Saturday, 28 January 2012

chicken keeping

We are about to venture into the world of chicken keeping,  an empty chicken house has lived at the bottom of  the garden for a while but I been a little daunted at filling it.  We have had some experience, my school keeps them  and  we have chicken sat for our neighbours with huge success, middle girl was notably good at taking responsibility and was far better at catching the cheeky chickens than I was.

I have spent a long time researching, read several chicken magazines,  (much more interesting than they sound), visited  and interrogated  several friends with chooks.  My main concern is Coco, our lovable hound who  has an unfortunate history of annihilating smaller pets.  She has eventually formed a love hate relationship with the cat and they live alongside each other in mutual disdain, four previous guinea pigs did not fare as well.  Admittedly it was not all her fault; the first one met a sad fate after a small child  did not close the hutch door and the friendly greeting from Coco was too much for Ginger.  Her companion met a different end when she died of shock a few days following this incident.

A few years past and the next pair of children wanted a small pet, we relented and laid very firm guidelines for the care of them.  Sadly after a friends visit and cuddle with the baby pig the lid of the run was somehow not put on securely and excitedly our stupid mutt jumped onto the run resulting in a severe squashing of two very small and new pets.  We felt terrible but as we spoke to friends we were comforted by their tales of unfortunate happenings to guinea pigs.  Suffocation was not an ending we have experienced thankfully.

Roll on another year or two and small girl wanted chickens for her birthday, we placated her with guinea pigs.  Oldest boy was correct in his dry prediction they wouldn't last the week.  The trauma of the carrier bag in the wheelie bin burial was getting a bit too familiar but we couldn't leave a single guinea pig so hero Dad had to troop to the pet shop for yet another one.  This latest pair have nearly survived a year so please no reports to animal cruelty. 

Chickens would be a lot more messy to clean up  after a massacre, and it would not be fair to either pets to enter into this without much thought.  The plan is to build a secure run at the bottom of the garden but like so many things it is very low down the list of priorities; clean washing and food to eat are more immediate concerns.    However half term is approaching which means more time to complete these odd jobs.  The plan is to build a run and make our chicken house into a (very secure) chicken home.

Any tips or chicken advice would be very gratefully received. 


  1. Oh Grace, I know it was a sad post about the guinea pig's tragic demise(s), how awful, but how it made me laugh about the funny bits of family life and pets! (Having had funerals for 2 hamsters and a rabbit)
    How great to get some chickens, I have just bought a good chuck book, but hubby says "NO WAY" at the moment, though he said that before we got small dog! I would definitely fence an area off tho', so they have space but are safe from Coco, and do not scrat up your flowers, veg and plants and wreck your garden! Other blogs that keep chickens in their gardens are Little Cotton Rabbits and Curlew Country.
    Good luck! x

  2. Go for it! We all love our chickens and they are great fun to watch. You'll need a good few egg recipes up your sleeve because those eggs can soon add up. We found we had 50 to eat after the Christmas week when there wasn't much egg eating going on.

  3. we got our chickens last Easter, we made them an enclosure to keep them safe from foxes and so they didnt eat my flowers and veg! we used weldmesh and trellis to construct it, and they have woodshavings to scrat about in. The omlet website has a forum where there is loads of advice on building runs, that's where I got all our ideas from.

  4. It sounds like a wonderful venture. I love hens: both useful and creatively inspiring, I find! Maybe you should send a mail to Amanda Soule (soule mama blog). She ventured into the hen world about a year ago and I am certain she has some great advice to give.

    Have fun.

  5. Hi Grace,

    We have 6 chooks in our suburban yard and wouldn't be without them. Mind you our dog is a shizhu and thinks he's one of the chickens.........
    Just make sure your pen is secure enough against foxes and they should be fine.


  6. How sad about the little guinea pigs, you couldn't predict so many tales of woe at the hands of one dog but all accidental and forgiveable.
    Chickens sounds a great idea if you can sort the run out. Some friends of mine got chooks last year and they have 2 greyhounds, another new dog, 6 cats some of which are huge Norwegian forest cats and after a few weeks all have settled together and the chickens happily free range in the garden whilst the 4 legged ones leave them to it.
    Go for it, think of the eggs and baking, mmmmm, lovely!


Thank you for your lovely comments, they really do brighten my day!