We are now proud owners of 6 chickens.
It hasn't been cheap setting up the chicken run and coup and gathering all the necessities to keep chickens but I have to say after only a week of having the girls grace us with their presence I can firmly say the expense has been worth while.
There is nothing more yummy than brand new still warm eggs in a morning for breakfast.
The girls are great they lay every day and we are starting to get a nice stock of eggs.
Our run is a large 10ft x 15ft fox proof enclosed run and our hen house is 8 ft in total with a run.
We did a lot of research before we embarked on our backyard chicken keeping journey.
We have learnt about the type of feed that is best for them, we have chosen pellets and supplement with some cracked corn, along with the grit to help them 'chew' their food. (although they do not chew as they have no teeth) and of course there are plenty of yummy bugs for them in the earth to forage on.
They have honored us with six eggs a day since they arrived, we are beginning to have quite a stash.
The kids have been keen even to the point of trying to physically give them an ash bath. I had to gently explain that ash baths are something that they do naturally themselves and we do not actually have to physically literally pick them up to give them an ash bath.
On our camping trip we saved a lot of the ash that we made whilst making our daily fires and have given the chickens a tray full of ash mixed with sand, this apparently keeps mites away and is a natural thing that the chickens like to do. We have purchased some diatomaceous earth which we are still waiting to arrive but when it does we will put some in their ash bath to help keep them nice and clean and put a little in their feed which apparently keeps them worm free.
The grass has completely disappeared now and I will start to introduce some more chipped bark into the enclosure to give them something interesting to forage in.
It has been great for the twins and me, I never even knew that chickens only produce one egg a day and it takes up to 20 hours to produce, we even learned how the chickens produce them through a you tube video.
I have picked a lot of handy tips up on keeping the chickens, including if the eggs are coming away from the nest dirty then there is a worm problem, so diatomaceous earth is a remedy and deterrent for this, and can also be used by humans as a parasite cleaner and useful around the home in deterring insects in the house. A very useful tip and also using lime in the chicken coop which historically was ordered and required by farm landowners for any farmer renting his land to wash the livestock walls with lime to keep infestations at bay at least once a year.
The girls are so pleasant and great fun to watch, they are easy to keep. Their nesting habits where a but of a surprise, I expected them to use the nesting box to lay eggs, instead they tend to poop in the nesting box removing all the straw and pushing it into what I assumed would be their pooping and perching area, they use the pooping and perching area as their nesting box and not much perching goes on in there....
Their nature is so gentle, they are curious and inquisitive and I expected them to be quite noisy but other than a noisy morning until about 12 when they lay their eggs you do not hear a peep out of them all afternoon.
The first few nights we had to physically put them into their coop but they seem to have settled down and make their own way there in the evening.
The kids take great pride in collecting the eggs and get quite excited when they see what we have been kindly given by the chickens, I am sure this will not last, but for now the kids are enjoying going in each day and spending time with the chickens in the garden.
All in all there is not an awful lot to keeping chickens, they are very easy to keep, the most important thing is to keep them cleaned out properly to avoid any infestations of mice and rats and unwanted smells or diseases and ensure they have clean food and water daily.
Even the illnesses that they can come down with are pretty straight forwards so it seems, but we will cross that bridge whenever it comes.
In addition to learning about the chickens we have started to learn about things like composting which we have started to do because of the spent chicken poop and bedding, so the world of chickens really has opened up our horizons and given us a new lease of life in the garden world, I expect this time next year we will be growing a few veg too.