Backyard Chickens: What you need

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So getting started with keeping chickens is going to require some equipment. If you are looking to purchase all of this new (which I don’t recommend) you could be spending hundreds of pounds. Makes your first egg more costly than caviar I know! But it is worth it, because other than the initial investment, they are actually quite cheap to keep.

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But of course, I don’t recommend you go out and buy everything new as this can be very costly. Often people on freecycle are offering their old chicken coops, feeders, etc. for free so you may get lucky on there, but if not there are lots of second options to buy on places like Gumtree and Ebay if you can’t get it on freecycle.

But that is all well and good, but what do you need?

Housing

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Chicken Keeping: Raining It’s Pouring

The main thing you are going to need is somewhere to keep your chickens, whether they are to be completely free range or to be kept in a run, your chickens will need some form of housing.

The house needs to be ventilated, protect them from the weather, keep them safe from preditors, have perches for hens to sleep on and a nestbox for them to lay their eggs in.

You will need at least 1 sq ft per bird, but in my opinion the more space you can offer the better. Try and think about how easy it will be to clean, keep them safe from preditors and ease of egg collection when considering the ideal house for your chickens.

I went with a wooden coop as I’m reluctant to purchase plastic products and they wooden ones look better. But be warned the wooden coops are more prone to red mite where as the plastic coops are near enough resistant.

Run / Fencing

WP_20150828_015You need to keep  your chickens safe from preditors. An effective way to do this is to put up fencing or build a run. I made my run out of wooden sticks / posts, chicken wire and netting. When I get my land my chickens will be much more free range but my house is also by a busy road so I keep them in there for protection from that as I don’t agree with wing clipping.

Consider where you will place your run as chickens are good at creating mud pools. I know this from experience, but I gave them a patch of my garden that was full of sandy soil where nothing was growing to scratch about in.

Again the more space you can provide in my opinion the better for your chickens health.

Note in order to be fox proof fencing needs to be at least 6ft high and partially buried. I overcame this through using netting instead as a roof on our run.

If you haven’t got a dusty soil in their run, then provide them with a dust bath in their run as this helps keep mites away.

Feeders

You will also need somewhere to provide your food and water for your chickens.

chicken feedersI did get feeders, but a lot of the feeders on the market aren’t weather proof and the alternatives are really expensive. I’m yet to find the weatherproof options on freecycle. Now, I mostly just scatter the food on the ground during the winter and check every now and then to make sure they have enough.

As for water, I recommend the gravity water options, they’re easy to fill and my chickens like to knock bowls of water over. They don’t tend to do that with these.

Medicine, Cleaners, Food, etc.

I recommend you purchase the following:

  • Gentian Violet & Antiseptic Spray – This dyes and cleanses a wound. The dye prevents other chickens pecking the wound. (Looking for more natural alternatives)
  • Smite – This should be used to disinfect your coop as it prevents red mite. (Looking for more natural alternatives)
  • Pellets – I use organic pellets (80% of diet)
  • Corn – I use organic (20% of diet)
  • Garden scraps – I supplement their diet with scraps from my mums allotment and my garden.
  • Grit – This is small stones and oyster shells that they use for calcium and to grind down their food.
  • Woodshavings – to put in their coop

I think that’s the main bits really, other than the actual chicken of course! If you have any specific questions, feel free to get in touch or comment below.

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