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Cluck cluck cluck clucking chickens.
Member Name: doriee
Advantages: quirky animals
Disadvantages: messy and can smell
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.
Summary: quirky animals to help pass the time
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