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10 messages
05/01/2012 at 20:33

Hi

I'm new to this forum, been a reader of G.W. for a few years.

I'm contemplating keeping chikens, only 2 or 3, (there's probably been forums on this before but) 

How much fun is it going to be? Hard work? Do I need a large enclosure or will a small cage/coop/run do?

What are the pitfall?

Anyway any info' would be invaluable?

Thanks Eric 

08/01/2012 at 12:46
We have three chickens in our garden and they really aren't hard to look after but there are obviously pros and cons. We have an enclosure of about 3 metres squared but you can go quite a lot smaller and still be fine. We also let ours out around the garden when we're home but they will scratch around in beds looking for slugs and worms etc and can damage plants, so you may want to consider protecting any vulnerable ones. Cons Can attract rats as there's always food about (take in food and water at night to reduce risk) Chickens like to get up at sunrise and go to bed at sunset so you really need to be around to lock them in coop for warmth and protection at night and let them out first thing, can be difficult to pull yourself out of bed in winter Foxes could be a problem, so far we've been ok, our enclosure has wire dug into the ground to prevent them digging their way in. Will damage tender plants if you let them near Pros Fresh eggs! We get one each a day from each chicken, we can't give them away fast enough! Very friendly sociable pets, they follow you round the garden and happily eat any slugs they find! Very easy to keep coop clean, chickens don't wee so as long as their diets ok you can just scoop out poop quite easily. That's all I can think of for now, hope that helps
08/01/2012 at 12:48
That was nicely bullet pointed when i typed it but came out different once I posted! Hope it still makes sense!
08/01/2012 at 23:27

Chickens are great in the garden providing you keep them away from your plants.  We let ours roam in the winter or pen them on areas we want cleaned (chickens will follow you anywhere for a digestive biscuit).  We put up a temporary chicken wire fence and let them dig and forage on an area and take them back to their coop at night. Of course we always take their water pot to them.  They eat all sorts of pests, weeds and thoroughly scratch up the top few inches of soil too.  The do not like nettles and brambles can be dangerous for their feet (thorns)  Eggs fresh from the hen are so different from shop ones.  There is the cost of something for them to sleep in. You can buy chicken feed but they will eat all your leftover bread, potatoes,rice and lettuces that are bolting etc.  They also love grass. I hope you decide to have a go, they really are trouble free and fun.

09/01/2012 at 09:33

Chicken manure is great for the veg. patch too.  Bantams are very easy to keep in a small garden, which is what most people have, and if you want decorative ones, silkies are beautiful.

10/01/2012 at 17:34

Hello Eric and other chicken lovers,

I just wanted to refer you to James Alexander-Sinclair's amusing blog on this subject:

http://www.gardenersworld.com/blogs/wildlife/free-range-chickens/2427.html

If you want to see more info on the site, type 'chickens' into the search box, and then use the filters to refine your search. Many of our bloggers keep chickens so there is plenty of info out there.

Enjoy your husbandry!

Emma.

gardenersworld.com team

17/01/2012 at 18:48

I have been keeping chickens for a couple of years now and am lucky enough to have a field by the garden were they live. I love having them but they can make a right mess if they get into the garden. However as long as you only have two or three I am sure it will be fine. The eggs are wonderful, I had to buy eggs once this winter as they do stop laying for a short while and even though I bought organic ffree range there was no comparrison. Look out for a brilliant website called backyardchickens.

23/01/2012 at 09:50

My advice is start as you mean to go on. We originally had two HUGE Buff Orpingtons (Doris and Barbara) and we let them out of their run straight away so that they could forage around, looking fabulous. Big mistake for us as they destroyed the garden! They ripped apart established plants and immediately dug up anything new that we planted. Of course, having had this taste of freedom, they refused to be restricted to their run, shouting and screeching until they were let out again. Eventually, Doris unfortunately died and Barbara went to a friend who had about twenty freely roaming in her orchard. (Try digging up those apple trees Barbara!). We now have Pekin bantams, Mavis and Vera, who have never been out of their run and have therefore not had that taste of freedom! They're very happy and so are we!

30/01/2012 at 20:52

Chickens are just fabulous Every garden should have a couple!

We wanted to have a couple to have our own eggs and somehow managed to aquire 7! 4 different breeds.  I just love to watch them scratching around the garden with their fluffy bums in the air.  Luckily we have a large garden, but also have a small run which we really only use to secure the hen house at night. 

I find they are no trouble or bother and actually enjoy the task of cleaning the hut daily at 7am, especially as I am rewarded by daily eggs!  My only small con is that if you want to go away for a few days or holiday you do need someone you can call on to take up the care of your lovelies, especially to your standard! 

As long as your hens have access to food & clean water you can pretty much just leave them to get on with it.  

05/03/2012 at 15:58

I have pekin bantams and they are very sweet.  They love attention and treats, I keep them in an arc, they do tear up the grass so the arc needs periodically moving.  Think of them as productive pets and you can't go wrong.  Lovely eggs and fascinating to watch, oh, and they like being talked to!!

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