Jump to content
UKV - The Place for Precision Rifle Enthusiasts

Keeping Chickens


Mauser3006

Recommended Posts

We have recently begun to keep chickens in a corner of the garden. Whilst the reality of cost of the setup vs the cost of eggs is ridiculous (I could buy eggs for years and still have change from what I have spent getting the hutch, fencing, hoppers, feed etc), I do like the idea of having a source of protein in the event of an interuption to normal distribution. I live in a rural area and rely upon a small Tesco in the next village, which I am sure would fail immediately should there be a fuel crisis for example.

 

I also remain vigilant for the eventual arrival of Mr Fox....

post-14097-0-77375400-1427317773_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would worry more about rats than foxes. My wife's mother used to keep chickens until I killed them. They are dirty, smelly and flee infested creatures. I killed them as they were a pain in the ar*e to look after and they encouraged rats that went for the eggs. Rats urine is not healthy ......and we had young children who of course wanted to play in the garden.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it depends tbh.

Ive had chickens in my last 2 houses.

Never seen a rat, or a fox for that matter.

As long as you clean them out regularly youll be fine.

 

Small chikdren love getting the eggs too.

Plus the obvious bonus of having a sustainable food source.

Just be aware they will stop laying when it gets cold.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would worry more about the arrival of mites than rats or foxes! We have kept Chickens for a few years now but had a break with the arrival of our son and a plague of mites. I had an house that I had painstakingly made out of pallet would to keep costs down in a run mate out of concrete reinforcing mesh!

 

Never had an issue with fox even though semi rural and only ever caught 2 rats in the fenns that have been permanently set for 5 years or so! We had half a dozen birds and in the summer of 2013 they became infested with mites and lice as did the house which I had to burn after several failed treatments, birds were re-homed with friends. Moral of the story, dust the birds regularly and thoroughly with Diatomous Earth to keep the creepy crawlies away.

 

Last summer we were given an old shed that went in the old pen and now have 3 birds which give us 4-5 eggs every 2 days, a 20kg bag of layers pellets is costing a massive £6.60 and fed on that and scraps it lasts us about 6 weeks. So though the initial setup costs can be expensive (in time if not in material) after that it really is a cheap source of protein, at an average of 2.25 eggs per day that works out at 94.5 eggs for say £8.00 when you add in wormer and mite treatment, 50p per half dozen.

 

My son loves them too, Saturday mornings now involve a trip down the garden to first feed the chickens, then the ferrets then the rabbit, with scrambled eggs for brekkie!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it depends tbh.

Ive had chickens in my last 2 houses.

Never seen a rat, or a fox for that matter.

As long as you clean them out regularly youll be fine.

 

Small chikdren love getting the eggs too.

Plus the obvious bonus of having a sustainable food source.

Just be aware they will stop laying when it gets cold.

Egg production is more linked with daylight than temperature, if you really want to maximise production through the winter then an artificial light in the house on a timer can do the trick; your birds will just run out of eggs quicker!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have kept chickens for the last 7 years.

 

One problem with foxes, mites and rats are down to basic house keeping.

 

Don't buy anything special in the way of breed, general pupose egg layers, 5 chickens = 4 eggs a day, pullets cost locally less than £5 each inoculated. They go about two years before needing to be 'recycled'

 

Make the hutch, cheap plastic water and food hoppers are OK (we are still using original sets) only buy mash in bulk bags from local free range farms ( making sure the protien level on the label is correct %, 16-ish!). Sunshine and ambient noise will change output. Need cleaning once a week. Feed them later in the day, so they eat the mash first thing, with left over veg, pasta etc. no meat ! Cut their flight feathers on one wing when young, they learn they cannot fly and do not try again when feathers re- grow. If you want to 'poof it' then photosensitive door motor on the hutch saves getting up early or staying up late.

 

We found production overtook needs, each chicken knocks out 220+ eggs each per year, sell surplus, only so many cakes or jars of lemon curd can a family take!

 

Once you've had fresh, golden, sticky eggs you will never go back to pale shop bought items.

 

Kids like them, handle regularly, simple to keep and maintain.

 

Terry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We bought some hens last year and have been really happy with them. We have had some issues with rats(now dead), mites(now dead) and foxes (now also dead). My wife and kids love the birds, and the eggs keep us and my parents in law amply supplied. It isn't a cheap way to get eggs but that isn't the point. There is also a great deal of satisfaction from home producing your food

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I keep chooks, ducks, geese and turkeys. I did have guinea fowl but ate them as they are very very noisy. All birds come with some issues, chooks can be noisy if you keep a cockerel, they have red mite and if you are not careful can attract rats. Ducks are messy and can turn a hoof-print into a pond in a winter. They do however clear a huge area of slugs in short order. If you are after ducks eggs, Khaki Campbell's are the bird, if meat is the preference Aylesbury are a good choice. Geese too are noisy buggers and you really need a bigger area for them. Turkeys are useful in that they also clear slugs but will also keep the grass down better than the ducks, especially couch grass which is a nuisance here.

Another very easy option if meat is what you are after, would be rabbits. One buck and two to three does will give you some fifty to sixty rabbits a year. Does not sound like much but if you have breeds such as the NZ White you get a good sized beast. Again, easy to look after and if land is available it just requires an area to be fenced off with chickenwire and hutches for security. Lots of options out there for those who may choose this lifestyle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No matter what you do, they will get red mite in the end, probably off wild birds. One trick is to put vaseline on the perches in the chook house. The mites come down and become trapped. Supposed to work but I have never tried that myself. I do know that if they have problems with mites on the legs (they become swollen and very scaly looking) a good smearing of vaseline before they go to roost at night will sort it out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will also say that I save on the feed by growing a good portion of the barley. As O brew my own beer, I malt the barley, dry it, make beer with it and then feed the birds with the grist. That way I believe I am maximising the potential of the barley. Pretty much a win win especially in a self sufficiency way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Completely agree with you TerryH. We've had chickens for a couple of years. Had a red mite 'problem' a couple of times. We got a cheap second-hand coop for 25 chickens, and only have 14 inside so lots of space. Red mite powder and full clean once a week (Friday in-between clients if you must know!). They range far and wide, and look a hell of a lot better than when we got them - some from the chicken welfare trust as ex-bats (just give a donation), and from a local supplier. In the laying season (i.e. from the shortest day of the year through to about August/September) we get about 8-11 eggs per day.

 

Well worth it for enjoyment, watching them knock about, and for the superb eggs. So much better than shop-bought eggs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No matter what you do, they will get red mite in the end, probably off wild birds. One trick is to put vaseline on the perches in the chook house. The mites come down and become trapped. Supposed to work but I have never tried that myself. I do know that if they have problems with mites on the legs (they become swollen and very scaly looking) a good smearing of vaseline before they go to roost at night will sort it out.

 

Might try that next time!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good for you. We've kept chickens for years and the youngest daughter loves to look after them. Echo Terry's view on mites/rats, it's down to good house keeping and to some extent location and we treat ours with mites treatment a couple of times a year. One piece of advice though, fence them into their own area with plenty of space for them to forage about. We buy run of the mill Red Warrens as for egg production you don't need anything exotic and there are cheap, around £7.50 each and keep a cockerel with them that was given to us years ago. Can't beat having fresh eggs for breakfast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have in the past kept several 100 silkies and pekings (10 different patterns ) for broadies i dont miss them one bit, well may be a little - Also there nothing like the sound of 3 incubators running in the bedroom on hatching day

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are now about 3 weeks in and they have just started to lay. Quite small, rubbery, double-yoker eggs at the moment with very hard shells, or in one case no shell at all to speak of. As they were so timid to begin with I thought that by the end of the summer they might have braved the bottom of the garden..... two days later they practically live down there and have even handily cleared out all the leaves under the hedge for me! The dogs are getting used to them and they are now actually terrorising my two year old daughter! I can't believe the change in them. Loving it anyway!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As above use a dusting of diatomaceous earth in the hen house to keep the red mite at bay. We had an out break of red mite a few years ago when we came back off hols. They laughed at quaternary disinfectants, but the diatomaceous earth sorted it in a week or so. Rats kept down with hw100+nv and a keen ratting cat. :D If your getting no shell eggs, then add ground oyster shell to their diet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are now about 3 weeks in and they have just started to lay. Quite small, rubbery, double-yoker eggs at the moment with very hard shells, or in one case no shell at all to speak of. As they were so timid to begin with I thought that by the end of the summer they might have braved the bottom of the garden..... two days later they practically live down there and have even handily cleared out all the leaves under the hedge for me! The dogs are getting used to them and they are now actually terrorising my two year old daughter! I can't believe the change in them. Loving it anyway!

M30-06

 

That's how ours all started, initially odd sized eggs, double yokers then they settle down. Make sure your food has the right amount of protien. We also tried pellets and lost production, going back to mash and productions up.

 

T

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

The year we had the mites problem the swallows that nest in mum and dad's stables every year must have had poor house keeping, I'll be sure to let them know, that way their chicks won't commit suicide buy turning themselves out of the nest before they've fledged to escape the mites in the nest!

 

Chap from the local wildlife trust said they were seeing a lot of it when it happened the weather of that year meaning there were a lot more parasites around than normal.

 

Since using Diatom we've not had a problem, touch wood, as it's preventative rather than a treatment; action better than reaction and all that. Apparently it's best to avoid wooden houses with felt rooves as the kites hide between the wood and felt during the day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 years later...

My neighbour's got chickens. He started buying unwanted pet bantams then got three buff orpintons and it snowballed. Late last summer we went on a bit of a rescue to a farm that had been sold. Came away with two mums with clutches, one with chicks and some cockrels. All rare breed Old English Game Hens.

He's now registered with DEFRA and has 50 birds in total! We are out in the country (near Bisley) in case you were wondering  :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy