Buy a chicken house, buy a couple of chickens = eggs!!
It is best to buy Chickens at point of lay, that means that they are around 18weeks old, and are about, or have just started laying.
There are lots of chicken houses on the market, wooden, or plastic, all shapes and sizes. Ours is plastic, and it is purple! We decided to get the plastic ‘Cube’ from Omlet, as we can keep 10 chickens in it, it is easy to clean, easy to access eggs, high level of security (anti fox), as it’s plastic you do not need to clean as much, as a lot of the bugs like to live in the damp wood!
We have had chickens for nearly 3 years now. Over the past 3 years we have had 12 chickens, and we have gained more experience the longer we have had them.
I can’t keep chickens, I don’t have enough room!
Chickens need very little space, the eggs that you buy in the supermarket come from chickens that have 30cm2 cages to live in for their entire short lives!
The recommendation for free range is that each chicken has 50cm2, but that is not caged, that is space per chicken, and remember they are moving about, so it is not that small. The basic Omlet run is around 1m x 2m, and they say that is fine for 6 chickens, add another metre to the width and you have enough room for 10.
We use the 1×2 run, we call this the inner run, but we also hve the outer run, which gives then an extra, 2m x 3m, and then they als have the run of the whole garden, when we decide to let them out, and that’s 8m2. For further info check out Omlet.
They eat layers pellets, these are anything between £5 – £18 a bag, depending on the make and where you buy them from. Although I do find that the organic ones actually last longer! A bag of food – 20Kg, lasts around a month.
They need fresh water, it is surprising how much water they drink.
I replace the bedding as and when needed, usually once or twice a week (this is the material in the egg port)
I tend to clean them out when I have time, this can be once a day to maybe once in 10 days. With the chicken house that I have, it is easy, I remove the trays, tip out the waste and pop the trays back in. The chicken poo is great on the garden, and if you put it in the compost, it will help the compost to break down quicker.
Then about once a month, I give them a really good clean, remove all the inside and brush it out thoroughly.
Then maybe twice a year I wash it out with hot soapy water, or maybe once a year I use Jeyes (this in not very good for the environment, and I would love to use something else, so if anyone knows of anything as effective, please tell me).
I clean the run about every month, but depends on weather – as can get really nasty in wet weather.
Egg port bedding
I have used hay, straw, shredded paper, some people don’t use anything, which I have tried, but eggs can have little dents in them!
My chickens have an inner run, this is a small area which is dry, then there is the outer run, where they spend most of their time, I use horse bedding on the floor, it makes cleaning them out easier. They love to spend time in the inner run, as it is always dry, I find they use this area to sunbathe!
Waking up and bed time
This depends on the time of year, but they like to get up when it gets light, and they put themselves to bed when it gets dark. I then just have to pop out to secure the door of the house and the run.
Bugs and pests
Chickens get worms, they should be wormed every 3 months. I use Flubenvet, as this was recommended to me when I first got them. It is a chemical wormer, it is added to their food in the morning for 7 days, and you can still eat the eggs. Other wormers include Verm -X, which is made up of natural herbs, Garlic powder, which you can add to their water. Any others?
Chickens get mites, red mite is found in the housing and bedding, they are horrible bugs that are quite difficult to get rid of, I find during the summer months they are always there, I clean them out, I dust with diatoms (water dwelling creatures that have a silicon shell, they live in water, they die, and form a layer of diatoms, they are used to dessicate – ideal for fleas in carpets, and mites in chicken houses!)
Illnesses I have had experience with
Botulism, this is supposed to be rare, botulism is found in all soil, but it is not usually in harmful quantites. Botulism lives on decaying carcasses, and if your chickens are kept in an area that has decaying carcasses, then the botulism can be in higher quantities and can be fatal. We lost 3 out of 4 of our first chickens to Botulism. We live in a new house, it has led to speculation on where they got the top soil from!!
Prolapse, one of our chickens died last week from prolapse, it is where the egg laying bits come out through the vent! Not nice, small prolapses can be fixed, I tried with poor Bluebell, but she got an infection, and sadly had to be left with the vet. If you want more info ask.
Other general maintainence
The chickens are given oyster shell, when I remember, it helps to maintain the calcium levels, as they need a lot of calcium to keep producing all those eggs!
Latest chicken post – Look what Pepper laid 🙂