I cannot express just how excited I am to have finally committed to getting some chickens! It may sound odd but this is a bucket list item for me, and after the stress-storm that was 2019 we have resolved to work through that bucket ASAP. Carpe Chicken as it were…
We’ve finally started building our chicken run (as you can see from the panels behind me in the picture above), but it’s taken A LOT of research. So if you, like me, are desperate to get some featherbums in your life, here are the things (I’ve just learnt) that you need to consider before taking the plunge…
Location, Location, Location
Firstly, I’ve learnt that chickens will peck away at everything they have access to. So if you’re going to have chickens in your backyard Eden, you might want to invest in a run – or if you want a free-range approach, don’t be too precious!
Location will also affect the breed of chickens you’ll want. I was desperate for a Silkie, known for their cuddly, docile temperament, but unfortunately our muddy plot would play havoc with their fluff and leave her wet and cold. I’ve found that most good poultry farms will give you an overview of the conditions each breed requires and thrives in, so if in doubt you can always ask an expert.
Lions and Tigers and Bears
Before purchasing a coop and choosing a location consider the risk factors. Hopefully if you’ve gotten this far, you’re already aware that unfortunately, chickens are vulnerable to predators. Seagulls, badgers, rats, foxes, disease! Do a little research and try to figure out what things are likely to be the problems in your local area so you can put in preventative measures.
We know rats are a problem in our area so we’ll be meshing the bottom of our coop, purchasing a treadle feeder and raising the coop off the ground. We’ll also be popping a light net over the roof of our run to stop little birds bringing in disease. Finally, we’ll have a nice tarp to protect the girls from the weather!
TLC (Tender Loving Chickens)
From what I can see, chickens are relatively low maintenance. You’ll need 10 mins morning and evening to feed, tidy up and get your girls in and out of bed. You’ll need to do a deep clean once a week to reduce the risk of disease and infection. Keeping your coop as clean as possible every day will keep your chickens happy, healthy and reduce the things that will draw in scavengers.
I’ll keep you updated on this one, but the ongoing cost of chickens doesn’t look too bad – mainly a case of bedding and food. But I can tell you now, that the initial onset is a fair old chunk of change! We’ve bought a coop and all the bits and pieces along with it (food, treadle feeder, bedding, drinker, mite powder etc.) for about £250 all together. And because we’re out of old timber that would work, we’ve also spent an additional £250 getting the timber and mesh to build a custom chicken run. You can purchase second hand runs online more cheaply but we chose to make our own in order to give our girls the most space possible.
We’ll be getting our run and coop together this week, which I can’t wait to show you! Provided our marriage survives this DIY project we’ll keep you up to date on the in-practice realities of Chicken Parenthood and what works for us. In the meantime, I found this post from blogger ‘The Good Life Ain’t Easy’ – an absolute gold mine of info!