A Basic Guide to Keeping Chickens at Home
For many years now there has been an increasing amount of interest for keeping chickens at the bottom of the garden. This is one of the ways the people can try and be self-sufficient, however there is a considerable amount of thought and hard work that needs to go into keeping chickens. One of the first things that people need to be aware of when it comes to keeping chickens in the United Kingdom is that there is a legal obligation that has to be met under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This act requires chicken owners to take reasonable care to ensure that all of needs and requirements are met in order to keep the chicken safe and healthy.
Before you start to keep chickens you need to be aware that they need an element of care and they need attention every day. Prior to getting your first flock of chickens it is important to give some serious consideration to the area where they are going to live, how they will get food and water, what food they will get and what it going to happen if you go on holiday. Another thing that needs to be carefully considered is how they are going to be kept safe from predators which in the United Kingdom is mainly foxes.
Once you have decided that you want to go ahead with getting chickens the first thing that you will need to consider is their house. Specific chicken coops can be very expensive but there are a wide range of designs to choose from. Some of the cheaper coops can last for about six years if they are given regular coats of wood preserve and maintenance. When looking at the coop pay particular attention to the quality of the workmanship and the quality of the wood that has been used. Although there is some coops that are very attractive there is also a wide range of basic ones that are available so it is possible to get a cheaper one. As long as the coop is draft free and provides a dry area for the chickens whilst giving ventilation it will be fine. The first thing to do when you get the coop is to give it a coat of wood preserve. There is some essential features for the coop and this is nesting boxes, ventilation and perches so that the birds can roost. It is also worth considering something that allows the eggs to be easily collected and also easy for cleaning.
A chicken run will also be required as the chickens will need to get outside. A run could be as simple as the back garden or a fenced pen. Regardless of the option that you want to opt for the birds will need to have plenty of space to wander around. The run will also need to be secure enough to keep predators out. If possible also dig netting about twenty centimetres underground to prevent predators digging in under the fence. In some cases electrical fencing can be a good idea.
Chickens will also need to be fed a balanced diet so that they have access to all of the nutrients that they require. It is advisable to feed one of the formulated feeds if you want to have healthy chickens and eggs that are high quality. The formulated feeds are available in two different forms which are powdered mash and pellets. The powdered mash is slightly cheaper however there can be a lot of waste with this type, as the chickens will just pick out the bits that they like. The layer pellets are often the best option despite the fact that they are a bit more expensive as there will be less waste. As with all animals chickens will need to have access to water at all times.