Does the thought of having fresh, home grown eggs ready and available appeal to you? But is the thought of having your own hens daunting? Fear no more, let’s help ease you into the process.
Taking care of chickens
All domestic chickens descend from the Red Jungle Fowl found in South East Asia and India. Four thousand years of selective breeding has led to the wide variety of different breeds with specific purposes – meat production, eggs, beauty etc and we see plenty of chickens here at Oakhill!
Chickens require housing for roosting, laying and shelter. They are very prone to predation by foxes and other animals and tend to only feel safe in a dark enclosed space at night, going off to roost at twilight. Housing needs to be secure and draught free, but also well ventilated. The entrance in and out of the house needs to be large enough to prevent bullying between chickens.
If at all possible housing should be moved around periodically to keep the ground around the house in good condition. Feeders and drinkers should ideally be indoors to protect them from wild birds but there must be a large enough area around them for the chickens to move comfortably without confrontation.
It is much easier and safer to provide a balanced feed from a reputable source than to try to make your own so a commercial chicken food is advisable. This can either be fed as pellets or a mash, although if mixed with water as a mash it will need to be fed as a fresh ration each time. Feeding scraps as a general rule tends to upset the balance of the digestive system but it can be handy to reward the birds with a small piece of fruit or stale bread to encourage them to come when called.
Behaviour & flock management
Chickens do not like sudden changes in routine and can be upset by this. Life is safer if you keep the same habits, so this is a very sensible strategy but it does mean that any changes need to made gradually. This includes changes in feed, bedding material etc.