minkyme29

Calling all chook keepers...

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    We are on the verge of getting some backyard chooks and am keen to hear from anyone who keeps them as pets and for free range eggs. It would be great to hear your experiences and advice...

     

    thanks

    Dette :)

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    Hi Dette,

     

    I think Elaine on AdBrits keeps chooks but not sure if you are a member - I could email her if you aren't.

     

    Lea:)

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    Hi Lea

     

    Yes i am friends with Elaine and have met her chooks several times, and what characters they are. I wonder if there are any other chook lovers out there?

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    Guest Aussie pat

    hi Odette,

     

    We are about to leave the UK and have just passed 'our girls' onto a friend. We did lots of research into what we wanted before we got them. Chose Pekin bantams as they are smaller, friendly with kids and don't destroy your garden as much. We didn't get a rooster, too many hormones and it may upset the neighbours if he crows a lot. If you want chicks you can buy in fertilised eggs and your chickens will sit on them and hatch them for you. people say pekins go broody all the time. We didn't find that at all.

     

    The main problem is keeping foxes away from them. We had an electric fence protecting ours so they had a huge area to free range in but we have a .75 acre garden in a rural area. Not sure what you'd do elsewhere. One year we were the only family in the village not to lose their chickens to foxes. So be warned as it's heart breaking if they are attacked. You need to take their protection seriously.

     

    I'd highly recommend them as pets. Kids can learn a lot about life and biology from them and they're also fun.

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    We had 4 chickens(until the dog ate them one by one!) If you are planning to live in the city, then you don't have to worry about foxes.

     

    We built a cage with chicken wire and permapine posts and built them a des res to roost in at night, with a laying box at one end. We had one part of the roof open to get the eggs out. Most grain stores sell chicken feed in pellets and feeding containers and water containers. We bought our chickens as little chicks, but they weren't newly hatched, a couple of weeks old.

     

    The fruit rats may be a problem with the eggs unless you have your laying box off the ground. You will also need a source of calcium or else they start laying shelless eggs. If you feed pellets it will be included, but if you are going to mix up your own you can also grind up the egg shels and add it to the feed mix.

     

    Chickens are easy to keep. If you don't have a roof on you coop then you will need to clip the outer feathers of the wings or else they will prefer to roost as high as poss , like in your neighbours trees.

     

    Once all of ours were laying 4 eggs a day we had quite a lot. Okay if you eat a lot of eggs. You can't beat those fresh eggs though.

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    Hi

    We're still in the UK and have 4 chooks who all free range and dutifully lay us an egg each every day. Her is a picture of them in their Eglu (Jamie Oliver has one):

     

    The Eglu is foxproof and because it is made of plastic there are no mite, flea or tick problems. I am not sure as to whether you can get them in Oz, although I do know that they are available in the USA.

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    Gosh, I'm amazed so many people have replied so quickly - rock on chicken keeping! :)

    I am worried to death about foxes but trust my OH to build an amazingly safe and robust enclosure. We are lucky that their intended spot is an ex-veggie patch which is the space in between the back of the house and the workshop (the buildings walls will make up the sides of the enclosure) and will be fenced in at the front and back, luckily both of these fences will butt up against concrete paving and walling so foxes should not be able to dig down under the fence. However I'm sure OH will dig a deep foundation for the fences anyway. We'll then build a chicken coop for the little lovelies.

    It sounds like we're going for a similar plan to Rachiegarlo but without the doggy snack scenario! :arghh::sad:

    Oh and the Eglu - I so love it but alas not available in Australia. Oh well maybe the poor little chooks would roast in it anyway, or it might melt in the blistering summer sun :biglaugh:

    Thanks again for all your replies....any recommendations on breed of chook would be greatly received...we have a 2 year old who is rather nervous of anything feathery or furry.

     

    Dette

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    Hi Dette

     

    I'm glad you like the Eglu and sorry that they are not available over there, as I am going to have to leave it behind. (customs problems).

     

    The chickens don't get too hot as it has a double layer rather like a flask so it keeps the chooks cool in summer and warm in the winter.

     

    As for the type of chickens that I have got. I have got a Bluebelle, a White Star, A Black Rock and a Warren. They are all hybrids and very tame. In fact they all run towards me to greet me each time I come into the garden and have no qualms about being picked up or hand fed.

     

    If you would like to know more about chickens it is a good idea to join a forum and the best one is this: http://www.omlet.co.uk/club/club.php

     

    Good luck with your chicken keeping and hopefully soon I will be asking you for advice on where the best places are to get chickens from in Adelaide.

     

    Howard.

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    Thanks for the additional info on the Eglu, shame they're not available here.

    I was interested to hear about your chicken breeds, I have been doing lots of research on some of the Aussie chook forums and have not come across those varieties...maybe they have different names in Oz?

    You'll be glad to know that backyard poultry keeping is big here and there is a mass of info on the internet.

     

    Thanks again...

    Dette

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    Guest Guest75

    I'm a former chook keeper.

    We had half a dozen - twice if that makes sense?

     

    Both times the fox had a marvellous feast.

     

    The second batch were old and had nearly stopped laying,I was not allowed to "do" them unfortunately,I did start calling them Korma,Madras and so on:goofy:

     

    Be aware that you could get mice feeding on the bits the chooks miss an then the snakes come looking for a snack.

    We had a few:shocked::shocked:

     

    Great to have fresh eggs though,you cannot beat the taste.

    Make sure you have some source of calcium around such as crushed sea shells,the chooks can quickly use up the available calcium and minerals in the pens if they are kept confined.:)

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    one of the girls i work with keeps chooks (we had an indepth discussion about chicken sex but thats another topic lol) anyway she brought some eggs into work for me but not tried them yet will let you know , they are huge .....poor chickens :biglaugh:. Anyways i would love to keep chickens but they might fall in the pool (the one i wish we never had :sad:) , although i might feel sorry for them and then i wouldnt want to eat them. I have seen hen laying chooks advertised on seaford road for $8, my hubster thought it said $800 and said that must be right :biglaugh:, think his glasses are wearing thin lol (surely its not $800 for a chicken ha ha

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    Guest moonraker1959

    I used to keep a dozen chooks when I lived in Oz.A great book to buy is Jackie French's Chook Book,its got everything you need to know about chooks.You're best off buying point of lay chooks.I used to keep mine in a natural type habitat,plenty of dirt to scratch around in,bushes to rummage through ect.I had a gate that led into my veggie garden so sometime would let them do the organic bug disposal for an hour or so but only when the veg were fully grown!!!I love chooks I could watch them for hours.

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    Guest Aussie pat

    Don't forget chickens can't sweat apparently so will need shade. They also feel vulnerable out in the open due to the risk of flying predators. You can buy special grit (cheap) for poultry that has both inorganic and organic grit in it. The inorganic will keep their crops (throat sacks) working and prevent impaction problems. Whilst the organic will help keep shells strong.

     

    It sounds complicated but isn't if you know the very few basics. You can always ask people for advice as and when. A lot of it is commonsense, such as basic hygiene i.e. cleaning up their poo, fresh food/water and moving the house regularly if you can. If they go pale about the gills and look listless give them some worming powder. If they scratch or lose feathers give them a dust with louse/mite powder. That's about it really to get started. Some people tried to frighten me with rat stories when I first started out but I've never had any trouble with them. I just gave mine pellets and let them forage lots on nice greenery in garden. The pellets went into a plastic bin at night.

     

     

    Believe it or not (I know it sounds anorackish) there is actually a very good forum called 'Practical Poultry' similar to PIA where people just talk about chickens. I found them really helpful when one of my bantams (Debbie) had a prolapse (don't panic, unlikely to happen to yours Odette!). You can always ask any questions on there.

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    Well I am surprised by so many replies and great info from so many of you...thanks very much. We have a lot to think about. I know hygiene is a big issue and will be making Saturday mornings the big clean up and muck out day for me and the girls as OH will be working every Saturday for awhile.

    As far as shade goes we do have a south facing garden, the coop will face east (as recommended by an online forum) but the rest of the pen will get shade and is also sheltered so shouldn't be too draughty for them.

     

    Dette :)

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    Oh dear I'm afraid the plot thickens! :unsure:

    The chooks are still very much on our minds however as a family of cat lovers we often keep one eye on the local RSPCA website in case some special little puss should be up for adoption. Well a couple of nights ago I spotted a cat that I thought would be great and so this morning we headed on up there to take a look. It turns out that cat had already been adopted but we spotted another little girl that has stolen our hearts - (particularly OH's - he's such a softy lol). We have decided to have her if the current reserve on her falls through (member of RSPCA staff has tentatively put hold on her but is likely to give it up if a member of the public wants her). Sorry about the long winded tale and now to my question, at long last I hear you cry!

    Many people have said chooks get along with other animals but how do you think a small cat would get on with 2 - 4 chooks arriving on her territory later on down the line? Anyone had experience of this? I reckon we'd keep her in for 4 weeks anyway so maybe it wouldn't be a problem if they are there by the time she goes outside? She is used to living with other cats and a staffy dog but of course chooks might be more like prey I guess...:unsure:

    Please share your experiences once more...

    Thanks everyone, I am so grateful for your help and advice.

     

    Dette :)

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