Very quickly some of our mistakes began to show. Our coop and run was purchased for us, and the run especially was obviously inadequate, both in size and design. Having to bend down and lean into the attached run to place the food and water was not ideal and the small size left very little room for our girls to exercise or scratch about on the short lived grass. The house although sufficient for the time being wasn’t designed to be easy to clean, and we had our doubts about its suitability.
The first time we fell soft and bought in some fertilized eggs from the Internet, which our Silkie happily sat on raising us four out of the six adorable Rhode Island Red chickens. Not long into the process another of our Silkie’s decided she wanted to be broody, and with an order of five commercial hybrid hens already complete to prop up egg numbers, we didn’t have the room, nor were we ready for another brood of chicks. We decided that this time we would have to curb her from being broody, promising to give her a chance at raising her own chicks at some point in the future. It was a simple enough process, but on which we didn’t look forward to. The idea is to confine the broody hen away from nesting materials and after a short period, which has so far not lasted longer than three days and nights she snaps out of her broodiness and is undistinguishable from the rest of the flock, happily foraging about rather than being sat in the nest box all day.
It truly is a wonderful experience raising chickens, but there are some bumps in the road that it helps to be aware of before you begin. Chickens come in a wide variety of sizes, and may lay an average of one egg per week or six, it’s important to consider what you want out of your chickens and to select a breed that is appropriate for your needs. After breed selection you need to make sure you have all of the supplies you need to take care of them, they’ll need a coop, which is their house, and will use it for shelter during storms if you don’t have a separate shelter. Unless you have a secure garden where you can let them run around all the time, you’ll need an enclosed run to keep them safe from predators and to give you peace of mind whilst you’re not home. Laying hens require a laying pellet or mash, and a supply of grit to aide digestion and to give them a calcium boost to help them form strong egg shells. All of these supplies are readily available. If in doubt consult the many resources on chicken keeping online, such as Poultry Keeper UK.
It’s not expensive to look after chickens, but buying the coop and setting up a protected run can add up, you also need to be aware of how many additional treats you are supplying your hens, all of those cabbages and bought in snacks you can buying for them soon increase your costs.