Saturday, 16 April 2011

Top Ten Questions For Keeping Chickens

1) Are the hens noisy?

This is the question I get asked the most. A lot of people associate the crowing of a cock with regular hens but it is only the male that will wake you up at 5am not the females...Yes, yes I know how rude that sentence sounds! My hens do cluck a lot especially while they are laying their eggs or having a bit of a bitch at each other but I wouldn't describe it as an unpleasant noise.

My neighbour commented the other day that the hens were really clucking their hearts out while he was working on his garden. I apologised and said I hope it didn't disturb him "Quite the contrary" He replied "I quite like their clucking!" Phew, I felt relieved as I wouldn't want them to piss my neighbours off.

2) What do chickens live in?

Well, Hens aren't really fussy as long as their housing is dry, draught proof and has a comfy spot to nest then they are happy. Their house can vary in size from an old shed to something on a smaller scale like the egglo (below), However these are pricey so even a large rabbit hutch would be fine. They will need a run as they enjoy potterng about in the sunshine and scratching in the dirt for worms and grubs. You can see the house that Papa built for our ladies by clicking here. It was completely FREE because he made it from from recycled wood pallets.

3) What do chickens eat?

When you first begin to look into keeping chickens whats best to feed them can be a little overwhelming People feed their chickens anything really from mash, pellets, grit, corn, spice and vinegar.
The bulk of their diet is made up of pellets. We get ours from a local farm shop for £6 for a 20kg sack, this lasts us between 3 & 4 weeks. We also chuck in a handful of corn everyday which they love and certain veggies they enjoy too.

In the year we have kept chickens we have not needed to feed them grit, however if their egg shells are a little soft then grit will harden them up. Grit is made up of crushed flint and oyster shells and is a good source of calcium.
A drop of apple cider vinegar in their water prevents algae growing in their water feeders and is also a great de-wormer.
Also as a treat I feed them the odd worm. There isn't anything much funnier than watching the chickens getting excited over a worm.

4) Do I need special permission to keep chickens?

Providing you only want to keep a small number of chickens then you should not need any special permission. If by a very slim chance that their happens to be a restrictive clause in your house deeds or tenancy agreement that specifically prohibits the keeping of poultry, it may not be binding if the person who inserted it is no longer alive.
Keeping flocks of 50 plus you would need to register with DEFRA. (Thanks to @chickenstreet for the correct info :-)

Cockerels are a bit different as they do produce considerably more noise than hens so you may like to consider the impact on your neighbours, not everyone will appreciate being woken by the sound of a cockerel crowing. So please get the thumbs up from them first before bringing a cockerel home to roost.

5) Talking of cockerels do the hens need a male to produce eggs?

No, hens lay infertile eggs for us to eat. Having a cockerel will help produce chicks.

6) How many eggs do they lay?

It does depend on age and breed, as they get older they lay fewer eggs. I have seven ex battery hens and we collect between 3 & 5 per day during the warmer months. In the winter their egg production comes to a bit of a stand still, however we do still get the odd one or two.

7) How are they with kids?

They are brilliant pets to have around kids. They are friendly animals and love the attention they get from children fussing around them and kids are thrilled by their egg production. They peck a bit but it really doesn't hurt at all, although they should keep their faces away from pecking beaks. Chickens are a great way for our kids to connect and participate in food production.

8) What about Mr Fox?

We get a lot of foxes in our area and most days I see them laying on my neighbours shed roof eyeing up my ladies.They have even been bold enough to come right up to the chicken run in the middle of the afternoon, with my back door wide open and my bouncy boxer dog wandering in and out. They cant get to our chickens as we don't let them freely roam the garden mainly because I'm more worried about the dog getting at them before the foxes. We have built cages under ground surrounding our pen to stop foxes digging under and we purposely built our coop on legs for added protection. Touch wood, we have been luck so far with no fatalities to report.

9) Do chickens smell?

To be honest the only time I ever notice a slight wiff is when it is approaching mucking out time and the weather is hot. It is not a nasty smell though and disappears as soon as their coop is all nicely cleaned out.

10) I'd love to keep chickens but I have a tiny urban garden, can I still keep them?

As I mentioned before chickens really do not need a massive amount of space and even if you only have a tiny back yard you could still house a couple of chickens. Not convinced then check out this cute video


  1. Thanks Gini...learnt a few tips from you this past year. Great pets aren't they, I adore them xxx

  2. Aw, this is really lovely. I know I've said before I'd love to keep chickens. Can I come and live with you? x

  3. Great advice, we've been looking into getting some chooks, got some preperation work to do, but this kind of info from people actually keep them is very helpful.

  4. Hahaha SAHM - Your always welcome
    And Techno - mole - I'm glad you found this useful. Once you have all their equipment sorted they are very easy animals to keep.

  5. The kids are looking forward to having some chickens running about, the space we are using for their main house is where our pond used to be, the kids loved the fish, but chickens are a little more interactive :-)

  6. Oh yes the kids will love the chickens and the eggs...Yum! I look forward to seeing your blog posts when you get them.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...