Getting Started with Chickens

If you’re considering getting some chickens for your garden or smallholding here are some basic tips to help you get started.

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Smallholder Poultry
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Choosing Your Chickens

Popular breeds for small-scale hen keepers include Sussex, Welsummers, Orpingtons and Leghorns. Each breed has different characteristics, from egg production to temperament, so it’s worth spending time on a bit of research to help you choose. There is also a colourful array of hybrids available too. These are produced on a commercial scale so readily available and are often more prolific layers than some of the traditional breeds.

Housing and space

Of course, your chickens will need a safe, comfortable place to live. A sturdy, secure and well-ventilated coop will protect them from predators and the elements. Ensure there is enough space for each bird – a minimum of 0.3 square metres per chicken inside the henhouse and about 1 square metre per chicken in the outdoor run. Chickens prefer to roost on perches at night and to lay their eggs in nest boxes so choose a house that has both.

Feeding your chickens

Proper nutrition is very important for the health and productivity of your flock. Always make sure they have access to clean and fresh water too. The Farmgate ration you choose will depend on the age of your birds.

Feed storage

Proper storage of chicken feed is crucial to maintain its quality and keep it safe from pests. Ensure your feed is kept dry to prevent mould and spoilage. Moisture can ruin feed and can cause harm to your birds if it is fed to them. A heavy-duty plastic or metal bin with a tight-fitting lid is ideal.

Regular tasks

Make sure you check your flock every day for any signs of illness. Keep the coop and run clean and replace bedding as needed to prevent build-up of droppings and reduce the risk of disease. When you clean the hen house also keep an eye out for signs of red mite.

With the right setup and ongoing care, your new flock will thrive and reward you with fresh eggs and plenty of entertainment!

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