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I am trying to convince my wife to get some chickens.I am thinking of getting a second hand coup with about 4 chickens.but how much time do I dedicate to them,as I have two young children and a puppy now.
Are they cheap to feed? How many eggs do they lay as we eat around 20 eggs a week?
I have heard they go off the lay in winter. Is there anything else I need to know?
Any advice will be much appreciated.
Not sure how many chicken keepers there are on here - I used to keep poultry on the smallholding, but have never kept just a few, so I couldn't give you a breakdown of costs etc.
This is a brilliant forum where I'm sure you'll find everything you could ever need to know about keeping chickens http://www.thepoultrygarden.com/phpbb/
I've had chickens for 17 years (not the same ones!). They take up very little time and the children would benefit - they love to collect the eggs! Four is a good number.
Feed is quite cheap, I buy a sack of layers' pellets which lasts about 6 weeks and costs £6.75, and a sack of mixed corn which lasts twice as long (ie you only feed half as much to the chickens).
I only clean mine out properly when they really need it, in between I "poop-pick" - that's just collecting the poop that has gone in the nest box or in the middle of the floor. I put seed trays under where they roost at night so I can just whip them out and empty as required. Even a full clean only takes half an hour or so.
Chickens will lay most days when they are young, and hybrids do lay throughout the winter - pure breeds not so much. As they get older they lay less eggs.
You have to be prepared for some losses - Mr. Fox has called twice, causing major carnage, and sometimes hens just die for no apparent reason. Also you have to arrange a chicken-sitter if you go away.
I find chickens very rewarding, it's great to watch them scratching around (mine free-range) but they can dig up your plants in their search for worms and bugs. Their used bedding makes great compost when added to the heap. Go for it - it's (nearly) all good!
Cotty1000, the way the question is worded it almost sounds as if the idea of having chickens is something of a passing fancy and something you have so far given little real though to. Apologies if that is a misinterpretation.
People here can provide an insight into the amount of time and the cost, but we are talking about livestock here - 'live' being the most important aspect. They will be there 7 days a week, 52 weeks as year and, like a pet, have to be looked after at all times. Have you considered what happens if you go on holiday for a couple of weeks for example?
I'm not saying don't get them, I am just saying consider all the implications.
I would just mention that puppies and chickens don't always mix - you'll have to be prepared for some proper puppy training so he/she knows that chickens are 'off limits'.
lol my English Mastiff knows that if she chases my lovely ladies, she will be in the dog house