Buying chicks/chickens. If you are thinking about buying yourself some chickens the first thing you need to decide is whether you are buying chicks or chickens, there are pro's and con's of buying either first which will be stated further in the review. There are 2 main places that I know where to buy both chicks and ... chickens, if you live in the North East Lincolnshire area there is Lindsay Concrete which is located Wilton Road Humberston, Grimsby, DN36 4AW. Telephone: 01472 210 001. The chickens here can range between £15 - £40. There as far as I am aware they sell full or almost full sized chickens, the place where me and my family bought ours was at Briggs animal market. This is an auction which is early morning until mid day on a Thursday every week. Here you will have all kinds of birds for sale including lots of chickens, cockerels, ducks, bunny rabbits and lots more. Here you buy lots of chicks, you'll look around the lots first then bid afterwards, you can buy lots of 10 chicks sometimes which will be mixed breed or a specific breed, if they're specific breeds you'll usually have less in a box but they are more expensive, these chicks and chickens can go for any money such as 50p for 10 chicks or £15 for 1 chicken.
Pro's/Con's of starting off with Chickens.
There are a few advantages to started off with full sized or almost full sized chickens and this is they will be ready soon or are already laying eggs which is the reason why you get an average person owning chickens these days. Another advantage is you can identify the breed easily and you know that these are all female chickens and you haven't got cockerels lurking around without even knowing it. However there are disadvantages, if you buy adult chickens they won't be tame, this means they'll be scared of you if you go close most of the time of course they'll settle in eventually but they don't seem to be as friendly, also they might not like their surroundings.
Pro's/Con's of starting off with Chicks
The advantages of starting off with Chicks are that they are a lot cheaper as you can pick these up for pence rather than pounds. Also you can tame these very easily because they're so young, it's just like training a puppy. However there are a lot of disadvantages and they are that you have to feed these for months without them producing anything so they are like expensive pets. Also these are tiny and can escape through normal sized chicken wire, so if you've built your coop with this, they will keep escaping as I know this from experience.
Sexing your Chicks.
When you buy a set of chicks whether it's from an auction or a farmer or anywhere really I can guarantee you'll have a few cockerels in your set which you need to sort out and send back because these will only keep fertilizing the chicken's eggs. Sometimes you'll be able to sort these out really early on, if you pick up a chick and lift up its wing, if it is a cockerel it will have a smaller row of secondary feathers under its wing where as chickens only have the one layer of wing feathers.
Breeds of chickens.
Like a lot of animals you will have mixed breeds and pedigree type chickens and show bird chickens. You can find all the standardised chicken breeds on this website http://poultrykeeper.com/chicken-breeds.html This will help you to identify what breed of chickens and chicks you have, so if you ever do sell these on it would be helpful to know what they are. This was really helpful to identify our birds, I know for sure we have some half breeds too such as half silkie birds and used to have a full silkie chicken.
Spot the cockrel
As your pets are now growing up you'll notice that you've missed a few cockerels, these look and act exactly the same until they are older so it is impossible to know as they're growing up. There are several signs that will show you have a cockerel.
1)If you see your "chickens" squaring up to each other trying to make themselves look bigger by sticking out their chests and feathers trying to look bigger.
2)These will start making weird noises, it will start to sound like a choking noise at first but will then start to take shape into a cock-adoodle-doo.
We have had so far around about 8 cockerels and we waited until all the chickens had grown up a bit before doing anything about it, what we did is we went them back to the animal market to be auctioned off again, if yours do end up being cockerels these will make their noise all day and especially all night, this woke me up at all kinds of the morning. So of course you have to be considerate of your neighboughs because it will also be waking them up.
Housing your new pets.
Of course you want your new chickens to have a such freedom as you can give them and plenty of space to move around. You can buy chickens coops ready made up, you can buy different styles if you type it into google images lots of quite cool designs will come up. We decided we wanted a lot of pet chickens so my dad being a handy person decided to build one. He built basically a shed with an A-pex roof also we put in 2 big windows to let in enough light for them. We then have the basic human door, with a cut out bit at the bottom big enough for a large chicken to get in and out, this does has a flat propped up open so at night we can shut them in saftly. Inside their house you need to give them egg laying boxes they will only sit on these when hatching an egg, on the side of the house my dad created a sticking out bit with two lids, this allows us to lift these up and get the eggs without having to go inside the hut. Inside your going to want to give them a few things to perch on, we had an old shelving unit we put in there and they love it also you'll want to place straw or some type of similar bedding. The birds do huddle together when they sleep but it will just make them more comfortable.
Next we have the run, you can buy these with the coops anyway but again we made out own, making the frame out of sturdy wood we bought the average chicken wire with the big holes (of course we started off with small chicks so they kept running through it) so if you do start off with chicks make sure you get the small holed chicken wire. Our run is the same size as a shed but turned around so the whole thing is an L shape. In here we put down Bark for the summer, but once winter came we've had to play slabs over the top because it got all mushy with the rain and their mess but we'll be back to bark in the summer. In the run we have several large tree trunks with los of places they can stand on it, and in the corners we have bits of wood so they can perch.
Cleaning out the chickens.
Like all pets these are very messy, we fully clean out our chickens once a week and thats by purring them in the run and hosing down the coop and putting fresh bedding down we also put fresh bedding down mid week) we then just swill the run down as well but every couple of months you'll want to change the bark or whatever you have down in the run because it will be messy and smelly and your pets deserve the best clean bedding and flooring all the time.
Problem with foxes?
You will undoubtedly attract more foxes than usual so it is a must that you either have the coop it self off the floor and securely locked all around or that if it is on the floor the foundations are deep, our coop has thick concrete slabs on their side underneath and around the coop, so if foxes do try and dig, they're only going to get to the concrete, again in the run the bark is laid on concrete so again they will only dig to there because they can't get through. There isn't really anything you can do to keep them away but we like to put our leftover food outside so the foxes eat that and so far it's worked for them not to sit outside our coop.
Feeding your chickens.
Of course chickens love things like corn this does include sweet corn and other vegetables with you can try them on. But you can buy the large 1K sacks of food pellets which is what everyone I know uses this is around £10 a bag and depending on how many chickens you have, this can either last a long time or not, we go through a bag every week, they also love grass seed, I live next to lots of farmer fields, so in the summer although I shouldn't I do go for a cheeky walk and just grab a couple of handful of their barley and whatever else because they love it, we do buy boxes of grass seed to feed them because they go nuts for it. To help keep your chickens healthy, buy a tub of meal worms as well these will last you ages. A lot of people don't do this but my garden is a third of an acre so we have plenty of space, we let the chickens as well as the ducks out for an hour or two depending on the weather into the garden. You do have to sit out there and watch them (this will stop foxes coming in your garden) but in doing this the chickens will peck at the ground and eat bugs, slugs, worms and allsorts saving you your pellets for later on.
Free range freedom fling chickens.
Your chickens are of course free range chickens, they should be take care of properly and bought up happy, these need plenty of room to run around and that's why we let these out in the garden but other people don't have the time or space for this but it doesn't matter as long as you have a big enough run then it's fine. Believe it or not CHICKENS DO FLY, well it's more of a glide, but they glide really far and hide considering it's something they don't do, they don't fly away and if you do let them into the garden you can train them to go back into the coop on their own rather than running all over the place, because if you start chasing after them they'll get scared.
Unhappy chickens means unhappy eggs.
If your chickens are scared or stressed, you have a big problem that needs sorting straight away, there are signs of this.
1) They start distancing themselves from the rest of the birds
2) They start plucking their own feathers out.
This is something you want to avoid at all costs because it could mean saving their life, to avoid this you need to keep them calm and this can be done by simply holding the chickens and comforting them, like all animals they love this, because we tamed our chickens from babies ours are really friendly and will jump on you and sit on your shoulder and even come in the house if we're not looking. Also you need to make sure these are locked up at night so the foxes won't keep the chickens on edge. You chickens won't lay eggs if they are stressed or unhappy.
When they do lay eggs, at first they will be weird and jelly without a real egg shell, but it doesn't take long for them to take a proper egg form and will be small at first but as they become more used to it they will get bigger, the eggs are so tasty, the yoke is a vibrant orange unlike normal eggs where it's all wishy washy colours, although it will get to the point where you're getting 8-12 eggs a day it is a little overwhelming so we sell ours to people we know. You'll find that this doesn't pay off however, we sell half a dozen for £1 and since August until now we've only accumulated £75 in egg money.
Overall, chickens can be hard to handle if you don't have the time to take care of them, they don't need any specific attention but they do need feeding often and always cleaning out and of course if you can tame them so they're friendly then that's a bonus. They are very quirky and each one has its own personality, when we first bought ours we used to sit around for hours at a time messing around and watching them without even knowing how long we'd been there. I'd say that these are definitely an animal for an older person to take care of because they'll have more time on their hands compared to someone like me. These don't pay off, you can't sell their eggs so that they pay for themselves unless you have a lot of chickens but that doesn't matter because they're brilliant animals and one's I'd recommend for anyone to get.
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Budgies Budgies are colourful and friendly little birds. They can be kept alone or in groups. Personally I have 4 budgies and they are all in one cage together. I feel that as I am not at home all day, everyday, it is nice for the budgies to have some company and they can often be seen grooming each other. For someone who is at home ... a lot, keeping a budgie alone would be excellent as you can tame it, and even teach it to talk.
Do budgies make good pets?
Budgies are generally very social, gentle and affectionate in nature. These loving companions interact well with most members of the family. Budgies are inquisitive, active, free spirits who enjoy flying, playing and chewing!! Non-toxic pet-safe toys (which can be bought as most pet shops for between £1 - £5) should be provided for your budgie's entertainment. Although their voice is not as clear as some of the larger parrots, budgies have the ability to learn to talk. Talking or mimicking requires some effort and training from the owner though. Males seem to talk better than females although both are capable. One lovely trait of a budgie is its cheerful whistling and chatter, my own budgies sometime drown out the sound of the TV in the evenings. Budgies can be finger trained and some even being stroked.
Cost of a Budgie
I got all my budgies froma friend who bred them so mine were free. However, you would look to pay anything from £5 (from a private breeder) and up to £30 from a pet shop
Choosing a Budgie
When selecting a Budgie, try to choose a young bird as it may be easier to tame and train. Older birds may be slightly more difficult to tame so if you intend on interacting with your bird on a daily basis, I would buy the bird at a young age. Hand reared babies often make better pets since they have been completely socialized with humans from birth. Young birds are easier to tame and adapt very well to new environments. Your new bird should be exposed early to different events (males and female voices, sounds of traffic, the TV etc.) to help make your Budgie a calm, well adjusted pet. You should choose a budgie that is alert, lively and not too nervous. After buying your Budgie, you should really take it to your vet so they are able to have a look at it and make sure everything is as it should be.
How long to Budgies live?
Budgie's can live to about 8 years of age although I had a budgie when I was younger that lived until he was 11.
A simple rule is - get the biggest cage you can afford. The minimum cage size for 1 bird is 30 cm x 30 cm x 60, most available cages are too small. The cage should be large enough to allow the birds to fly between perches. It is better for the cage to be longer than it is higher to allow flying.
Place the perches as far apart as possible to allow flying between them, and use the branches of native trees so that the bird's feet are exercised as it grips perches of differing thickness. I often cut apple tree branches from my parents apple trees as this is perfectly safe for the budgies to chew and it very good and keeping the birds beak nice and short. Toys are essential to keep your bird amused, although ensure you buy toys designed for budgies from a pet shop. You can use newspaper or sandpaper on the floor of the cage to allow easy cleaning. I personally use newspaper and clean them out twice a week. I just removed the top sheet of paper with all the dropping and food on it and leave the remaining paper. They are very easy to clean out but it is very important to make sure you clean them out at least once a week as leaving a cage to get too dirty can lead to disease.
Wide rather than deep dishes allow better access to feed and water, and ensure that all food items can be reached
The cage needs to be kept in natural light but away from direct sunlight. Keep your bird out of draughts and away from cooking fumes or the fumes or perfume, cleaning products. Birds can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but sudden changes can be deadly. Windy areas should be avoided, although mild breezes will often be welcome, especially during warm weather. Fresh air and unfiltered sunshine are important, and if necessary you may have to put your bird (and the cage) outside for an hour or so each day during the summer. Placing the cage where your bird can see and participate in family activities will provide your bird with plenty of stimuli.
Food and Drink
Budgies need a balanced diet or bird food, which you will need to blow the husks from on a daily basis. This is done easily by passing the seeds from one container to another and gently blowing on them when you do so. This blows away all the useless husks that the birds cannot eat. Budgies also need regular treats such as fresh lettuce, apple, cucumber, carrots and dandelion leaves. You can also get Budgie treats from most pet stores, these come in lots of different varieties and include items such as honey sticks, bells etc. These are only 70p odd each so very reasonably priced for a little treat.
A cuttlefish bone should be available to provide calcium.
What you need to know before considering buying a Budgie.
Budgies need a constant supply of fresh water. I change my budgies water everyday but every other day would also be ok.
Budgies will also need grit in their cage. This is to help aid digestion and is vital for them. This is very cheap at pet shops and can be bought for about £1 a bag and this normally lasts about 6 months. You can get a small feeder and attach it to the side of the cage, fill it with grit and the budgies will help themselves.
Budgies are intelligent, active creatures, and should be allowed to exercise out of their cage at least once daily. This exercise obviously needs to be done under supervision, and in the safety of the home with all windows shut and items like mirrors covered as the birds could fly into mirror and injure itself.
The normal wild colouration is green with black bars on the wings, back and head. Older females have a tan or beige cere (the fleshy part around the nostrils) and the males have a bluish cere, but this is unreliable in some colour variations and young birds of both sexes have pink ceres so it is often difficult to sex budgies from a young age. Young budgies have bar markings on the forehead that recede with age. Through selective breeding a huge variety of colours and patterns are available, such as violet, blue, yellow, pied, albino, and more.
Taming your budgie
Pairs of birds make good company for each other, but usually will not bond as well with their owners or mimic speech as well. A single bird is fine, as long as you spend a significant amount of time interacting with the budgie on a daily basis
You have to allow your Budgie some time to get used to you and its new surroundings. You will have to spend time getting your bird to trust you before you can tame him. Taming sessions should be short (10 minutes or less) and done several times a day. Each time you achieve one step, repeat it several times until your pet is comfortable with it. When your bird is comfortable with you being near his cage and responds to you by getting close to the side of the cage you are near, it is time to introduce him to your hand. Offer him a small piece of millet or a broken sunflower seed but do not try to touch him if he moves away from your hand. Hold your hand in the cage doing nothing, just to get him used to your hand. He will start to realize that your hand will not hurt him, but this may take a day or two. At first your Budgie may be very worried about your hand being in the cage and will fly around in a panic but it will soon get used to the presence of your hand. When your Budgie stops trying to get away from your hand, you can slowly move closer until one day he allows you to gently stroke his breast. Continue to quietly talk to him when you are doing this. When he seems comfortable with your hand touching him, you can gently press against the abdomen and push up a bit. There is a good chance that he may put one foot onto your finger. If this does not frighten him, you can give another slight push and he may put his other foot up and be standing on your hand. He will probably jump off immediately - but remain calm and try again if he is not frightened.
A Budgie will usually test a branch (or a finger) before stepping up by grabbing with his beak. This is not a bite, does not hurt and is very normal. Be ready for this to happen, and don't pull away if he does test your finger before stepping up.
Do not rush to take him out of the cage when he first steps onto your finger. Your Budgie is still getting to know you and although he is now comfortable with you while in his cage, he may become frightened when you take him out of the cage.
Before you take him out of the cage on your finger, you must be certain that he can not be injured in the room. If you have other pets, remove them and close the door. Close the curtains over the windows so your bird does not crash into the glass. It is also a good idea to cover any mirrors and they can fly into them and injure themselves.
After he has been stepping up regularly, you can move your hand towards the cage door to take him out. Your bird might panic when he is outside the cage and begin to fly wildly around the room. If your bird flies, he may not know how to land properly and you may have to go and pick him up by having him step up on your finger. Do not chase him to try to get him to stop flying. Just wait patiently until he lands and slowly go to pick him up, talking quietly to him.
Repeating all the above actions on a daily basis will pretty much guarantee you a tame Budgie.
Costs of keeping a Budgie
The cost of keeping a Budgie is relatively cheap. However, it can be expensive when first getting a budgie as you obviously need to provide a cage etc. Luckily my cage only cost me £10 at a boot fair but they can cost anything from £40 upwards. Food for budgies is very cheap, I buy budgie millet seed and it costs about 60p for a bag which lasts a month. Obviously you will need perches but these normally come with the cage or can be easily obtained from any fruit trees.
All in all the budgie is a brilliant pet for people of all ages. They are great for companionship and will liven up any household. They are easy to care for as long as you follow the basic guidelines.
That said, budgies can also get ill, like all other animals so you always need to have money put aside for any unexpected vet bills.
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Myself and my partner are avid animal lovers and currently have dogs, reptiles, birds, fish and ferrets. The newest addition to our household is chickens. We live in a terraced town house and our garden is not particularly huge but we felt it was big enough the house a smallish hen house and four chickens. Obtaining ... Chickens
We looked around before purchasing our chickens and found that there were many places to get them from. The website www.preloved.co.uk seemed to be quite a good website and it was while we were browsing on there that we came across an advert offering bantam chickens and with it being only a 20 minute drive away, we headed over to have a look and 40 minutes later, left with our first two chickens.
Another place to get chickens is from a battery farm. Battery farms only keep chickens for two years as this is when they believe the hens lay the most eggs. After the two years, they either give them away or sell them for a small fee and sadly, any that do not find new homes are destroyed. We quite often find adverts in our local paper advertising them so this is certainly something to look out for when looking for chickens.
As I mentioned earlier, we only have a small garden so we had to be careful when picking a hen house. We were very lucky as my partner's brother was upgrading his hen house as he wanted a bigger one, so we took the smaller one off his hands.
Obviously the size of the hen house depends on the size of your garden and the amount of hens you intend to keep in it. Another thing to consider is that your chicken will need a 'run'. They simply love to scratch around and dig at the mud so as well as having an enclosed hutch to sleep in; they will need an area to roam.
Our chicken hutch and run are together and in total the enclosed house is about 3 feet wide and 3 feet high. The run which is attached to the house is about 4 feet long and this is sufficient enough for the four hens we keep. I would like to point out that our hens are also allowed out of their run on a daily basis and are free to roam the rest of the garden. The run is simply there to provide them with an outside area in which they will be protected from cats and foxes while we are not at home. If you have the room, you can have an enclosure big enough so that the hens would not need to come out of their run.
There is a ramp which leads from the house into the run so the chickens are free to choose whether they want to stay in the hen house or venture into their outdoor area and peck around.
As for the interior of the house, there are a few things I would recommend having. Our hens love to roost and in order to do this; they will need a perch in the house. Another thing that is a necessity in a hen house is of course nesting boxes which will need to be filled with hay. In our run we have a perch which runs the length of the inside and two large nesting boxes at one end.
Another thing to consider when purchasing you chicken coop is to make sure that it is waterproof. Not only will this keep the hens from getting wet, it will also ensure that cleaning them out is easier for you.
Our hutch is a purpose built run with lots of little extra which I like. For example, there is a door above the nesting boxes which makes is much easier when checking for eggs as you simply just need to open this door, rather than open the entire hutch. Another addition I like is that the main part of the run has a drawer that pulls out which makes cleaning them out much easier as you can pull the drawer away from the house and empty the contents meaning you don't have the added hassle of having to dig around inside the coop.
What Do Chickens Need?
Aside from the above, chickens are pretty self sufficient. Of course they will need food and water and oyster grit is great for them as it helps them to produce the shell around the eggs. We have a feeder which sits in their pen which means that they always have food and water available.
Chickens will literally eat anything! Having said that, they will of course need a food specifically for chickens and this comes in the form of layer pellets and corn. We buy a 15k bag of layer pellets from a local farmer for £7 and bag and then buy the corn separately from our local pet shop where it is 99p a kilo. As well as having this food, they also eat pretty much everything else, any food that is just going off, any leftovers and anything else that is offered. They also love grass and happily roam our garden keeping the grass nice and trim.
Oyster grit is fairly cheap; we pay £1 a kilo from our local pet shop and it lasts ages.
Again this depends on how many chickens you intend of keeping. We only have four so they don't actually make that much mess, especially as they are allowed out to roam for most of the day. Their coop gets cleaned out about every three weeks which literally consists of us changing the newspaper in the main house and replacing the hay in the nesting boxes. I do occasionally pick the chicken poo out the nest boxes and stick it in with the compost as it's a great fertiliser and also helps to keep them clean.
As I mentioned earlier, out hens are allowed out of the coop on a daily basis and are free to roam the garden. They really seem to enjoy coming out of their pen as the garden is full of flower beds and grass which they love to roam around in. Again, how much exercise they need is dependent on how much room they have in their run. My partner's parents have a massive chicken house and run and don't really need to come out at all as they have plenty of room although they are still let out and enjoy a good root around. Another reason I like the hens to come out, is so they are able to flap their wings. The moment we open the door to the run, our hens come running out and proceed to run across the garden flapping their wings. They really seem to enjoy the freedom.
A real bonus of keeping chickens is the fresh eggs. Our hens are only just starting to lay so it's a bit hit and miss as to how many eggs we get a day. The in-laws have around 12 chickens and they get on average above 8 eggs a day. We have noticed that the hens seem to lay more in the summer than they do in the winter. The difference in the eggs from shop bought ones is astounding. The yolks are literally a bright orange colour compared to the dull watery yellow ones that you buy in shops. This is down to the fact that they are fed a good diet and live a free range lifestyle.
Keeping Chickens Together
As long as there is enough space, you can keep as many hens together as you like. With cockerels, you have to be more careful as any more than one and they will fight. I do know people that keep more than one together but this is rare and the in-laws had two and had to re-home the other one as they literally fought all day. As you introduce new hens there will be a certain amount of bickering until they sort of the pecking order (excuse the pun). Also, if a hen has a cut, the other hens will peck at the blood and keep on doing so, so I find that its best to remove the injured hen until the cut is healed. Aside from that, keeping many hens together causes no problems.
I thoroughly enjoy keeping hens and would highly recommend it to anyone else who is interested. Watching the hens pecking around in the garden provides hours of fun and you get the added bonus of being able to collect your own fresh eggs every morning, knowing that they came from a happy chicken. You may not think they are a great family pet and although you can't walk them like you can a pet dog, they are actually highly sociable creatures and enjoy being stroked and petted. They even sit down on the grass as you walk over to them, expecting you to rub their backs.
The only downside is that chickens do create a lot of mess and expect their run to be messy at all times. They also poo more than any other animal I have ever kept but there is a bonus to this...it makes great fertiliser for the rest of the garden.
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