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.