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nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5888
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 05 12:31 am    Post subject: Preparing to be shot down in flames... Reply with quote
    

(Ducks for cover) ...can I possibly keep 2 or 3 chickens in an area 15' by 7'?? Have to confess I know absolutely bugger all about it (apart from having chickens when I was 10)! Would like to surround the whole area with a cage like contraption of sheep netting or similar - with chicken wire at the bottom 3-4 feet - that I can stand up in, and there is room for a henhouse tucked away in a little cranny that wouldn't reduce the roaming area (what size house would I need as a minimum??) Am I mad or is this possible?

Please help, and don't laugh

neilk



Joined: 24 Nov 2004
Posts: 241

PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 05 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

I only laughed at "ducks for cover".

Chickens for eggs.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25726
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 05 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

This is an interesting question as it's often something I think about with our hens.

Yes, it would be perfect if we owned a large farm and they roamed around all day and didn't get attacked by anything. However...

Our three large birds spend a fair bit of time in a home made ark, 9 x 3 foot. This is larger than many arks that are sold and has less birds than similar arks. I keep it cleaned out and the hens do get let out as often as possible, but they seem contented as they seem to settle into a routine. In actual fact the longer they stay in the ark the less they want to come out.

15 x 7 would seem fine, even for a few more. Especially a taller enclosure as you suggest as the birds do like to stretch their wings. The house size will depend on the size and number of birds, but they don't need too much space. I can dig up some details if you wish.

Make sure that the netting at the top is small enough to stop the birds from squeezing out of as they do seem to be able to get through small spaces. Also a fox may be able to push its head in.

I'm not sure of official densities for barn chickens etc but they seem largely meaningless as chickens will often not actually leave the barn so even a small ark may give them more real space and be more 'ethical'.

I would say to new keepers, have you thought what you will do when they get older and either lay less or stop. Our are at this stage (4 years) but they are pets now so are safe from the pot.

You may well be mad but it's not to do with the chickens.

Lindsay



Joined: 03 Nov 2004
Posts: 61
Location: Stuck in the suburbs
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 05 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

The official stocking densities for the RSPCA freedom foods standard for free range chickens is 109 square feet per bird. 15 x 7 is 105 sq ft.

The minimum recommended areas for birds is 4 sq ft, according to Storey's guide. I would use as much space as possible. If you had 4 or 5 birds in that 15 x 7 space I would think that's good.

When my garden has been cleared I shall be building a "permanent" aviary, of about 6 feet in height and somewhere around 15 x 10 feet, with a covered roof. It's going to house my breeding flock but I haven't decided how many birds I'm going to keep in there yet.

At the moment I have 4 birds in a run (4.5 x 3 ft), which is rather small but I move it about the garden frequently. House size guidelines are 1 square foot per bird. You mustn't have smaller because of lack of ventilation, and you don't want too much larger because the birds won't be able to keep warm. My house is 3 x 2 and has in it the 4 birds mentioned above. Also if you don't want to reduce the amount of floor space you can build a house on legs, and make a ramp to go up to the door. Chickens will soon get used to it.

Hope that helps, let us know if you've got any other questions.

nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5888
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 05 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Thank you folks. I only plan on having two or three birds (is it better to have three?) The space for the henhouse is about 4'x3', so it looks OK....

Mrs Fiddlesticks



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 05 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

our 3 live in a purpose built hen house (2ft x 3ft ish) with a 6ft x 2ft (2ft high) run attached. Its supposed to be suitable for 6 birds but I think that would be a squash. The owner of the sawmill we got it from is a chicken breeder himself so we reckon he knows what he's built. Ours are hybrid chickens, medium sized I guess.

percypony



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 146
Location: Hants
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 05 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Hi Nettie (sarahlou from the IHDG here thanks to your recommendation!!!)
I have seven bantams and three large Wyandottes in about 12 x 12 and they all get along just fine. The only thing we have found is that the ground gets churned up (as they scratch and dig so much!) and we have to replace the woodchip fairly regularly.
We have used anticlimb builders panels (you know the ones they have around sites etc) strapped together and a roof placed over the top. There is also a strip of chicken wire on the ground around the panels so foxy can't dig in! They have their houses inside and therefore put themselves to bed and get up when they want!
I have various logs and branches in there for them to stand and and do their thing with and they are all quite content.
I know this is not ideal but in an ideal world I would have some sort of foxy proof fencing round my whole property! Then I would only worry about the owls and buzzards!!! LOL! It is not the prettiest of constructions but it is in the horses field and they haven't placed any objections as yet!
Sarah x

nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5888
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 05 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Sarahlou.....the penny drops!!! Hi! Sounds like your chickens have got a good little hotel there...I really do think it's feasible for me to give it a go.

I plan to put hay down on the ground when it gets muddy, so it reseeds the area, plus it will give me something to do with all the floor sweepings from the hay barn

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25726
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 05 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Be careful of using hay as chickens may eat it and find it hard to digest resulting in crop binding. Wood chips are best, course straw a possibility. Ours tend to eat the fine barley straw so I've stopped using that after a sick hen.

nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5888
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 05 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Thanks Treacy. I have an endless supply of wheat straw too so would that be OK?

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25726
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 05 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Some people would say no for the sleeping quarters as it will contain dust, but that's what's been used for many years. I now only use dust extracted wood shavings, 6 for a large bale that lasts ages. For out side I would use straw if it's course, if my hens start eating it I'd change to wood chips.

I'd be interested to see what other people use.

alison
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12918
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 05 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

We use chopped straw in the barn with wood shavings in the nest boxes, and only use hay if it is raining hard and more straw needs chopping

nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5888
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 05 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

OK, so: what sort should I get? (We had Rhode Island reds when I was a nipper), Should I get two or three? How much should I feed them? How much grit should they have? Should I leave feed in the henhouse overnight? How often should they be cleaned out? What other routine stuff should I do? Should their beaks be clipped (they were when I was a kid)??

And can you point me in the direction of a good book if i am bugging the life out of you???

Thanks!!

alison
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12918
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 05 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Have a look at any book by katie Thear or Victoria robers as a good start. katie does Starting with chickens.

Grits, just leave them out for free food.
Everyone has different ideas about feeding, but we suspend the food in the house, so no rdent problem and no wild bird eating, not to be mean to wild birds, but to save cross contamination.

we feed wild birds elsewhere.

There is no need to clip the beaks, and the beak helps them pick up food and preen.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25726
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 05 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

alison wrote:
Have a look at any book by katie Thear or Victoria robers as a good start. katie does Starting with chickens.


Out of our books Katier Thear's 'Starting With Chickens' for 6.96 looks the best. Not got any be Victoria Roberts yet but I would NOT hesitate.

Last edited by Treacodactyl on Tue Jan 11, 05 7:11 am; edited 1 time in total

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