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Chickens - keeping on allotments

 
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Paul



Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 05 12:01 pm    Post subject: Chickens - keeping on allotments  Reply with quote    

Hi, I've only just joined up with Downsizer and have only had my allotment for 3-4 months. I have always fancied keeping a few chickens and if the rules alter on the allotment I may have the chance of keeping some on my plot. I have read Treacodactyl's article and found it most useful and inspiring. I visit my plot daily (and would have to if I had chickens) but clearly I wouldn't be there all day and so would need to construct a run and incorporate thier 'house' within it. Do you have any suggestions as to whether this is feasible and assuming 3 chickens how big the run would need to be? Any other thoughts would be most welcome. Thanks

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 05 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

It is certainly feasible, Paul. If you use the right sort of feeders and waterers, you could leave them for a couple of days if you had to.
On an allotment, I would think that the integral house and run arrangement would definitely be best. The simplest form is the Toblerone-shaped ark (or the chicken tractor) which you could move around your plot - then they could dig over the beds, fertilise and pick out all the grubs and what have you. If you want a permanent run, then I would be looking at something larger - at least 8 x 4 feet, and double that if possible - otherwise you will eventually get a build-up of parasites in the run.
My main concern would be the possibility of foxes or other predators - the structure would need to be pretty stout if you have them in the area since you probably won't be locking them up at night and letting them out again first thing in the morning.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 05 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I think it would be quite possible and although the ideal would be to have them in your garden if you have one, so that it is easier to keep an eye out, many people do keep them on allotments - Gertie here for example, and I've read an article or two about it (you'll come to realise I say that about many things I'll see if I can dig it out and pass on anything useful I find in it).

They'll still be far better off than any battery hen and many "free range" ones. But give them as much room as you can manage, they will appreciate it all.

Like Judith says you will need to make sure the house is very very sturdy and I would consider either a wire floor or a sort of skirt of wire on the floor on the outside of the run, and of course make sure it is pegged down securely. A fox can dig quite a hole in a short space of time.

Another big consideration is water, without which they will suffer within hours. Ours often kick over the dispenser or get wood shavings in it, so it might be worth another post to see if anyone has bright ideas for reliable drinkers.

For locking up, you could get an automatic opener for the hatch, and visit at night to lock them up, leaving it to the auto thing to let them out in the morning, if you have to (or perhaps a fellow plotholder will do that for you?).

Finally what Judith said about a permanent run and build up, could your house design incorporate two runs side by side, to be used one at a time?

Do you think your allotment is planning a rule change then or is there a change of keeping them at home at all?

Mrs Fiddlesticks



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 05 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I can't really add a lot more to the others posts above. Our plot is only 5mins away but we chose to have the girls in the back garden. I felt happier having them where I could keep an eye on them and respond quickly to any change of weather, strange noises etc.

As to waters, yes they can be very careless with them. We have an automatic dispensing one and an old clean plastic bulb container, with the idea that if one gets kicked or muddied up there is an altenative, but I still had to replenish them in the recent hot weather.

In respect to the other plot holders your work to prevent Mr fox getting in will also stop your girls getting out. Some chickens free-ranging in the field next to our site made themselves very popular when they escaped and went for a wonderful afternoon's dining around the plots!

It will be very interesting to hear what Gertie has to say as she has direct experience of chickens on a plot

Gertie



Joined: 08 Jan 2005
Posts: 1638
Location: Yorkshire
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 05 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hi Paul -

Lundy (my hubby) and I have seven hens (ex-battery) who have been with us since mid March of this year.

We have had our allotment, which is located at the back of our house, since about February of this year.

Lundy started by drawing up some ideas for the hen house and building it in our garden - mainly because it was easier to use the power tools from his shed. We also built panels for the hen enclosure here and transported the lot round to the allotment. After siting the hen house we dug the footings for the panels (which go a good foot or so below ground) and these were screwed together. There is a pic of the hen house/enclosure on this post -

http://forum.downsizer.net/about2189.html

Having had everything up and running for a few months I would say that the only thing I would have changed is probably the size of the enclosure, it's enormous to what the girls were used to, but we would like to enlarge it in the future.

It's pretty rural where we are so foxes are a consideration - I'm down the allotment on a morning to let them out, feed and water them and then go on an evening to ensure they have feed and water in their house and put them to bed.

We just have free-standing drinkers and feeders, so sometimes on a morning there are wood shavings (or worse! ) in the water. We bought ours from Ascotts (www.ascott.biz) who I think are very reasonable.

If you want any further information at all, Paul, either post here or send me a PM.

pink bouncy



Joined: 14 May 2005
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 05 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I have two allotments, one for poultry, the other for growing veggies.
I divided my poultry allotment into four and keep laying hens in one section, growing chicks in the second, ducks in the third and the fourth is set up ready for a few turkeys.
The hen and duckhouses are built with reclaimed wood and corrugated fibreglass and the fencing is made using metal barriers (the type you might see erected around a building site) bought from a scrapyard. None of it is fancy or pretty but it's weather proof and solid and the girls have plenty of space.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 05 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hi Paul. How far away are you from the allotment and what size hens are you after? Our three are quite large and are in a home made ark which is about 7 foot long and 3 foot wide at the base. The sleeping end is about 3 foot long and the run 4 foot. The run has wire weld mesh on the top sides and the base so it's completely sealed against foxes. The hens have been left for more than 24 hours with two supplies of water, pellets in a bowl and some form of interesting veg like an apple or hung greens.

They seem perfectly happy but the more they are let out the more they want to be let out. However, I would say that no matter where the hens are foxes will be about so care needs to be taken when you're not around. Either fully enclosed as in an ark or with a run that's embedded deep into the soil would be the way to go. Also what are the people like in the area? I'd be worried that someone may take a liking to my hens but many people do keep them on allotments so some places seem fine.

pink bouncy



Joined: 14 May 2005
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 05 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Two legged foxes are worse than the four legged variety.
I have had hens stolen from there before so now I mark my chickens on the underside of the wing with my postcode and house number. Not only that, I make sure everyone knows I mark them.

Paul



Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 05 7:09 am    Post subject: Chickens on alloments Reply with quote    

To those of you who have replied with advise, pictures and links - my thanks.
Although I live on the edge of an estate the allotment is about a 15 minute walk through woods and fields - most plesant for me and the dog (Boogie - extremely greedy black labrador).
It was run by the local Borough Council but was taken over by the Parish Council in April of this year. Since then a representative from the Parish Council has wandered around the plots seeking views on how things can be improved. It was on one of these visits I mentioned the subject of keeping chickens. Aparently others had raised this question and it is to be put to the next meeting of the Council.
The allotment numbers around 200 plots and the whole site is fenced in - however I'm sure if there are any gaps, then with countryside all around a fox or two would find them. I would ensure that the structure was robust and its sides were dug well into the ground.
I was wondering what I would do in the winter months when by luck I was looking through the local paper and spotted a polytunnel for sale. Although I am a complete novice in veg growing I do know that a polytunnel or greenhouse will provide greater scope for growing all sorts of different things as well as extending the growing season. Having rang the number provided I jumped in the car and went to have a look and was suprised to see a 15' X 10' X 7' high polytunnel with a robust steel frame up for sale at only 45. Having snapped up my bargain I now just need some decent weather to allow me to put the thing up.
With luck we (me and Boogie) can now spend many happy hours pottering around in the polytunnel (looking forward to melons!) watching the chickens mooch about - assuming the Parish Council come up trumps.
Many thanks again - and if any of you have advice on growing in a polytunnel then that would be a great help.

Paul.

alison
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12908
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 05 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

An automatic drinker would be the way to go, if you have water on your plot. You don't want this to be turned off by another plot holder.

Either that or you could susspend the waterer, then there is less chance of spillage, or get a galvanised one, which is a lot heavier.

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