Keeping Chickens : Coping with the Coop

by Jack Gardener on August 28, 2009 · 4 comments

in Pet House

keeping-chickens

Ever fancied living the goodlife?

If so, you are not alone. Keeping chickens is a great way to do this. One of the fastest growing hobbies in the UK is producing your own food. With the onset of TV programmes by celebrity chefs emphasizing the benefits of real home grown food, last year saw the sales of fruit and vegetable seeds over take that of flower seeds.

You don’t however simply need to stop at a few potatoes or runner beans, more and more people are now keeping chickens to produce freshly laid organic eggs.

Did you know that 4 chickens will on average produce more than 1,000 eggs per year!  That’s around 3 per day!

Raising chickens is not particularly difficult and offers great educational benefits to children as it allows them to see where food comes from as well as learning how to look after a pet. A chicken really is a pet with perks!

Keeping chickens is far less taxing than people believe and once you have purchased a chicken coop and run they are a comparatively cheap pet. Next I will explain what equipemt you need and general chicken keeping tips, if you want to find ut which type of chicken is best for you I have compiled another interesting article on this topic.

The Perfect Home for your Chickens

Look for a sheltered spot in your garden to protect your chicken from the harsher elements (rain, wind, etc) ideally on a grassy area. If you do not have grass this is still OK, wood chippings are a great solution and can be replaced every month or so.

Chicken houses

There is a huge range currently on the market differing greatly in size, shape and price. Some come with built-in runs and some will need to be added on as an extra. I would always recommend purchasing a run of some kind as this will always allow your chickens to get the exercise they need.

Many have raised areas which are beneficial to the chicken as they keep the birds away from pests and the damp. The enclosed areas within the hen houses are where many of the birds will choose to roost and lay their eggs, so choosing the right coop for your birds is very important.

Your chicken coop must be in a well lit area. 14 hours of sunlight will help to ensure optimum egg laying.

Choose a good quality timber and ideally one which has been pressure treated so it will last and not rot.

On the market you will find a huge variety of chicken cottages, arks, houses, coops. All are variations on the same theme but differ in size, shape and cost. Look out for the one that will accommodate your chickens needs whilst fitting within your budget. The fanciest coop may not be the best coop for your bird.

Chicken Care

Chicken Coop Cleaning

Chickens coops need to be cleaned out at least every three weeks, if however the litter on the floor becomes damp it is advisable to clean more frequently. Move the chicken coop around your garden, giving your chickens access to new areas of grass and preventing bald patches in your grass arising from overuse.

Feeding Your Chickens

Purchase a good quality feeder and food for your chickens and ensure the feeder is re-filled every 4 days. Chickens will happily also eat weeds and bugs in your garden. Make sure the chickens have a constant supply of water at all times.

Exercise

Each day open the coop door and allow your chickens into the run or even better if you are going to be around and your garden is secure and fox free let them roam around the garden. An exercised hen is a happy hen.

Collection of Eggs

One vital fact many people who purchase chickens fail to find out until after they have purchased their chickens is that hens do not usually lay eggs until they are at least a year old. They are also less likely to lay many eggs in the winter as the survival rate for chicks in the cold is greatly reduced.

Chicken Handling

The best way to get hold of your chicken is to grab their feet in one swift action from underneath. If you chase or attempt to grab their wings or tail this will cause them to panic which will reduce their egg production. Once you have the chicken by its legs, use one hand to support it underneath and bring it close to the side of your body.

To read more about why you should keep chickens visit my blog.
Good luck!

Gardener Jack :)

About The Author

Jack Gardener has been gardening all his life, and is passionate about passing on his experience to the next generation of gardeners.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce Hazelton September 28, 2009 at 11:04 am

My parents kept chickens when I was growing up. They used to wander free range around 2 acres of land and the quality of the eggs was far superior to anything you can buy in a supermarket. Finding the eggs each evening was a major competitive event for my brother and me! Occasionally we'd have chicks – soooo cute!

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Stephanie Evans September 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm

I keep chickens and they are the best addition to my garden I could ever wish for. The Hens provide me with delicious eggs on a daily basis, the cockerels are my daily alarm clock (& also provide me with high-quality meat from a known source every now and again), the chicks are adorable, and they are all superbly entertaining as they rummage around my garden. I can't imagine my garden without them and have become something of a chicken-evangelist. Why would anyone not want to have a few around??!

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Ron and Liz Neale October 18, 2009 at 4:49 pm

We are on the verge of getting some chickens but have yet to decide on a chicken house – are these in your product range – looking forward to seeing details and prices

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Jack October 22, 2009 at 10:19 pm

You'll love keeping chickens. So much fun and free eggs .. fantastic! Consider choice of breed carefully as I know some can be difficult for first timers. Our range now has some chicken coops and runs. You can find them in our Pet House category. Look out for a good FSC certified timber with a pressure treated finish. Some manufacturers will offer you a 15yr guarantee against rot. The range will be expanding a lot more over the coming months so keep an eye out for new additions.

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