Keeping Chickens

Keeping chickens is one of the fastest growing pastimes in the UK.  Fresh eggs, living garden sculptures and involving children in animal husbandry, are just a few of the reasons why so many people are keeping chickens todayThere are a host of 'how to' books on chicken keeping, but here we will try to cover the main points.  If you've never kept chickens before, don't panic.  If you buy your birds from us and you need some advice, we'll happily offer comprehensive guidance on what you need to do.

Water:

  • Chickens seem to enjoy drinking from puddles, but its better for them to have access to clean, fresh water.
  • Purpose designed drinkers are ideal.  Plastic is cheaper and easy to clean, but can become brittle in cold weather.  Galvanised will last for years, but is more expensive.

Feed:

  • Chickens love to eat grass and green leaves and their eggs are delicious as a result.
  • We feed pellets as the bird's main ration and give them a small amount of mixed corn daily as a treat.
  • Plastic or galvanised feeders are both fine, but make sure they keep the rain off the feed - most don't. Better still, ask us about the pipe feeders we make here on the farm. They keep the feed dry, are rodent and wild bird proof and will significanlty reduce your wastage and save you money.
  • To prevent disease, It's a good idea to keep wild birds and rodents away from the feed.
  • Poultry Grit should be provided to help the birds break down their food.

Shelter:

  • Chickens need somewhere to roost at night, that will keep them dry, out of drafts and safe from predators. They won't care what it looks like, but you and your neighbours may!
  • Hens like to lay in a dark, quiet place, so your house needs to have a nest box.
  • You will have to clean it out... so getting something that has easy access will pay dividends, avoid frustration and encourage more frequent cleaning .  Our range of houses will fit the bill.

Free Range or Chicken Runs?

  • As long as your birds have enough space, it's entirely up to you.  Free Range sounds great, but chickens will wreck your garden if they're not contained.  If you keep them in small runs, you will have to move them from time to time, or put them on rubber matting, wood chips or something similar. With the spread of Avian Influenza within Europe, many keepers, including ourselves, are exploring ways to house their birds in biosecure runs and we have a number of units being trialled for that purpose. 

Do you need a Cockerel?

  • If you want to breed your own birds then yes.
  • Not if you only want eggs for the table, the hens will lay perfectly well without a cockerel.
  • If you run a number of birds then a cockerel will keep them in order - which is often useful.
  • Not if you live in a built up area and you want to stay on good terms with your neighbours!

Worms, Lice and Mites:

  • Unfortunately, chickens like other livestock can pick up parasites.  There are lots of modern powders and sprays to help chicken keepers stay on top of the issue - but be aware that some work better than others!
  • We have a simple three point strategy. Bio-dri powder on the floor of house and nestbox, easichick™ bedding above that and a sprinkling of Diatomaceous Earth on the bedding - job done! We can supply all of these products from stock.

We could go on - but if you buy your birds from us, we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have face to face and give ongoing support over the telephone.  We want you to enjoy your chickens and give them a good life.