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  • : frank beswick
  • : The blog of Frank Beswick. It deals with my interests in religious, philosophical spiritual matters and horticulture/self-reliance
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January 11 2012 4 11 /01 /January /2012 10:59

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Keeping chickens is a growing hobby in Britain, and it can easily be done if you have a back garden and there are no regulations to prevent you.

 

Firstly, you need a secure coop. This will be  a waterproof, warm and comfortable place for your chickens to roost. Ideally it will have  a perch to roost on. The coop will need a solid floor, ideally of strong wood, so that foxes and rats cannot burrow in. This should be covered in fresh straw and or wood shavings that you renew on a  regular basis.  The coop will need an enclosed wire area, a pen,  for the chickens to peck. This area should be safe from foxes. A fox can dig under the wire of a coop, so you need to ensure that some wire is tucked under the sides of the coop to prevent the foxes burrowing in. Watch out for holes in the mesh that might allow one of these pests or a cat to sneak in.Ideally you will purchase a professionally made coop from a dealer. There are many good ones about. Ensure that it is well painted before the chickens are introduced.

 

Some coops are movable, so that the chickens can be moved to different areas of ground, preventing build up of diseaes in one spot and the ground going stale.

 

Select your breeds. Most people want eggs, though some want meat. Some want both. So take advice as to the breeds that you want from a knowledgable dealer. If you just want eggs, you do not need a cock. This is because the eggs that we eat are unfertilised ovulations that the females just drop and leave. They only squat on fertilised ones. If you do get a cock for breeding, ensure that you keep cocks separate from each other, as males put together fight for supremacy. Keep different breeds in separate pens, if you want to breed from them. Cross breeds have no pedigree.

 

Chickens need a good diet. They are omnivores, which means that they eat anything, though they generally feed on vegetables. you are not allowed to feed kitchenscraps to them. Purchase a mash. For eggs you want a layers' mash. There is a different mash for meat. You can certainly feed them other materials. They will peck seeds and plant materials, such as fresh greens. However, chickens need to peck for food, so allow space and ground suitable for pecking behaviour. They will eat small insects, but although chickens will eat meat, cooked meat is not ideal for them.and should not be given. Any meat should come only from pecking for insects, their natural behaviour. Water should be provided fresh more than once a day in a feeder that they cannot foul or knock over. Professionally made feeders for both water and food are available from dealers.

 

They need a steady supply of grit to aid digestion. This should be spread in the pen and the chickens allowed to peck for it.. Chickens also need to be given an anti-worm substance at regular intervals, as pecking the ground can mean ingestion of worm eggs.

 

Any signs of disease should result ina vet being summoned.However, you need to be merciful. Sometimes it is kinder to kill an incurably sick animal than to leave it to suffer. You must be realistic in making decisions on this matter.

 

To prevent disease clear out the straw in the coop and any droppings on a  regular basis.This material makes excelllent compost. You may need to disinfect on occasion to prevent red mite, which is a nuisance for chicken keepers. When keeping animals you must never drop your vigilance against pests and diseases. It is unfair on the animal.

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