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Hypothesising about keeping chickens!
8

sebastianthesingingaubergine · 08/07/2012 18:37

We are (hoping) to move into a new house in the not too distant. (Going to see it on Thursday and crossing everything that we get it!) It has a huge garden and I am already dreaming of chickens and vegetable patches......

Anyway, it backs onto a warren, so I am imagining there may be a few foxes around. Could I let them free range from early morning till dusk even if we weren't home, or should they be in a run unless we were there?

I'm guessing a run would be safest, in which case how large would it father in law need to build it need to be? I'm thinking about 6 chickens.......

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Pixel · 08/07/2012 18:46

We have a bridleway at the bottom of our garden and I haven't risked free-ranging. We hear the foxes at night and often see them during the daytime too, they are not at all nervous. A neighbour with much higher fences than ours has lost chickens in the time it has taken her to pop indoors to the toilet. The fox has been over, grabbed the chicken and been gone again in less than five minutes. The only other person I know who free-ranges round here frequently loses birds. Am trying to sort ours out a portable run instead so they can have a change from their permanent one\AAAAZ

Good luck with the new house Smile.

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Pixel · 08/07/2012 18:47

Oops sorry, cat decided to walk across keyboard!

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Paiviaso · 09/07/2012 12:15

Whether you are home or not shouldn't really factor into your decision to free range, unless you will actually be in the garden when home. I've had one hen taken by the fox, and was home all that day, but heard and saw nothing.

I have never actually seen a fox, so I'm not sure how prevalent they are around my village. I am still free ranging, and haven't lost any other hens since that first one a month ago. I suppose you will have to figure out how interested your local foxes are going to be.

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MrsApplepants · 09/07/2012 12:28

Don't forget that if the chickens free range, you will also have free range poo. 6 chickens is a lot of poo!! Chickens will also eat your plants and flowers, unless you protect them. A run would at least contain the poo and limit the damage to one area!! Having said that I love watching our chickens wander freely around the garden!!

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SundaeGirl · 09/07/2012 12:28

I think you should look into a fox proof run. Unless your garden is massive, the moving the hen house around thing won't really work as it'll end up in awkward places and not really make it possible for you to plan you garden so you could consider making it permanent.

If you go all-out to predator-proof your run there is no reason why you can't let them take themselves to bed and get up in the morning. You can still let them out into the garden when you're there. It'll save you a lot of hassle but of course it'll be a bit more expensive for the run as you'll need to pave/concrete the ground under the run.

I think it's worth it, but I would say that because I adore having hens!

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sebastianthesingingaubergine · 09/07/2012 12:49

Thanks everyone. It is a pretty big garden, but at the moment is running a bit wild so will need a lot of work anyway to start off with. I don't think we would have plants/flowers down that end, as there is a nicer bit of garden to the side of the house that would be more tended to in terms of plants/kids playthings..... The larger part would be more meadow-like I think, albeit with shorter grass.

It is also on a slope, so don't think moving a run around would really be feasible anyway. I suppose a largish predator proof run at the end might be the way to go. I do just love the thought of them pecking around totally free-range:)

Poo, I hadn't considered! I am only thinking of the lovely parts of chicken keeping right now, poo hadn't entered my thoughts! Will need to do LOTS of research before taking the plunge obviously. Can anyone recommend a decent website?



On another note, I would like to rescue some ex-battery hens. Would that be a bit much for a beginner? Would I be better getting some without built in health issues before I even start. (Am a vet nurse, but chickens aren't really part of the remit at my practice! Soon will be...... Grin)

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SundaeGirl · 09/07/2012 12:55

Planning hens is so much fun.

If you have a reasonable size garden then you could do what we do - massive compost bin to get rid of the poo. It goes in with grass clipping and so on. Needs to be big, tho.

I don't know much about x-batts but if you are getting six hens you've got room for some variety so it might be worth thinking about getting some pure breeds. These tend to be less popular than the more egg-productive hybrids like battery hens, but can produce lovely variation of egg colour that can be very satisfying in the box.

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sebastianthesingingaubergine · 09/07/2012 12:58

I am getting a bit beyond myself, considering we haven't 'officially' looked round the house yet. Just snooped round the garden!

Thanks Sundae, if it all happens, I think I might be spending a lot of time in here:)

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