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Advice please from the hen keepers
Sun 1-Sep-13
12:39 pm
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Sooliz
Somerset

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Well, as you now know, we're on the first rung of the ladder.  Obviously, we need to get the run constructed, the coop built (it's a flat pack) and located, then acquire all the necessary equipment and food, before we even think of chickens.

But we are thinking of them, of course, and that's where we need your help.....

Firstly, we've read that hens quite often stop laying through the winter.  With this in mind, is it worth getting the hens before this winter, or waiting until next Spring?  Perhaps I should mention that we want them as pets and for the eggs, not as table birds, and are thinking of having 3 or 4 hens to begin with (our Lease states we can have up to 6).

We've thought about ex-battery hens, we like the thought of giving these birds a loving gentle new home, and understand they're generally in good health, just a bit tired and possibly featherless.  There's a website this one which has quite a bit of info.  Have any of you had ex-battery hens, and would you recommend them?

Or do you think we should go for P.O.L. pullets?  Or mature hens?  And then there are all the breeds!  We have a couple of books which list the breeds, but do you experienced keepers have any ideas or favourites?  As I'm a bit of a wimp, I'd like docile friendly birds!

Perhaps you could also give us some idea of what we'd need in the way of, say, medications, as well as suitable foods.  The books say lots of things, but we feel they might be just listing everything and you seasoned keepers might not think all of it is necessary.....or maybe more things are required!

Thanking you in anticipation of what I know will be extremely helpful replies big_hug

learning to love veg…..except celery :-O

Mon 2-Sep-13
5:39 am
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Hattie
Bucks/Oxon Border

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wave Hi Sue,

Personally I would wait till early spring & buy point of lay hens. There is no point in having to traipse outside in foul cold & wet weather if you are not getting eggs anyway.  Buy from a reputable breeder (definitely not from a pet shop or a market as this is not a good idea for a beginner). I would buy a mixture of bantams & large breeds with good reputations for egg laying.

Delaying the start of your adventure will give you time to get your necessary equipment at reasonable prices & read up on the subject. You also won't have to feed them through the off-lay season, this costs a fair amount & seems to go up all the time...... I know you are working to a tight budget so look around for the best price. A large safe run is very important & that takes time to build. 

 

Lots of luck to you both......I am sure you will love having them.   big_hug   ok

 

"The beautiful is as useful as the useful...perhaps more so."

from Les Miserables

Mon 2-Sep-13
6:14 am
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Aly
Normandy France

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I started with Buff Orpingtons as they are docile and friendly. I can pick up my big cockerel with no problem.they are also generally good layers. Mine continue laying even with snow on the ground! As they are big the Orpingtons are also flightless. I agree with Hattie about waiting for Spring if you can. Every winter I clear snow for my chickens! A good sized run is invaluable for the days you are not around. We have a large full height one attached to the barn to give them plenty of room and also put a chicken wire roof on it to keep wild birds out. They will help themselves to the chicken feed as do the cats!
I buy a sack of corn and one of layers pellets every 6 weeks.This is given daily. I also give them scraps of bread, cheese, cooked pasta, cabbage, lettuce, courgettes and if they are under the weather, yogurt.
They mostly roam the back garden and forage but if I am away they stay in their safe area.
I love having them and will always keep them now. I cannot imagine buying eggs. At the moment the eggs are a bit thin on the ground but everyone says it is the same with them, I get enough for us and the baking which is all I am bothered about. I have 8 hens and two cockerels.

Trying to enjoy life as it is

http://www.letertregites.com

Tue 3-Sep-13
8:22 am
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Sooliz
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Thanks ladies, I think we will wait until spring.

learning to love veg…..except celery :-O

Tue 24-Sep-13
12:30 pm
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Sooliz
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Well, we're a few steps nearer.......husband has put together the coop and started building the run, he's done the two long sides so far.  We're going to a local chicken auction Saturday morning - just to have a look, we're not buying any!!

learning to love veg…..except celery :-O

Tue 24-Sep-13
2:39 pm
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danast
Argyll, Scotland

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wave  Are you quite sure you are not buying, Sue?   big_laugh    big_laugh     You will be so tempted!!

Old teachers never die, they just lose their class

Tue 24-Sep-13
3:02 pm
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Sooliz
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I know, Danuta.  Probably best if we don't take any money or cards with us big_laugh

learning to love veg…..except celery :-O

Tue 24-Sep-13
5:41 pm
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brightspark
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Mmmm - we'll wait and see, Sue !!  big_laugh    big_hug

"Work for a cause, not for applause
Live life to express, not to impress
Don't strive to make your presence noticed
Just make your absence felt"
Tue 24-Sep-13
5:57 pm
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Sooliz
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Oh yea of little faith........whistlebig_laugh

learning to love veg…..except celery :-O

Tue 24-Sep-13
8:04 pm
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brightspark
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big_laugh       big_laugh

"Work for a cause, not for applause
Live life to express, not to impress
Don't strive to make your presence noticed
Just make your absence felt"
Wed 25-Sep-13
6:18 am
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Aly
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Ummm, rather you than me! I would definitely come back with some extras.

Trying to enjoy life as it is

http://www.letertregites.com

Wed 25-Sep-13
8:42 am
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danast
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wave  Me too!  big_laugh

Old teachers never die, they just lose their class

Wed 25-Sep-13
8:46 am
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Xahha
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We did- New Lanark auctions, went to look, came back with a pair of ducks.

 Are we having fun yet? I am!

Wed 25-Sep-13
9:20 am
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Sooliz
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Now you're worrying me, perhaps it would be best for us not to go at all....I just wanted to see what it was like, what type of hens they have there and whether it would be worth us getting some (eventually!!!) from there.  We simply can't have any yet, the run is still to be completed, we have no feeders, food or any other equipment yet.  And I don't know if I'm ready for hens yet anyway......confused

learning to love veg…..except celery :-O

Wed 25-Sep-13
10:42 am
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Terrier
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Oh the number of times I've been to the auctions, just to look....never works

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