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where to start

12 replies

nelix2000 · 15/05/2008 16:25

Have a big garden really want 2-3 chickens to provide eggs for me and my son, where do I start?? I realise costs will be in the region of £200 to start and thats roughly what I have to spend on a coop etc....any directions?? Thanks

OP posts:
StripeyKnickersSpottySocks · 15/05/2008 19:50

Good quality housing at a reasonable price here;

www.smithssectionalbuildings.co.uk/

I have a mini-dell and am very happy with it.

Do you want an ark where they can be self enclosed or could you just get a house (cheaper) and either let them free-range or fence part of the garden off?

I was planning to keep them in the ark but then eneded up buying a 4ft high roll of chicen wire and some electic fence posts and constructed a pen in a corner of the garden for them. Was cheap and it took me 10minutes and I am not practical. I wish I'd thought of that first and then would just have got a house rather than an ark.

TheDuchessOfNorksBride · 15/05/2008 20:45

Somebody else had a Smiths Sectional and liked it. The cheaper houses on ebay are poor quality apparently (imagine that!). I agree with stripey, if you have the space, fence them in a decent sized run, the 4 or 5ft runs that come with henhouses to suit 2 - 4 chickens are really too small.

I've recently ordered some things from P & T Poultry and the service is great, they even answered some of my dumb questions by email. Their henhouses are all over £200 though.

Chicken drinker - £4.49
Feeder/hopper 3kg - £7.99

Do you have a local farm store (Scats?), feed merchants or a good pet shop. You'll need a bale of straw/woodshavings or shredded paper bedding, a full-sized bale will last for ages. A sack of feed (corn or pellets about £6) and a bag of oyster shell (for the calcium and food grinding needs). And then things like Red Mite Powder and Wormers but worry about those later.

Do you know anywhere local to you that sells chickens? If you just want as many eggs as possible, choose good laying breeds - Sussex, Rhode Island, Marans, Legbars etc.

TheDuchessOfNorksBride · 15/05/2008 20:46

Somebody else had a Smiths Sectional and liked it. The cheaper houses on ebay are poor quality apparently (imagine that!). I agree with stripey, if you have the space, fence them in a decent sized run, the 4 or 5ft runs that come with henhouses to suit 2 - 4 chickens are really too small.

I've recently ordered some things from P & T Poultry and the service is great, they even answered some of my dumb questions by email. Their henhouses are all over £200 though.

Chicken drinker - £4.49
Feeder/hopper 3kg - £7.99

Do you have a local farm store (Scats?), feed merchants or a good pet shop. You'll need a bale of straw/woodshavings or shredded paper bedding, a full-sized bale will last for ages. A sack of feed (corn or pellets about £6) and a bag of oyster shell (for the calcium and food grinding needs). And then things like Red Mite Powder and Wormers but worry about those later.

Do you know anywhere local to you that sells chickens? If you just want as many eggs as possible, choose good laying breeds - Sussex, Rhode Island, Marans, Legbars etc.

TheDuchessOfNorksBride · 15/05/2008 20:48

Apologies for double post.

This is a very good book btw.

tortoiseSHELL · 15/05/2008 21:01

Things to look out for in a coop - be over generous on space as it avoids problems like bullying/feather pulling. DON'T get a felt roof - it will harbour red mite which you don't want! You need to decide whether they will have a dedicated area like a run (in which case an all in one coop/run would be best), an ark which is moved round the garden, or just a house and free ranging, as this will affect what you get. If you have ANY risk of foxes (and most people do) then it's best to have them contained for safety - a fox can do so much damage in such a short time!

Have you decided what sort of chickens to get? Or where to get them from?

BigBadMouse · 15/05/2008 21:04

stripeyknickers - what size is your pen and how many hens (and what size) do you have in it? We are going to try completely free range and see how it goes but deeply suspect we will get a visit from Mr Fox. Plan B will be to do as you have done but with the run being in a fixed position I am worried about fouling the land. We have a 5 x 3 house and plan to keep 3 possibly 4 Rhode Island Reds or similar size / temperament.

StripeyKnickersSpottySocks · 15/05/2008 22:36

I think the run must be about 10ftx8ft. At the moment I only have 3 chickens, but also have 3 chicks in a broody coop who will be joining them in a few weeks.

My neighbours have a run smaller than mine - maybe 6ftx10ft - and they have 8 chickens. They seem to be doing ok with no feather pecking, etc but I certainly wouldn't advise them to have more than that.

We dig the soil over maybe once a month - it only takes 10minutes and I lie to think keeps the ground fresh. Your other option would be to put concrete slabs down which could be hosed off. You could keep bunging a bit of straw down so they can scratch about and they really don't mind being on concrete. Guess they would like a dust bath putting in as well though.

I think if I was starting from scratch again I'd be tempted to get a load of aviary panels and build a big, enclosed run that was totally fox proof, with a roof and everything. I've seen some photos of similar set-ups and they look very smart. My back garden looks like its the Dingle's yard!

BigBadMouse · 15/05/2008 23:01

Thanks for that - the Plan B enclosed area would be 10ft x 20ft and 6ft high (with roof) so sounds like I could keep 4 chooks in there happily. I'm reading far too many fox stories atm which puts me off each time but the house is ready and waiting.....

Think I'll start a new thread for all my questions!

tortoiseSHELL · 15/05/2008 23:04

I think a roof is really useful, as it does keep the run area nicer. Also good if there are any avian flu outbreaks as if it is solid it will meet DEFRA guidelines for keeping wild bird poo away from the chickens.

RIRs need quite a lot of space I think BBM - they like to roam!

Stripey - we have slabs with easibed on the top which they love - they can dustbathe in it, scratch around, and it's totally fox/rat proof.

We have 4 chickens in a run which is 9ft x 3.5 ft, plus the house which is on the end. I definitely wouldn't have more than 4 in there, and actually I want to build a bigger run.

nelix2000 · 16/05/2008 14:35

Thanks for all the replies!...I would like them free range to an extent...I live in the country so foxes are a definite! I would put the hens to bed every night and make sure they are safe. With regard to what kind of chicken...not sure yet.....still in the early planning stages!..but I like the idea of getting ex battery hens and giving them a second chance at a happy life!

OP posts:
tortoiseSHELL · 16/05/2008 17:12

Bear in mind that if they are free ranging then the fox will probably get them! Although, bizarrely the fox could be less of a problem than in the town - they are less tame in the country and so TEND to not come out so much in the daytime, in the town they are brazen, and don't even seem very scared of people!

StripeyKnickersSpottySocks · 16/05/2008 18:05

I live in the country, but in a village. Never (touch wood) had a fox problem. The pen is no way fox proof and I don't even shut them in at night.

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