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Chickens and Bantams. Poultry Management

Updated on April 23, 2013

Poultry Management

Fine Old English Bantams
Fine Old English Bantams
A Poland (named after its head gear not the country of origin)
A Poland (named after its head gear not the country of origin)
A handsome Cock and his Concubines
A handsome Cock and his Concubines
Hens can make good pets as long as they know their place!
Hens can make good pets as long as they know their place!
A pretty mature Hen......All photos courtesy Flickr
A pretty mature Hen......All photos courtesy Flickr

Back yard Poultry Keeping.

I have been a keen backyard poultry keeper for many years and it has given me a lot of enjoyment and a goodly supply of healthy eggs from happy hens. Before you contemplate keeping hens, check out the local bye laws to find out if you are zoned for poultry keeping. Think hard before you add a cockerel to your flock unless you enjoy getting up at the crack of dawn every day and you have no immediate neighbors. A cock is not necessary unless you intend to breed chickens or you prefer fertilized eggs which are supposedly better for you and keep longer. i couldn't tell the difference and I found the cockerel tended to make the hens broody and they would slope off a make a nest somewhere. Never keep more than one cock together for obvious reasons.

That said, the choice of which breed of chicken is large. Pure breeds like the popular Rhode Island Reds, Buff orpingtons, Light Sussex etc, tend not to lay as many eggs as the hybrid hens bred for laying. The old breeds are prettier but it is your choice. White eggs are equally good as brown but many people prefer brown. There are even breeds that produce speckled eggs or even Blue shelled ones like the Araucana. Some supermarkets even give you a choice of white, brown or the pretty blue ones.

There are many smaller birds, the Bantams which come in many beautiful shapes and sizes. The tend not to lay as many eggs and they are much smaller. These are usually not kept for egg laying purposes But as beautiful inhabitants of your garden.

Once you have decided on the breed and number of birds, the question of how to house and tend them. Six hens in a back yard is quite enough as you will get almost an egg per bird per day which mounts up to a lot of eggs!. I think it is cruel to keep hens in little cages as they are happiest when given the chance to peck and scratch and explore.

Hens need a good weather proof house with nesting boxes ideally one per bird and a good perch so that they are comfy at night and off the floor.. It should have a door that can be closed at night against predators and vermin. The floor should be slatted so that droppings fall through and may be collected from underneath and added to the compost heap. They should be kept safe from extremes of temperature. At dusk the hens like to return to roost. Make sure the rails for the hens to sit on are not too narrow or the hens won't be comfy.

Hens need access to fresh clean water at all times.

Hens need regular feeding of good quality grain or pellets at least once per day. They are best allowed grass to peck at or a cabbage hung up in their run so that they have something to occupy themselves as bored hens can develop habits like feather pecking and can get really cranky.

Hens need access to the ground, preferably with plants growing on it so they can move around freely. An Ark is ideal as it can be moved around from place to place. If this is impossible, litter in the form of straw or wood shavings should be provided. Barley straw with sharp awns is not suitable. Be careful never to use litter that is suffering from mildew as it is easy to pick up a nasty disease called Farmer's Lung.

Happy hens are a delight to watch and become very friendly .If you decide you have the room and the inclination to keep them I hope they will bring you much happiness.


More info.: http://www.backyardchickens.com/

Handsome Homes for Happy Hens

The Perfect Set up with a free range yard and excellent shelter.
The Perfect Set up with a free range yard and excellent shelter.
Another good solution but without the free range
Another good solution but without the free range
Awaiting residents
Awaiting residents
A neat Hen Coop Design
A neat Hen Coop Design
Seen better Days
Seen better Days

Simple Solutions made Easy!

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    • Gypsy Willow profile image
      Author

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi 2patricias. I know that problem well. I said vermin proof in my hub as some areas of the world don't have them but the UK has them in abundance. Apparently if you get a gentleman friend to relieve himself round the hen run it will keep the pests away but I never tried it. Thanks for dropping by.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Nice Hub. Some of our friends keep chickens and have a regular supply of lovely fresh eggs. Where we live foxes are a huge problem, and it is necessary to have a fox proof chicken run.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image
      Author

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi Kaie, glad you stopped by and found the info quite interesting. Thanks for coming.

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 8 years ago

      Thank you for the information............ this was quite interesting.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image
      Author

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi Reddog. They would certainly suit your lifestyle but Blade may be over enthusiastic! Thanks for dropping by.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image
      Author

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi Graphic Penury We would have to be careful introducing the dogs. They may look like fair game! Thanks for dropping by.

      Hi Dim I hope your Son brings you fresh eggs. You can't beat them! Thanks for the comment

    • Gypsy Willow profile image
      Author

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi scarytaff. They are such contented little creatures scratching and pecking away with that mummering cluck they make while doing it. Thanks for the comment

    • Gypsy Willow profile image
      Author

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hello again Hello hello. Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed writing it. It is always a pleasure when you drop by.

    • reddog1027 profile image

      reddog1027 8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      The city where I live actually allows a person to keep any type of livestock except pigs. As long as the neighbors don't complain. I have always thought that a few chickens in my yard would be great. They are natural insect eaters so help keep a garden free of pests. Your hub has made me want to seriously look into it. I just need to get adequate shelter for them. Thanks for the great hub.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 8 years ago from Great Britain

      Enjoyed this very much. We live in an apartment , so no chance of ckhckens running around for us , but my son has huge space in his garden and keeps chickens that roam free.Must agree with you about the cockeral though. What a racket they make in the early morning.!

    • profile image

      GraphicPenury 8 years ago

      Great hub Mum. I thoroughly enjoyed that as well. I think we could have a back yard set up like the one Mr. Wisconsin (above) has.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 8 years ago from South Wales

      Hi, Gypsy. This brought back memories of when we lived in Norfolk. We had a smallholding then and keeping chickens was one of the pleasures. they've got such character.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      That is a lovely hub and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you. Keep writing.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image
      Author

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi Alexander. You get them back by putting food down and they all come running. They are not very time consuming and well worth it. I hope you get a Flock some day! Thanks for dropping by

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 8 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      So how do you get them back in the pen to keep them safe? I'm thinking you could train some herding rats to corral them.

      This is cool. I never thought that keeping chickens for eggs was such a straightforward business. I hope to have a place and the time to keep a herd of chickens some day. Thanks!

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