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Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about the health of your chickens, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.

Has anyone got chickens, and then regreted it?
25

LynetteScavo · 10/01/2010 17:01

I'm planning to get myself a couple of chickens for my 40th B'day (which is obviously a long, long way off )

But my family (DH, FIL, my mum, etc) think I don't know what I'm letting myself in for, and I being quite negative about it. FIL and my mum both grew up with chickens, so Iprobably know what they are talking about. Also my friend told me her freind had chickens and they were a lot of work...ruined the lawn, etc.

I already have 3DCs, 2 cats, and 1 goldfish, so am not totally alien to caring for creatures.

We have a reasonable size garden, so room certainly isn't a problem.

Basically I'm looking for some reasurance that I'm not being a total loon to even consider chickens.

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Madsometimes · 10/01/2010 17:06

Our chooks have ruined our garden, but we do not regret getting them. If you are really garden proud, then use fencing to keep them in one place.

You need to commit a few hours a week to their care. Cleaning out the housing and run does take a while and needs to be done at least once a week, even in awful weather like this.

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bramblebooks · 10/01/2010 17:25

I have an eglu and cleaning it out takes 10 mins tops once or twice a week - empty the poo tray more often in summer. The chickens free range safely in a fenced area as they trash the garden. They have access to the full garden when I've time to poo pick in the evening and haven't got tender plants out.

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ItsAllaBitNoisy · 10/01/2010 17:29

Madness. IMO

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GentleOtter · 10/01/2010 17:39

I regret introducing a cockerel to my chickens.

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shallishanti · 10/01/2010 17:42

you won't regret it, but it is addictive! I started with 4 now have 9!

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MitchyInge · 10/01/2010 17:47

I regret getting 3 instead of 300 000 000 squillion

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ProfessorPoopyPants · 10/01/2010 17:58

The eggs are so much nicer, it is worth it for that. So fun bringing them in freshly laid for fablous breakfasts and cakes.
They completely trash the place though - and make a beeline for anything newly sprouted or planted. Ours are freerange in the whole garden yet always poo (enormously) right outside the back door for me to step in. They are also FIERCE and quite freaked ds2 out when they set upon a frog and pecked it to death, then ate it, before his very eyes.
Also, they attract rats, how can they not, when you have to leave food at floor level for them. Went to show a visitor their nesting box to sse if any eggs last summer, opened up the lid and an ENORMOUS big grey rat leapt out right over my feet. Lovely.

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Smithagain · 10/01/2010 18:18

We got ours in November and haven't regretted it so far. Early days, obviously, but we are quite smitten with them.

We've gone for bantams, on the basis that they are smaller. One of them has taken a real shine to my youngest daughter, aged 4, who gets regular cuddles. And they've just started laying the most scrumptious eggs we have ever tasted.

They have a run which is big enough for them to be in full time, but they seem so happy rummaging round in the garden that we are letting them free range quite a bit. Obviously we may start regretting this in the summer when we want live plants and poo-free patio, but we're willing to take the risk. Might fence off the flower bed and container area before things actually start growing.

No rats here, although we do get one in our compost bin so I know they are around. DH built the run with a layer of strong wire mesh buried 4" below ground, as well as all the way up the sides and over the top. So I'm pretty confident they couldn't get in there. But I guess time will tell.

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LynetteScavo · 10/01/2010 18:47

The mention of rats has sooo put me off!

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MitchyInge · 10/01/2010 18:50

ah don't be silly, rats are everywhere anyway

get a few more cats, or shoot them with an air rifle or use humane traps if they bother you?

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whooosh · 10/01/2010 18:54

Friends definitely regretted getting the three they had.I gave them an Eglu and they couldn't bear keeping them in it the wohole time so they were allowed to free range.They trashed the garden and the poo really got them down.
I love chooks though and it is easy to get smitten

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BadGardener · 10/01/2010 18:55

Surely if you regret it you can just eat them?

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LaurieFairyCake · 10/01/2010 19:02

I only regretted getting mine because I actually loved them after 4 years. I had no idea how funny and entertaining they would be and how different their personalities would be. (and after having them and them dying of old age dd won't eat chicken now)

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LaurieFairyCake · 10/01/2010 19:04

We have no rats that i've seen - but then again we have 4 cats (who were scared of the chickens even though harriet was always trying to make friends with them by rubbing against them)

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allstarsprincess · 10/01/2010 19:12

I love my chickens. The eggs they produce are second to none and they are really friendly.

If you love your garden though then protect it. They dig anything young, fresh, green and earmarked for your table!

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LynetteScavo · 11/01/2010 10:00

But surely if I had an eggloo then rats couldn't get in.

I have a part of the garden down at the bottom which I could fence off, so no worries about the rest of it being pecked. It's quite shadded by trees, though. Do they like lots of sun, or are they not that bothered?

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ProfessorPoopyPants · 11/01/2010 10:35

Hi Lynette,
Trees are great for them as they are originally woodland birds. They like to perch up in trees or bushes and don't especially like the heat.
We are farmers and sorry to tell you a rat can squeeze through a hole the size of your finger. A mouse can get through a hole the size of a pencil. They will dig under over and through, any way they can. Bloody things.
Best thing to do is site the run well away from undergrowth in open patch of v short grass so rats have no "cover" in which to approach.
And don't even get me started on foxes...

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LynetteScavo · 11/01/2010 11:05

Ah, I did see a fox trotting down the street at midnight last September. Hmm....

Thanks Professor, that post was really helpful.

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ChickensHaveFrozenNuggets · 11/01/2010 11:10

I have never regretted getting my hens, and I am a keen gardener. I chose feather footed girls, as they don't tend to destroy the garden/lawn through scratching. I keep their feed in metal bins in the garage, and am fanatical about sweeping up spillages. The rat risk is the same as if you have rabbits/guinea pigs IMO. I also have a fully enclosed, secure run, so the girls are safe from foxes. IMO, half the battle in keeping hens is getting the set up right, and it took me a year to really iron out the kinks. I would not be without them now

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Cakehead · 12/01/2010 13:39

My family thought I was mad too to even think of it but so glad we did it. I work in the City and have two DDs under 4, but we've loved it. Got the chickens in Feb last year, they were laying within weeks. Yes, they do take a little time and attention, but the rewards are huge. I think if you like being outdoors anyway, you don't mind. It's pottering about really, emptying out tray of Eglu, cleaning the house and run every so often, changing the straw.
We started with an Eglu but got fed up with poo-y areas on the lawn and continually clearing up the grass, so fenced off a run and set the Eglu in that. Haven't seen rats but we have a cat and are quick to clear up spilled food.
I can't imagine going back. Even like going out in the dark on snowy mornings to feed them and check for eggs. And the chickens are all different and just love company. When we went to choose our birds, one literally jumped on my shoulder. Of course, we had to take her. She still does it now.
Just buying eggs would seem odd now! They've given us hours of pleasure, just watching them scratch about. If we're out in the garden they have full run of it, but we put them back in their run when we go in. One summer night, DH and were lying on the grass with a bottle of wine and the chickens just froze. Looked round there was a fox watching them through the wire fence. So we put them back in their run if we go in. I'd love to do it all over again. Nothing beats the excitement of the first egg, if you excuse the pun...

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nickelbabe · 12/01/2010 15:32

you could never regret it!

the truth about rats is that they'll go/appear where they want to: nothing at all to do with you having chickens. they could be attracted to the fodo you put out for the birds, or the compost heap at the bottom of the garden.
my chickens live on a farm, so the rat population is controlled by the poison traps that the farm puts down. but we did have a mouse problem. when i say problem, it was that we would find mouse droppings in the feeder. so to combat it, we put an humnae trap down, baited it with food, and made usre that the feeder was put into the plastic food bin at night and that all food was swept up when we put the chooks away. they disappeared eventually.
it's all down to good husbandry.

it takes about 5 minutes morning and evening every day to clean up after the chooks: we use newspaper under their perches, so in the morning it's whipped away and replaced with clean, the straw in the nest box is replaced weekly, the droppings in the run are scooped up with a fire shovel and poking stick and as i mentioned, food swept away.
they get a proper clean out with jeyes fluid (properly rinsed) once a month.

any parts of the garden they're not allowed in is cordoned off with chicken wire (it's too lfimsy for them to try to climb over), and the poo is used on the veg patch.

having chickens was the best decision i ever made!

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FuriousGeorge · 12/01/2010 22:59

I regret the fact that hardened farmer's daughter that I am,I can't leave them in their spacious run,and feel sorry for them so let them out.They have ruined my garden,and scare me to death when I'm washing up,because while I'm standing there in a daydream,they fly up on the window sill and peck on the glass,demanding to be fed.They also tap on the back door,making me think someone is there,then make a dash into the kitchen when I open it.

I'd miss them if we didn't have them though.

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AppleAndBlackberry · 20/02/2010 18:36

Yes, but only because there's not much space left in the garden for DD so if you've got the room then I'd go for it.

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wasthatchild · 20/02/2010 18:57

I love my girls and don't regret having the for a minute.

We aren't really bothered about having a pristine garden so they have complete free range (and my DCs are teenager so don't 'play' in garden ).

To help with the rat problem we bring the food in every night and put it back out again in the morning.

The only thing I would say though is that you can't just leave them. They must always have access to water and they have to be let out every morning and securely shut away at night so you'd need a 'chicken sitter' if you go on holiday.

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Minda · 28/02/2010 16:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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