

eviletc Tue 06-Feb-07 17:15:39

thanks for the battery hen link - that was going to be my next question..!!

i like the idea of rehoming some battery hens...

eviletc Tue 06-Feb-07 17:16:52

what a lovely story mrsdoolittle (though obv not the part about pnd, the positive bit!)

thank you all

allmytimeonmumsnet Tue 06-Feb-07 17:23:20

Regarding the bit on the deeds - do you mean a covenant? I don't know much about this but I remember a thing on location location once when they were looking for somewhere to run a business from and there was a covenent saying they couldn't. I remember kirstie saying something about who owns the covenent and only they can enforce it. Not much help probably but I would agree the best tactic is to get your neighbours on side. Assure them you won't have a cockeral and the birds will not get into their gardens and that you will be happy to let them have some eggs now and then. If the neighbours are onside they may give you scraps reducing the food bill, look after them when you are away, magically produce the much needed henhouse from somewhere etc etc. The only negative in this is if people are getting funny about bird flu. Some people can be really daft so you might be as well to wait for the all clear from defra and let things die down a bit before you broach it but otherwise I can't see how anybody can object really - but then I love chickens.

Ali5 Tue 06-Feb-07 22:54:57

Greensleeves - a fully paid up meat eater I'm afraid. I never made the link between the fluffy things in the garden and in the fields and what was on my plate and intend to keep it that way. Think naming them was a mistake. rip esmerelda

eveiletc - don't let anyone tell you you need a cockerel to get eggs, you'll end up with hormonal hens and a desire to throw your hairbrush out the window at 4am to stop the bloody thing crowing.

Greensleeves Thu 08-Feb-07 17:36:17

Holy Moley, this is worse than the banana guard

<<twitch>>

Greensleeves Thu 08-Feb-07 17:36:39

Sorry, wrong thread

<<bloody machine>>

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