Saturday, 5 March 2011

Building the Chicken Coop

Chickens do need somewhere to live; their house arrived yesterday.

So after an eggsellent(!) breakfast of boiled eggs and soldiers, we started to unpack the box.

We made a mess of the kitchen...

And tried to make sense of the very clear, very detailed instructions...

We started off by making the nest box, and then the main body of the coop.

By the time we had built the run and attached it to the house it was dark.

The feeder that I ordered has arrived too.

And now for the really good news...

I had a phone call from Wendy at the British Hen Welfare Trust, who said that she was expecting chickens by the end of the month and I'm now on the waiting list. I have to travel to York to pick up my hens, and need a large cardboard box with air holes to transport them home in. I need to get on with researching how best to look after these chooks, as they could be with me within the next 3 weeks!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Chickens Need Somewhere To Live

Well as the title says, chickens do in fact need somewhere to live. And it turns out that I will be the proud owner of a brand new chicken coop and run, courtesy of my other half. I'm having my birthday present early this year!

I did quite a bit of research online about different designs of coop, and decided to go for a ready prepared, flat-pack model, rather than the DIY option; I have little skill (or motivation) with saws and hammers!

After looking at a number of different websites, I found this on ebay, for £100 including delivery. I settled on this one because its a good price and it will look good in our back garden. It has a number of special features that are worth mentioning:

  • Fox proof locks
  • Adjustable roof vent to keep the chickens cool in Summer
  • 2 roosting bars
  • Slide-out metal floor for ease of cleaning
  • Large door (front and back) and ramp for ease of access for the birds
  • Nest box can be situated on either side of the house

This has now been dispatched and should be with me within the next 2-3 days, then we can have all the fun of assembling it. I shall be enlisting the help of my other half; we will have to time the build to coincide with my little girls nap! I will post better pictures of it then, in situ.

Chickens also need something to eat and to drink, and something to eat and drink from. I've not ordered them yet, but I have chosen a galvanised steel feeder, that has fluted edges that will stop food being scratched out and wasted, and a rain shield to stop the food from getting wet. The drinker will be plastic and will hold 1.5l of water.

So, the next thing I need are the chickens themselves. I have registered with the British Hen Welfare Trust, and have sent an email to the nearest co-ordinator to me, who is based in York (about 40 minutes drive away) asking what I need to do to get my chickens. There was a note on their Website that said "Hens are available soon (in this area)". My chicken project is moving along faster than I imagined it would. I think I will have my chickens well before my other half gets his bees!

The other things I need to learn about now are:

Keeping chickens healthy
Chicken food
About laying eggs
Cooking eggs

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


I’m going to keep chickens. For anyone who knows me and my family, this is in response to my other half keeping bees and blogging about it. I wanted a blog subject, and we want to keep chickens, for eggs, not meat (yet). So they will be mine, and I’m going to record my experiences of them here, along with anything else I think worth sharing, maybe some egg recipes! So in this first post I’ll document my initial findings about chickens and share some interesting facts about them.

Right then some chicken trivia...
  • The chicken (Gallus Gallus Domesticus) was first thought to have been domesticated in South East Asia about 10,000 years ago, and from there was introduced to China, India and Persia and then into Europe by 500 BC. They were known by the ancient Egyptians as “the bird that lays everyday”.
  • In 2003 there was an estimated world population of 24 billion chickens.
  • The male of the species is a Cock or Rooster; a Cockerel is a male under 1year of age. I will not be having a Cock bird as I don’t imagine my neighbours would appreciate the noise. And as we don’t want little chicks, we don’t need our eggs fertilised!
  • The female of the species are Hens or Pullets if they are young.
  • Chickens may live for 5-10 years, although they lay fewer eggs as they get older. The oldest chicken was 16 years old when she died of heart failure according to the Guinness book of Records.
  • Chickens can’t fly very long distances. If you've ever eaten at a Nando’s restaurant and read the wall, you'll know that the longest recorded flight is 13 seconds, barely long enough to get across the road!
  • A flock of chickens will have an established “pecking order”, and if an individual is added, or taken away from the flock it can cause disruption.
  • Hindu’s believe that a chicken can be a channel for evil spirits at cremation ceremonies in Indonesia, and Jews believe that courtesy towards your spouse should be learned from the Rooster, as he will always invite his ladies to eat first.

I haven’t done a lot of research into different breeds of chicken, or the best age at which to get them, because I came across the British Hen Welfare Trust website, they re-home ex battery hens, rather than selling them on for pet food! Giving three hens a happy retirement feels like a good thing to do. They should be back to full health within a couple of weeks, and should lay quite well, after all I am doing this for fun, not for profit.

Chickens are allegedly very easy to look after, and are not time consuming – they only require about 15 minutes care each day, then a weekly clean of their coop. They are quite cheap to keep too, and have basic needs which must be met, which I will be looking into before I get them:

  • Somewhere to live: it must be sheltered, clean (ish) and dry and include a nest box, and an outdoor run. All of this must be fox proof. There are loads of designs and makes to choose from, and can range from the easily affordable to the very expensive.

  • Something to eat and drink and feeders and drinkers to put the food and drink in.

  • An owner who can spot any illness or medical problems and can provide worming treatments etc.

  • Names: My ladies will be Omelette, Custard and Bennie (short for Eggs Benedict).