How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

Chickens aren't difficult to look after, all they require is a constant supply of water and regular food. As Martyn Loach explains, you should keep an eye open for any ailments, and they'll need to be cleaned out once a week.

Created by Martyn Loach on Monday, 15th of October, 2018.


Ex-Battery Chicken

Self-sufficiency and the 'good life' might be a pipe dream for most people who live in towns and cities, but keeping chickens is becoming increasingly popular.

If you like to go to work on an egg, what better than collecting it from your own chickens, knowing that they have been well fed and looked after.

They'll need a hen house to live in, protected from predators and bad weather. If your garden isn't secure, a run is necessary, preferably attached to the hen house which should be moveable when the ground gets worn out.

Where Do I Buy Chickens From?

It’s a good idea to buy ex-battery hens to save them from slaughter. Although not commercially viable any longer, they will be perfectly happy to supply a family with eggs for a few more years. They are also bred to be docile, so make good pets.

The British Hen Welfare Trust is a charity that re-homes battery hens and have regular collection points all over the country. No charge is made but a donation of £5 per hen is gratefully received. All you have to do is book a time and then turn up with a suitable box to carry them home.

What Do Hens Eat?

Ex-Battery HensSpecially designed food to help battery hens recover is on the market and going forward all chickens need a formulated diet that will encourage laying. They will supplement this food by foraging protein packed bugs, insects and worms. A specially designed hopper is the best method to dispense it and a container full of fresh water also needs to be readily accessible.

So that they have plenty of calcium, providing oyster shells is another good idea and grit is essential for their digestion, both are available from pet shops.

Mixed corn (wheat and maize) is useful to fatten poultry in readiness for cold winter weather and after moulting. Cooked scraps and left overs from the kitchen are now banned but cauliflower and salad leaves will be appreciated as a dietary supplement.

What Illnesses Do Chickens Suffer From?

If you do buy ex-battery hens, cosmetically they might not look good with missing feathers and other reminders of their previous less than comfortable existence but they should be healthy and inoculated. Over the first few weeks they will recover and acclimatise to their new surroundings.

Caring for the hens shouldn’t take long each day. Make sure they have enough fresh food and water, collect any eggs, clear away detritus and trouble shoot any problems.

When they are settled in, hens should be wormed twice a year with an approved treatment. Also look out for red mites, northern mites, scaly leg mites and lice, and various other ailments including Avian Influenza and Mycoplasma.

What Size Chicken Coop Should I Buy?

The Hutch Company Annie Hen HouseBuy a coop larger than your present needs. Once the poultry bug has bitten you, you’ll probably want space for a few more hens.

The floor space for each hen should be about 4 sq ft and perches 6 – 12 inches per hen, rounded and if possible at different heights. There should be a minimum of two nest boxes filled with straw.

When buying a coop, buy the best quality you can afford, a solid coop made from pressure treated 12mm timber should last a very long time.

Make sure that the inside of the coop is dry and draught free. A ‘pop door’ for the hens to come in and out will keep the coop cosy in cold weather. There does however need to be good ventilation particularly to rid the coop of ammonia which can affect the hens' respiration.

Last but not least, ensure that the coop is easy to clean. Disease and pests revel in dirty conditions especially in warm weather, so look out for accessibility and removable floors, perches, nest boxes etc.

What Chicken Coops Do You Recommend?

There is an impressive range of chicken coops, the largest, and tallest, is the Annie Hen House from The Hutch Company with a walk-in run and an external nest box. Similar coops are the same company's Starter Chicken Coop which is a sturdy best seller and Zest's Boston Chicken House.

Smaller coops but still with a run include the Rita Chicken Ark which has built-in handles for easy moving, and the New England Chicken House.

If you choose a coop such as the Rowlinson Large Chicken Coop, Zest Starter Coop or the Hutch Company's Sally Hen House, which do not have a secure run, you must protect your hens from predators notably foxes. This can take the form of a high fence which is submerged about 12ins below ground or an electrified fence.

Related Articles

GardenSite Visits New Supplier Churnet Valley

GardenSite Visits New Supplier Churnet Valley

With a view to introducing their impressive range of timber products to GardenSite, David Coton recently visited Churnet Valley Garden Furniture to look around their manufacturing facility.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Monday, 17th of September, 2018.

Our Guide To La Hacienda Chimeneas And Firepits

Our Guide To La Hacienda Chimeneas And Firepits

With a La Hacienda chimenea or firepit providing light and heat whatever the thermometer says, David Coton discovers that you can continue savouring an outdoor lifestyle even in late summer and the cool of an autumn evening.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 4th of September, 2018.

Zest4Leisure Range For 2019 Launched

Zest4Leisure Range For 2019 Launched

In a relatively short space of time Zest4Leisure has established a reputation for high quality timber garden products, well designed and expertly manufactured. New products for 2019 were launched at the recent SOLEX trade show and David Coton was impressed with what he saw.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 27th of July, 2018.

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens In The Garden?

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens In The Garden?

All you need to keep chickens in your garden is a coop or hen house and an enclosed run. The coop can be built to your own specifications, other garden buildings such as a shed can be converted and re-purposed as a coop, or most people purchase one that is either ready built or that needs assembling. A run can be an integral part of the coop's design or you can construct one using wire mesh.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Tuesday, 1st of May, 2018.

comments powered by Disqus

Author

Martyn Loach

Editor in Chief

View Profile

RSS

View RSS Feed

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

Review of the Juliana Urban City Greenhouse

Review of the Juliana Urban City Greenhouse

Robert Hall highlights the pros and cons to Juliana's new urban greenhouse range, reviewing the City, Balcony and Vertical greenhouse models after his first look at these fabulous new additions.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Thursday, 9th of May, 2019.

What To Do In The Garden In May

What To Do In The Garden In May

With the recent hot weather encouraging everyone out into the garden and the threat of frost disappearing during May, David Coton is in no doubt that this is going to be a busy month.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 30th of April, 2018.

Review of the new Elite Edge Greenhouse

Review of the new Elite Edge Greenhouse

Elite Greenhouses have always been at the forefront of new design combined with an unrivalled user-friendly experience and the Edge has got it all.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 5th of April, 2019.

Planned TV Gardening Programmes 2019

Planned TV Gardening Programmes 2019

There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, sound advice and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2019.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 13th of February, 2018.