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Any chicken keepers out there?

(11 Posts)
Soxwasher Fri 30-May-03 16:45:03

are any of you avid chicken keepers? we have 6 but one of them is setting on fertilised eggs at the mo - and I need some advice!

Katherine Fri 30-May-03 17:02:12

Lucky thing. We had one sitting a month or so ago but a helpful neightbour decided to shove in a load of extra hay and it meant the eggs got buried and crushed. Grrr....

Anyway what do you want to know. I'm still getting to grips myself but this is what we found...

When they hatched last year we had a problem with rats. They didn't take the chicks but burrowed into the run leaving gaps where the chicks got out to be met by cats, magpies etc. So make sure you keep them safe until they are big enough. We moved ours to a seperate pen for safety this year.

She won't necessarily sit on them ALL the time (although pretty much) - even if they go a bit cold they still seem to hatch which surprised me. She is meant to come out one a day to feed, drink and poo. So make sure your feeding co-incided with this. Our "helpful" neighbour also used to let her out at the crack of dawn before I got chance to feed her and then she wouldn't come out again.

Ours seem to stop the other chickens from laying when sitting which was a bummer. Ended up with no new eggs all last summer which was why we seperated her this year.

Finally you are meant to feed the chicks on something called chick crumb but we used to just crush up the corn a bit and it worked just as well. Make sure they can't drown themselves in the water too.

Good luck. Remember they might not all hatch and you will probably loose a few even if they do. After a couple of days she will leave any eggs she thinks are duff to care for the hatched chicks. Enjoy. They are Sooooooooo cute

lou33 Fri 30-May-03 18:39:10

There is a place called Woodside Wild Fowl Park in Slip End, Bedfordshire, and they sell chickens , look after them for holidays, and give advice. Maybe you could look them up and give them a call?

robinw Sat 31-May-03 07:09:56

message withdrawn

miggy Sat 31-May-03 08:24:42

we used an old rabbit hutch this year. Transfered hen and eggs one night into sleeping bit, then could leave food and water in other side. now chicks have hatched, they are really safe and plenty of room for first couple of weeks.

Lil Sat 31-May-03 09:16:26

Hey great thread. I am seriously looking at starting to keep hens for eggs. But my one big problem is that in suburbia the foxes are really tame and have no fear of humans. I am looking at getting one of the wooden cages/runs advertised on the web, but am not convinced they are 100% fox proof. If they are i can imagine the foxes pacing around the cages and stressing the poor hens so much they don't lay!! at 300 pounds a hutch this isn't something I can afford to just try and see.

Any advice pleeese!!!

Soxwasher Sat 31-May-03 09:19:29

Thank you everyone for all your interest - it is great to hear other peoples experience. Our chicks are due on Friday!!!!! and we are very excited and a bit worried about the next step. Do you need to interveene with the hatching or just let mum get on with it? What problems do we need to look for. The Mum and eggs are seperate from the rest.

Molecule Sun 01-Jun-03 04:28:44

Don't worry, she'll do it all herself, there is a good reason for the phrase "like a mother hen".
I wouldn't introduce the chicks to the other hens until they can look after themselves, as hens are not at all nice and may take a certain amount of pleasure in pecking the little ones, especially if in confined quarters. Our last farm was rat-infested and the rats did take the chicks when in a barn, but we didn't have problems in proper runs. There is little to compare with watching a broody hen and her chicks, they really are quite wonderful. We've just bought a hen + 8 chicks at market for dd2's birthday, and dd1, a confirmed hen/bird hater, is quite smitten.

Katherine Mon 02-Jun-03 09:16:05

She will do it all herself so don't work, best to leave her to it. BTW our bantams eggs always seem to hatch a few days early - they also don't seem to hatch on the same day which I thought they were meant to. Ah well the mysteries of nature.

Miggy we used an old rabbit hutch and run too. Seemed perfect.

Lil - WE made our actual hutch from an old dog kennels and it works really well. DH built the actual run by banging in posts and just nailing wire around it. We also use the wire mesh across the top as they used to fly out of the old version of the pen althogh you can clip their wings (never felt happy with that though). It cost no more than £50 tops for the wire and posts and is much easier to adapt to your needs than a bought one. You could also make a much smaller one and move it around your lawn which means they will always have green grass etc.

All you need is some sort of hutch and/or run and a bag of corn. They don't need much looking after and the children love the eggs. I'd recommend it to anyone.

AnnieMo Mon 02-Jun-03 23:34:44

We had a hen disappear at Easter and reappear with three chicks - they were really cute - but are now at the gangly teenager stage! The problem is that because she reared them away from the hen house none of them will now roost in the house - and we can't find where they all go at night! We need a tracker system to keep tabs on them all.

Katherine Fri 13-Jun-03 16:31:09

Hi Soxwasher how is she doing? Ours has just started sitting again (9 eggs this time!) so fingers crossed we have more luck than last time. They are due to hatch just when we go on holiday though which is a real pain.

BTW realised I gave you duff advice about feeding the chicks earlier. I said to crush corn - well if you've tried this you'll know its next to impossible. Layers pellets is what we used and you can just pop them in the blender - they won't need much.

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