Keeping chickens

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Leon103

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So I have finally given in and said the wife can have some chickens. She said it would keep the kids entertained whilst they are off school. Picked up three birds today and although I have read the basics I wouldn't mind getting a book a out keeping them. Amazon brings up shed loads.
Any recommendations.
Also any tips on keeping them.
 

MrRook

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If you get a rooster you will need only one and more than three hens.
Be careful of letting children handle chickens: bird flu.
 

foxy

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The kids will have a hoot hypnotising them, my sister used to dress one of them up and take it for a walk in her dolls pram.
 

Leon103

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The kids will have a hoot hypnotising them, my sister used to dress one of them up and take it for a walk in her dolls pram.
I can my daughter (2 years) doing that. She was a bit wary but I could see her watching them
 

obscure

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Chickens are both intelligent yet incrediblystupid, part of our garden is fenced off yet they still manage to figure out how to escape. Unfortunately they are not so good at figuring out how to get back in at night. The joys of hunting round the garden to figure out where they have ended up roosting.

Also they will eat everything you sometimes see on tv people with chickens wondering round their garden, I can safely say if they where actually doing that the garden would be a barren waste land. That said they are a hell of a lot happier when they have a bit of room to rome.

As for roosters avoid unless you want your neighbours forming an angry mob, trust me no one wants to be woken up at sunrise in the summer by that dam rooster.

Also on the subjec of bird flu, remember chickens count as life stock which means if Defra requires you to keep them covered and prevent exposure to wild birds it applies to you as well.
 

Leon103

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Chickens are both intelligent yet incrediblystupid, part of our garden is fenced off yet they still manage to figure out how to escape. Unfortunately they are not so good at figuring out how to get back in at night. The joys of hunting round the garden to figure out where they have ended up roosting.

Also they will eat everything you sometimes see on tv people with chickens wondering round their garden, I can safely say if they where actually doing that the garden would be a barren waste land. That said they are a hell of a lot happier when they have a bit of room to rome.

As for roosters avoid unless you want your neighbours forming an angry mob, trust me no one wants to be woken up at sunrise in the summer by that dam rooster.

Also on the subjec of bird flu, remember chickens count as life stock which means if Defra requires you to keep them covered and prevent exposure to wild birds it applies to you as well.
They didn't really venture much from where I left them out of the box. The two Willie's where easy to catch but the chamois friesian was a lot more crafty.
 

foxy

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One will become the dominant of the three, we have 6, throw a full sausage in among them will give you some amusement, they start playing chase the sausage.
 

obscure

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One will become the dominant of the three, we have 6, throw a full sausage in among them will give you some amusement, they start playing chase the sausage.
Alas it wasn’t until I got chickens that I truly got where the phrase pecking order came from.
 

nige

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If you can split their area off in two half's as they will kill everything beneath their feet so before that happens you can rest the side and move them to the other, plus lock them away from foxes at night, I find Warren's best layers poulets are better but you may wait a couple of weeks for eggs, some layers pellets are best for egg production with scrap veg a treat.
 

Leon103

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Got a big enough garden to move them around until I decide on the permanent spot. Need to get the digger in to take away some of the bank and then they can have the area where the caravan was when the house was being built. The ground there is stony and good drainage, plus grass is hard to grow there.
 

foxy

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Still looking for book ideas.
If you are into vegetable gardening get the magazine Kitchen Garden at the rear of the magazine they have a few pages on keeping chickens kills two birds with one stone. Pardon the pun.
They don't take much looking after, make up a water container with a miniature ball valve so it keeps replenishing, wheat feed and/ or pellets, rice hulls or straw for litter regular cleaning out for cleanliness and make up a run and just move it around. Don't bother taking them to the vets if they get sick just neck them, it's cheaper to get a replacement.
 

DrGMc

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So I have finally given in and said the wife can have some chickens. She said it would keep the kids entertained whilst they are off school. Picked up three birds today and although I have read the basics I wouldn't mind getting a book a out keeping them. Amazon brings up shed loads.
Any recommendations.
Also any tips on keeping them.
Well done you and welcome to the club:

First of you don't need a cockrel for the girls to lay eggs - and trust me unless you live in the sticks (we do) your neighbours won't thank you and might even get the local council on your case.

Second: whilst the chickens are new to you and presumably young get them used to being handled by you. By this I mean pick them up a lot and calmly hold them stroking them for about two minutes at a time. Gently put them down (on their legs) and idealy give them a treat immediately on the release - this all helps as they associate being picked up and held as a good thing.
You will need to be able to pick them up in the future to check their health ...

How the hell do you pick up a chicken you ask???

Well if you are lucky they might "sit down" when you approach them and if so quickly move to that chicken and pick her up using a hand on each side to keep the wings into the body and put them literally on your hip - see holding legs for the next bit.
If, as in most cases, they make it clear that you can get 'stuffed' then you'll have to decide if you can literally corner one of them without too much induced stress (to you and the chicken). Its easier with two people and once their used to being picked up they fuss much less about it.
Eventually you will corner the bird and even though it will probably make a bold attempt at escape you will need to be prepared to firmly but still gently "capture" it - the more calmly and swiftly you do this capture step the better.
If she does not fly up then simply crowd her from above and either press semi-firmly on her back to make her squat and then pick her up.
If she does fly up you can either take her by the legs as she rises or cover her flight area with your hands/forearms and as she drops back to the ground "scoop" her either from the sides (unless her wings are still out and you would damage her) or above (if she still flaps try to press down on her back - but dont squash her into the ground just gently pin her onto the ground and I mean gently)

Legs???
Yep the best way to properly hold a chicken is by the legs (just ask any handler about the early times when the chicken racked the hell out of their forearms with the claws on those fast moving feet!!!)
Down to you but people tend to you either the middle finger or middle two fingers to get between the legs and then the index and little finger to hold the legs together. You'll notice she starts to calm straight away and if you let her breast bone (you can feel it on her easy peasy) rest on your forearm she'll sit as if shes roosting. When they are really calm they actually make a purring noise to each other as a way of saying 'everythings good' (at least in chicken language).

Thirdly: treats ... Chickens love treats and are so very easy to bribe. You'll probably condition your chickens as to what is a treat but to be honest keep it good honest food where you can - things they can peck or are really sweet get their attention and we often give them grapes cut in half, cornflakes and even crisps (but not too many if they're salty). Get them used to seeing you (and your wife) as the treat provider and they will pay you attention

Lastly (for now): illnesses ...
In the early stages just concentrate on three main problems, lice, mites and worms (the ones that live in their guts).
In general
Lice live on the birds and chew their feathers reulting in a scruffy looking chicken with the down feather missing from their bums and thinning around the base of their tails - you can get a powder for this and even wash your chickens to ease the problem
Mites are a bit more of a problem as they live in the chicken house and only crawl onto the chickens at night - however they are blood suckers and really impact the health of your chucks. You can often see the red mites crawling about (they're tiny though) and there built like tanks so some harsh treatment is needed to get on top of the problem. The best I've found is diatomous earth that at their scale acts like crushed glass and cuts them to peices killing them (it does not cause to humans or chickens - although keep it away from bees). There are silly prices for the stuff considering most of it comes from the beach (although not any old beach) so don't pay too much for it
Worms - tricky to know if yours have them but typical is routinely to give them a treatment every six months. The treatment is available (but in bulk - smallest I saw was 100g) so best to find others with chickens and share the cost as you need so little per chuck you'll be left with loads of the stuff.

Thats enough advice for now, so just enjoy them keep them in plenty of sunlight (or at least give them access to sunlight) and they'll reward you with tasty eggs and free fertiliser (good luck with where they leave it ;-) )

A fellow beer brewer, beekeeper and chicken sitter
 
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