I’ve been wanting to blog about keeping chickens for a while and I did when I first got them, and when one died and when we rescued some more but although I’m a very enthusiastic chicken keeper, and I love my feathered friends, I am no expert and I was a little bit shy about offering advice since I didn’t want my advice to be incorrect! On my online travels I was very happy to come across a company who are experts in this field and I asked Louise, the owner if she would like to work with me. She agreed and so I now have some proper information that I can learn from myself and share with you all!
The first thing I’ve learned during my chats with Louise is that there is not one way to keep chickens, it is like having children, there is no rule book so to speak which is a good thing, because I don’t keep my children in any kind of traditional way!
Chickens are very easy to keep and make really good pets, then in return for your hard work and love they repay you by laying eggs to eat. It’s a win, win situation all around! They really love cuddles and sit down when the children or I step towards them which makes them really easy to pick up. When cuddled they enjoy a good neck-stroke and put their little heads on us in delight.
If you are thinking of getting chickens then here are some top tips from Louise from ‘The Chicken House Company’. This will be my first of many collaborative posts with Louise, I’m hoping it will be a perfect partnership! 🙂
A few questions to ask yourself:
Where in the garden are you going to put your chickens?
This is really important because I chose an area which is shady, but unfortunately when it rains it gets boggy and chickens are not keen on boggy ground. If I had the room, I would move them higher and to a dry, sunny spot because you can always set up a shade for them, and the sun will dry up any wet.
How many chickens do you want to keep and do you want to free range them or keep them in a house with a run?
In an ideal world, you want to give your chickens unlimited space, but practically speaking we backyard chicken keepers only have so much garden to offer…and you might want some of that for the kids’ swing, you might want to keep flowers or veggies (which chickens will happily decimate in a flash) so you will probably end up fencing an area off for them as I have. I still let mine out for a bit of supervised sun bathing, but I don’t let them wreck the garden any more. It is suggested that one square metre per chicken is adequate.
When you have answered these questions you need to then move forward and ask yourself.
Which breed of chicken do you want?
There are so many to choose from, which ones would suit you? People normally buy their chickens at point of lay.
If you are looking to keep chickens in the garden and have children then there are docile hens called Hybrid Hens that are good natured.
These were initially bred from pure breeds and keep the colouring of a pure breed, but they are easy to maintain and come in a wide range of colours. Hybrid Hens are normally all in together in the same surroundings (so little fighting) but they produce different coloured eggs (depending on which hybrid you choose).
Rescue Hens these again are docile hens, they are normally brown in colour and produce brown eggs. It is a lovely to rescue the hens from having no life and to see them enjoying the space of a garden.
Pure Breed These hens are normally larger than the rescue/hybrid hens, so if you are limited for space in your run, then be aware of this. These hens are a little feistier and can be harder to maintain overall. The Pure Breeds do not lay as many eggs over the year either so again another thing to be aware of. The Pure Breeds would be good if you are thinking of breeding from them and buying a trio of birds 2 hens and one cock bird.
These birds are normally housed in their own breeds as they are feisty.
I’m a softy and rescuing some ex-bats appealed to me, if you Google you will find a rescue centre near you where you can pick some up for a donation.
Our next chicken post will be about coops, so keep your eyes peeled for that!