Keeping chickens in a back garden is very popular these days which is great because these lovely birds are real characters! This is one fashionable trend that is definitely worthwhile too because of the fresh eggs you get to pick up on a daily basis.
However, it's important to know how to look after your birds so they remain happy and healthy. Below are a few tips and some advice if you are thinking about keeping chickens and are new to the whole concept of doing so.
It may sound like a good idea to invest in an incubator and then hatch out the chicks yourself. However, it's not as easy as it sounds because a lot can go wrong which could lead to heartache and disappointment.
It's a much better idea to buy in some chicks making sure you contact a reputable breeder who is known for breeding healthy and strong birds no matter what breed they happen to be. The best time to get chicks is in the spring which is when breeders start their yearly hatchings.
Another option is to buy in some adult hens that are already laying, but you have to be careful not to get other people's unwanted birds which they want to get rid of for one reason or another! You need to make sure the hens are healthy and disease-free which includes checking them over for things like bumblefoot!
It is far better to choose hardier more robust breeds when you first start out keeping chickens. The more delicate breeds like Silkies are often much fancier looking but they tend to be harder to look after and they need more in the way of being cared for simply because they are less self sufficient than hardier breeds.
The ideal chicken coop is actually a converted garden shed. Sheds are large and easier to clean out which is crucial because hygiene is very important to your flock. You can walk in a shed and you can treat the wood more easily with mite powders and other necessary treatments to reduce the risk of your birds being infested with parasites.
Perches can be placed up high which all chickens like because the higher they are at night, the safer they feel they are away from predators. It is also that much easier to build a chicken run on to the front or the side of a garden shed which allows your birds can go outside when you are not at home without the fear of being taken by any predators!
The other advantage of converting a garden shed into a chicken coop is that you can fit it with electricity so that on the darker winter afternoons, you can still clean the shed out and your birds can be put under heat lamps if you want them to carry on laying for a while during the winter.
If possible it's a better idea to keep things as "green" as possible which means more affordable too! The way to do this is as follows:
You don't have to spend a fortune when you first start keeping chickens in a back garden. The biggest expense is the coop and the ideal chicken house is by far a converted garden shed. Letting your hens free range also helps keep your feed bill down, but it does not mean you don't have to give your birds either some mixed grain or layers pellets/mash on a daily basis. By following the tips and advice listed above, you'll soon find your feet when it comes to looking after your chickens and you will enjoy every minute of it!
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