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FloBear, you asked for suggestions for plants for your 'free range' area of your garden.  Would leycesteria formosa (pheasant berry) grow there?  It grows tall enough that the hens can't jump up to eat it all, and it has attractive flowers and berries which they love.  The only things that have survived in my hens' permanent run is one daffodil, one tulip and a kind of perennial onion.

Our run, about 9 foot square, is three quarters covered with clear corrugated plastic sheets.  They have to be tied or weighted down VERY securely or you end up retrieving bits of broken sheet from all over the garden after a windy night!


Junohart, thank you for your book idea, I will look into that at once! Tattiebogle, I've looked at your suggestion - it seems like just the job as I'm a wildlife gardener at heart. Many thanks.

My girls' run - about 8ft by 5ft - has a large sheet of plastic fixed tent-style over it so is dry and cosy underneath. Not exactly elegant but I learnt the hard way when we had flash flooding last August and I thought I'd have to teach the poor birds to swim. They are out part of each day free-ranging so it's not their full-time space.

FloBear, I had the same problem with my garden.  I love my girls but I also love my garden.  So they have their bit - about 8m x 8m and I also love nature so I have planted it with different types of buddleia, a leycesteria - chickens love jumping up to get the berries.  Theres a weeping willow - they love jumping up to eat the leaves!!  A couple of camelias and rhododendren which they dont touch but look pretty.  A John Downie Crab Apple - the fruits drop in the autumn and they love them, a silver birch, climbing rose, honeysuckle and jasmine growing up the fence.  I have placed stones around all the plants as they will dig all plants up!!  Hope this helps


I've got three cochins, three orpingtons, one's male, two silver laced wyandottes, two silver grey dorkings, a cream legbar, a cuckoo laced maran, plus a week old chick being brought up by one of the cochins but whose parents are the orp male and the maran. There names are, Jessica, Sarah,Esme, Henry, Miranda, Flora, Deloris, Rosie,Mrs Nesbitt, Hoppy, Mabel, Charlotte and little Kirsty Allsop.


ChristyRose, that  sounds lovely. Already I can picture the girls jumping up to reach the goodies. Also, it's good to have an incentive to redesign the garden - long overdue, I have to say.



I have now order a 13x9 tarpaulin from e-bay to go over the the pen-better late than never-

Am waiting for a dry day so can get the mud out-then plan to firm the ground lay more bark chippings-tarpaulin over the top

Hopefully this will solve the Somme problem

Yesterday red mites spotted-have sprayed house and birds already treated with front-line


Hope that solves your mire situation, sotongeoff. My plastic tent-top works really well and is fixed down with a guy rope arrangement which has held out in some pretty hefty winds. Even on rainy days the girls make dust baths in the run!

Is this early for red mites or about usual? I have a plastic doodlehouse and a wooden run, presumably mites will lurk in the wood for preference.


I thought it was early as well-we had a bad infestation last August which saw one bird off-and we were on holiday at the time

The constant splodging through mud is annoying they have their dry area and a perch outside to get off the ground but it is so miserable-the cover was £8-it should do the job and can come off in the Summer

So if you are free next week and can pop over-much appreciated-bring wellies and spade.

No pressure.


I'll cheer you on from here  ;- )


I think chicken piccies are called for Spotlandman.


Hmmm, I thought the girls had been 'off lay' for a couple of days. Off laying, more like!

And, flushed with uploading success, have you ever seen a chicken's tongue? I hadn't :- >


Flo-bear -is that usual to be laying in the open like that-mine get frantic if they can't get to the nest box and have been known to form an orderly queue.


No, it's not, hence me thinking they'd gone off lay. Aggie has a tendency to go feral  occasionally but not the others. It's quite a secluded spot in the ivy by the fence and not far from the  run.

Hi, I'm new to the forum and new to chickens. I had 4 POL Black Rocks delivered last Wednesday and I'm learning by the day but there is quite a lot I don't know. Can you overfeed them, they seem to eat heck of a lot and they poo like theres no tomorrow! Do I need to clean them everyday or are they happy as 'pig in muck' if you know what I mean!!??  They even poo in there food and water, a friend said to just leave it but I'm not sure. Also how many weeks pass before I get my first egg? Any help greatly received!

I thought my girls had gone off lay until I found a pile of eggs in the pile shreddings!!  My orpy cross had gone broody and dont think the others were brave enough to go in there while she was there!!

Hi Loz.  I just give my girls a big bowl of layers pellets and they just help themselves so I think they just take what they need.  Maybe they are eating alot because they are in a new home?  They should settle down.  Yes they do poo alot!!    Great for the compost!!  If they poo in the nest boxes its a good idea to pick the poo out each day to keep the eggs clean and clean the house once a week or so.  If they are pooing in the water - I personally would clean it and give them fresh water.  Have they got a bowl or one of those plastic water things?  I'm sure once they've settled down they will start laying you some delicious eggs.



I have 18 hens and 2 cockerels. A few of my hens are buff orpington x warren.............

They are large gals, lay huge eggs, bigger than my duck eggs, and are very fluffy. I call them wuffs. I also have number of warrens and a couple of retired black rocks, they are in with the old buff cockerel (he's 8). Oh and 1 black aracana hen.

The large troop free roam over the colder months. I feed them pellets or mash made into a porridge with kitchen scraps first thing in the morning. They have a scattering of corn late afternoon. I no longer have a problem with red mite as I powder the houses with diatom every week when i clean them out. I collect up the bedding in the winter and mulch my veg beds with it. Inthe summer it goes on the compost heap to help rot down all the grass clippings etc. I also collect the worst parts of the bedding and make a fertilser tea from it.

I get on average 10 eggs a day sometimes maybe 14. I usually get around 6 duck eggs a day too. My ducks have free raom of the plot and use the lake most of the day. But they hate it when it rains or is extremely windy, then they shelter in the garden on the small pond. Or sit under a couple of large vehicles.

Thanks for your response Christyrose, I have a plastic dome self feeder and water that came as a package when I bought the house, the water is fine, apart from the poo getting in it but the feeder lid keeps coming off so they just stick there heads in it

would I be better with a bowl. Do you give them just pellets or mix it with something. I have been giving them kitchen scraps and things like pasta and bread, not a lot but they do have it, I top the feeder daily with a mix of pellets and a seedy mixture I had as part of the starter package, could this be a reason for excessive pooing??



In the beginning just feed them layer pellets only and perhaps a bit of corn late in the day if you want them to lay eggs-they will be quite happy on that.Do not feed them scraps, pasta, or anything extra at this stage

Don't use a bowl they will either knock it over or mess in it,

They will start laying at around 18/20 weeks old


Going to sound really dull now.....well I am really when it comes to chickens and gardening but, I am trying I,m not too sure how old my girlies are. I think that 16 weeks was mentioned when I ordered them but can't be sure! ...and when you say corn, is that dried or tinned???? please don't laugh


That sounds about right they are not usually sold before then -how long have you had them?

They tend to go off laying as the hours of daylight decrease so you are entering the optimum time.

It is dried corn- not sweet corn -the seed mixture you mentioned probably contains that-you can buy big bags of it like the layer pellets-it warms them up for the night,that is why I say late in the day.

There are never dull questions-ask as many things as you want