looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

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craig.r
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looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 150573Post craig.r »

Hi and Thankyou in advance :cheers:

ok here we go

which chooks are the best layers?
how old before they start laying?
where would i get rescued battery hens from and do they still lay?
i want to make my own hen house but not sure what it needs, can anyone advise please?
what time of year do the hens start and stop laying, also how old before they stop laying?
Do you eat them when they have stopped laying :pale: or keep them cus they are just so dam cute?
Is it true that corn fed chooks produce better eggs?



you just can't beat advice off people who already have them so thankyou in advance.
It will be a while before i get the hens but i just want to make sure i can look after them properly and make them as comfortable as i can. I want my 4 kids to help so any advice about kids and chooks would be most welcome. :salute:
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 150576Post red »

craig.r wrote:Hi and Thankyou in advance :cheers:
I'm sure you will get lots of answers.. here's mine

which chooks are the best layers?
hybrids. but you can stil have different colours etc.. but they turn out the eggs every day. However maybe you want a traditional breed? in which case I would look at leghorns
how old before they start laying?
depends on teh breed. around 20 weeks. often birds sold as 'point of lay - POL' are a bit far off the mark really
where would i get rescued battery hens from and do they still lay?
I've not done the rescue birds thing.. but yes they still aly, but obviously not as well as in the beginning.
i want to make my own hen house but not sure what it needs, can anyone advise please?
we have done this - I recommend building as few nooks and cranies as possible, as these will please red mite - we used WBP board. Make it so you can open up for cleaning out easily.
what time of year do the hens start and stop laying, also how old before they stop laying?
they tend to stop late autumn and start again after Christmas - once the days start getting longer. but some go on through the winter and birds that were POL in autumn are likely to go on laying through - but these might take a break in summer. hybrids - which are good little layers stop (laying altogether) earlier than traditional breeds.. they might be good for 3 years? trads tend to go on longer. laying fewer larger eggs. They can live for years and years.
Do you eat them when they have stopped laying :pale: or keep them cus they are just so dam cute?
we shall eat them - with maybe the occasional exception if she has done well. if I were you - decide up front, particularly if you have kids. if you eat them they will be tough as old boots but good for stew and soup. the thing is if you keep a bunch of geriatric old girls.. you wont have room for new ones to give you eggs. hyrids tend to keel over earlier though... you will have to be prepared to deal with an ill hen though.. if the best course of action is to cull it for its own sake.. so consider this.
Is it true that corn fed chooks produce better eggs?
No. I dont think so anyway. some people thing corn = darker orangier eggs, but actually the colour of the yolks relates to how much greens they get to eat. given a chance a chicken will eat a lot of grass.


you just can't beat advice off people who already have them so thankyou in advance.
It will be a while before i get the hens but i just want to make sure i can look after them properly and make them as comfortable as i can. I want my 4 kids to help so any advice about kids and chooks would be most welcome. :salute:
I'm sure some people will give different answers. these are just mine. yes kids and chickens work well together. cockerels can be aggressive but hens are usually fine, and very entertaining!
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 150585Post bonniethomas06 »

Hi,

For rescue chooks go to the Battery Hen Welfare Trust (www.bhwt.org.uk).

I am a rescue co-ordinator in the Bristol area - not sure where you are but we have them all over the country so there will be one nearby.

There is usually a waiting list of about a month - you can register on the website. The hens are usually rescued that morning and so you get the satisfaction of seeing them take their first steps on solid ground :shaking2: and hopefully drive the message about evil Mr Kipling and the other culprits (whose exceedingly good cakes contain battery eggs! :angryfire: ) at the same time

Good luck!
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 150587Post Gert »

Hi

I Would agree with pretty much everything red has said. I keep a mix of hens, the hybrid "egg laying machines" which are what you will get it you rescue some are great, but I personally don't eat them as there is really nothing to them.
If you want to eat them then a good dual purpose breed is what you want, big heavy hens that will lay a decent amount of eggs but at the same time have enough flesh on them to eat when the time comes. Maybe get a mix of the two.

The one point that red made about the building of a hen house , is seriously important. You need functionality not fashion. It must be really easy to clean, the hens will be happy so long as they have a perch and somewhere to lay.
If you build something fancy that looks pretty but is a bugger to clean, you will end up with ill and unhappy hens. There is a whole list of mites that will try and attack your hens and you need to be able to clean the house well enough to get rid of them.

Apart from that I think red has summed it up nicely.

Your kids will love the hens and so will you, just be prepared to spend a lot of time sitting and watching them, you won't be able to stop yourself :lol:

Best of luck with them and don't forget to keep us posted.

Gert

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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 150588Post Annpan »

Well considering I have kept hens for a whole week I consider myself almost completely under-qualified to answer these questions... but I'm not one to keep my opinions to myself so here goes. :mrgreen:
which chooks are the best layers?
Hybrids, like red said - we got 2 hybrid girls last week and we read on the website of the manufacturer (yes, I know, a an manufacturer for living creatures :cry: ) up to 300 eggs a year at peak production.
how old before they start laying?
around 17 - 20 weeks I have heard - I think my girls are 18.5 weeks and still not laying
where would i get rescued battery hens from and do they still lay?
BHWT as already mentioned, I think there used to be a website called 'henhouse' I might be wrong though - same idea.
They do still lay a lot and are often less than 2 years old, but they have passed their optimum lay age. I decided against ex-bats as they can be emotionally draining, I needed working, healthy birds that already knew how to be chickens and weren't going to die of stress within the first few weeks. Many ex-bats will never have seen grass before, or felt the sun on their backs :( A truly noble thing it is to rehome ex-bats and we might do it when we have more chook experience.

i want to make my own hen house but not sure what it needs, can anyone advise please?
I made ours, and I am just about to go and clean it out. Simplicity is the key, they need a perch and a nest box and a wee bit of space to walk around. I made big drop down doors on the back of ours so it is easy to sweep out all the lovely poop. I also attached an old curtain wire to the pop-hole door so I can open and close it without having to go into the run or get my fingers pecked. It is most important that the house is rat and fox proof.... both of which will kill and/or eat your girls.
what time of year do the hens start and stop laying, also how old before they stop laying?
Some hybrids continue to lay right through their first winter and it depends what breed it is as to how old it is when it stops laying - general consensus is that a bird has a limited amount of eggs, those who lay through winters will stop laying younger.
Do you eat them when they have stopped laying or keep them cus they are just so dam cute?
Personally I don't find them cute - I think of them as farm animals, not pets. I don't want to keep them beyond laying age but I still don't know if I have what it takes to do the deed though... time will tell.
Is it true that corn fed chooks produce better eggs?
I agree with red here, a mixed diet seems best, with loads of greens available. We use layers pellets as the staple food and give them other bits and pieces when we are about.


My 2 year old feeds the chooks (we have them in a small run that we move around) and she talks to them "hello girls, want some food?" she doesn't like when they come up close to her, I think she fears the beaks which look pretty fierce to me too. They are fun to watch though, for kids and adults.

We haven't named our chooks, as we don't want to create a persona for an animal we may end up eating or picking up in a plastic bag when the fox gets her. E (the 2 year old) is quite happy with this and I am pretty sure that if it is delivered to kids as a matter of fact there shouldn't be a big problem.
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 150635Post Thomzo »

Nothing much to add except that I have rehomed ex-bats. The first batch stood up very well to the stress of moving but stopped laying very early on. I didn't eat them as one had died of unknown causes.

The second batch also survived the stress well and have carried on laying really well all winter. I got 1-2 eggs from the two of them all winter despite not having any extra light.

Try to get used to handling the hens early on. Don't be afraid of the beaks. Ex-bats will have had their beaks trimmed so they won't do any damage. Others might hurt a little tiny bit for a few minutes, and my bantam cockeral has drawn blood, but they can't take a finger off.

I now use a glove to handle Mr Bantam as he can use his beak to hang on to my hand. He has now learnt to jump on to the glove and sit on my hand like a hawk. :cheers:
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 150986Post dave45 »

we've had our 5 hens for about 6 or 7 weeks... one was already laying, the others were at "point of lay" which seems to mean that they have another 2-4 weeks before they start to lay. The new layers are still a bit intermittent. We have 5 different types that all lay slightly different eggs (size and colour) so we can (just about) tell who laid what.. this is a neat idea. There is a pecking order but they all seem to get one well together and snuggle up to each other at night :-)

I converted an old kids wendy house into the chicken house. seems to work fine. This is surrounded by a 4m square compound (much wire fencing material required).

In a limited space they will peck/eat every bit of green stuff (apart from the broccoli I gave them!). So plan for that. I am going to have to fence off sections of their compound to let the grass grow back. You will need a rat-proof (dust)bin to store their food - 20kg or 25 kg bags of layers pellets and/or corn. You could usefully research food prices in advance... there seem to be large variations in price.

You can let them free-range into your garden, but they will probably destroy things you don't want them to, and they will efficiently distribute manure everywhere (they don't even stop walking!) I let them out under supervision only coz it is very relaxing watching them pecking and scratching.

And then there are predators to think about. Not just foxes, stoats and weasels - some friends down the road lost one of theirs to a chav with dangerous dog!

If all goes well you will have a regular over-supply of fresh eggs - better plan some eggy recipes.

Another double-yolker this morning :-)

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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 151157Post pdblake »

Annpan wrote: Hybrids, like red said - we got 2 hybrid girls last week and we read on the website of the manufacturer (yes, I know, a an manufacturer for living creatures :cry: ) up to 300 eggs a year at peak production.
Did you buy them online? Only I'm looking to get some myself but have no idea where to get them locally.

Unfortunately I have no transport to get to the places where you collect the ex batts.
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 151160Post invisiblepiper »

Is it true that chickens can have heart attacks when frightened?
I want chooks - but I have two crazy (not aggressive - just crazy) cairn terriers - who chase seagulls - one catches mice too - Not good I think?
One also barks a lot. :dog: :dog:
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference.
(Robert Frost)

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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 151162Post Annpan »

pdblake wrote:
Annpan wrote: Hybrids, like red said - we got 2 hybrid girls last week and we read on the website of the manufacturer (yes, I know, a an manufacturer for living creatures :cry: ) up to 300 eggs a year at peak production.
Did you buy them online? Only I'm looking to get some myself but have no idea where to get them locally.

Unfortunately I have no transport to get to the places where you collect the ex batts.
No, John Headstrong (the site geek) found the small holding that buys them in and we got them from there - and they buy them in at 16 weeks from a man who buys them in from the manufacturer as chicks. (quite a supply chain)

There must be someone close to you who can recommend a place to buy them?



IP - My 2 got very frightened by the huskies a few doors along the first time they heard them, they howl and yelp for food like you might imagine a pack of huskies would. But now the girls are perfectly used to them and barely even look up when the twice daily chorus starts. I don't know about dogs on the same premises but our girls have figured out they are safe in their run.
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 151213Post invisiblepiper »

Thanks Annpan - i think I can get cheap (ha ha ) chooks from the agricultural college which my daughter attends.
Any photos of your coop and run? :duckie: - wot? No chickens?
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference.
(Robert Frost)

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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 151217Post Annpan »

Here's a photo I took the day before I finished it.

The coop is built on a pallet (so around 1 sq m) and the high end has a nest box with a shelf over it and a perch above the shelf. The run is just under 3 sq m. It is a moveable run that fits over our veg beds and we are moving it at least twice a week. We are planning to put some wheels on the coop to make it easier to move around. I never got round to making a wooden nest box so cut up a cardboard box for them to use, and I got my first egg successfully laid in it yesterday :cheers:

I'll take more photos if you like, I really only made it this shape and size because we took in a huge amount of cut-offs and discarded wood from a friend of a friend who was doing an extension. The whole thing cost us about £4 for wood and screws and about £12 for a roll of chicken wire.
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 151219Post pdblake »

Annpan, how many hens do you have in there?

Just trying to get an idea of how big a pen I want :mrgreen:
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 151223Post Annpan »

I have 2, I reckon I could squeeze in another one in an emergency. They have enough space to get away from each other (but usually don't get further than an inch or 2 apart) And enough space to flap their wings and stretch their legs (which almost looks like ballet)

I personally would consider it cruel to keep them in any less space than this, but I do keep thinking of the horrendous conditions that poor battery hens have.
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Re: looking into getting chooks myself.I have a few questions

Post: # 151270Post invisiblepiper »

Thanks Annpan - I could use tent pegs or similar to fox proof it a bit more - although I know they go in to roost at night.
My daughter has several contacts for chooks - and seems quite keen.
IP :cheers:
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And I took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference.
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