Checklist before Keeping Chickens in Garden/Allotment

Views 65 Likes Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
  1. Are you allowed? Check deeds to ensure you are permitted to keep them, some areas may have covenants. If you are in rented accommodation, check with the landlord.
  2. Buy or borrow some books and do some basic research, internet  forums also a good source, and so are some specialist magazines.
  3. Chat to neighbours before splashing out on an expensive house, they may have concerns over noise, smells, rats, bird flu, so be ready with your answers.
  4. Be realistic when it comes to chosen breeds. Pure breeds are expensive and can be hard to source and some breeds really need more care, promising children a specific hen has caused parents a lot of grief over the years!
  5. Work out a budget, houses can be expensive, and converting an old cupboard may not be good for you or the hens. Keeping hens rarely makes you money, by the time houseing, feed, vets fees and buying the hens is factored in, it is usually a lifestyle choice. By making your own house you can save a lot of money, but make sure it is fit for the purpose, ask yourself if you would like to live in it? If the anwer is NO, then why put your poor hens in it.
  6. Go to auctions by all means to see what is available and get some idea of prices, but do not buy any impulse birds. If a pen of birds is going cheap, there may be a reason that you are too inexperienced to spot, either disease, old age or they are all ladyboys! Try to take an experienced hand with you, and get them to bid for you up to a predetermined level, do not get auction fever!
  7. Find out if you have any vets in the area who treat chickens and ask for costs, some vets treat chickens at a lower rate lke rabbits, others charge cat rates, remember that any animal you have responsibility for must not be allowed to suffer, Practical Poultry magazine has some poultry friendly vets listed in the back.
  8. Have a good look around where you will keep the birds. Can the neighbours dog get in, have you got foxes around? This will dictate the type of run and house suitable for you, you may also need to think about better fencing. Chicken runs quickly get muddy and denuded of grass, it will also take on the appearance of being under heavy artillery fire as they create dustbaths, so allow for this.
  9. Do you need a cockerel? You don't need one to get the hens to lay eggs, but if you want to breed from your gorgeous girls then you will need one. Remember a cockerel is usually about half as big again as a hen, so factor that into housing size, he will also need greater headroom so arks are not ideal as they damage combs. The obvious main concern is the noise, big boys tend to have a deeper bass note, whilst bantams have a higher pitched doodledoo, and depending on the bird may crow little and often or every five minutes! Most allotments do not allow cockerels at all, so check the local laws. Cockerels can also damage hens backs, so a poultry  saddle may be necessary.
  10. Check noone in the family is allergic to feathers or birds, or phobic, could keep a unwelcome relative away!  Red mite can cause unpleasant skin reactions if you are unlucky enough to get an infestation, which are on the increase.
  11. It is lovely to see chickens free ranging, but they will wreck gardens and leave poohs around, not great with small kids around, so think about you will manage the hens before your carpet gets wrecked.
  12. Holidays, what are they? You will need to get holiday care sorted out for your hens. They are usually happiest staying in their own house, but this may not be possible. It is unfair to give someone the job if they do not appreciate the dangers of foxes, a friends daughter was devastated when a fox killed some hens she was caring for, not her fault but she felt responsible. Neighbours are usually very happy to do this in exchange for the eggs!
  13. Hens do make interesting, useful pets, and are great for children. Choose suitable friendly ones, and get them involved in the project, even cleaning out, as long as they wash their hands afterwards! All my children used to get good points for school projects on pets and recycling, and we always had an interesting addition to Easter with real chicks at school. Very useful for Scout and Cub badgework as well!
  14. Health Warning. Hens are addictive, and have been known to wreck marriages, bank balances and beautiful gardens, one breed is never enough, there are so many different breeds, colours, sizes, personalities out there, you have been warned....
  15. IPR Sharon Jackson Feb.2008
Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides