I have now been the keeper of hens for three whole months now. Still the novice in many ways I have found thus far that looking after the girls is relatively easy.
Its true, I now get up a good hour earlier than I used to which is no bad thing. I also enjoy the extra bit of me time first thing in the morning. What I have been doing with this time will be revealed in a later post.
The hens require little in the way of day to day care. I let them out in the morning put down their food and water, and clear up the poop in their house and add it to the compost heap. I do a monthly deep clean of the coop. So far this has worked well and no sight of any redmite.
After three weeks of letting them completely roam on the top level of our garden, they had literally eaten every plant in site (we ended up moving all our potted veg to different areas of the garden) and the poop situation was not good for us wanting to pootle about, so Him Outdoors made some very basic fencing for them and they have their own area. So that was learning curve number 1. Give them their own area and do not let them loose in your garden if you have plants you care about! The girls are happy in their area and only fly over onto the patio I have learned, if they want something (like food). It all works pretty well really and we are all content in the new living areas!
Learning curve number 2 has been to do with their food & drink containers so far. I know, not that difficult right? I’m sure the time will come when things are far more challenging. I found with the food & drink containers I bought (bog standard red and white plastic ones); the water was being spilt quickly and the food container would become clogged up with bark chippings as the girls weirdly scratched the chippings into it. I gave up on the food container I had bought and just used an old plastic bowl for a while which was better and then as luck would have it and email dropped in my inbox from Wells Poultry asking if I would like to try any of their accessories!
We discussed the issues I was having and I was sent a new drinker which has little feet on it and a feeder that actually is attached onto the side of the run. The drinker I started using immediately and have found it to be preferrable by a mile to the bog standard plastic drinkers you can get. Those little feet make a difference!
The feeder took a while to set up because I had to wait on Him Outdoors to fix it onto the run for me since you do have to cut away some of the wire which is something I was nervous about. It has been in situ now for a couple of weeks and I see pros and cons to it.
The pro’s are it is fixed up on the run thereby freeing up floor space. The girls can’t scratch bark into it.
The cons are that it is not so easily cleaned, requiring to be unclipped from the run, leaving the gaping hole there for a little while. For some reason on first use of it Cybil (the brown one) was scattering the pellets all over the place so things got messy very quickly. Wells Poultry asked if I mix corn in with the pellets as in their experience this is why chickens root around in the feed. My answer is I don’t mix corn into their feed and give them a little bit of that seperately before bed time so why she has been doing it we don’t know! I will say she is doing it less now she is used to the feeder though. I am also weary of leaving feed in the run at night as I don’t want to attract rats (though to be fair the amount of cats around here seem to be killing off the rodent population pretty well). In practice, I have left food in it overnight and there has not been any signs of the little critters yet. As we go into winter though I suspect this may change.
Wells Poultry have a great selection of well, everything poultry related really. I dream of owning one of their big coops and walk in runs one day.
I am really enjoying being a keeper of hens. They are great fun and have such a range of noises. It’s great to go out and collect the eggs each day. I give them treats of dandelion leaves daily too which they get very excited about. If you’re wondering about keeping chickens, I would say go for it but do your research first! The set up costs aren’t cheap but they are so rewarding to keep.