Folksy Ltd

Advice on keeping chickens

(Donna) #1

We have decided to keep chickens, only a couple for the eggs and was wondering if anyone had any advice. They are going to be free range and have a good open space to run around in, but will they need some sort of supplement? I have heard that oyster shell is good for forming egg shell, but is there anything else?
Any tips about any part of poultry keeping would be very welcome :smile:
Donna x

(Elaine) #2

Morning Donna, you’ll love keeping chickens, they are such fun to watch and each will have its own very funny personality. We’ve been keeping chickens for about 6 years now and have found that they do very well on a mixed feed (ours is a very general one for garden poultry I believe) that has grain, peas, corn and crushed shells all included. I read that baking the empty egg shells in the oven and then crushing them to give to the chickens mixed with their grain is a good extra source of calcium to help produce good strong eggs, but we found they left them! If they are roaming, they’ll also get plenty of food from worms, insects and even tips of the grass.

If you’re purchasing the chickens now, you may find they take a little time to lay as egg production usually slows right down in the winter months (although we found it started to pick up again in February). Try and retrieve the eggs daily or you may find they start to peck at them and eat them and then, of course, they’ll get a liking for the yolks! If you find they stop laying for days/weeks on end, your best bet is they’ve found a cosy secret place someone else to lay them - the hunt will be on!!

Good luck - they are easy to look after and lovely to keep. Post a pic when you’ve got them.


(Donna) #3

Thank you :smile: I’m really exited about getting them and I’ll definitely post some pics lol I’ll try baking the egg shells to see if they like them.

(Roz) #4

We kept chickens for many years and they pretty much looked after themselves as they were free roaming in the garden - they even used to put themselves to bed at night!

The only tips I can offer are
Be careful about where you keep/scatter their grain - it can attract rats!
If you like a nice tidy, pretty garden keep them fenced off in a separate area - they will wreck it!
If you think they have stopped laying - do a good search of the garden they may well have found a nice cosy bush to lay under - we often found egg stashes in the unlikeliest of places!
Avoid leaving your door open on sunny days or you will get visitors in the house, they really are very nosy.
Enjoy them - they are such fun and really do have their own personality.


(Liz Dyson) #5

I kept chickens for a few years and loved it. At first they had the complete run of the back garden, but I couldn’t put up with the copious amounts of poo that was all over the patio so I had to fence them off in the end. They loved cabbage and I used to hang it up in their enclosure just a little out of reach so they had to jump to get it which gave them extra exercise, but unfortunately gave them extremely stinky poos, so I had to knock that on the head too (my, then, husband was not at all on the chicken bad wagon.) I fed them layers pellets, veg scraps from the kitchen (NO meat), a little corn in the evening and they also had a bowl of grit (shells) to peck at - though they never seemed to. I bought them a covered dust bath and filled it with diatomaceous earth (is that spelled right?) which they loved and kept them bug free, but they were constantly plagued by leg mites, which, no matter how much vaseline I smeared on, never seemed to properly go. But honestly, you’ll have lots of fun.

(Donna) #6

I’m really exited now lol They’ll have their own patch of garden, well away from my pretty lawn and flowers and well away from the fruit and veg patch. It’s pretty much overgrown up there so I’m hoping they’ll have great fun scratching about up there. I hadn’t thought about a dust bath for mites and so on, I’ll look into that. I’m sure OH can construct something for me lol

(Helen Murphy) #7

Chickens are great fun. Our three, Yvette, Abigail and Beatrix are crazy about lettuce! Enjoy :smile:

(Roz) #8

Oh and spaghetti - they love pasta and feeding them spaghetti is great fun especially when 2 get opposite ends of it - bit like the scene in lady and the tramp!

(Sonia Adam) #9

It’s great fun naming them too - one of my brother’s chickens is called Princess Layer (get it? Yes, he’s a Star Wars fan!)

(Julia K Walton) #10

Donna - I hope you enjoy your chickens. We have four (including a cockerel, Monty). We lost one of our ten year olds in the Autumn :o(

I wrote a blog article when we got our first two, which you might find useful:-

Best Wishes


(Amberlilly) #11

We have 2 left from 4 ex batts, ATM they are allowed free range as its Winter. They love their morning porridge, sometimes warm and sometimes raw. I give them a small tray of cat food foil as this was recommended when they arrived with no feathers. Mine aren’t keen on greens! Lol! Funnily enough, we still have a slug and snail problem!!
Their names are Ginger and Saffron. My spice girls, the 2 we lost were Nutmeg and Masala.

(Amberlilly) #12

Lol! This is so true @Rozcraftz, we found 13 eggs last Autumn in a difficult to get to place! Now she’s moved to another awkward area where there are 5! :grin:

(Take2 Bottles) #13

Loved keeping chickens and hoping to get more when we move. Over the years we noticed that keeping the house under a tree made mite problems worse. No matter how much land you give them though they will always head for the nearest flower bed (usually the neighbours!) Enjoy your new friends :slight_smile:

(Amanda Robins) #14

I’ve kept hens for around 10 years. We have foxes around the garden so I have them in a free range enclosed pen that is very secure. I lost all 4 of my first lot to a fox but I reckon dogs are more of a threat. Just having a wandering dog come into the garden barking at them will cause them to be ill or worse from the stress. I have two ex-battery hens at the moment but will probs introduce a couple more in the summer.

(Amanda Robins) #15

Be prepared for random deaths! Just had one of mine die this afternoon so am down to one lonely chook. Hens are not happy as singletons so I’m going to have to find a couple more to join her.

(Rachel) #16

Donna, having chooks is ace, I have three and they are super. They keep a family of 4 in eggs and eat all the left overs. We are veggie so we dont have cross contamination of meat. Mine love their warm porridge in a morning and make a soft cooing noise - like a cat purring but a hen.

(Louise Foot) #17

A friend of mine had several rehomed (battery) chickens & the change in them once they received a good home was amazing. She then advertised locally for unwanted ones & ended up with loads. Luckily she has the space & devotion. They are funny - one follows her round like a lost puppy. I hope you enjoy them