Keeping Pet Chickens


A Guide To Keeping Chickens At Home

Looking After Chickens

July 13th, 2010 at 18:25

Looking After Chickens At Home – Some Considerations

There are a few things you need to consider, before you dive into this great hobby of looking after chickens. First off I know you’re interested in getting some chickens in your garden, because you’re here, but what about the rest of the family? If your spouse or children aren’t particularly fond of them, it could mean you’re going to end up being the only one in the family looking after your hens.

looking after chickensBackyard chickens, admittedly don’t need a great deal of time spending on them, but you should allocate some daily time, for feeding and watering and of course egg collecting.

Then the weekly tasks of changing bedding, cleaning up leftover food to help prevent vermin and also checking your hens are in good health. Then there’s maintaining the henhouse and other occasional tasks. But if you’ve kept any other pets, you’ll understand your responsibilities.

The Cost of Looking After Chickens

If you’re planning on keeping chickens for profit, then you should consider reading up on chicken farming. Keeping pet chickens is really not about profits, it’s about the joy of chicken keeping. You will have some upfront costs to start off your hobby.

Whether you choose to build your own henhouse or purchase a ready made chicken coop there’s a price to be borne. On top of this there’s the poultry supplies, the birds themselves and of course the ongoing cost for food and maybe vets bills. So if you think you’re going to be getting free eggs, then think again!

Regulations For Keeping Chickens

Keeping chickens on your land is surprisingly straightforward, and provided you have less than 50 chickens there is no need to register them with any authority. (UK regs Defra)

More than 50 chickens are considered to be a commercial venture however, and must be registered on the GB Poultry Register – an initiative set up by DEFRA in 2005.

There are no UK nationwide restrictions to prevent you from keeping poultry, but some individual properties do have covenants which provide an obstacle. You’ll need to check the deeds of your property to find out if this applies to you.

Consult with your local council too, as they could have passed a by-law preventing anyone in your area from keeping livestock at their property.

Looking after chickens cockerelIf you’re also thinking about getting a cock or rooster, you may want to check out Noise Abatement regulations with your local council.

Then of course you don’t want to upset your neighbours.  Have a chat with them and explain your plans. Consider them when you are positioning your coop. It would be great to get them interested and hand out a few fresh eggs as they may be encouraged to ‘chicken sit’ when you’re off on holidays.

Try and find out if anyone in your local area keeps chickens and if they had to jump through any hoops before they started…

How Much Garden Space Do You Need For Chickens?

The idea of keeping pet chickens is wonderful, but not always so easy. To have chickens wandering in and out of your backdoor and eating all the slugs and pests in your garden does sound great, but some of their habits are less than welcome. Hens and bantams love to have ‘dust baths’ to keep themselves clean, but they’re not fussy where they take a bath. Usually it will be in your carefully tended seed beds or borders. You may also find they enjoy laying their eggs in the deepest parts of your shrubbery.

So for most chicken keepers, having a ‘fenced off area’ or a chicken run attached to the henhouse is the answer. I will explain more about housing, but a general rule of thumb is to provide 10 square feet for each hen in a coop, or if the hens have a run as well then 3 square feet per hen in the henhouse as long as they each have 10 square feet each in the run.

Well, hopefully I haven’t put you off, but I want you to have your eyes wide open when you start out. After all it’s the chickens who’d suffer a poor chicken keeper and we certainly don’t want that.

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3 Responses to “Looking After Chickens”

  1. Raising Chickens At Home - Help To Get You Started Says:

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  2. Tom & Cindy Says:

    Thanks for the information, luckily we are both looking forward to getting some pet chickens, so we can share the chores. We found your post very helpful especially the bit about Defra. Hope you put some more great info here for us. Tom and Cindy

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