Chickens.

Discussion in 'Livestock' started by rustyroots, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. rustyroots

    rustyroots Total Gardener

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    Hi All,

    I was thinking of getting some chickens and read the thread started by Dan the man "Chickens on a patio" I have decided to take the plunge. So instead of hijacking his thread I have started my own. I have earmarked a 3.5 x 3.5m area at the bottom of the garden where the compost heap is situated, I thought that they might like to rumage around in there occasionally. The plan is to fence it off with chicken wire so that they cannot get around the back of the shed and escape, get a coop and put and extension run on of 1.5 x 1.5 m. The reason for this is that I work shifts so wil let them out when I go to work in morning 6am and let them out in the morning when Iam on nights which would also be 6am, and with it still dark at this time of year I am thinking Mr fox may have intensions. I will then let them out to roam around the fenced off area when I get up/home.
    I have seen this coop on ebay and like the look of it and the price as I looked in a garden center local to me and they were £350.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HEN-HOUSE...t=UK_Pet_Supplies_Poultry&hash=item3ccbe37d9a

    1. Do you think this coop would be ok for 3 chickens initially with the possibility of adding another couple at a later date?
    2. The area I have earmarked is at the end of the garden ad there are poplar , oak and fern trees, will the leaves falling cause any problems?
    3. How high would the fence need to be to stop them escaping?
    Thanks in advance
    Rusty
     
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    • Scrungee

      Scrungee Well known for it

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      hutch.png

      10 square feet of run is about enough for one hen.

      4.8 square feet (6.3 less 1.5) is smaller than the hutch my daughter kept her 2 guinea pigs in (just measured it as 6.6 square feet).

      I think our nest boxes were 1 square foot each, but we removed the dividers because otherwise they all wanted to use the same box furthest from the pop hole (except for one particularly greedy hen who preferred the one just inside so she could keep a lookout for food.

      I've put a scale rule across my screen and the front of the coop is approx. 720mm (28") wide and the door opening approx. 240mm (9.5").
       
    • rustyroots

      rustyroots Total Gardener

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      Is this coop too small then? It says it can house 5 large chooks.

      Rusty
       
    • Scrungee

      Scrungee Well known for it

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      Our '6 hen' coop is 12 square feet (including nest box area) and that's a comfortable fit for 6 hydrids but a tight fit for 6 large pure breds, but the perch rail does not obstruct any of it as it's above the poo shelf over the nest box area.

      The design of that ebay hutch will mean the hens pooing over the floor area all night.
       
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      • Lolimac

        Lolimac Guest

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        I'd go for a coop that's as big as you can fit because there's a good chance you're going to want more chooks once you've had them for a while:dbgrtmb: Keep your eye out for an automatic pop hole opener...mines been a godsend....in the early days if i was late letting them out they'd kicked up a right racket but now they can get up and potter without any fuss.....if you have foxes around i'd recommend edging the run with slabs to make it more difficult for foxy to dig his way in:dbgrtmb: i clip my 'girls' wings to keep them from going 'over the top' if you ask when you get your chooks they'll probably do this for you...but need to be done after a moult too.....there's some good books on keeping chickens with plenty of advice,it's worth investing in one of those too.....
        It's the best move i ever made getting chooks,i couldn't be without them now.....and wait till you get the eggs.....:yes:
        Looking forward to seeing your 'girls':dancy: .....Enjoy:dbgrtmb:
         
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        • rustyroots

          rustyroots Total Gardener

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          Thanks for the advice. I will look around for another coop and get a book before I do anything else. I don't want to rush in and end up having to buy a new coop in a couple of months.

          Rusty
           
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          • Scrungee

            Scrungee Well known for it

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            Converting a small shed or playhouse can be a cheaper alternative to buying a ready made coop, especially if you can get one second hand or from freecycle. 'All' you need to do is replace the window glass/upvc with mesh (for ventilation) with a sliding cover to adjust/close, make a pop hole in a side wall (or the door), fit a poo shelf over a nesting area and a perch rail over that, and (very important) replace the felt covered timber roof with onduline sheeting or it would harbour red mites.

            Sheds seem to have increased in price astronomically over the last few years (I got a 6 x 4 for £89 on offer from BQ in 2010 and then got another 15 (or 20?)% off of that as it was a promotion weekend on purchases over £50), but there are cheaper alternatives (don't laugh - I'm being serious) such as a playhouse like this which is £149.99 from B&Q, but would be £120 on a 20% off over £50 spend weekend (join the B&Q club). Being 1.2 x 1.2m internally it would provide ample space for 6 hens with a perch across the back, and more if required with another one along the left hand side.

            playhouse.jpg

            P.S. My daughter has got something almosttwice the size of that and we intend converting it to a 2nd coop when she goes to Uni (she wont let us do it yet and calls it her 'shed'.
             
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            • rustyroots

              rustyroots Total Gardener

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              That's another option to look at thanks scrungee. I think I am going to scrap the idea of a house with a run built in and just get a bigger coup and build a 6 foot timber frame and wire fence around the 3.5 x 3.5 area I am going to put them. How many chickens would this area be suitable for?
              I am going to a chicken breeder/ farmer next weekend to look at what chooks they have so I will also pick there brains. I took my son to another garden centre today to see what he thought of the chickens. He loved them so that is a good thing. The hen houses there between £250 and £500 and to be honest they were a bit shody in construction. The chooks were £30 and £35 each so I don't think I will be going back. got myself a book on chicken keeping whilst I was there so not a complete waste of time.

              Rusty
               
            • Scrungee

              Scrungee Well known for it

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              That sounds a much better idea. 3.5 x 3.5 = 12.25m2, so a dozen hens could fit in that run, but an advantage of a bigger run & coop is that they can be divided when introducing new hens to get them used to one another for a few days to help reduce fighting and we've even divided the coop on occasions with one lot using the pop hole and the others using the door, each gaining access to a separate part of a divided run.

              Those hens sound rather expensive. Buy yours from somewhere where they'll let you choose them on the day, not from where you order and they're in a crate when you turn up to collect. If they give you advice like "that hen looks a bit poorly/has dull eyes/etc. take their advice and use them again.

              What was the book?

              P.S. Consider roofing part of that run to give some shelter from rain, especially over a dirt bath and where the food is put out. Keep an eye on freecycle for polycarbonate sheeting from where someone's removing a car port/conservatory/etc.
               
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              • rustyroots

                rustyroots Total Gardener

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                The place I am going next week are £16 for hybrids and they also sell rare breeds too for about £40. Ive got some 6mm poly carbon in the garage how big a space would i need to cover? I am watching a couple of 6x4 sheds on ebay as well as you suggested. The book I bought is called keeping chickens and other poultry by Vivian Head it was in the sale section for £3.99.

                Rusty
                 
              • "M"

                "M" Total Gardener

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                Way too expensive! :nonofinger:

                I can get pure breeds for £12-£15 locally; not a garden centre.

                Some things to consider, Rusty, would be the size of hen you would prefer. Bantams are lovely and lay small eggs (approx 30 - 35grammes), can be easier to "handle". Pure breeds can be wonderful and you can choose breeds which lay particular colour eggs (approx 50-55g). However, both are prone to broodiness (they will sit and sit and sit and sit waiting for an egg to hatch!) so that would reduce your egg production. Both will go off lay during the shorter days of the year. Hybrids are bred for their egg laying proficiency and, even though they can go broody, it is less likely.
                 
              • rustyroots

                rustyroots Total Gardener

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                Looking on the website of the place I am going next week I like the look/description I like the sound of the Warwickshire Bluebelle, Gold Ranger, Sussex Star and The Columbian Blacktail. I will not be buying anything to do with my chickens from a garden centre.

                Rusty
                 
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                • rustyroots

                  rustyroots Total Gardener

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                  Hi all,

                  I was reading the book that I bought yesterday and it says if you put the bedding from the chickens they you cannot let them on it to rummage. My heap is in the middle of where I am planning to it them do I will have to move it and it seems a bit of a waste to throw the bedding away when it can do so much good for the garden It also said that a fox can chew through chicken wire, so what do I use to make the run? I will only need to put wire underground on 2 sides across the back and down the fence line as the shed is on slabs and where the coop will be is also on slabs. I am not going to be able to put a shed there to use as the coop as the sun comes onto the ground from behind where the shed would be so would put a big shadow over it and I do not think it would get much sun.ImageUploadedByTapatalk1362335116.212694.jpg
                  ImageUploadedByTapatalk1362335210.831994.jpg
                  ImageUploadedByTapatalk1362335241.587577.jpg
                  ImageUploadedByTapatalk1362335268.556335.jpg
                  ImageUploadedByTapatalk1362335295.311869.jpg

                  Above are some photos of the area I want to put them. Do you think it is suitable?( after it is cleaned up and compost heap moved). The first and last shows the overall area, the second shows the patio area it is 1.5m from the hedge towards the compost heap. And the others are of the area from different angles.

                  Sorry to be a pain and ask so many questions, but I want to get the area right first time and not have to try and correct it when the chickens are in it.

                  Rusty
                   
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                  • Jenny namaste

                    Jenny namaste Total Gardener

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                    I love this thread - I watch "from a distance" but it is still lovely 'cos I've always loved chooks but not had them since I was a young child.
                    There are good chook experts on GC Rusty, they will guide you,
                    Jenny
                     
                  • rustyroots

                    rustyroots Total Gardener

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                    Hi All,

                    Been to the chicken place today and the lady gave me loads of tips and info about coops, runs, which chicken would be best etc etc. She had coops for sale, but I thought that the plastic ones were expensive from £300-£600. She had a wooden one for £210. It is a little like the one I have been watching on ebay (See link) although the roof didnt open on the one I saw today so I think that the ebay coop is the coop I am going to get ( Any thoughts on this welcome). I have also priced up the wood I need to build the run and as I have a load of 2x2 in the garage it is going to cost me just under £40 plus the price of the wire to cover it. I have 10 sheets of 4x2 foot 6mm thick polycarbonate in the garage from another job so I will cover the run with this leaving a 6 inch gap between the polycarbonate and the wire roof for ventilation. I will be getting my chickens from the place I went today when all finished. I need to get the area cleared and start on the run, but with the weather forecast I dont think it will be any time soon. I am hoping to get it all done and the chickens in by the end of April latest.

                    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/251063094...eName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

                    Rusty
                     
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