Chickens are easy to keep in your garden compared to other animals. Nevertheless, if you are a beginner, there are several important things to know to keep your chickens hale and hearty. This article will provide a brief overview.
Keeping chickens for beginners – before you start
There are hundreds of different chicken breeds with different appearance and character. However, no matter which breed you keep, chickens always come with a certain level of noise.
- Cocks in particular can be very noisy, especially in the early hours of the day. Therefore, you either need understanding neighbors or a lot of free space around your chicken coop. If you live in the countryside, the latter might be easier to achieve.
- If you have neighbors which might feel disturbed, talk to them in advance. In order to have an idea, how noisy it will get, you can play chicken sounds in your garden.
- After successful agreement with your neighbors, you need to build a chicken coop. You can use an existing auxiliary building, or build a new coop. Please keep in mind that chickens need adequate space for living.
How to build a chicken coop
When building a chicken coop, you have to
bear two important aspects in mind. First, your chickens should feel
comfortable. Second, cleaning should be quick and easy for you.
- Chickens leave a lot of dirt. Therefore, it's advantageous to have a water supply directly at or at least close to the chicken coop.
- Clean the coop on a regular basis, otherwise it will be hard to remove the dirt. Additional chickens can be infested with chicken mites. These mites multiply very fast and settle down on humans as well.
- Cover the ground of your chicken coop with straw.
- Offer your animals perches. For this, you can use branches. Assemble boards made out of plastic underneath. Keep in mind, that they should be removable for cleaning.
- Prepare places to breed, by providing trays or buckets filled with straw. For easier cleaning we recommend using plastic ones.
- Nevertheless, some chickens need nests made out of wood. Build small houses with two entrances and a roof. Leave the bottom open and place the house on straw. For collecting the eggs, you will only have to lift the house. To make it even easier, you can place the houses next to a wall and forego the fourth side wall of the house.
What you need for your outdoor enclosure
Chickens need enough space and fresh air. You can fulfill these needs by providing an outdoor enclosure for them.
- A spacious lawn area is the best choice. But your chickens will destroy the lawn fast. Therefore, split your lawn into two or three pieces and alternate the place of your outdoor enclosure biweekly.
- Build a mobile fence around the enclosure. Keep in mind, that chickens are inventive in finding solutions to escape from their enclosure. Don't be too alarmed about this, though. They will be back home in the evening to spend the night in their coop. Of course, neighbors might feel disturbed by chickens running around on their property.
- Consider the need of protection from above as well. Trees and bushes provide shade and protection from aerial enemies.
- The design of the outdoor enclosure should give your chickens something to occupy themselves with. Build perches and provide a sandbox. Spread seeds and fruits, and your chickens will be busy finding the treats.
- Of course, chickens also need fresh water in the enclosure. Place a stable water tank on the ground for this.
Written by Sarah Winter
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