Chickens are Fun!
Until I kept chickens, I had no idea how much fun they are. They are easy to care for, and will pay for themselves by the eggs for provide.
I have two ISA Warren hens - and would love more! Be warned, this is a very addictive hobby!
On this page you will find plenty of information on how to care for chickens, plus some cute photos of my little flock foraging around my garden. And do watch the video of Hattie and Joyce pottering around - hope you enjoy the captions!
Life in the Chicken Coop
Chickens need somewhere warm, dry and safe from predators where they can roost at night and lay their eggs undisturbed.
There are many designs of chicken house, or coop. These are usually purchased as a flat-pack which you have to assemble yourself. The designs vary, some being more ornamental than practical. Prices vary widely too, soaring up to silly levels. If you are handy with wood, you could save yourself a lot of money if you make your own coop and run. Some of the books listed below offer design plans for various types of coop.
Before buying or making your coop, though, give some thought to how many chickens you want to keep. The size of the coop will limit the number of chickens you can humanely keep - and once you've discovered how easy chickens are to keep (and how much fun they are!) you can be sure you'll want more.
Inside the coop, you'll need clean, dry straw and/or hay for the birds to nest in. They love re-arranging the inside of the coop, no matter how tidily you set it out. Digging and rooting is in their nature. Mine drag straw out of the coop and into the run to build outdoor nests for sunbathing on. They lie on top of these messy heaps, with their tummies facing the sun, and lift each wing in turn to enjoy the warmth.
Chickens also need clean water. They wash their beaks in it, and also drink quite a bit. Initially I tried using a purpose-made water feeder but they kicked this all over the place as if they were playing football. The water spilled everywhere, of course. Now I use a metal dish which clips to the wire of the run.
Chickens eat non-stop. They love food! They will devour all your vegetable scraps - though mine aren't over-keen on potato peelings. They will also eat whatever grows in your garden. Mine demolished all my Valerian within a week. And they enjoy rooting through fallen leaves in the herbaceous border, foraging for worms, insects and snails.
Grit is an essential dietery need, as this aids in the deigestion of their food plus helps form the shells of their eggs. In winter, I also feed mine a commercially available chicken suet/insect mash which comes in pellet form.
If you buy grit and chicken feed from a farm outlet, you'll spend a lot less than you would in a pet store or supermarket. As for greens - let your birds roam round your garden and they'll help themselves to whatever they want.
Chickens get to know your routine. As soon as the kitchen light goes on in the morning, they know breakfast is on its way along with the freedom of the garden. At 3pm, they get fed again and as soon as they see me filling their seed and grit feeder they come rushing to see what they're missing.
My ISA Warren hens lay one egg a day each, usually around 10am but sometimes closer to mid-day if it's a sunny day. The pale brown eggs are larger than shop-bought ones, and the yolks are a gorgeous rich golden yellow - a much more intense colour than any mass-produced egg.
And my birds are happy, too - wandering round the garden together, talking to each other in their own way. They've even been known to wander into the house to listen to a spot of Vivaldi or Mozart.
Chickens love company - it would be cruel to keep one on its own.
Mine are never very far from each other. Even when one goes into the coop to lay an egg, the other will be nearby. They like to walk around together, digging through fallen leaves and rooting around under bushes, and they communicate constantly with musical "pwok-pwok prrrr pwok" sounds.
At night, they often share a roost spot even though there's plenty of room inside the coop for them to spread out. In fact, the coop I have is big enough for four birds. Watch this space for new additions to my flock!
- Backyard Chickens
An informative introdcution to keeping chickens in your garden.
- Adele's Garden
The garden was a wild tangle of waist-high grasses, weeds, brambles and mare's tail when my husband and I bought our home on the Wirral peninsula in 2000.
- Sandlea Park
Tucked away between Grange Road/Meols Drive and Dee Lane in West Kirby is a small but picturesque oasis of trees, shrubs and formal gardens.
© 2010 Adele Cosgrove-Bray
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