The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Poultry & Waterfowl => Topic started by: Deer Forager on May 28, 2020, 09:15:26 pm

Title: Starting to keep chickens
Post by: Deer Forager on May 28, 2020, 09:15:26 pm
We are just starting to buy a new house (finally) and it will have a section of garden which is ideal for keeping chickens.

We are keen to put a few hens in straight away (probably 3) but havent kept chickens before. As we have a few months of boring conveyancing ahead we are doing the research now.

Apart from a recommendation about houses for them, we are thinking of getting ex-battery hens. How long do they live for? I know their egg production is no longer commercially viable but would they lay for a while?

Happy to hear tips for first time chicken keepers.
Title: Re: Starting to keep chickens
Post by: AnnS on May 28, 2020, 10:38:14 pm
Hi, we got 5 in November through the BHWT and they are great fun, very inquisitive. Most days get 4 eggs, all are very friendly and not in the least bothered about our dogs. They free range most of the day and are only in their run when I go out. Run has heavy mesh roof as there are foxes around. Not sure about lifespan though. We went for a plastic coop and it’s on a stand so easy to reach into and clean.

Title: Re: Starting to keep chickens
Post by: bj_cardiff on May 29, 2020, 06:03:34 am
I feel a bit conflicted about ex-comercial hens..

They have had very rough lives and I like to see them adjust to a nice low stress free range lifestyle. However, I think they are bred to be high output and I find they are quite short lived, compared to traditional breeds. I'd say that sometimes they can last up to 5yrs old, but most of mine tend to have strokes within a couple of years. My cross bred hens lay a lot less, but the oldest I had was 10yrs old. People seem to think that they stop laying which is why they are no longer comercially viable. This isn't really the main factor and many will lay a lot of eggs for a lot longer! As the birds age the quality of the egg deteriates, you can have thin shells that break easily in the nest boxes, its a real pain as it encourages egg eating. I have one at the moment laying thin shells and every day I find a broken egg in the next boxes. 

For a first time hen keeper, why not go for a more traditional breed I think they might be more rewarding? Good luck whatever you decide to do though, hens are wonderful to have around and you really can't beat fresh, hope produced free range eggs :)
Title: Re: Starting to keep chickens
Post by: chrismahon on May 29, 2020, 06:33:14 am
Ex-commercial hens can be problematic and I wouldn't recommend them for a first time keeper.

If the house you rebuking is a new build, check the title document as it may carry a restrictive covenant against the keeping of hens.
Title: Re: Starting to keep chickens
Post by: Deer Forager on May 30, 2020, 09:57:38 pm
Thanks for the replies. When I said a new house I meant a different one. The current owners have chickens already and there are no restrictions fortunately.

There is a number of chicken breeders locally so have al options open.
Title: Re: Starting to keep chickens
Post by: doganjo on May 31, 2020, 12:57:35 pm
I've had rescue hens, cross breeds, and full pedigree hens.  Never found any difference in length of life. 

What I have noticed is that the rescue ones seem to be programmed to keep laying every 26hours for life.  But when they stop it seems to be sudden, but they don't seem to die straight away.  Almost all of mine seem to live to aabout 7 regardless of breed, unless they've had a shock like a dog or fox visit

These are just my obsevations and  anecdotal only though