Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

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Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby MamaOwl » 05 Feb 2015, 14:37

Thought a sticky for those people thinking about keeping Hens who haven't before. Ideally it's best to grab a large mug of tea and sit and read through the forum but I also know that it can be exciting and one just wants to get going as soon as. So I thought a thread where seasoned keepers can add their ideas about what is needed for that first month would be good. I know when I finally got the "ok lets do it" from Hubby all those years ago I wanted a quick start list and to go get my damn Hens!! lol But I was a good girl and read through this forum..ish....

I know that half the stuff I thought was needed or was recommended to me ended up being useless or more hard work than anything. So lets get posting and myself and the mods can edit this first post with anything essential... Like how much space is needed, saftey features, feed, etc etc :mrgreen:

****************************************************************************************************************************************

1) Neighbours and permissions.
Some rented accommodation and even some owned properties might have clauses which forbid you from keeping Hens. Also, if you are close to neighbours they may object to the noise / smell.. even though Hens aren't noisy as a rule and shouldn't smell. I suggested to my neighbour to get Hens a few years ago and she started muttering about the noise and smell and when I asked if mine were noisy or smelly she was flabbergasted to learn we even had any! Other neighbours might not be so cool... so something to consider when placing your hen house next to someone's bedroom wall!

2) Holidays & Delays
Who will look after your Hens when you go away? Also if you commute who can you call on to go and secure the Hens should there be a delay? Some places that sell hens also provide Holiday Boarding, it's worth thinking about all of this before getting Hens.

3) Bye bye lay-ins
Unless you have an automatic pop-hole then you can wave bye bye to sleeping until 11am on a weekend. Even in the dark of Winter Hens get up pretty early and will need to be let out, fed and watered. (then you can jump back in to bed!)

4) Housing


5) Food and Water feeders & storage containers


ok that's the kind of thing I was thinking.. will let others add their ideas and then we can start to paste some ideas to this top list. If anyone disagrees with what I have put in so far then say so below as of course it's just what I think and everyone is different.
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Re: Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby MamaOwl » 05 Feb 2015, 14:41

One thing in my experience (and I made the same mistake more than once) was to get these things:

feeders.jpg


They (for me) were useless.... dirty, hard to clean, easily broken waste of money.

In the end I would end up chucking them out and using several large stainless steel dog bowls for water dotted about and throwing food directly on the floor a few times a day if they weren't free ranging or into the garden in the bushes etc if they were....
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Re: Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby MamaOwl » 05 Feb 2015, 14:46

In my experience pretty Hen houses are a waste of money... it's been suggested on here many times to new hen owners but seldom is the advice taken... get a house that is too big for your needs as you WILL add to your flock and you WILL find the pretty Hen houses that look like something out of a fairy book are a pain in the ass to clean and break easily.. a nice shed with a human sized door and ceiling height is the best (in my opinion) .. you can always paint it baby blue and pink outside if you still crave that fairy tale look...
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Re: Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby drfish » 05 Feb 2015, 18:01

MamaOwl wrote:One thing in my experience (and I made the same mistake more than once) was to get these things:

feeders.jpg


They (for me) were useless.... dirty, hard to clean, easily broken waste of money.

In the end I would end up chucking them out and using several large stainless steel dog bowls for water dotted about and throwing food directly on the floor a few times a day if they weren't free ranging or into the garden in the bushes etc if they were....


These are ok if you get the ones with the handle at the top, so as to suspend it from something. The ones you put on the floor are garbage. I made the same mistake too, and now use a washing up bowl instead :-)
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Re: Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby Hen-Gen » 05 Feb 2015, 20:50

I'd say over the years that feeders and drinkers are where I've wasted more money than I've spent on wine, men and song. So many are prone to being kicked about, filled with the floor covering when chickens kick the material about or generally useless.
So in my opinion there is only one design of each worth having.
FEEDERS
The vermin proof feeders from Wells Poultry are brilliant. They hold a reservoir of feed which is kept clean and the food is only accessible when the hen stands on a plate and thereby opens a trap door allowing access to the feed. Starlings etc cannot gain access to the feed and neither can it be contaminated by hens scratching about.
DRINKERS
Galvanised bucket drinkers are the winners, hands down. If they are positioned one foot from and facing a wall then clean, fresh water is always available. They can be cleaned by filling with water and adding some Virkon and standing for a couple of hours. Empty out, rinse and refill and you're good to go.
BUT ALSO
Good planning saves so much work. A hen house that is high enough to stand up in is a godsend. Nest boxes are then much easier if internal. In my experience external boxes always leak sooner or later. Perches are so often too narrow. CLS timber is ideal. It's about 2.5ins by 1ins and comes with chamfered corners. Perfect for chickens. A grit dispenser is cleaner if hung on the wall near the perch but in a way that it cannot be poo'd in. There are a lot of mite control products that are as good as useless. They may be deterrents but you really need to blitzkrieg if you have an outbreak of this pest. Ficam is worth the money. Other ecto parasites are easily controlled but not by ways which can be discussed on an open forum due to legal constraints :grin: . Flubenvet is the only wormer to use. Marriages even do a feed with it added so it is simple to use and there s no egg withdrawal period. Above all is choice of breed. Decide from the outset whether you want eggs, meat or pretty pets/ show birds. Breed enthusiasts can get carried away when extolling the merits of their chosen breed. Get a decent book and read up on them.
If you have nothing
Give it away

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Re: Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby MamaOwl » 05 Feb 2015, 21:37

Thank you Hen-Gen!
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Re: Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby subruss » 06 Feb 2015, 11:36

Most of what is sold these days are a waste of money. My set up consists of an old outside toilet,loo removed and old fence posts jamed between the wall for perches some old rabbit hutches in the backyard for nest boxes and extra shelter from the rain and plastic ice cream containers for food and water and old plastic bins for food storage :grin: job done :thumbright:

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Re: Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby Sihitch2010 » 07 Nov 2017, 19:06

Hi, I would love to get a couple of chickens, the problem I have is space. I have a reasonably sized garden (some 100ft long) but because of the layout I lack an area to have a coop and a run. If I built a coop, for 2-3 chickens or bantams, and fitted an automatic door, would the chickens be safe and happy pottering round the flower and veg beds during the day, would they out themselves "to bed"? The garden is completely enclosed but we do have cats next door. And if this was ok, what damage would they do to the garden, I am not too garden proud but don't want it wrecked! Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

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Re: Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby kated » 08 Nov 2017, 15:09

Hi there Sihitch

If you grow veg or value your flowers then chickens are not for you unless you enclose them. They will wreck your garden and eat many of your plants and scratch up the rest. Yes they will put themselves to bed once they have established that you mean them to use the henhouse you provided (you would have to keep them shut in it for about 5 days to make sure.) Cats will seldom take much notice of chickens but there is always the odd rogue. Your main culprit for chucks is Mr Fox who would just as happily take your chickens during the day as at night. They are nearly as agile as a cat and once they have learnt you keep chickens they will return again and again to try their luck.

If you keep small bantams, then a smallish enclosure is acceptable especially if you let them out from time to time whilst you are around. Bantams are also less likely to damage your garden.

Hope that helps.

Kate

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Re: Starting Out - Quick guide to starting up.

Postby MamaOwl » 11 Nov 2017, 17:33

Sihitch2010 wrote:Hi, I would love to get a couple of chickens, the problem I have is space. I have a reasonably sized garden (some 100ft long) but because of the layout I lack an area to have a coop and a run. If I built a coop, for 2-3 chickens or bantams, and fitted an automatic door, would the chickens be safe and happy pottering round the flower and veg beds during the day, would they out themselves "to bed"? The garden is completely enclosed but we do have cats next door. And if this was ok, what damage would they do to the garden, I am not too garden proud but don't want it wrecked! Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!



WELCOME to the forum...

Hens can ruin a garden, I find it depends on the hens, some of mine were rather lovely weeders, some ignored weeds and only went for food crops, others devastated everything in their path #-o

If you are looking to get a small flock then get 3 .. Yes they will put themselves to bed and yes cats will be curious but fro my experience once a cat gets too close the hens tend to face up to them, head down, wings back and CHARGE!!!!!! :lol:

As Kate said though.... beware the sly fox!! in 30 years of keeping hens, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs etc I only had 3 visits but they were upsetting and cruel... so always presume that there is a fox watching you every move and waiting for you to mess up and leave something unlocked or unprotected....

Keeping hens is exciting and rewarding and you say you only want a few but that wont happen.... you WILL end up with more lol... \:D/
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