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    • CommentTimeMar 7th, 2011 7:21am (Mar 7th 2011)

    Keeper of the hens

    So after all these years, my sister is finally thinking seriously about getting chickens!

    She asked me for advice, but I thought it would be kind of cool if I posted it on here so everyone could offer their thoughts - I'm sure she would appreciate it!

    Here's her email:

    Easter not the chocolate kind, the chick hatching kind!

    Hi Neil,

    We are giving the idea of getting chickens some serious consideration. And I have been doing some research about getting some fertile eggs.... Did you know you can bid for em on eBay?!?

    Anyway, I have found somewhere local we can get them, check this out...

    How cute is that?! And they are just up the road from us too!

    Well, I'm not saying we are definitely getting chickens but....!

    So, I'm just wondering if you know of anyone who has an incubator we can borrow? They are flipping expensive! Or are we better off buying chicks?

    Easter chicks!!!
    • CommentTimeMar 7th, 2011 7:21am (Mar 7th 2011)

    Keeper of the hens

    And my reply:

    I would say... don't get eggs, get Point of Lay pullets which are hens (ie: females) that are just coming up to the age where they start to lay eggs.

    If you get eggs, then you won't be entirely sure how many chickens you'll get (ie: don't count your hens before they hatch!), you'll probably end up with more roosters than hens (and they are hard to get rid of - nobody wants them as they don't lay eggs and make a lot of noise!), and like you say you'll need an incubator.

    We borrowed one from Dan but he's moved down south now - his parents still live up here but it would be a pain getting hold of it, and it's an 'old school' one that you need to turn the eggs manually etc etc.

    If you buy chicks (or hatch them), then you'd also need to keep the chicks inside under a heatlamp for several weeks until they were feathered up enough to survive outside, it would be a total pain believe me (but there is nothing cuter than holding a chick in your hand whilst it peeps, but maybe do that at a petting zoo!)

    So I would say, get point of lay pullets, they should be about 18-20 weeks old (a few weeks earlier is ok but you'll need to wait a few weeks longer for eggs!), and they'll soon tame and get used to you.

    Scarlet will probably have better advice than me, in fact I'll stick it on the forum you might get some advice on which breeds to look out for! :-)


    Neil x

    Has anyone else any thoughts they can pass on to Sharon?
    • CommentTimeMar 7th, 2011 3:51pm (Mar 7th 2011)

    Keeper of the hens

    I offered...

    Posted By: neil
    Aww that is very exciting! :)

    Yeah, I agree with dad...chicks are cute but are a LOT of hard work. After they hatch they need keeping indoors under a heat lamp for six weeks, they're very dusty (odd but true because of all the dander as they grow adult feathers) and they need cleaning out once every few days. From six to eight weeks old you can leave them outside during the day depending on the temperature, but at night they'll probably still need bringing in. Although it's supposed to be 50/50 on the sex of the chicks, it usually swings where 3/4 of the chicks will be roosters.

    We got our fertile eggs from ebay - they turned out just fine, although weren't the breed they were supposed to be! We hatched out five chicks, four were roosters and just one was a girl. They were lovely up until about 14 weeks old when the males started fighting and crowing hahaha.

    POL pullets are your best bet. If you're lucky you should be able to get them for around £5 each (that's how much we paid for Milly); some farms will try charging you £20 for a pure breed but I wouldn't pay anymore than £15, unless it was an impressive / rare breed.

    If you're wanting friendly breeds that will be more like lap dogs than chickens you should look into Orpingtons, Silkies, Sussex (also an incredible layer) and Cochins.

    If you want chickens that are great layers and will also become tame and tolerate gentle handling, check out Sussex also, Rhode Island Reds, Welsummers and hybrids. Steer clear of Leghorns, they're excellent layers but are very flighty and hard to tame, not good around children.

    If you get POL pullets you get eggs very soon, are already 100% certain of the sex, and they're a lot easier to keep. DE is a definite must to have when keeping chickens, it keeps horrible red mites at bay, and gets rid of other external and internal parasites too.

    Hope this helps :)
    • CommentAuthornanny north
    • CommentTimeMar 7th, 2011 9:28pm (Mar 7th 2011)
    Yes, yes, yes get hens they are fun, you will be so glad you did. The eggs are brill and they are such good company. Ours are one of the best things we ever got and we just love them to bits.
    • CommentAuthorleevaux
    • CommentTimeMar 10th, 2011 6:28pm (Mar 10th 2011) edited
    Your life Sharon is not complete until you have these lovely creatures in it!!!!!!! :face-smile:
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeMar 27th, 2011 5:35pm (Mar 27th 2011)
    It's gone quiet, Neil; has she got some chooks?
    • CommentTimeMar 27th, 2011 8:03pm (Mar 27th 2011)

    Keeper of the hens

    As far as I know she is going to be getting some, CC! They're trying to find a big enough coop to allow them to have 3 hens that will fit in their garden.

    She wasn't aware how much room chicken's needed (all the coops for sale on the 'net said they were suitable for about 5 hens when you couldn't fit 1 in there!!) but she still wants to get some chucks :)
    • CommentTimeMar 27th, 2011 11:41pm (Mar 27th 2011)
    Why do manufacturer's do that - its the same with cages. They always claim they can take more rats etc than they can. Maybe it's because they know people will have to come back and buy bigger so they get two sales for the effort of one!
    • CommentTimeMar 28th, 2011 9:41am (Mar 28th 2011)

    Keeper of the hens

    I think it's so they can sell them for more too...I was helping someone look for a good rat cage the other week and it amused me how in all the photos of the cages one company used very young rats who weren't fully grown yet!!
    • CommentTimeMar 28th, 2011 10:26pm (Mar 28th 2011)
    They've been taking advice from the builders of new homes who use specially made undersized sofas, beds and wardrobes, and often have a cardboard picture of a TV "to prevent theft".
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeMar 29th, 2011 5:37pm (Mar 29th 2011)
    They take doors off inside showhomes as well, Kate, to make them seem larger.