Thursday, 12 July 2007


Its all very exciting, the chickens and their new home arrived this week.

As these are my husbands birthday present he was responsible for their names, the brown one is Sage and the black one is Onion!!

They are settling into their new surroundings and seem quite content.

When they were delivered, I asked how long they should be kept in their run so that they could get used to it before they were let out into the garden. I was surprised to learn that it might not be a good idea to let them out at all. The reason for this was that while they only expected to stay in their run, then they would be quite happy but if they were let out into the garden sometimes but not others they would be less content.
Apparently even though our garden is surrounded by six foot fencing, a fox could still get in so letting them out when we might not always be around is not a good idea.

So, the question for any back garden chicken keepers is "what shall I do?" Obviously if the best thing to do is to keep them in the run at all times then that is what we will do. Perhaps its because I hate being stuck indoors that it feels a bit sad to confine them to a relatively small run. What do you think? If they are creatures of habit would a suitable compromise be to let them out for a few hours at the end of every day? As I only work part time even on working days I am always home by four. Would that be kinder? Please comment and let me know what you think. We were told not to let them out for at least a week any way so I have a few more days to think about it.


Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

I think letting them out when you are home is fine. Surely some freedom is better than none? If we are going somewhere for the day sometimes we put the chickens in their run and they seem none the worse for it.

Regarding their names, I will tell you a funny story (well, I think it's funny...) Some time ago, I had a hen who was unwell. I was describing her symptoms to a friend and she suggested that I try an onion. Gullible me, I asked what to do with the onion, and she said to put it in the hen and then put the hen in the oven... :)

e4 said...

You might want to look for a book called "Chicken Tractor" by Andy Lee.

I can think of two good options - Either let them out during the day and close them up at night (they should go back to shelter by instinct around dusk), or keep them in the pen and move it around periodically. Moving the pen around will spread the manure and give them fresh grass and bugs to munch.

Jenny said...

I have nominated you for a blogger for positive global change award. See my blog for details, Jenny

Rhonda Jean said...

Chickens need to stay in their home for two or three days to get used to their surroundings and know where they live now. After that you can let them out and they'll come back to the roost when it starts getting dark.

If there is a possibility of foxes during the day, I'd keep them in their tractor until you're there. I'd let them out each afternoon to free range. They'll pick up grubs and seeds, bugs and grass and be healthier for the experience. There is omega 3 in grass, so make sure they have it to eat on a regular basis, it will be in the eggs when you eat them.

Your two ladies are lovely. Welcome to the world of chooks. You'll soon be obsessed just like the rest of us. : )

the flour loft said...

I have no experience of chickens so am interested to hear how you get on...all i can say is i love their names. Good luck
ginny x

Hind's Feet said...

Foxes and raccoons prefer to hunt at dusk or afterwards, so if you're on your toes and shut their door as soon as they go in at dusk, they should be okay. I don't know whether you have raccoons in England or not, but it's the reason we have a Coon Hound here in Ohio... to protect our chickens. ;)

BurdockBoy said...

Heak everyone has chickens these days. I should get some to run around up here on the ski resort. I wonder how that would go over?

willow said...

Thank you for your comments and advice. We will be letting the chickens have a little freedom today when we are all here to look after them!! Perhaps we are a little obsessed already Rhonda jean.

Burdockboy, I think skiing chickens would be cool but snowboarding ones would be a real tourist attraction!

tash said...

ooh you've got a goldline and a black rock, the same as us. They are the most delightful hens, they really are!

If I was you I'd let them out cautiously at first, let them get to know their surroundings, and watch them like a hawk for any places where they could get out. You may wish to cut their flight feathers on one side, there are tutorials on how to do this online. This will stop them getting height if they do decide to fly, and boy can those babies fly!

I'd never let them out if you were to be away for a full day, or overnight. Hens need safety at night, which is when their main garden predators are around, i.e. cats and foxes. But apart from that, both you and they will build up trust and a routine! Good luck!

willow said...

Thanks Tash for identifying our chickens. We did know that one was a black rock but I had never heard of a goldline, thank you.

Artemisia said...

We had 3 buff Orpington hens at the beginning of the summer but a raccoon got 2 of them so then there was just one. We rebuilt our cage to now completely enclose the area so nothing can get to her, & got her a generic replacement sister to keep her company. I used to let my chickens roam around our yard (we're in Illinois), but have lost so many that way that safety has to be our 1st priority.